When a customer asks if he can make his motorcycle faster, most salesmen will say sure and list off the performance parts that can hop-up his ride: “Add a performance exhaust, air cleaner, jet kit, hot rod download, performance cams, bore the cylinders, use lighter pistons.” The advice will go on and on and on.
Ask most salespeople how to close sales faster, and you’ll probably get a blank stare. Not because they are inept but rather because they probably haven’t thought about approaching their sales process in such a way.
I’ve coined this term to give you a new way to think about sales.
To AccSellerate is:
• To increase the speed of sales
• To cause a sales close to occur sooner than expected
• To develop your sales or sales skills more quickly
Verbs denote action. This is an important distinction. Unfortunately, many salespeople think that the sale is something that happens to them. They don’t admit it but listen to the language:
“He’s not interested.”
“He’s going somewhere else.”
“She’s waiting until next season.”
All of this puts the control into someone else’s hands, not an enviable position. Why is it important to accSELLerate your sales?
When you’re dealing with product, there is an inverse correlation between time and profitability. Sales are more like bread and less like wine. Wine gets better with age, sales don’t. Bread is best served soft and warm straight from the oven. Your product is much the same way. The challenge is to identify ways to speed along the sales process.
What are some actions you can take to shift your sales into high gear? Let’s use motorcycle sales as our example. Just keep in mind that with a little intellectual effort you can transpose these ideas into selling anything. These are just a few ideas.
Know what you have: Some studies have suggested the average person spends two weeks per year looking for misplaced paperwork. If you want to engage more customers, more quickly, you need to know what you have in inventory.
Many dealers have a DMS that allows for a computer search of available motorcycles. If you do, great. Be familiar with this system and be able to navigate it quickly. If not, create one. An excel spread sheet is certainly a workable alternative.
Know where you have it: Motorcycle salespeople (and other product professionals) should walk the floor first thing so they know what they have and where they have it.
Know something about it: I don’t think you have to know everything, but you do need to know some aspects of the bike. Torque, horsepower, lean angle, zero to sixty times; this is all basic information you should know.
I don’t prescribe to the “I can just look in the book” philosophy. I think that’s an excuse for intellectual laziness. If you have to look in the brochure every time someone asks you about the mileage of a bike, you’re not helping yourself.
Qualified Customers: With vehicle sales, you need to quickly discern some level of confidence that you are spending your valuable time with someone who can actually buy. In the old days, some people used to suggest pulling credit bureaus on customers or completing credit applications on a customer prior to spending any time with them. This approach has multiple challenges. Some customers will take offense to the fact that you’re asking them to pay first. It’s like going to an expensive restaurant and them asking you to pay before you dine.
Next, in an attempt to circumvent the above scenario, some dealers (read car dealers) use underhanded and manipulative practices to pull the customer’s credit bureau. The problem with this is you need to have what’s called, permissible purpose to do so, and this typically requires a deal, a verbal overview and a signature to disclose it.
The next problematic practice is submitting a credit application to see if the customer qualifies. The problem here is most lenders take the collateral (read motorcycle) into consideration when making an underwriting decision. If the customer hasn’t decided which motorcycle they want, you’re wasting your time, potentially other employee’s time and the time of your financial partners.
How can you accSELLerate your sales process?
Usewhat I call a “two-ster” and a pregnant pause. What’s a two-ster? It’s a two-word question. Instead of saying, “May I help you,” try one of these two-sters:
• Day off?
• Third shift?
• Rain day?
• Lunch break?
• Vacation day?
Ask one of these questions and then just stop. The customer will typically start to talk (which by the way, when they are talking, you are selling) about what they do for a living. And bingo! You’ve just used language in a subtle and sophisticated way to begin to qualify your customer. Is it fool-proof? No, but its light years better than saying, “Before we look at bikes I’m going to have to pull your credit.”
It’s hard to believe but there are still a ton of salespeople who for many reasons don’t get an interested customer’s name and contact information. You can’t move a sale forward without being able to stay in touch. Many salespeople just feel funny asking. Don’t.
How can you ask a customer for their name? Stick out your hand, introduce yourself and use that pregnant pause. Most will introduce themselves (then you can go write it down!). If the customer doesn’t say anything, prompt them. “And you are?” Another approach would be to give them your business card and ask for theirs in return. How can you get their contact information? Simply ask for an e-mail or a cell phone number for follow-up or ask if they’d like to sign up for your e-newsletter.
Get To The Next Yes
Sales success isn’t about one big yes, rather it’s about a series of small agreements. The psychological literature is very clear about this point. People are more willing to agree to a larger purchase, if they’ve already said yes to the salesmen on a series small items. This is why salespeople need to understand the series of “yeses” in their sales process. Here are some examples:
• May I have your name?” “Sure.”
• May I have your cell phone number?” “Yes.”
• If you give me your e-mail I’ll send you some info.” “Absolutely.”
• Where do you do your web research?” “I look at sites …”
• What other stores have you visited?” “I’ve been to …”
• Would you like me to send you some info?” “Please.”
• Our mission is to do so well that you’ll refer your friends. Fair enough?” “Absolutely.”
When you plan out your questions, you can ask those which will give you an opportunity for agreement. Then you’ll be able to move more quickly through the sales process. Notice these questions enable you to provide terrific value to your customer’s experience with you. And this is the ultimate way to accSELLerate your sales.
Every store is different, but think about who does what and how to organize each person’s activities. Keep in mind, salespeople prospect for new business, present for new business or follow-up for new business.
Of course, we would never suggest you exert undue pressure on customers to speed your way to a close. This is the bailiwick of unsavory used car salespeople who are trying desperately to avoid a lot drop. That equation works like this: high pressure equals low commissions.
At the same time there are many, legitimate actions you can take to AccSELLerate your sales. Product knowledge helps; a clear understanding of effective processes will facilitate sales; and dynamite organization skills will enable you to effectively and quickly work with customers.
Next time, conversion diversions — how we decelerate sales and often don’t know it.