Before I get to the five steps, I want to briefly explain the difference between sales and marketing because they are different, and it is impacting sales results in every dealership I have analyzed.
Marketing: This is about creating demand for your vehicles by addressing customer needs.
Sales: helping those who have expressed a need for a vehicle make a decision.
Many automotive salespeople struggle with sales and influence in general because they skip the marketing part in their own sales process. Rather than screening incoming leads, dealerships attack every inbound lead with the same intensity assuming they are all in the sales phase then flame out if they don’t get an immediate response.
I have found this to be the most critical and often overlooked part of the sales process. It starts with listening to your shopper and understand their needs. You should approach every call, text, email, or chat with a list of questions to learn as much as you can during your first interaction with your shopper.
The purpose of starting your sales process by listening is twofold:
- To make them feel seen, heard and understood (empathy)
- Is to listen for verbal clues as to how you will position your dealership’s available inventory in the context of the story of their need (relevancy).
Once you have asked enough questions to understand your automotive shopper’s needs adequately, it is time to confirm the statements. You want the shopper to feel like you are on the same page as them. “What I’m hearing from you is…” “So to quickly recap, you want a vehicle that…”, “As I’ve understood, your vehicle needs right now are…” You want to create an environment that your automotive shoppers understand that you understand. The critical outcome here is that your shoppers know that they’ve been seen, heard, and understood.
Create the vision
I never see this happening in the process of a typical salesperson, but I see it instinctually happening with top-performing salespeople. Stop selling the car, start selling the vision of the vehicle.
People don’t make decisions in the rational part of their brain; instead, people make the decision using the limbic brain, which is the oldest part of our brains and doesn’t use language. The limbic part of your brain entirely runs on emotion.
The best salespeople make the shopper feel the emotional impact of their vehicle purchase and how the shopper can trust the salesperson to get there.
You have to make the limbic brain say, “YES” first or the shopper won’t buy.
So now that you have your shopper’s limbic brain on board and ready to buy, we have to switch gears and get the rational part of the brain synced up and ready to go as well. To accomplish this, you need to focus on the “how” and the “what” of the vehicle purchase.
How to get your shopper’s rational brain onboard:
Social proof– this is where you highlight your testimonials and third-party validation. Your Google reviews can be a make or break aspect of your sales success.
Storytelling- to overcome any objections at this critical junction. “I was working with Jane Doe, and they felt this exact way, but this is what we did, and this is why they purchased from me.” You have to mirror your shoppers by using their own words to explain things in the conversation.
Time to close
Once you have painted a picture of the vision of ownership and engaged both their limbic and rational brain, it is time to position yourself for the sale. The best salespeople act as facilitators or advisors, not deal closers. You need to listen for the cues and help facilitate the shopper through the necessary steps to drive off the lot happy.
By now, you see that with just a couple of tweaks to your sales process, you can achieve an incredible increase in your sales results. It starts with understanding your shoppers completely before the initial conversation. The more you know about the shopper, the better your initial communication will be, which in turn builds trust faster and helps to create the buying atmosphere you need to drive more appointments and sales for your dealership.