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This blog was inspired to me when I got here in the late morning (I'm usually the closer!), and both of my two Internet Coordinators were running around; one looking for pictures of a particular vehicle, and the other was finding out from our Sales Managers if we can do "better than the internet price" because the customer wants to know before she gets here...

All I could do is shake my head, and try to explain some facts in the automotive world:

- More than 3 out of 4 customers will NOT buy the vehicle they originally inquire on via the internet

- Most customers will ask about price as an inquiry, but most of the time it is NOT an objection

- About 9 out of 10 customers go to the internet before coming into a dealership

- Most customers visit 2 OR LESS dealerships before making a purchase

I'm sure this is happening more often than it should in dealerships everywhere, and it is very ineffective.  To put it blunt...a waste of time! 

Don't lose mind of the fact that we do this every day, and know the quickest and easiest way to get it done.  Most often we help people purchase vehicles more times in a week, than most people experience in a lifetime!  So why are we as professionals running around on wild goose chases looking for information that will end up being irrelevant in the sale? 

Spending more than 80% of your time on less than 20% of your customers is a recipe for disaster!  You will not be happy with your end-of-month results if you tend to try to give the customer too much "TLC" before they get to the dealer.  Imagine all of the customers you can be calling, scheduling for appointments and getting to show up, rather than having a few valuable employees seeking information on one tough prospect.  This is the opportunity cost that you have to sacrifice to do this for one customer, in hopes of that one customer you are spending all that time on is going to convert to a sale.  Does this make sense?  ...I hope you said NO

The customer controlling you, the professional appointment setter, is indeed getting what they want, but not helping you get what you want in return.  We want to create a reason for the customer to come to the dealership, and without avoiding the question, give the best answer to make us both happy.  For example, we tend to get scared when a customer asks the price and treat it as an objection before we have to.  Even worse yet, bring up price before the customer because we THINK that is the most important thing to them.  Having a list of fact finding questions and good answers that make sense to the customer will help you avoid running around, and get the customer to do what we want...and that's to come into the store.  We can find out information about what they want, to better guide them to the best deal possible.

Asking question a question like: "what was it in particular you liked about that vehicle?" is a very simple but powerful statement.  You will find out if your customer likes the budget, brand, style, etc...of that car, and then be able to make suggestions of similar vehicles.  A customer may have been looking at 3-5 vehicles on your site, but only asked about one.  You may make suggestions, and find the vehicle is one of the same ones that they were also looking at!  By making numerous suggestions you are creating an "information overload" situation, while also understanding what the customer’s wants and needs are.  I have even found that sometimes they come to the conclusion themselves that it would be easier for them to come in and take a look, simply because of how informative I am on the phone.

Constantly mixing in phrases like "when you get here..." and "I'm glad we had this chance to talk before we meet..." paired along with being helpful on the phone will help you convert more "lookers" into "buyers" when they do get to your lot as well as get more prospects interested in coming to see you soon!

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Wow! After 48 hours, I believe the jet lag is gone! And just under 48 hours (and waiting over an hour in the airport AFTER I spoke to someone) to FINALLY get my bags back from my trip to Dallas!! Aaahhhhh!!! 
 
I'm still flying high, though, because I have so much energy from the Internet Sales 20 Group, which in my opinion was the most motivating 3 days of my life.  I say my "life" because my "career" is only a tip of the iceberg.  If you are not happy as a person, you will not be happy as a professional.  Attitude does not start with an "A" by coincidence...it's because that's where it all starts!!  I made some genuine connections with great people that I can't wait to see in Los Angeles at the next event and they have definitely changed my attitude for good! 
 
To sum up 32 hours in 3 days of intense learning and sharing thoughts, great customer service rules the world, and everything else, including the sales, will come naturally!
 
Being in customer service myself, I find that I analyze others in the same profession daily.  Sometimes, it benefits us to adjust our approach on the phone, and in order to do that, we need to make sure we understand where it all starts.  I believe we all know this to be the obvious, but common sense isn't so common...right!!?? 
 
Case in point.  I recently had an issue with a common furniture company. I called into the trusty "800" number, and after a few minutes playing with the "automated person" trying to tell a computer what my issue was, I finally got a human being!  I wanted to exchange some office cubical pieces I ordered.  I then got transferred to a guy in I-dont-know-what-country-land...that was absolutely no help.  I had asked the company to return the pieces, or instead of returning them, just help me exchange for what I need.  He proceeded to explain why he couldn't exchange the broken parts for new ones.  After this conversation going nowhere for about 10-12 minutes, I then requested to speak to a supervisor that can help me....hopefully.
 
As if you didn't already get my point, the supervisor was even better at giving me reasons as to why they "couldn't do it" (GREAT at using 3rd parties as verification for procedure, just like we do in the car business with bank programs, vendors, and even state and federal regulations).  I then realized I had to put my salesman cap on, and along with that comes "the sweet man voice" ...and for the record women, this works better for you than it does for us men! ;-) 
Remember the thing about bees with honey, as opposed to bees with vinegar...right?
 
I proceeded to put myself in her shoes, and bluntly asked to put herself into mine as the customer that spends a lot of money with her business.  I literally asked her to "close her eyes, and imagine my frustration with having to deal with your company, that you charged me (and didn't disclose) a ridiculous amount of money to deliver furniture that I could have picked up (across the street). One piece was missing, another broken, and all I want is to do what my company hired me for...build an Internet Sales Department to help my business grow!!! ...and quite frankly, I hope you can appreciate that my time is money, and I don't like wasting money!  I do not mean to have an attitude with you ma'am, but I'm really hoping you can make this better.  Can you see what I am saying and appreciate where I am coming from?"
 
IMMEDIATELY, she put me on hold for less than 20 seconds, and came back with a 10% credit and refunded the WHOLE delivery charge!  My new furniture is coming Next Friday, and I told her that I am very eCommerce savvy, and that she just turned the murderous review that I was about to put ALL over, into a satisfying experience that I appreciated her making right! 
 
Don't be afraid of bad reviews and irate customers!  Even if we put our happy face on everyday, we can't please everyone, all the time.  No matter how hard we try, there will be "that one".  The real professional will acknowledge the objection,  isolate it, and come up with a satisfying solution that helps both parties better themselves.  If the customer is right, let's do the right thing.  If the customer is wrong, then let's explain to them why it is, what it is.  Use 3rd parties when evaluating trades, telling people interest rates, or even quoting price!  "We have a cash price, retail (financing) price, and a leasing price...which one were you most interested in Mr./Ms. Customer..??" 
 
Now you are asking an open ended question to find out what the customer's concerns are.  When the prospect suggests a ridiculously high number for their trade, we can't tell them they are wrong and how it really is (as much as we want to).  There is a right way and an even better way to handle every situation that arises.  As Dr. Covey says to begin with the end result in mind, and simply handle every situation with the care it deserves.  Without customers we wouldn't have a job! 
 
Happy selling!
 
Andy Fedo
Director of Internet Sales
Lithia Nissan Hyundai of Fresno
 
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