The best sales training is to practice buying, but not necessarily make a purchase each time. Purposefully gathering information to learn more finds most people comfortable with the visit.
Observation and experiences are the best teachers.
We all need to purchase food, clothing and even a car at some point in our lives. Our tendency is to return where we are treated best. It is the relationship building wherever possible that builds client loyalty.
BUT, the best lessons arise when we are treated poorly. In the past, automotive sales were 98% conducted by men. As women walked into the showroom, a strange smile would overcome the faces of the representatives. The looks suggested belief they could take advantage of me with price and not sell value.
Avoid mistaken assumptions by asking informative questions
Advancing to the sales profession, I took a public speaking class to increase confidence. My sales differentiator was in learning to treat everyone as an equal.
Through the years, I would practice buying cars when the need arose. I purposefully would quietly enter the showroom. At times, I didn’t know whether to scream or laugh-out-loud.
My eye was on:
- Watching the sales representatives perform
- Recognizing errors to avoid for sales to improve
- Testing negotiation strategy
Two Favorite Stories:
With teenagers about to drive, we wanted a well-built car for everyone’s safety. It was suggested to buy a modest model and previously owned car known for being well-built.
#1. Driving by one lot, I noticed the model we were seeking, but it was of a different manufacturer. My opening remark to the sales rep was, “I couldn’t help but notice the car on your lot. It’s distracting from your brand. I’ll help take it off your hands.”
The dismissive representative said, “You will have to talk to the Manager, but he is unusually busy.” (I read the delivery as ‘You aren’t worthy of his time.)
The gruff communication was due to the assumption I didn’t have the authority from my husband to purchase. I replied, “I brought a book, I’ll wait.”
My waiting for an extended time had management believing I would accept anything. Wrong! Instead, his impatience with me and desperation to make the sale led to an acceptance of my original offer. Relaying the story, our friends applauded.
- Never be desperate or sell on price
- Focus on the value and client end goals
- Eliminate assumptions
#2. A few years later, a Sales Manager was selling his personal BMW. During a test drive, it was apparent the car needed repair. He dismissed my objections as my being an ignorant female. I then suggested he take a test drive with my son and I. The car stalled after each red light. I re-emphasized the problems.
Once back at the office, the Manager refused my offer. I countered with, “It’s a down economy. I doubt anyone is going to say okay to your car that doesn’t operate properly. I’ll take it off your hands, and give you cash. I can even give you $1 bills if you like.”
My son and I laugh as we recall the Manager banging his head up and down on his desk yelling, “Why me?”!
We got the car at our offered price.
- Be sure what you are about to sell is in good running order
- Don’t ever dismiss the decision-making capabilities of anyone.
- Treat everyone equally and with respect
- Question your prospect about what caught their curiosity
- Focus on value and the service you provide
A week later, the Sale Manager called to offer me a job. He said I would outsell all the men on his floor! His offer was declined.
The practice of buying sharpens both selling and negotiation skills.