To get on your feet...You’ve got to get off your ass!
This is the whole crux of prospecting in selling. I could write a whole book on prospecting and the value of it and follow-up, but there’s already bunches of them out there. It’s the single most ignored part of professional sales and the most valuable. Sales people love to hate doing this, but the ones who do it effectively are very, very, successful.
The truth is, you can’t make an above-average income by just waiting for business to come to you. You have to go dig for it. You have to learn how to develop relationships with prospective buyers and have the patience to let your efforts pay off.
If you’re just starting into business as a salesperson, you probably won’t see the results of a good prospecting and follow-up system for at least three to four months or in some cases, longer. But, it will pay off.
As a salesperson, don’t take this part of your job lightly. Not only is it a valuable art, it is also your responsibility as a trained professional to do it. If you don’t know who the buyer is, where they live, what they’re buying habits are, what they like and don’t like, how often they trade, and so on, and you don’t contact them to find out, what makes you think you’re going to sell them their next anything?
A large part of your success in any sales position will depend upon your ability to create and service your own clientele. Don’t take it lightly and don’t make it difficult.
There are a lot of good reasons to prospect. The following list is four of the best, I believe.
1. Prospecting gives you consistency in sales. When traffic gets slow coming in the door, and believe me, it does, your success is not in the hands of fate. You will have people to call and people to see. Moreover, you’ll have a good month in a poor market.
2. Prospecting allows you to be selective of your clients. You don’t have to wait for someone to walk in and find out if you have something in common to talk about. If you like fishing, go fish and talk to people; if you like golf, go play golf and talk to people, etc., etc., etc. Discussions will always get around to what you do for living.
3. Prospecting allows you better control of your working hours. We all have the same amount time in every day, but what we do with that time determines the difference between success and failure. Prospecting will provide you a better means of planning and scheduling your days, and even time with your family.
4. Your income will increase. If you’re a commissioned sales person you’ll notice an increase of between 25 and 50 percent, provided you have the patience to allow prospecting to work for you.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll enjoy more income, a high degree of job satisfaction and a tremendously loyal customer following.
Selling Service is not easy! It’s probably the most difficult job in any business. In the automobile business, Sales people in the front end of a business get most all the perks, incentives, free vacations, constant training, and huge bonuses to sell the product. In contrast, service people get little or no training and none of the other things afforded to the ‘front end’ people. Service people get a pad, a pencil, no training, are expected to have all the answers, and God help you if you’re wrong!
In my Oxford dictionary there are fifteen different meanings of the word ‘service’. Interesting, huh? So, why is it that this seemingly important word has come to mean so little? I’ll tell you why. It’s because we all like to bellow about our service to a customer when we’re trying to sell them something. However, when it comes time to deliver the service we promised, it becomes just another empty promise with the loopholes hidden in the fine print of the contract that was signed.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times as an automotive service manager and service writer I had to face an angry customer who had just purchased a car and was ‘promised’ a list of little things to be fixed. The customer invariably had no work order from the sales department to do the work at no cost to the customer. I would then have to advise the customer I needed a signed customer order, commonly referred to as a WE OWE, from the sales manager to repair at no cost or I couldn’t do the work requested. I then had to further infuriate this customer by advising them to go see the salesman or sales manager to get a ‘we owe’ order, while I was getting my face chewed off, knowing the customer was most likely going to be given the proverbial run around.
My reason for this analogy is simple. If the salesperson had done his/her job properly and asked enough questions, he/she would have known what the customers concerns were before closing the sale. Upon closing the sale, the salesperson would have known what the cost to the dealership was going to be and could have dealt with them, up front, and the proper paperwork could’ve been in the customer’s hand when the sale was complete.
But no! This salesperson wanted to go to heaven, but didn’t want to die! Being fearful of losing a deal by mentioning ‘negatives’ and mentally tallying and spending a commission that wasn’t even made at that point, there was no concern given or offered for the customer’s concerns.
What this set up was a chain of events that would inevitably cost the business a repeat customer down the road and because of this distasteful experience, not one, but all of the dealership suffers…sales, F&I, parts, service, rental, leasing…everything. Remember, one dissatisfied customer, through word of mouth, can do more damage than any fancy television ad or print ad can do in a positive vane. This customer will cost you thousands! And make no mistake…that disgruntled customer will extract his or her pound of flesh from your business bottom-line successfully.
We should be thankful that there are the Nordstrom’s and the Lexus’ of the world to learn from. They take care of things in a positive way, they put the customer first, and above all, take care of the customer after the sale by empowering their service personnel to make the right decisions and do the right things for the customer.
In regards to Service Department personnel…don’t try to baffle the customer with your brilliance. Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Also, contrary to popular belief, customers do not have bad memories and are very attentive when you tell them anything about the product they want serviced and what you will and won’t do. So, when you’re faced with a ‘comeback’ don’t play the semantics game or fain you don’t recall the conversation with the customer or claim you didn’t say that. It’s an insult to a customer’s intelligence to listen to some cock and bull story when they have to give up the product while you fix it …again, and you will pay in the long run. Fix it right the first time or you’ll live with this customer, most probably in your waiting room talking to other customers. Simply fix the problem and not the blame!
When you give a customer an estimate, make sure you’re right and be absolutely sure you’re right. A customer will end up hating you if your estimate is any more than 5% over what you quoted, even if they don’t say anything to you. They’ll just tell their friends.
I had two rules for my service departments:
Rule 1. The customer is always right.
Rule 2. Even when the customer is wrong, refer to Rule # 1.
Keep your customers informed on status of their repairs. There is nothing more infuriating than waiting to hear how your product is progressing in the repair process. When people ask how their product is coming along or want to know what the problem is, don’t say, “I don’t know.” It is your job to know! And, for Christ’s sake people, call them when the product is done and go over their bill with them on the phone. Take the curses off before they get to your business.
Here’s a little history fact about John Nordstrom. Mr. Nordstrom started his vast empire with a single small ladies shoe store in Seattle, Washington. So, when you think your business is too small to be significant, remember this little fact. He didn’t care if you had a pair of his shoes for a week, a month, or a year. If you were dissatisfied with them he’d simply replace them with something you liked better at absolutely no cost.
Most businesses look at these things as an expense…a cost of doing business…but not John Nordstrom. To him it was an investment in the future and he knew he would have a customer, most probably, for life.
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My advice to you is simple. Service what you sell, listen to your customer’s concerns, deliver on your promises, and make sure your service department can get the job done right the first time. If you do these simple things, your customer will not only be a friend but a constant source of hot prospects for a long time to come. And remember…
Customers don’t care how much you know until
They know how much you CARE!