Often in sales we have problems of perception vs reality.
Generally, the customer's perception of what they should pay for a car, what their trade should be worth, how much is required as down payment, and ultimately what their payment should be, is no nowhere close to the reality of what it takes to purchase the vehicle.
When customers "pencil their deal," to get an idea of how to set up their budget, they do it through the lens of rose colored glasses.
You can blame the advertising if you want: The "lost leader" they saw online includes incentives they don't qualify for.
More than that, you can blame human nature:
They've been walking past their own vehicle for so long, they've forgotten about the dings, dents and scratches that have accumulated over the years. Or that they're due for tires, or that they can't remember the last time they paid for a brake job.
They've over-estimated their credit score. Or seen a score from a free "credit monitoring" service that's based on a different model than the one used by automotive lenders.
And finally, because of easy lending and low rates, they've come to believe that money down is no longer a requirement for large purchases. In fact they view down payment almost as a mark of shame, like the fact that they can get approved with zero cash down is somehow a badge of honor, rather than taking pride in having saved up some cash, and saving on interest as a result.
So you start the interaction, you present a vehicle, you present a financial proposal, and then you discover the problem.
You're about $100 bucks a month off from where the customer thought they'd end up, and now you're battling to explain why. You're digging in to combat the customer's unrealistic expectation.
And you're trying to explain it to someone who likely has little respect for Retail Sales Consultants and the service they provide.
They think you're a little scummy, they think maybe you're trying to rip them off, they believe there's a better deal somewhere else.
But they don't like confrontation; they don't want to have the tough conversation; they're unwilling to engage with a person they don't fully respect. So what they tell you is:
"We need to think about it."
And they leave.
And when they leave, they rarely come back.
So what - that's just part of the business, right?
I refuse to accept that.
When I lose a deal I always know why.
When I win a deal I always know why.
Like, not just a guess... I ACTUALLY KNOW.
If YOU want to know why, you need to learn the science and the psychology of how the human brain formulates large purchase decisions. And to get through that conversation, you need to manage transitions and flow with the skill and poise of a true professional.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're left with one thing in a scenario like this. And if you DO try to dig in at the very end, or bring in the hard closer, really try to apply some pressure to get it done, wear them down a little - if you do that, it feels abrasive.
And it perpetuates every stereotype that's given the retail automotive industry a bad name.
You've justified why they don't respect you and given them zero reason to complete the deal, or to return at all.
IF, as sometimes happens, their overwhelming desire to own the vehicle combined with their very real distaste for repeating the same goat rodeo down the street, actually results in a purchase, it will most definitely be "one and done." No repeat business, no referrals. And your closer will thump their chest and take credit for a job well done.
To change the narrative, you need a meaningful setup so you can have constructive closing conversations.
You need to establish yourself as a true professional, to take on the role of counselor, guiding your customer through a large purchase decision.
It's not complicated, but it is complex.
It doesn't take MUCH time, but it does take SOME time.
You know that every customer is different.
But even though human beings are all different, human brains are pretty similar.
The psychology of the purchase decision takes the same basic format.
Transitions, and the flow of the interaction, have repeatable patterns that can be learned and practiced.
1: Change. What are the problems, and how bad do they hurt.
2. Timing. Urgency to complete the transaction now, without being perceived as pressure.
3. Spend. What can you hope to gain by spending on THIS, and what do you fear losing out on by spending on something else.
4. Dealership. A Dealership. Your Dealership. And YOU. Build trust by communicating confidence and demonstrating expertise.
5. The Vehicle. What is the unique value offered by this specific vehicle; something that matters to the customer, and something that can't be replicated anywhere else.
There are scientifically proven methods to help build rapport. To find commonality and improve responsiveness.
There are word tracks to help manage the transitions.
There are proven strategies to help maintain a positive emotional state for both you and your customer.
Understand your purpose: To guide and consult.
Understand your mission: To improve your life by improving your skills.
Here to help,
Friend of Salespeople
Benjamin Dykstra - Sales Educator, team learning facilitator, on a mission to improve the lives of salespeople and change the public perception of automotive retail.