As someone in the car business, I know it’s sometimes hard to find a way to see the world through a car shopper’s eyes. But when we do, when we really get a glimpse, oh how illuminating it can be. An entirely alternate world seems to emerge, completely separate from the one we’ve generated. Maybe we’d rather suppress this different world, like a faint memory that started with a weekend bonus and ended with two friends swearing off ever going out with you again. For a salesman, certain thoughts can occur as the years roll on:
- · The leads suck.
- · We need more leads.
- · Our prices are too high.
- · Customers are liars.
How does a salesman get to this place?
Maybe it’s because a customer wrote him from a competitor five miles away, saying their quote on the Accord is $1,000 lower than his. Maybe it’s because one day, he received no leads until 5 p.m., and because three of the leads’ phone numbers weren’t valid. Maybe it’s from listening to his co-worker after he plops down at his desk, grumbling about how “hopeless” everything is. Maybe it’s from a time he helped a customer for a week, through endless calculations and answering all his questions, only to hear later that he bought someplace else.
Sooner or later, if you’re an Internet Manager, you’ll find yourself swimming in these infectious waters. And if you keep swimming, you’ll find no shortage of supporting evidence to stay there. You can tread this water forever and feel entirely justified.
What happens to this guy?
He will grow old in the car business, as a car salesman. He’ll never raise his hand in a meeting to ask questions. He’ll bounce from store to store, never satisfied. He’ll become a master in logging, getting half-deals, and putting green peas together. After years of being a car salesman, he’ll have no referral business. He’ll even creep other salesmen out – never talking about his personal life, because he doesn’t have one. You’ll see his wreckage at the online review sites of the stores where he’s worked. And you’ve seen the sort before. Maybe he came into your store, worked a day or two, and then blew out.
You don’t want to be this guy any more than I do.
So how do we keep our heads screwed on right?
I like to ask people questions. I practically torture them with questions. If a friend of a friend emails me asking, “I heard you sell cars. Can you help me?” I go out of my way to do so, even if I’m just giving pointers because they want a car I don’t sell. But I keep checking in on them. What I often hear back are tales of salesmen who are swimming in those infectious waters.
I followed up with such a friend this morning. After she’d had a hard time, I’d suggested she try Carwoo! Now it was time to find out how things were going.
“Before finding Carwoo, I was in email contact with two salesmen who wouldn’t send me links to the cars they were hoping to sell me. Everything was vague and all about coming in to see what they have.”
These salesmen are probably still grumbling for more leads or phone pops. Customers can see what you have on your website. How often do people really come in to “see what we have” anyway? That phrase just doesn’t work. We should dig deeper into what they’re looking for, to create a reason for them to come in. We should be so curious and responsive in helping them that appointments won’t only be made, they’ll come naturally and result in a sale.
Here’s what else my friend said this morning.
“I wanted to buy in September. I went to a Ford Dealership and knew exactly which car I wanted. They didn’t have it, so then they tried to sell me some other models. Yeah, it was great to test drive, but no way was I going to buy that day like they wanted me to. I didn’t feel like I’d done enough research on those models to know whether I was getting a good deal. And what if another dealership had a color or spec that I’d prefer on one of those? I didn’t want to settle just because they said it’s such a good deal.”
We can take away a few things from this. First, notice my friend is talking about something that occurred back in September. What’s this salesman done for her over the last two months? Absolutely nothing. Did he receive the car she’d wanted, since the time she visited? Has this salesman tried to sell the exact car she wanted to someone else who didn’t want that car? Where’s this salesman now? He’s probably on the phone with a fresh lead, telling them to come in with the hope of switching them to a “good deal.” We aren’t the Groupon of car dealers. People don’t buy “good deals.” Rather, each customer is fulfilling a vision of what they want. And we should help them do this. If not, someone else will.
Next time we find ourselves floundering in the infectious waters, remember: we can’t drown in this pool. It’s too shallow for that. Just stand up and walk out.