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The Kumbaya Strategy – Why Your Ineffective Internet Team/BDC Thinks They’re Doing a Good Job

The Kumbaya Strategy – Why Your Ineffective Internet Team/BDC Thinks They’re Doing a Good Job

Imagine a world where no one ever told you “no.”

Relaxing and enjoyable, right?

Now imagine working on an internet sales team or in a sales BDC and never hearing a prospect tell you “no” over the phone.

Ahh, you’re now fully entrenched in the Kumbaya Strategy. A sales existence where you never hear anyone telling you “no.”

Pure bliss… you were really helpful.

Pure bliss… you made a real connection with this prospect.

Pure bliss… they really seemed interested and they liked you.

Pure bliss… you feel great.

Pure bliss… that is, until you get your paycheck.

The Kumbaya Strategy in Automotive Sales

If most people bought cars, we wouldn’t need sales managers, salespeople, or a sales BDC. We’d price our inventory like Walmart and people would just come in, pick the one they like, pay at the register, and drive home.

While this might be the (distant) future for automotive retail, it’s not the reality today. Today, most prospects still need help buying a car… and this is great news for those truly willing to help them buy.

Using the Kumbaya Strategy, you helped them get all their questions answered and then some. You built some great rapport and then some. Heck, you kind of made a friend, didn’t you?

So… why didn’t they buy from you? Why didn’t they show up for that “appointment” you think you set? Why have they stopped taking your calls?

Unfortunately, using the Kumbaya Strategy only helped them eliminate you and your dealership from their consideration set. But, hey, they didn’t tell you “no” did they?

“When Would You Like to Come In?”

Most buyers need just a bit more than help. Most need you to take charge, be direct, and guide them through to the sale. Plainly stated, they need your dealership to sell them a car. While they don’t want to be sold, most simply will never pull the trigger without your help. This starts, of course, by getting a warm butt in a seat. This starts by setting an appointment that shows… on time.

With the Kumbaya Strategy you never hear “no” because you never genuinely asked for the sale; you never directly asked for a real appointment. After nine long minutes of answering (mostly smokescreen) questions from the prospect, you gather up the nerve to finally ask for the appointment:

You say: “So, when would you like to come in for a test drive?”

They reply: “Maybe this weekend.”

You say: “Well, we open on Saturday at 9; would sometime in the morning work for you?”

They reply: “Yeah, I can make it around ten.”

Then you think, “Ahh, pure bliss… they didn’t tell me ‘no,’ and they’re coming in on Saturday to buy a car!”

Do you have an appointment? No; because they’re not showing. Are they going to buy from your dealership? No, they’re going to “hold off for now” or buy somewhere else. Why? Because you never really invited them in, did you?

All you really accomplished using the Kumbaya Strategy is to encourage most prospects to eliminate your dealership from their consideration set. Oh, and you created the need for worthless follow-up.

You’ll call them on Saturday to see why they missed their appointment. They won’t take that call.

You’ll follow this with a quick text. They’ll reply “STOP,” or they won’t reply at all.

You’ll call them on Monday to try to reschedule. They won’t take that call either.

In fact, if you’re a dutiful follower of the Kumbaya Strategy, you’ll likely make another five or six calls in an attempt to provide them even more information and to reschedule that “appointment” you think you set.

I Want to Hear “No”

Instead of a 9-minute call of back and forth helpfulness, why not ask for the appointment up front? Why not try to get them to the next step in the buying process? Why not ensure that any appointment you set is going to show?

Because you’re afraid of hearing “no.”

I want to hear “no.” I want to hear “no” because I want to set real appointments that show and buy. I want to hear “no” so I can get to the real objections or questions they have.

Moreover, I want to hear “no” on the very first call, so I don’t have to continue to phone this “active” prospect who won’t take my calls and won’t respond to my emails or texts.

The more times I hear “no,” the more appointments I’ll set that show and buy.

If you’re not hearing “no” you’re not asking for the appointment.

But… Kumbaya, Right?

“But Steve, my customers love me. They love how helpful I am. They love how I ask them if they need any more information. They love how I build so much rapport over the phone.”

They may love you but please stop calling them customers… they’re not your customers until they buy from you. Right now, they’re prospects trying to buy a car. Your “helpfulness” took them out of the market for now. Or worse, helped them buy somewhere else.

“Okay, but Steve, I know that if I was looking for a car, I would appreciate a BDC agent or internet salesperson who didn’t pressure me into setting an appointment, and instead answered all my questions.”

Stop building and using processes and word tracks for what you would want if you were the customer; and start building and using them to sell cars.

You Should Be Helpful

Don’t get me wrong, you should be helpful. Additionally, you should be courteous and respectful. Finally, you should answer all their questions.

Of course, for nearly all your prospects, all the information they need is online. They’ve already done their own needs analysis, product selection, and feature presentation. Now, they’re trying to buy a car.

They’re calling you or submitting a lead because they want your help with the next step. They don’t know how this works and they fear sales pressure. But… and this is critical… they want you to invite them in to see the vehicle; to test drive and see if they can make a deal.

Ask for the appointment first. Then, if they have questions, they’ll ask them.

Ask for the appointment first. Then, if they need more information, they’ll tell you.

When you start with anything other than trying to set a real appointment that shows, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Of course, because you never heard “no” you feel great… again, until you get your paycheck.

The stats are clear: You sell exactly 0% of the Phone Ups and Email Ups who don’t show. But, as anyone with more than a week in the car business knows, magic can happen when you get a warm butt in a seat.

Good Selling!

Want to stop employing the Kumbaya Strategy and start setting real appointments that show? Check out my free 17-part video series: Appointment-Driven Communications.

Steve is the author of Assumptive Selling: The Complete Guide to Selling More Vehicles for More Money to Today’s Connected Customers;" as well ...
I kinda get what Steve's saying, but I think he laid it on a little too thick.

Probably THE #1 hallmark of any good agent -- Sales or BDC -- is the ability to build rapport quickly. When I say "too thick," the (very well written) article seems to intimate a relationship between mamsy-pamsy and rapport-building.

100% agreed that you need to ask the tough questions, but the "talent" -- and TRAINING -- portion is the ability to ask the questions in a non pushy or threatening way. It's also that same talent and training that lets a good agent be transparent and share information over the phone while still moving the customer forward in the sales process.

The best salespeople, and I can honestly claim to have watched over 1000, just talk to people in a natural, non-threatening way. They build rapport and take the position that they are "Serving" their customer -- they are working for them, they will take care of them. And they'll take care of them WHEREVER they are.
Hi John,

Good comment, though as happens many times with articles, readers often infer things that are not there. For example, I'm not sure where I said "don't build rapport" or to "ask questions in a pushy or threatening way."

Using an appointment-first approach is not antithetical to building rapport or asking nicely. In fact, it's just the opposite for the dealers who do this correctly. I have plenty of clients that tell me someone brought the BDC agent cookies when they arrived for their appointment (because they were so helpful).

Sounds like they're able to build rapport, ask nicely and earn a great living.

Best wishes,

100% put it on a little thick, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, the only way to get a point across and break through the defensiveness is to smack someone upside the head with it. It's really good and makes points that I continuously stress to everyone I work with; BDC, sales, management, etc.
By the way, I was addressing these EXACT points with my GM just yesterday morning. One thing I would add is that you MUST be helpful, but why answer questions that customer hasn't asked yet?

Cust; "Is that used still in stock?"

Rep; "Yes, it is. Here's everything we did in service, the Carfax is showing it's a one-owner vehicle, but it has an accident. It's an 'As-Is' vehicle that only comes with a 30-day warranty, and you can only finance it for 36 months because of the age and the miles. Do you want to come in and drive it?"

Yes, be helpful and answer questions, but don't feed them the questions you think they should ask that lead the prospect down the rabbit hole and away from the ultimate destination, a real appointment that shows.