7 Sales Lessons From Car Shopping That You Can Implement Now
Have you bought a car recently? I’m currently in the market for a new vehicle and the car buying experience has got the wheels in my sales brain turning.
There have been so many moments - both impressive and disappointing - that I knew I had to share in the interest of doing what I do best: sales coaching!
In today’s post, I’m sharing 7 sales lessons that you can implement in your business right now, no matter what you’re selling.
Read on to hear about my amusing car shopping day and learn what to do (and what NOT to do!) from the car salespeople I encountered.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been looking for a new car, kind of on and off. But this past week, I kicked up the intensity of my search. I’ve had a Tesla for awhile now and the need to charge it midway during my weekly ride to the beach has been wearing on me. It’s finally come to a head. All I can think about is how much I want that hour of my time back, and thus, it has become urgent for me to find an alternative solution.
This is the turning point - one that your potential clients also reach. Your clients may start with a need, though they may not feel hard-pressed to address it until the day it becomes urgent for them to find a solution. That’s when your client is ready to buy-in to what you’re selling. People pay to solve problems that are nagging at them. It's that simple.
Once your client has reached a point that their problem is big enough to them that it needs to be solved right now, then it’s time to make that sale happen. Great salespeople know how to take this moment and close the deal. Unfortunately, this is also a time when mistakes and missteps can occur, which is something I witnessed first hand in my car shopping experience.
Here are 7 sales lessons from car shopping that you can take and implement right now in your own business.
1. Make a friend.
For the first car dealership I visited, I called ahead, got a great salesperson on the phone, and he was there waiting for me when I arrived. This salesperson maintained a great rapport in person. He asked questions about me, and genuinely seemed to want to get to know me. We ended up chatting for about 30-45 minutes total.
When I left, I handed him my book and two of my husband's books that were signed as a gift, and he told me he’d contact me on Monday with the inventory updates.
The first lesson here is to make a friend. Become genuinely interested in what the other person does and what they're hoping for. Why are they hoping for this new solution? And what is it going to do for them? Ask questions that lead to friendship, a long-term relationship, and, ultimately, the sale.
The more you can learn about your prospects, the more you are going to establish a relationship.
2. Make your potential client feel welcome.
The next dealership I visited was close by, as there’s a bit of a car row here in Charleston. But at this dealership, all of the customer parking spots were blocked off with cones in front of them. It was confusing. Here I was, a customer, and yet the spots for me appeared to be reserved for someone else. So, I drove away.
The lesson here is if you’d like to fill a slot and make a sale, make sure your customer feels welcome. Even if you’re reserving spaces and or don’t have immediate availability, you want potential clients to feel as though working with you is a possibility. Give them a way to apply and show their interest. Otherwise, they may just walk away, like I did.
3. Be honest.
I was out looking for some fancier cars, yet I had intentionally dressed down because I wanted to be able to negotiate well. The next salesperson I visited at the third dealership looked at me and made a judgment call immediately.
He pre-determined in his mind what car he thought I was in there for. So when I walked over to him and said, “Hey, I'm interested in an SUV,” he automatically presented me with the lowest model. When I asked for the higher models, he told me they weren’t available for another year - anywhere. He reluctantly took down my phone number in case he was able to find any, though he acted like he was doing me some sort of favor.
Later, I went home and did some more research online. I ended up finding three other dealerships nearby that all had the cars I was interested in.
Rather than lying and blowing me off, this salesperson could have used this as an opportunity to forge a relationship that could have led to referrals or sales in the future. Even though he may not have gotten commission now by truthfully advising me to research other dealerships nearby, he chose to tell a ridiculous lie that no dealerships were getting the cars for a year.
Not only did this make me never want to buy from him, it tainted my view of the entire dealership. Never will I buy from them or refer anyone their way in the future.
So the point is, be honest. It's so much easier. It takes far less energy. It's more aligned. It's more in flow. If you don't have space for someone right now, just be honest. It's really not that difficult. And by being honest, you’ve invested in the long term. Long term customers lead to referrals and sales you can’t predict right now.
4. Become a product of your product.
One salesperson, Chris, was so obsessed with the brand he was representing, it was contagious. He showed me his own car, pointing out all the details he was proud to own. He’d been working at that particular dealership for 25 years and he was absolutely a product of the product.
Here's the lesson: he became obsessed with the brand. He was so obsessed with the brand that when we were going over the cars, he was dorking out in such a fun way about every last detail, down to the stitching. Do you dork out over your brand? How obsessed are you with your brand?
It's so important to be obsessed with your brand because that obsession easily transfers over with your energy and your enthusiasm without you having to actually say it in words. Do you experience your own product or service? Because Chris experiences his own product. Every time he gets in the car, he experiences his own product. In order to become fully obsessed with your brand, you also need to experience it from the customer side. When you do that, when you become a product of the product, you can then have a new level of appreciation for your brand.
5. Set yourself apart.
This is also pretty cool. Chris works at the Porsche dealership. When he printed out the specs of the car, he put them together with a custom paper clip in the shape of a Porsche. It sounds so simple, but he was the only dealership that gave me a folder with a custom paper clip. And that little detail really stood out.
Now, I don't know if that's a Porsche thing or if after working there 25 years Chris realized that it's a little detail that sets him apart. I have no idea, but the important concept to grasp here is: what differentiates you from your competitors? What makes you memorable?
Your customers may be connecting with several other options along with you in their decision making process. It’s important that what they experience with you stands out. What can you do from the get-go to make it clear to them that you offer a white glove experience, like the one that captivated me at Porsche?
6. Deliver what you promise.
At the next dealership, I thought I’d found exactly what I was looking for. I sat in it, test drove it, and the salesperson pulled up the inventory, telling me that the exact model + color combo I wanted was arriving soon, with no one else reserving it. I was excited, and had him print out the specs for me so I could take it home and make my final decision that night.
It turns out, once I researched on my own, that the car he was selling me wasn’t at all what we had discussed. It was a much higher model than what I’d driven. I felt like he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes and scam me. Why didn’t he just tell me the truth about the car I drove vs the car he was actually selling me?
When you demonstrate something on a discovery call, or when you create some sort of offer and present it to your potential client, make sure you are giving them what you spoke about. Now, if you want to add extra things at no extra charge, no problem, consider that extra bonus value. But don't talk about one thing and quote another.
If you have a conversation with someone and you realize after the fact that during the quoting/proposal process, that they really need more than you spoke about, then communicate that. Be very clear, because the minute someone feels like you're trying to trick them or get something over on them, they won't want to do business with you.
Not only will I not be doing business with that salesperson, but I won’t be sending him any future referrals either.
7. Do what you say you’re going to do.
Do you remember the salesperson from Lesson 1 who I’d built a great rapport with? Do you remember how he said he’d follow-up with me on Monday regarding inventory? Yes, I remember too - but he didn’t.
The last sales lesson is: do what you say you're going to do. If you say you're going to follow up on a certain date, follow up on that date. Be in integrity. If he had called me back as promised just to let me know that he was still searching but hadn’t found anything yet, and that he was just providing me with an update, I would have continued working with him. Who knows - perhaps he would be who I end up buying from. But when people don’t follow through on their promises, it makes you question everything that follows.
Being in integrity to yourself and to your business is one of the most important lessons you can take from this post.
Wondering what car I ended up buying? I haven’t yet - but if you have any recommendations (or want to take a guess at what I end up with!), shoot me a DM over on Instagram.
I’d also love to know: Which of these sales lessons did you need the most? And which one would you like me to dig into further on a future episode? Which one are you going to take with you right now and implement in your business immediately so that you can make a change and improve your sales? Don’t hesitate to message me - I love chatting with you and hearing what you're implementing and how it's helping you grow in your business or your life.