About reactions; often a customer’s first reaction to the numbers is negative. No surprise there. This is why the good Lord invented professional car sales people. When the buyer has a negative reaction to the numbers, the sales job truly begins. We have gotten really good at this over the last 100 years.
- Sometimes the reaction is unexpected: They lay down and buy the car.
- Sometimes the reaction is predictable: They want a lower payment and more for their trade.
- Sometimes the reaction is controlled: They require a gurney and CPR, or at least help peeling them off the ceiling
A great sales person monitors the nuances of his customer’s body language, tone of voice, behavior, and demeanor along every step of the interaction. With this insight, he is better prepared to predict which type of reaction is forthcoming – and how to control it. That’s a talented individual who is playing chess; not checkers!
Previously, car dealers performed this silent psych evaluation during the walk around, the test drive, and service walk. This gave us time to chit chat, shoot the shit, and acclimate to the customer’s unique demeanor. Well before numbers were presented, we knew how the customer would likely react. It’s salesman science. Seriously, we deserve some letters after our names. Tank Henderson M.B.D (Master Bullshit Detector), or something classier. Whatever.
Back to the first pass. The “he who speaks first loses” pass. Have you ever kicked a green pea under the desk for breaking that awkward silence? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re the green pea and you should probably invest in some shin guards – or shut the hell up.
But, BREAKING NEWS, it actually isn’t all about the first pass.
Your likelihood of winning the deal hinges on the second pass presentation. Whether they buy or fly, subsequent passes are like extra credit you earn based on how well the second pass was presented.
We’re masters at this art. We were trained for this. Once we sit a customer down the chances are high we’re closing them!
Now let’s throw a wrench in the cogs. What about online?
With most digital retailing tools we can’t see shit. There’s no arm crossing, eye contact avoidance, feet shuffling, or stuttering. We have no idea what the customer is thinking and feeling.
- Are they struggling with the money down, with their credit, or is it the payment?
- Are we not giving them enough for their trade or did we show them more than they expected?
- Are they nervous about the price?
- Are they even on the right vehicle?
These are questions that need exploration. It’s nearly impossible to set a customer down the road-to-sale without discovering their wants/needs/desires/fears. The customer also still desperately needs the encouragement from an informed third party, the “pat on that ass” that reassures them, "Yes, this is a great vehicle for you and your family. Yes! Now is the best time to buy it. Yes! You are a smart, informed shopper and are making a wise choice. Yes! You’re getting top dollar for your trade. Yes! You did a great job buying this car!"
We are only human, after all, and encouragement goes a long way. Never underestimate the importance of relationship in sales. People need people. Even now. Especially now!
None of this can be accomplished when we send the customer, ALONE, down a tunnel of linear and sterile processes. The stagnant number on the screen is uninspiring. The vehicle of interest may or may not be right for them. The monthly payment might make no sense to them. It’s probably not even accurate!
And while the customer is braving the icy tundra that is your website digital retail "solution," the sales team is entirely IN THE DARK. We are NOT privy to their thoughts and feelings. We have no body language to evaluate. We can’t see the stink face or beaming smile when they see the monthly payment and trade value. The reactions which traditionally inform our path forward are masked behind a screen.
We are using tools that take away the oldest most important part of the car buying process. Then, we are blaming you the dealer, saying that YOUR process is broken and needs to be changed.
We don’t FRIKIN think so.