An unconventional approach to increase your car dealership’s sales
According to a recent survey conducted by market research company Roy Morgan1, car salesmen ranked rock bottom on their list of most trusted professions. If you run a car dealership, this is a very unfortunate position to be in. You have the burden to meet sales targets. As a result, you pressure your salespeople to perform. In turn, they use high-pressure and unethical tactics to keep their heads above water. Customers resent being pushed to buy, so they take their business elsewhere. What can you do to turn this around and increase your car dealership’s sales?
What I’m going to suggest is unconventional and paradoxical. I want you take your focus away from sales numbers, and shift it to serving and pleasing your customers. By doing so, you will put an end to the vicious cycle described above. This advice follows a universal law in life – First you give, then you receive. Think about it – if a guy wants to date a girl, he first shows her kindness by buying her lunch or flowers. When you eat at a restaurant, you first enjoy the meal, and then you pay for it (there are a few out there that are doing it wrong!). Money is like a cat – if you chase it directly, it will run away! Instead, by focusing on service, you will attract the much needed revenue, and increase your car dealership’s sales.
Why This Will Work for You
I want you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. Who do you buy from, and why? Typically, we make purchases from companies and people that we know, like, and trust. Trust matters more than any other factor. What kind of people do you trust? In short, we trust people with integrity, and put our interests first. Unless your salespeople are demonstrating these values, customers will flee from your dealership with the fear of being ripped off! By contrast, demonstrating ethical practices will earn their respect, business, and referrals. You will increase your car dealership’s sales by standing out in the very crowded marketplace!
What it means to have integrity
Many businesses throw this word around without understanding its complete meaning. Simply writing that integrity is one of their core values on their website’s “About” page doesn’t make it so. Integrity means being consistent in three key areas: Your beliefs, your words, and your actions. Inconsistency between these areas will lead to lying, broken promises, and being “fake.” Be mindful however, that your beliefs need to correlate with morals, or the consistency will mean nothing!
Integrity in practice
Let’s put this idea into practical terms. If you want to earn the trust, business, and referrals of your customers, you’ll need to encourage your sales staff to do three key activities:
Your salespeople will need to genuinely care about your customers. This forms the solid foundation for all other sales techniques and processes. Thankfully, we naturally enjoy helping people, so you won’t have to train your people on this point. What you do need however, is to show that you care about both staff and customers.
Great leaders always lead by example. By putting your people’s and customers’ interests first, you will naturally look after your other interests (i.e. more sales). Take the time to list 20 ideas to achieve this goal. Do you need to listen more, spending more time coaching your team one-on-one? If you have been applying excessive pressure on your people, consider backing up a little to give them room to breathe and perform. What are some little gestures you can do for your customers that will make them feel cared for? (Hint: Free, fresh coffee is a good start!)
Think of your sales team as expert consultants. While their job is to make sales, the way they achieve it is by helping customers to make informed decisions. This means fully understanding what the buyer wants and needs before making a recommendation. The only way they can know these factors is by asking questions! Consider co-creating a list of common questions they can use when first meeting a new buyer. Here’s a short list of potential questions they can ask:
- What motivated you to drop in today?
- What did you like/dislike about your previous car?
- What are your main criteria for deciding?
- What features are important to you?
- What models have you considered?
- What sort of price range were you considering?
- When were you thinking of buying?
Note that this list is in order of depth, so generally your team will want to ask more superficial questions before the deeper ones! Overall, the act of showing interest and being inquisitive will go a long way in earning the trust of your customers. They will know that your staff are not just pushing a particular car for the sake of their commissions or just to increase your car dealership’s sales.
As the saying goes, “the truth will set you free!” If you are selling second-hand cars, this advice will probably rub you the wrong way. However, I want to assure you that fully disclosing faults will show your prospects that your salesmen and women can be trusted. The practice demonstrates that they are putting the customer before the transaction. The buyer will feel cared for.
To bring balance to this point, salespeople should still consider carefully the way they communicate this information. Weaknesses must always be balanced with strengths. When describing a car, they can help their customer to make an informed decision by discussing both. Additionally, salespeople should opt to be objective when describing a vehicle. Stating that a car “has done 200,000 k’s” is much more useful to the buyer than “It has seen a fair bit of travel.”
Bringing it together
Being truthful, keeping promises, and being authentic are key to running an ethical business and increase your car dealership’s sales. With salespeople putting customer interests first, they will naturally want to use a non-pushy consultative approach to selling. They will ask well prepared questions to make recommendations, leading to transparency about the vehicles they are selling. As your level of ethics rise, so will your sales revenue!