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Customers are no different than most salespeople when it comes to the first time greeting at the dealership. Both are usually apprehensive. Some are down right scared! And based on the way some dealerships have treated customers, they have a right to be. So customers go through a process to prepare for their experience.
Their Game Plan
The husband and wife sit together at breakfast discussing a strategy. They agree on things like what type of vehicles they are willing to consider; the price they are willing to pay and the number of places they will shop today. They also strategize about how far they will go in the sales process. But most importantly, they agree together that they won’t be buying today!
With that in mind, the customer’s plan for when they arrive at your lot includes these two steps:
- Get a price
- Get out of there and go shopping
Practice your openings
Not every day is filled with fresh traffic. And even if you are dedicated to follow-up and prospecting, you should plan time into your week for training and self-improvement. Consider practicing your greetings with other salespeople. Include several customer profiles and difficult greetings. Coach and encourage each other on ways to improve.
Prepare to disarm
Considering the customer’s naturally defensive posture, it’s critical that you be prepared to disarm them by showing them the benefits of going along with your plan. You do this following these steps:
- Check your attitude before every greeting – Put on a pleasant face and choose a customer attitude. This is especially important if you’ve just had a difficult customer previously.
- Notice the customer’s personality and characteristics as they arrive:
- How are they dressed?
- How quickly do they walk?
- What does their body language say?
- Do they appear happy or stressed?
Decide how to tailor your greeting to match their preferred style.
Basic Greeting Fundamentals
Greet customers promptly
How fast is too fast? Research indicates customers prefer to be helped rather than be left to figure things out on their own. And they prefer to be helped within the first 2 minutes of arriving. Be sure to focus on whether or not they are headed for the front door or browsing the inventory. If they’re headed for the door, wait for them to enter first.
Smile, make eye contact and provide a warm welcome
Nothing disarms people more than a warm welcome. Approach them appropriately, smile and say, “Welcome to Any Dealer USA. My name is ________ (offer to shake hands), and you are?”
Thank the customer for visiting
Say – “I truly appreciate you giving us the opportunity to meet your transportation needs. We have over 200 vehicles in stock, so if you don’t mind I’d like to save you some time by asking a few questions.”
Now you’re into fact-finding!
Responding to Difficult Customers
Whatever happens, the worse thing you could do is get stressed out. In fact, Thomas Jefferson was famous for suggesting that the best way to maintain control in any situation was to always remain cool and “unruffled” under all circumstances
Listen with the intent to understand
When a customer gets defensive, don’t respond too quickly or with a general comeback. Try to show them you truly care and that you understand. Chances are a difficult customer’s first comment will be motivated by fear.
Provide a benefit
Make sure your response is benefit oriented. Customers need to know “what’s in it for me?” One way to do this is to use the reason they came in, as the focal point of your control.
“I’m just looking!” is probably the most convenient phrase available to customers. So capitalize on it by saying: (Use the reason they came in)
“That’s great! And in order to make your looking easier and to save you time, let me explain how our lot is laid out. The used cars are over there. The new sedans are on that side of the building…”
Not enough time
“We don’t have much time” is another popular excuse given by customers to expedite their escape. Let them know you understand by saying:
“I certainly want to be sensitive to your schedule. What would you like to accomplish while you’re here?”
Shopping several vehicles
“We also plan on shopping at (competition)”.
How would you address this one? Simply give them a benefit for spending some time with you:
“That makes perfect sense. In fact, I can help make your comparisons even better. Allow me to provide you with some side by side research by an independent 3rd party. That way when you’re ready to buy, you can make a more informed decision.”
What’s your best price?
“I’ve done all the research! Just give me you’re best price.”
This one comes up all the time. In order to move this customer into your process, give them more than they ask for:
I’ll be happy to do that! I’ll also give you everything you’ll need to make an informed decision, including payment information and figures on your present car. And here’s the best part: If the terms I provide aren’t agreeable or affordable. I wouldn’t expect you to do business with us. Is that fair enough?”
The last thing you need to remember is to have fun! And try to make it fun for the customer. This eases tension and allows the customer to open up.
No matter what type of situation you encounter, these strategies will help you build rapport quickly, and get more customers into your showroom. And that’s your first step to success!
You’ve taken a huge step toward engaging customers and overcoming common challenges that crop up when you first greet a guest. All that’s left to do is take the test and put these ideas to work.