Have you been struggling with sales? Matthew Moore is the hub lead at Johnston Press, explains four cunning techniques for success we can all learn from used car dealers.
If you were a used car dealer, the chances are you would possess some hugely valuable sales skills.
If on the other hand, you run a workshop, motor factor or an accessory shop, the skills of the used car dealer are worth studying – for the entire automotive industry and beyond.
Ignore the film clichés and hard-selling stereotypes, in which used car dealers are unfairly pigeonholed as deceptive salesmen.
This hackneyed idea may be true of some used car dealers, but the majority are very different.
Selling cars is not as simple as meeting a buyer, sending them off on a dainty test drive and signing contracts with a big toothy grin. Unless you’re a very lucky dealer, that is.
Buyers are rigorous and used car dealers aren’t selling the newest, most luxurious of motors, so they have to work extra hard to meet sales targets.
Whether you’re selling online, over the phone or face-to-face, there’s a lot the masters of sales can teach you about effective techniques, which you can apply to your own business.
1. Know your customer
When it comes to car buyers, one size doesn’t fit all; everyone has different backgrounds, budgets, wants, needs and desires. The same goes for every business.
Think about it – what was the last thing you purchased? Guaranteed, at least one of these factors will have influenced the decision to part with your cash.
Knowing your audience is crucial to identify, move and sell to people. If you’ve done your customer research and can see things from their perspective, you become better at picking up on their signals and getting the results they want.
2. Sell the sizzle
Spending a significant sum on anything – especially a car – is an emotional process for buyers. One thing great dealers do is really focus on the specifics of a buyer’s situation, rather than selling a car.
OK, selling them some car shampoo or a mobile phone holder in an accessory shop might not have the same level of emotional involvement, but your customers should still be the focus of the conversation. Don’t sell them the product or service: sell them the excitement of owning the product, sell the money they will save, sell the difference it will make to their lives…
Dealers devise experiences based on empathy. How will the buyer feel showing their new purchase to their friends? How perfect will their new ride be for that road trip they have planned?
Even for small items delivering pleasurable and gratifying scenarios establishes a real, emotional transaction – rather than a hard sell. Whatever you’re selling, make your customers feel great about it.
3. Go the extra mile
The mighty Joe Girrard is the archetypal car salesman, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the world’s greatest salesman’.
He’s sold more than 13,000 vehicles (an average of six cars per day) and all retail – one motor at a time. One of the secrets to his success? Focusing on the little things.
He would store his customers’ personal information, such as their birthdays, their children’s birthdays, what they did for a living, and use it to personalise his conversations with them.
Every month, year after year, he would send a greeting card to every customer on his list. Inside wouldn’t be a sales pitch; but a tip he knew they’d be interested in, a news story, a new idea or a birthday message.
The result? Customers who couldn’t stop themselves talking about Joe’s service, resulting in a flurry of new customers.
Any business can pick up these simple, but highly effective, sales techniques. If you’re an online company, share content on your social media pages that may interest your customer, or email something useful.
It all builds your reputation as an expert in your field and a trustworthy brand to do business with.
4. Ask for a referral
Within a few weeks of selling a car to someone, Joe would give them a call and ask how the car was running. If they were another delighted customer, he’d ask for a referral. If not, he’d resolve the problem – and then ask for a referral. Find out more at: thehub.tips