Dealing With The "Verts"
By John Wyckoff
April 17, 2007
There are two types of people in this world: customers and non-customers. Is that a broad enough blanket statement for you? By the way, why waste your time talking about non-customers?
The title of this article talks about dealing with "Verts." In keeping with our broad-based definitions here, there are only two types of verts, and they must be treated differently: introverts and extroverts.
Got your interest? Read on. I'm going to bounce around here, so bear with me.
First, let's look at the extrovert. You'll find a lot of them on your staff. Those are the salespeople, managers and others who come in constant contact with the customer. Then you have the introverts. These are the people who have little customer contact. They are not nearly as aggressive and tend to focus on their work. Some of these types are in accounting, others may be techs.
Now let's look at the 50% of the people who walk into your front door who are extroverts. It's easy to tell who they are, these are the guys or gals who look you in the eye, shake your hand and ask a myriad of questions. Sometimes the salesperson has a problem getting the opportunity to talk. The extrovert is often aggressive, impatient and inquisitive.
The introvert comes in quietly. He or she is not nearly as aggressive and may not come over to meet the salesperson. What else makes them different? They get their information through their eyes, not their ears. They may even come in with a ream of paper (the proceeds of downloading from the Internet).
These introverted customers may already know more about the powersports product than your store's own salespeople! They have narrowed their choices down so they can learn more about that particular unit. They can also be less congenial and may be very wary of exaggerated claims and aggressive sales people.
Meanwhile, the salesperson can banter with the extrovert. He can ask all manner of personal questions and get away with it. In fact, he can probably get the potential customer to answer the questions and perhaps even volunteer more valuable information.
The major problem an extrovert salesperson has when dealing with an extrovert customer is determining who is going to talk and who is going to listen. A wise extroverted salesperson will always defer to the talkative customer. This may be cliché, but its true that you have two ears and one mouth; use them in that ratio.
If the extrovert salesperson attempts to deal with the introvert customer the same way he/she deals with the extrovert, the outcome will be less than desired. The warning signs are crossed arms or the customer looking around wildly as if they are seeking a way out. Okay, so that is a slight exaggeration, but don't tell me you haven't seen at least one introverted customer bolt from an overly aggressive extrovert over the years.
What's the best way to deal with an introverted customer? Take them to a relatively quiet place in the store and give them something to read. Ask them questions and then don't say another word until they answer. Give them time to think and time to respond. Take it slow. Just because you're in a hurry doesn't mean your customer is.
Gentle prodding works where aggressive selling will most often fail. I would have a store scrapbook available in that quiet place. I would start by taking photographs of everyone who works at the store, along with shots of the exterior and interior of the store, making sure pictures of the parts department and service department are prominently displayed.
The first page of the book would talk about the store's history, its mission statement and its goals and aspirations. The next couple of pages would include photos of each staff member on individual pages. Under each photo have text revealing that person's name, length of time on the job, particular responsibilities and a list of awards or training that person has accomplished. I'd put these pages in plastic sheets so they can be changed as staff changes.
Use the following pages to include such things as photos of dressed-out bikes (plugging your P&A people, of course) or photos of happy customers sharing an event at the store. You get the general idea.
The next step would be to give the introverted customer some more space and time. Let them look through the store scrapbook. A few minutes later you could see if he or she has any questions. Only then would it be prudent to gently start your sales system. Caveat: keep it honest, direct and simple.
Keep in mind that if half the population are introverts and half are extroverts, your job will be to identify which personality you're dealing with and change your method accordingly. Just because that person is not a mirror image of yourself, they still deserve patience and respect.
As for dealing with the extroverts, most have relatively thick skins when compared to introverts. They also have egos and want, no, demand respect.
In both cases you should learn his or her name and use it often, particularly during the early stages of the encounter.
Don't lose half your prospects by insisting on doing things your way. Do it the right way instead!