Thursday, August 28, 2008

Selling on Their Time - Not Yours

Sales trainer Renee Walkup recently experienced an interesting sales scenario while trying to buy a new car. Instead of buying on her time, the salesperson tried to force his timeline. Read on for her story, and make sure you avoid this seller's mistakes.

So there I was, back at a car dealership looking for a new car. I usually have the luxury of taking my time when buying a new vehicle. However, the woman barreling down I85 into my Infiniti, didn't think about MY inconvenience as she was text-messaging her boyfriend instead of paying attention to the road. Oh well, fortunately, it was just a car.

At any rate, the urgent automobile purchase decision was to come quickly because of the insurance company. I didn't have much time to mull over the different choices. After looking over about a dozen cars, I finally decided on a cute little Volvo. The salesperson let me take it home. I was having a ball tooling around in it for free, while waiting for my insurance check.

Then, the salesman called me and left a message. "Renee, Hi. This is Ernie. Say, I called to see how you like the Volvo. Oh, yes, and what will it take to get your business since you KNOW it's the end of the month and I'd love to close this deal?"

My first reaction was, "So what?" Why should I, the almighty customer, CARE whether Ernie wants to close by the end of the month? Frankly, Ernie didn't think about that. He just wanted to make his number, or get closer to it, before close of business on the 31st.

I refer to Ernie's question as a "freeze question." A question that causes your customer to freeze is one which most likely will not lead to a close. Another freeze question is: "How much do you want to spend?"

So, instead of offering up more freeze questions, here are a few questions you can ask with confidence to avoid turning your customer into an iceberg:

"You mentioned that you need to make a decision soon. Tell me about your time frame in more detail."

"You've certainly been shopping around. Tell me your impressions of how our service compares to the others you have looked at."

"You mentioned in an earlier conversation that our product meets your X needs. Tell me, how would your business be different if you purchased our solution?"

"You said you are happy with your current supplier. Tell me, when was the last time your supplier ran out of product? Could you list us as a secondary vendor to fulfill your order when your primary supplier is unable to?"

"Note that all of the questions begin with "you," not "I" or "we", says Walkup. "In fact, that's one reason why the Volvo salesperson failed in his sales skills miserably with me. He had all the "pat" questions and techniques, none of which is particularly effective and more likely offensive."

"I bought from him despite his inexperience because I was in a huge hurry and liked his car. But if he wants a referral, he won't get one. If he wants repeat business from me, he won't get that either. In short, I bought, but on MY time frame - not his!"

Renee Walkup is president of SalesPEAK Inc. and author of "Selling to Anyone Over the Phone."

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3 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

It's always fun as salespeople to watch the technique of people trying to sell us! Part of us is listening to them and the other part is critiquing them. I think, in this case, Ernie was just reminding you that if you wanted the best deal, his end of month would be the time to buy. I'm not sure that's offensive as much as it's an expected part of the sales ritual for car buying.

August 28, 2008 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand. The salesman and dealership allowed you to take a $30,000+ car home with no commitment on your part and had the audacity to want you to buy the car? Perhaps you should have rented a car instead.

August 29, 2008 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Sydney BMW Sales said...

An often-missed fundamental of sales is that customers buy based on THEIR needs (not the salesperson's)!

These sorts of pleas (end of the month, I need to make target, etc.) by car salespeople are weak, unprofessional and usually correctly perceived by customers as stupid, manipulative rubbish.

Customer needs beat salesperson’s needs every time!

September 4, 2008 4:33 AM  

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