Category Archives: Customer Service

Preparing For The Customer: The Key To Sales Success

Dealers are allocating more time and money this year on training salespeople and managers to make sure they know the steps to a sale and how to handle that all-important asset—the customer. How much time is spent on training dealership personnel to PREPARE for that customer? Allow me to take you through a few steps to make sure your customer does more than just drive through your lot, or worse yet retreat at the first sign of a “salesperson.”

When should you start to prepare for a customer?
Let’s start at the beginning, but just where, or when, is the beginning? When should you start your preparation to meet and greet the first customer of the day? When you wake up and get your “game face” on? Start yesterday! All customer-facing team members need to start preparations the night before. You can’t possibly be at your best first thing in the morning to greet the early bird customer if you’ve been out on the town until the wee hours, drinking and partying your hard-earned commissions away.

You need to be able to give ALL you have to offer to a potential customer to convert that customer into a buying customer. So, we all need to get a good night’s sleep in order to wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Most people need seven-to-eight hours of good sleep to recharge their batteries. How much sleep are you getting?

Think and feel like a customer
Now consider adding empathy to your toolbox. Empathy is simply putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you were the customer driving on to your lot, how would you act (or react)? You would act according to your senses, so let’s consider what the customer will see, hear and smell at your dealership. If these senses are triggered positively, they will probably be encouraged to continue shopping at your dealership.

Take away the pressure
Customers experience “peer pressure” when visiting a dealership, especially for the first time. They don’t know how they are supposed to act as a customer. Do they come in and ask for help? Will a salesperson come out to them? What should they expect? We need to be able to feel what that customer is going through with their senses, so we can relieve the pressure.

Don’t be a dope
Does the customer see a “dope ring” (a bunch of dopes huddled together at the front door)? You’ve seen them—normally the smokers, coffee drinkers and ‘nay-sayers’ standing outside the front door talking about the person who ordered all the white cars. Customers might feel intimidated, leery or otherwise wary to walk through that to get to the showroom.

Look in the mirror
When the customer sees you, is it a good visual experience? Make sure you do everything possible to present yourself at your visual best. You need to dress for success. If your dealership does not have a dress code (I recommend having one), dress how you would like a person to be dressed if you were investing tens of thousands of hard earned dollars in that person. The customer has to buy you as well as the dealership and the vehicle.

Remember how you prepared for your first real date. You went to great lengths to make sure you looked your absolute best to impress your date. You should do the same every day in sales. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the customer will definitely judge you.

Manage your sound environment.
Consider what the customer hears when you talk to them. Make sure the customer hears enthusiasm and excitement in your voice. Make sure they ‘hear’ the smile on your face. Customers don’t want to spend time with grumpy people, no matter how sweet the deal may be.

Watch your tongue at all times. Eliminate offensive language from your vocabulary.
Negative comments from anyone in the dealership within earshot of the customer can influence their perception of you and your dealership. Just because you are not with a customer right this minute doesn’t mean that a co-worker isn’t with one that can hear your conversation.

Make sure your customers can hear you over the phone. If the dealership has too much background sound like an overly loud public address system, it can make talking to your customer difficult. If you have to put your customer on hold, which you should always avoid, make sure the on hold music is not too loud or playing a radio station with one of your competitors’ ads on air.

Pass the smell test.
If you smoke, then do so where customers can’t see you. Go around the back of the building, have a proper smoke break and then walk back outside so the fresh air can dispel as much of the smoke as possible. Never be tempted to light up with a smoking customer; concentrate on the task at hand. I have nothing against smokers, but some customers do. They will decide immediately if they want to do business with you or not depending on how you smell.

I know some smokers who disguise the fact very well. They carry breath mints, body spray and hand lotion so no one can detect any foul odors. These are professional salespeople who take their profession seriously.

Speaking of breath mints, how’s your breath even if you’re not a smoker? You need to look after it so you don’t have another hurdle to jump with your customer. You will have enough to jump as it is.

To succeed: Prepare, prepare, prepare.
It’s vital to your success to make sure you spend enough time preparing for the day and your customers. You will find that your earnings will be commensurate to the amount of effort you put in to preparation.
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Written by Michael Rees, CEO
DealerPro Sales and F&I Solutions
MRees@AutoDealerMonthly.com

Understanding Your Customer

Before you became an automotive sales person, you were a Customer.

How did you feel about the car purchase process? What type of research did you do? How long did it take before you decided to purchase? Did you call any dealerships for information and pricing? How many dealerships did you go to before you bought? Did you consult with your friends and family? Did you care where you purchased your new vehicle? Was the product a major concern? Was the sales person important?

When we understand ourselves as customers and how, why and what we did in a car purchase or continue to do in any type of purchase, understanding our customer becomes easy. Everything we have said and done to a salesperson are exactly what our customers are saying to us now.

Think about it. Your customers have already made the decision to look and possibly purchase a new vehicle when they enter your dealership, if of course, everything in their mind is in order. It’s your job to understand them and assist in the selection of their new vehicle, with the understanding that they have already given considerable thought towards their potential purchase long before they enter our dealership.

The following is a typical scenario of what your customers are thinking and doing before they enter your dealership. This scenario can be used for a single person, partners or small business, so just modify the husband/wife example.

1 Year to 3 Months Before the Purchase

During dinner, husband or wife mentions they should start looking for a new vehicle. The typical reasons for considering such a big decision: keeping up with the neighbors “the Jones’s”; manufactures TV advertising promotions etc; driving down the highway and seeing a beautiful new vehicle, a need and a want.

Approximately a Month Before the Purchase

The couple discusses such things as: how they will pay for their new vehicle; monthly budget (maximum); how much savings they have (cash down); and whether or not they will trade in their current vehicle. Normally people go to their bank first for a loan approval. They might research other financial options (manufacturer credit arms, leasing, etc.). The Internet is now a research tool for your customers to obtain more information, so get on it see what is happening. It is not going away.

The Night Before the possible Purchase

They decide to go to a dealership, but feel they will not buy just yet. But if they see something nice and close to what they have been considering and meet a salesperson that understands them, then they just might do it today, only if…

When The Customer Enters The Dealership

The couple tries to look like they do not need any help or that they haven’t even thought about purchasing a new vehicle. They start, say exactly the same things we use to say to car salespeople: “I’m just looking”… “We are just kicking tires”… “We don’t need any help”… “We just started looking”… “What is your best price on that car?”… “How much would you give me for my car?”… etc.

Now! Because we are professionals and understand our customers, we know why they are saying these things – they are exactly like us.

During The Selection Process

They are undecided about colors, options, etc., and become resistant. The reality about actually purchasing a vehicle is coming into focus. Emotions such as fear, doubt, hesitation and uncertainty begin to play a major role.

During the Negotiations

Some customers become distant and uneasy. But if you have done your job, then as a professional in our business does, you can confidently ask for the sale now. Negotiating is all about psychology and how you articulate every word becomes critical to the sale now. Explain everything to them and make sure every condition is clarified. Assist your customer through the process. It does not have to like going to the dentist.

SOLD – When They Come To Pick Up their New Vehicle

Take your time in the delivery process; leave the customer with a lasting impression. If you have done your job correctly and professionally, the customer will feel great about their new vehicle purchase and speak highly of you, your dealership and the manufacturer. This will lead to an excellent client base, referrals, and repeat business.

Note: You must always remember two things – your customer is at your dealership for a reason and the #1 reason people will buy from you is You.

PEOPLE LIKE PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE THEMSELVES

To understand people you have to study them, read books, and listen to audio/videotapes. Here are some suggested books to read.

Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
25 Habits of highly successful Salespeople – Stephan Schiffman
Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins
Quantum Healing – Deepak Chopra, PhD
Don’t worry, Make Money – Richard Carlson, PhD
Darin’s Wrap Up

You’ve all heard it before; we are in the greatest and biggest people business in the world. When we understand that we as salespeople are customers, then understanding our customers is easy. It’s just part of what we do for a living. The more we understand and give to our customers, then the more we will receive.
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Written by Darin B. George, Founder
Automotive Sales College
888-681-7355

Learn Why Your Prospect Buys

We’ve all heard and read that the essence of selling is to “find a need and fill it.” Well, unless you have deep pockets or know exactly what the world needs, your sales needs will yield a better response if you follow this formula instead: “Find a want and fill it.”

Most of us have enough food, shelter, clothing and transportation. We don’t need much more. But we want more. We need food. But, we want fast foods, diet foods, and gourmet foods. Most of us don’t need a six bedroom, 2½ bath home. But many of us may want one. We don’t need expensive designer clothes, but we want them. We may need a car, but we want a Mercedes or Cadillac.

Most customers buy their wants, and justify it with their needs. Here are several things you can do to push your prospects’ hot buttons and land more sales:

Tip the want scales in your favor
Many salespeople will tell their prospects what options their vehicle will have, and base their whole presentation on the price, as if that’s all their concerned about. The fact is, people don’t buy the options, they buy what the options will do for them, such as provide them with safety, comfort, reliability, status, etc.

Dealerships will buy our training services for one reason – to make more money. By generating more revenue, they can fulfill their desire to create a better lifestyle for themselves, their families, and their employees. Do you know the bottom-line reason why your customers buy from you? To get the most from your sales efforts, you must first uncover what a prospect wants, than tailor your presentation to specifically communicate how your RV can fulfill their desires.

I was watching a computer salesperson present his product to this jeweler one day. As the jeweler walked up to the computer salesperson, he immediately launched into a rapid-fire monologue about the technological wizardry of a particular personal computer. The salesperson is on a roll as he watches his prospect listen patiently. About 20 minutes into his pitch, the jeweler timidly asked, “But can I use this computer to create letters and fliers?” That’s all he wanted the computer to do. The salesperson failed to immediately uncover and address the real issues the jeweler was seeking. He overwhelmed the prospect with the wrong information, and wasted a lot of valuable time.

Create the payoff picture in the prospects mind
Prospects seldom buy vehicles for rational reasons, the buy for emotional rewards. You goal is to tap into their emotional yearnings to create or feed their desire. Your presentation should help your prospects see themselves enjoying the rewards that you will bring into their lives. If you’re selling a convertible, don’t sell the fact the arms will raise the top evenly so that the structure will last longer. Get your prospect to visualize the wind in their hair, the feeling of freedom, the open road. These are the rewards they want from owning a convertible.

What’s your promotable edge?
In your presentation, perception is reality. Once your prospect is emotionally stimulated, he/she will use logic to rationalize the purchase. This is the time you must prove your, and your vehicle’s superiority over the competition. By communicating your vehicle, your dealership’s, and your unique advantage, you motivate your prospect to buy sooner, rather than later.

People Love to Buy

As worn out as this statement is it is worth being reminded every now and then. “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” Right now I am personally involved with buying a townhouse in St Augustine, FL and am very excited about this purchase. I feel like I received a good deal, easy to do in today real estate climate, love the location and best of all my whole family is excited.

Of course I am a salesman so I am an easy deal when I am ready to buy something. I just don’t think my Realtor realized that when I told him that he could stop selling me. It took the wind completely out of his sails until I made the offer. Nothing he said or did was going to close me I had to close myself first.

Would I have made the offer if tried bear trap closes, used intimidation to extract an offer or tried to take it away by telling me how many other people had looked at the property or how many other people were coming to look at it? Nope, I had buy it first mentally and would have seen through that. As a matter of fact I would of probably just went to another Realtor and made the offer if I really wanted the property, just so I would not have had to interact with him anymore.

Car customers can and will do the same thing. If they don’t like they how they were handled or feel like you do not have their best interest in mind they can easily find someone who does. The web has made it easy for someone to find another dealer that has a Natural Khaki Hyundai Sonata Limited 4 cyl with a navigation package. Just because you helped confirm their desire to buy on does not mean they have to buy it from you and they will not buy from you if you don’t make it easy for them.

Just like when we left our current home to view the townhouse we had already bought it before we got there and no one wakes up and says I think I am want to go be sold a car. They are thinking hey it might be time to buy one.

Sure you can motivate people to take action, that is our job. You just can’t motivate them to take an action that they do not want to take and build a long term relationship which brings in repeat and referral business. That is like Devo’s “Whip It”, a one hit wonder, that they will replay the next time they go buy a car.
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Written by Paul Rushing

Improve CSI without "Rigging"

Awareness has greater impact than free stuff

Satisfied customers want to tell others about good service. It’s just not natural for them to go out of their way to do it. That’s why many dealers have attempted to improve their CSI scores by offering customers some incentive, called "Rigging", to favorably complete and send in their surveys.

Recently, Toyota revealed that 6% of their customers surveyed by JD Power and Associates said they had been influenced by the dealership to provide positive scores. This included offers of free oil changes, gifts or meals. So Toyota has decided to withdraw incentives from those dealerships that are found to be guilty of using this tactic. And while we agree with Toyota’s approach, we’d like to make a recommendation on how to positively impact CSI without using the "Rigging" approach.

The most important thing to understand is that it�s natural for dissatisfied customers to send in their surveys. But satisfied customers have a tendency to believe that no one really wants to hear from them unless they aren’t happy; therefore, they don’t send in their survey. Your job is to explain just how important their opinion really is and ask them to send it in. Here’s how:

[list:2c3mivq2]- Make a laminated copy of your survey and have it available

– During the delivery process, simply review the survey with your customers by saying, "Most of our customers receive a survey in the mail that looks like this. It’s actually a report card that tells us your opinion about today’s visit. By completing it and sending it in, you help us identify what we are doing well and how we can make your next visit a positive experience. So I would appreciate it if you would complete it and send it in. And while you’re here, is there anything about this visit that wasn’t satisfactory?"[/list:u:2c3mivq2]
Notice that you are still providing the customer with a benefit for completing the survey. The benefit is a consistently good and always improving experience. By asking the customer if there were any concerns about this visit, you also give yourself an opportunity to address any concerns before the survey arrives.

There are many other ways to improve CSI by improving your people skills and your processes. But the easiest way is simply to increase the number of surveys your dealership receives.
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Written by Shawn Ryder
Auto University
http://www.autouniversity.com
shawn.ryder@autouniversity.com

Is The Customer Always Right

I am pretty sure I have listened to and read at least 2,000 to 3,000 books and videos on selling, how to sell and customer service and one theme that I have found has been – The Customer Is Always Right?

This is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. If you take on this philosophy, from my experience, you will go broke let me explain …

One of the most common stories I hear bandied around the customer service industry, is the case of a Manager at Wal-Mart who had an irate customer who had bought a set of tires and was not happy with them. She went to Wal-Mart and abused the manager and told him the tires were no good and the Manager gave her a full refund. The point to this example was that Wal-Mart did not sell tyres and the manager went above and beyond the call of duty and gave her a full refund. But as far as I am concerned, he did not do the right thing, he should have politely informed the customer they did not sell tyres. Could you honestly imagine giving a refund for a product in which you did not sell. As a small business owner, you would go broke but…

So, many of the customer service gurus use that story as the shining light in the way that we should be serving our customers. To me, that is crazy to be pushing such a philosophy. I wrote this article because I felt it was important as a small business owner to share with you a few things I have learnt about balancing the needs of the customer to the needs of your business as a small business owner. But also, as a small business owner that believed in the philosophy of the Customer Is Always Right and how it almost sent me broke.

For years, I have been in small business and I had bent over backwards to accommodate my customers and I still do, but what I realised about 6 months ago, is that by not setting clear guidelines on how I was prepared to do business but also sticking to those guidelines, my business in the end was being dictated to by other companies. My company has done a lot of work with Government agencies and big business and many people who work in these organisations think they are high flyers and can railroad small business and many of them do.

When I started picking up work from some of these organisations, I would get a call saying, we want your training but this is how we are going to do business. We only buy services on purchase orders and that is the only way we do business and we will pay you in 30 days or on the cheque cycle run (which might be 90 days). If you want our business you either accept our terms or we will go somewhere else.

Now as a small business owner and somebody who wants to grow their business, you think, excellent, okay, yes sir, no sir, we accept your terms. Then you do a fantastic job, on time, within budget, then it comes down to payment. On some of our work we had to wait six months to be paid. Now like most small businesses we work on credit and being so small we rely heavily on credit cards. But its this reliance that almost destroyed my business. We found that because some of our large clients did not pay us for six months, the interest from the credit card payments actually cost us more than the business in the first place.

One of the government agencies I worked for had a policy of putting 10 people on a purchase order for training, but their policy was that you did not get paid for any of the training until everybody on that purchase order had completed the training. In this particular case we had 2 people over a 12 month period change their course dates at least four times and in the end one person cancelled altogether. Now the training manager of this government agency had the audacity to tell me that they did not have to pay for any of the training because they had not finished the training. In the end, I realised for the first time, why many of my larger competitors ended up going broke. They simply were not getting paid and being railroaded. It was at this point I realised one important lesson, the Customer Is Not Always Right!

I will say one thing, when you get to the point where you are about to lose everything, your perspective changes and I think personally its incredibly liberating. I decided it was time to act and I learnt a very important lesson. This is my business and I decide how I want to do business! Not my customers!

In the end, I wrote to everyone of the customers who owed me money (we are talking tens of thousands of dollars) and I was quite blunt to them and I said, your failure to pay has damaged my business. The terms you wish to do business on are no longer acceptable and as such we no longer are prepared to accept your business. Pay now or else and then I set out the rules of how I was going to do business.

I figured in the end I would lose all of my big customers but it really did not matter they were not making me money, in fact they were losing me money in a big way because of the interest owed on my credit cards. So I did not care. You know the funny thing, I never lost a single customer and now every single business pays upfront and with a credit card. It was not until I put my terms on that table that things changed. In reality, I should never have accepted their terms but I guess hindsight is a good thing.

I did come to a really important realisation, I would rather have a small business that makes a profit, than all the business in the world but not make a single cent. If you are in business or thinking about going into business let me share my strategies I now use for surviving my customers …

[list:3l721iyi]1. I set the rules on how I want to do business not my customer
2. Set very clear rules on how a customer must pay for your services or products
3. If the customer doesn’t pay cash up front (this includes credit cards), require them to give you authority to debit their bank account.
4. Be wary of any business that only buys using purchase orders only
(Very few companies do this, many of them have credit cards so tell them you only accept payment by credit cards)
5. Do Not be frightened to say No
6. Do Not be frightened to say to a potential Customers, "I am sorry, but your not the sort of customer I am looking for"
7. Do Not be bullied into doing any product or service. Do only what you can handle and want to do.
8. Be Assertive and Stand Firm on your decisions
9. Be upfront to a customer if they are hurting your business
10. Always treat the customer fairly and equitably[/list:u:3l721iyi]

The world is a big place, there is lots of business out there for you to go after, no customer is that important that they should be in a position to bankrupt you.

I keep getting told by my business mentor that business is supposed to be fun. I think it should be too, but its only fun if you have the money to enjoy it.
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Chris Le Roy is the Managing Director of One-on-One Personal Comptuer Training. He is a Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor and MCSE and has written a range of training material to help individuals become Microsoft Office Specialists. To find out more visit – http://www.1-on-1.biz.

Get to Know Your Customer

The 2008 Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index® U.S. Auto Industry Study [url:3g8pddaj]http://www.piedpiperpsi.com/press/[/url:3g8pddaj]set out to study how customers were treated while shopping for new vehicles. They used mystery shoppers to visit auto dealership nationwide who then reported back about the customer service they received.

Among other, interesting facts, the study found that auto sales people were more likely to:

[list:3g8pddaj]- Mention the availability of different financing options.
– Handle any required wait professionally.
– Make special orders simple and easy.[/list:u:3g8pddaj]
Sales people were less likely, however, to ask info-gathering questions like:

[list:3g8pddaj]- Why the shopper was considering the particular brand.
– What the customer’s price range is.
– How the vehicle would be used and by whom.[/list:u:3g8pddaj]
Judging by the types of questions these sales people asked, it appears as though their main goal is to make the car shopping process quicker and easier for potential buyers. While this will help improve the experience of your shoppers, it’s important that it go beyond this. Customer service shouldn’t stop at the efficiency and ease of the transaction.

It is extremely important that your sales people are actually finding out what their customers want and need their cars for. Many shoppers will come into the showroom, full of facts and figures that they found on the Internet, but it’s still the job of a sales person to discuss the car choice and make sure it’s the right fit.

It can be tempting to get the sale and get out, quickly moving on to the next. However, your long term sales, referrals, and overall customer satisfaction will be much higher if you take the time to ensure your customers are getting a vehicle that is right for them, their lifestyle, and their budget.

If this isn’t incentive enough, think about the possibilities of an up-sell. Asking what the budget is, the down payment amount, or their ideal monthly payment, all open the door to finding a "better" vehicle to fit their needs. When you find out more about the buyer and their lifestyle, you have more room to negotiate and open their eyes to the vehicles they could end up wanting and buying.

As a sales person, it’s imperative that you know your product; but it’s also extremely advantageous to know your customers.
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Written by Ali Amirrezvani

How to Develop Winning Relationships with any Customer

A customer walks into your dealership and looks around. You slowly approach him or her, mentally preparing for your professional sales pitch. You know your products and how they compare to others on the market. You feel confident in representing your dealership’s offerings. You understand the importance of satisfying the customer. But there’s a wild card in this scenario-an element you have no control over. That wild card is the customer. So much depends on his or her mind-set, desires, communication preferences and style of doing business.

Wouldn’t you like to take the guessing out of the personal interaction and provide your customers with the car buying experience they desire? Further, if you consider your employees as customers of management, then these same personality and communication principles apply to all of you employees as well. Therefore, to end up focusing on your buying customers, a good place to start is with your employee customers.

Focus on Internal Team First
Understanding the importance of focusing on the employee-customer right from the get-go is the first step dealers take to improve their businesses. Often, this initiates a dramatic change for employees across the organization and results in a true business advantage through the buying customer.

At PCS-Global, we have developed a success template that adheres to a sequential V-Track* dealership-improvement model, which sets in place strategic and tactical process solutions for the future. Track I focuses on cultural evaluation and transformation. In today’s changing automotive retailing environment, it is fundamental to future success that dealerships go through this transformation. Here’s where dealers evaluate their company’s culture, value systems and learning styles to help align the philosophies and work ethics of the company, while developing leadership and building teams.

According to a national survey of high-involvement organizations, managers reported that teams lead to higher customer satisfaction (see Exhibit 1). Your best customers will outspend the others by a factor of 16 to 1. In the transportation industry, we believe it is as high as 20 to 1. On the other hand, 69% of lost customers are due to dissatisfaction with their contact with the company employees. Your team is critical to developing lifelong customer relationships. The more accomplished the team’s communication skills and ability to ascertain the customers styles, the higher the likelihood of sales success.

Exhibit 1: National Survey of Team Value in High-Involvement Organizations

Percentage of Managers Agreeing that Teams:

[list:348iwz8l]Improved Quality 76%
Improved Productivity 59%
Improved Profitability 73%
Improved Employee Satisfaction 69%
Improved Managers’ Job Satisfaction 71%
Source: John H. Zenger,Leading Teams[/list:u:348iwz8l]
By using simple communication skills, you will be able to:

[list:348iwz8l]- Assess a customer within the first few minutes of walking into you dealership and know what motivates that person.

– Determine what kind of approach would be most comfortable for the customer and best facilitate their decision-making.

– Understand how they view you based on your approach to them. [/list:u:348iwz8l]
Build Winning Relationships
Understanding the need for a communication driven team oriented company can help to develop winning relationships with virtually and customer-and provide a more satisfying work experience for your employees.

We encourage you to begin thinking about vary your communication process with the next customer who walks into your showroom and/or employees who enters your office. Use this opportunity to focus on their personality and adjust your approach to them. You will quickly create a more appealing sales and/or employee environment that will result in increased loyalty and higher profit margins for your dealership.
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Written by Dr.John

Bombarded, Abused, and BS’d – a Consumer’s Perspective

I absolutely suck before I get my daily dose of coffee. I’m grumpy, groggy, and completely idiotic. In one of my brighter before-coffee moments I decided I would work on quotes for my move from Virginia to Vermont. I Google’d “Moving Company” and got something like “123movers” as the first result. Being the ignoramus I am to moving I thought 123movers sounded pretty good. I surfed around on the site and dropped a lead – that was around 6:00 AM. Time to get some coffee, read some more emails, read the iPadPapers (news papers), and catch up on DealerRefresh – NOPE! Within 5 minutes my phone started ringing. It is now 6:05 AM EASTERN TIME, and this guy wasn’t anywhere near Mumbai. Even better, he wasn’t from 123movers either.

Over the next week I received at least 6 calls a day with most days being more like 10. Not a single one was from 123movers. I went back to 123movers and realized that this is a third party lead generation site. I’ll take the big “Duh Alex” for that one because it says right on their homepage that they’re a moving company comparing site. So when I tell you I’m a huge moron before coffee, you should take me at my word. However, I definitely made a mistake in thinking I was only contacting 1 moving company when I ended up speaking to 12.

I need to move, I need to speak to a moving company, and I need to understand how they charge so I can feel comfortable with my decision. I know none of this. I spoke to every single one of those moving companies. Each initial call was about 15 minutes long as I tried to describe my “inventory” of furniture, clothes, and other junk. Everyone quoted roughly the same pricing but varied their methods either by square footage of truck space occupied or the weight of the load. But, they all had good reason to pre-qualify me before giving a quote, and they were all there to give a quote. Absolutely none gave me a quote by email up front even though I asked for it from a few of them. I didn’t reply to most of their emails and noticed quite a few went into my junk mail due to big images and lots of links.

There was one company that spent the time to educate me on things and they even gave the highest quote – a good $800 more than the next highest. I liked that. They told a good story, understood that I didn’t know anything about moving services, and quoted me higher – it made me think that they were based on quality. But at the end of the day I didn’t go with this company. I got too many calls and emails and to be quite frank – I lost them in the shuffle because they never followed up after that one call. The guy thought he had the sale in the bag I guess.

After all the frustration of dealing with so many companies I went back to the old fashioned way of doing things and asked my friends and family. My dad convinced me to only talk to Mayflower or Allied Moving and I ended up choosing Allied because Mayflower never showed up for their scheduled appraisal appointment! The representative from Allied knew a few of my high school friends and was very professional. I feel good with my choice.

What can you learn from my experience?

[list:2pv049gy] 1. Shoppers aren’t always intentionally “shopping you”. Sometimes we get sucked into third party sites.
2. People who submit a lead are serious. When they tell you otherwise it is because they’ve made a purchasing decision – you were too late.
3. Don’t be afraid to quote high if your story is compelling.
4. Rapport-building still wins.
5. Fancy emails don’t mean squat when they’re in a junk mail folder. I could have cared less about the fancy stuff anyway.
6. Fancy websites, on the other hand, definitely lend to credibility and perceived quality.
7. In an extremely competitive market you have to differentiate yourself. Strategize for the niche and not the whole population – you ain’t gonna get everybody.
8. Referrals are still the greatest advertising source.
9. Follow up, follow up, follow up!
10. Don’t talk to me before coffee.[/list:u:2pv049gy]
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Alex Snyder
http://www.dealerrefresh.com

Climb, Confess, Comply

Climb, Confess, Comply: What To Do When You Get Into Trouble With A Customer

Student pilots are taught early on in their training what to do if they get lost. The remedy is summed up by the three “C’s”- CLIMB, CONFESS, COMPLY. Climb up to a safer altitude, get on the radio and confess that you are lost, and then comply with the instructions given by the air traffic controller.

The point is to realize that you are in trouble, ask for help quickly, and then do what it takes to resolve the situation.

We can learn from this aviation strategy here in the automobile business. New or inexperienced salespeople may at some point “paint themselves into a corner” with a customer by making a mistake and not knowing how to correct it or where to go for help. Salespeople need to know that the dealership has planned ahead for these situations.

Did you get into difficulty with a customer? If the answer’s yes, you probably have:

[list:2w0wlm85]• Promised something you can’t get done.

• Promised something you were not authorized to do.

• Lied to the customer.

• Failed to deliver bad news to a customer (trade, finance, etc)

• Come across a problem with vehicle or paperwork.

• A Customer that’s unhappy with product or service.

• Forgot an appointment or promise.[/list:u:2w0wlm85]
If this problem is not handled right away, the:

[list:2w0wlm85]• Customer gets angry.

• Customer escalates situation into bigger problem.

• Customer tells others about their bad experience.

• Problem does not go away.

• Problem will cost more to resolve than if done promptly.

Going back to the aerial advice, first you must CLIMB:

• Prepare to “rise” above the situation!

• Gather up all pertinent documents and information.

• Get the manager involved promptly.

Then, CONFESS:

• Explain situation to manager, holding back nothing.

• Provide all details including when you last contacted the customer (or didn’t).

After confessing, it’s important to COMPLY:

• Follow your manager’s instructions.

• Contact the customer and resolve the issue as instructed

• Get it done promptly![/list:u:2w0wlm85]
Follow up to ensure satisfaction. Mangers also perform an important role in helping a sales associate find his or her way back to a happy customer.

Managers must:

[list:2w0wlm85]• Realize that the first goal is to satisfy the customer, not punish the salesperson.

• Have a process in place and stick to it.

• Communicate to salespeople the need to seek help with problems.

• Keep the door “open” to communication.

• Realize that even experienced salespeople can run into difficult situations.

• Follow-up with salesperson to review lessons learned from the event.[/list:u:2w0wlm85]
Managers must first get this process in place, communicate it to salespeople and make sure they learn from (and don’t repeat) their mistakes.

Salespeople, remember to make your customers happy, so you don’t lose sales! If you have to climb, confess and comply to keep them happy, so be it.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Will Parquette
Training Director
Columbia Ford Lincoln Mercury
WParquette@AutoDealerMonthly.com