By Kristy Westfall Moyer, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
I recently started the process of buying a new car. I can hear all the moans out there already! No one likes this process.
As a sales and service trainer, my job is to inspire and train people on how to create legendary experiences for their customers to increase loyalty and close sales. I have been teaching these concepts for so long that they now are part of my DNA.
From time to time, however, I have doubts about what I am training on. If I were a customer, would these techniques work with me? Would I pay a higher rate for a better experience, even if I knew I could buy the product cheaper elsewhere? So when I have an opportunity to practice what I preach, I get excited! It justifies what my company is built on and validates my life’s purpose.
Let the Games Begin
With our initial research completed, my family narrowed it down to two cars, two brands. I built my perfect car on each brand’s Website and hit “submit” for proposals from dealers within 200 miles. I wondered whether I would be the customer I insist exists, and buy based on service and not just price.
In our prospecting class, we teach people to get there first, be diligent in your follow-up attempts, and have a client-centered message that will get your prospect’s attention.
A study completed by MIT published the behaviors of flourishing salespeople. A huge indicator of someone’s success is how quickly he or she responds to incoming leads. The average lead-time response is 31 hours! This same study showed that conversion rates plummet after five minutes; if the prospect does not get an immediate response, the seller’s chances of closing the deal decrease by more the 50 percent.
My inbox should have been exploding as there are 21 dealerships between the two brands that received my request—NOT! To those who took too long, or never responded, I am mad! They clearly are lazy and don’t care about me or my money.
In regard to follow-up attempts, 80 percent of closed sales take a minimum of five contacts. In addition, 48 percent of salespeople make one contact, and only ONE percent of salespeople actually make the five attempts that are proven to succeed.
Within an hour, 11 of the 21 dealerships responded. Within that so-important five-minute window, only two from each brand responded. Everyone else was off my list! Before I ever talked to anyone or heard their prices, I eliminated them because my perception was that they were not eager to take care of me.
The remaining four were fast and their message referenced the virtual car I created with my specific needs. The rest were generic, auto-populated, and probably had not even read my RFP. The four reached out 5-plus times, whereas the others gave it a one-time shout-out and never tried again—which is why I rejected them.
Of the remaining 10, I never heard from eight of them! According to the MIT study, the No. 1 reason a sale is lost is that a proposal was never sent out to the inquirer. Who is walking away from any revenue these days?
We Buy from People We Like
Next, it was time for some test drives—which to me is really about testing the salespeople. The No. 1 rule of sales training is: WE BUY FROM PEOPLE WE LIKE.
Brand one, dealer one: He followed the sales training handbook to a T. He was polite but dry, and methodical with typical moves and negotiating techniques. Though he did beat his initial competition by following the rules of speed and consistency, and his style might work for some, he was not my cup of tea in person.
Brand one, dealer two: They say men fall in love at first sight more often than women, but I don’t know anyone who falls in love with good customer service faster than me! Antonio was his name and delivering amazing service was his game. Although he was not “salesy” in his approach, I would bet he closes more sales than anyone at that dealership.
He was likeable—fun, casual, real, and honest. More important, he was genuinely interested in us and made us feel like we were lifelong friends.
When he realized how much I traveled for work, he ended up suggesting a different car that had better mileage and was significantly cheaper. He was not pushy, just helpful. Helping people buy with a client-centered approach, Antonio exemplified “proper sales,” and it was natural. We told him if we decided to buy that brand, he was our man, although the same car at dealer one was 25 percent cheaper.
Brand two, dealer one: I will spare you the details, but the least offensive comment the salesperson made was when he asked if I wanted to be his next ex-wife!
Brand two, dealer two: Same car, 20 percent more. We met Ken and instantly knew we would buy from him—not his dealership, not his brand, but him. He was quirky, smart, and so excited about technology that he ran out of breath. His random Monty Python quotes such as “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” worked perfectly as he tried to explain how a hybrid works.
Ken went from singing musical numbers such as Can-Can’s “Come Along with Me” to a plethora of Beatles tunes each time he looked at my husband (who he thought had to be related to Sir Paul). I would blame the gasoline fumes, but Ken was all about the electric cars.
Both Antonio and Ken continue to contact us in a consistent and personal way. Both cars can be found cheaper elsewhere, but it doesn’t matter. We buy people first and product second. Though I have some guilt about the “loser,” I know my referrals will make up for it. I rediscovered that what I teach is real—I will pay more for better service and buy from someone who got there first and kept trying. And I also have two new friends.
Kristy Westfall Moyer is a training account manager with Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company that offers sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature Worldwide on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.