Retailers have been competing for consumer attention since early October. This week is the busiest week, as retailers try to incentivize the experience in order to make big financial gains in the holiday season. But anyone who is in the business of generating revenue has to incentive the experience for their customers. This week on the blog I’m talking about four mistakes to avoid during the sales process. But I was reminded of these mistakes because I experienced them from the other side of the table– not as a sales professional, but as a customer. These are the kinds of fundamental principles that we cannot compromise on as sales professionals. When we do, we lose credibility with our customers.
Recently, my wife and I found out that we were in a position to purchase a new vehicle. We went to a local dealership to look at options for purchasing a vehicle. There are four mistakes that were made in this process, which is unfortunate because this dealership didn’t just lose a customer that day; they lost a customer for life. And the reason I’m sharing this isn’t to say the local dealership doesn’t provide a quality product or is horrible. I’m sharing this with you because I want you to remember there’s some fundamental principles in business and sales that we can’t compromise on– as sales professional or as a customer.
Poorly Trained Reps
If you’re a sales leader, it is your job to ensure that everybody in your organization is properly trained. In the case of my car-buying experience, there was never a needs analysis. Nobody took the time to ask what exactly I needed, why I was shopping for a vehicle, or what features was I looking for. Though the sale rep was friendly and professional, because he was never trained properly, he didn’t conduct a thorough needs analysis. I don’t necessarily blame the rep, but I do blame his manager for not providing the type of training he needed to close a deal. There is no reason to have poorly trained reps. There are programs and resources out there. If you don’t know how to train your people, hire somebody who does. Having an untrained sales person is a liability, it’s not an asset.
The second mistake that was made in my car buying process was the expectations. The expectations of this car buying experience were set horribly from the very first interaction. I had already been to the dealership once to test drive the vehicle. I had some communication with my salesperson over the phone that I was looking at a vehicle. I told him my price range and what I was looking for. I was told they could make that accommodation so I went down for a test drive. And to be honest, they didn’t meet those expectation on my first test drive. But ultimately, I wasn’t ready to make a decision that day anyway, so I left without making a purchase. I called the same rep about a week later and said I’d like to come in and purchase that vehicle. He said he didn’t think they had it anymore, but said he could get me a similar deal on a similar vehicle. Once I arrived, I saw that he had set up false expectations. That price range vehicle was there, but the terms of our payment weren’t lining up again. If you can deliver something, then deliver it. If you can’t deliver it, then don’t say you will. Do not have somebody with false expectations showing up to your business because you only lose your credibility.
A Lack of Selling
This was shocking to me. There was a total lack of explanation in what this vehicle could do or couldn’t do. Now I know there are certain types of vehicles that sell themselves, but those are unique circumstances. In this transaction, there were no features and benefits or an advantages explanation. None of that took place. It was really a bullet point explanation of the things the car could do. And even then it was so brief and high level that I was never truly sold on the vehicle. I knew what I wanted to buy because I did the research on my own, but I genuinely wanted to be sold. I wanted to be told how valuable this vehicle was, how amazing this feature is and how much of an advantage it will be for me to have this feature in this vehicle. When you don’t sell your product— when you don’t highlight the features and benefits— you really take away that emotional pull that drives people make a decision. If you recall, people will say yes to your product or service because they experience pleasure or they’re going to avoid pain. Well, by not explaining the features and benefits of this vehicle, I never got that opportunity to experience the pleasure the vehicle could provide. And there was no pain created by the idea of driving a car that didn’t have these features and benefits. It was, “Here’s the car. Here’s the price tag. Take it or leave it.” Don’t assume your prospect knows everything about your product. Take the time to highlight the features, benefits and advantages of your product, service or offering.
Disrespecting a Prospect
This is the reason I will never do business with this dealership again. Do not disrespect your customers. Not every customer or every prospect is going to be the ideal fit for your product, service or offering. There are going to be people who can’t afford your product or service. There are going to be people who aren’t going to be a right fit because the product or service you’re offering doesn’t necessarily match up to what they’re looking for. However, the moment you treat somebody in a disrespectful manner is the moment you lose credibility and you lose any hope of winning their business in the future. It wasn’t a negotiation issue that causes me to feel disrespected. I felt personally disrespected in the process. When we couldn’t come to an agreement on the offer, the rep turned it over to the sales manager. The sales manager came in and he was not dressed professionally, he didn’t make eye contact with me, and he said he wanted to get home because it was Friday night. Then he proceeds to puts in front of me the same exact deal that I had just told the salesperson I didn’t want to accept. I wanted the deal we agreed upon during my first test drive. Instead of showing me respect and trying to find a way to make it work, he told me this wasn’t the vehicle for me. He got up and walked out. My interaction with the sales manager was less than two minutes. Even if you feel you didn’t have a product that would meet my expectations, you can find a way to empathize and state that in a respectful way. Then the ultimate disrespect took place: the same sales manager walked back in, threw a paper on the desk in front of me and just slid it at me and turn around and walk out and said this is the best that I can do. Take it or leave it. Didn’t explain anything. Didn’t share anything. Just had a number on a piece of paper with an offer. Throwing something at a prospect— at anyone really— is the ultimate sign of disrespect. No one should tolerate that. At the end of the day, you’re not going to sell your products to everybody and we acknowledge that. But it’s never okay to disrespect somebody.
Unlike any successful business trying to generate revenue, this dealership was not making any attempt to incentivize the experience. Those four reasons combined on why I didn’t do business with the local car dealership. And let me be clear; it was never a price issue. Because after that terrible experience, I drove an hour away to another dealership and shared my experience. I found a vehicle, and I even paid a little bit more money than the offer that I was given at my local dealership for the same vehicle. But the positive experience ultimately won them my business and won them a customer for life. It’s not always a price issue. Purchasing a product or service is a total experience and you represent your product, your organization and yourself from the very first interaction. So always act with the highest level of integrity. Sales professionals often get a reputation that we’re high pressure, pushy and unethical. When I come across a sales person who lives up to that negative reputation, it really irritates me. The wonderful world of highly compensated sales is a great place to be in a career. The world of sales-preneurship is phenomenal. You can dictate your success, but do it with utmost integrity and treat everyone with respect.
If you need help with training or you have questions or concerns, reach out to me, you can get connected directly to me. I’ve just started a text community. You can text me at 228-8967. Just text hello and you’ll get an opportunity to get a free copy of the international best seller Catapulting Commissions. But more importantly, you can text me and I’ll be there to answer any coaching or consulting questions you have for your sales team or your small business. I’m here to help as a resource.