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Persuasion Power

15 ways to get a customer to sign on the dotted line

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Last month we talked about the principles of persuasion. Logon to www.mpnmag.com to catch up if you missed it. This time I’ll show you how you can apply the principles of persuasion so you can be ethical and sleuth-like, and so you’ll always sell with integrity. The following are 15 ways to dramatically improve your persuasiveness.

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1. Your office, your expertise. How did Cialdini increase patients’ compliance with a physical therapist’s direction? He replaced the silly motivational posters in the exercise area with the physical therapist’s diplomas and other credentials. This reinforced the physical therapist’s expertise and subsequently took exercise compliance from 15% to over 34%.

You should do the same thing. If you have a college degree you should consider hanging your diploma in your office. Have you attended workshops, seminars or other education events and received a certificate? Are you AFIP certified? Show your credentials and watch your credibility increase substantially.

2. Consistency. You should own and finance as well. What’s the best way to prove to others that you’re providing valuable products and services? Heed your own advice. You should ride what you sell and finance as well. Why? Well, what do you call a person who says one thing and does another?

3. You’re like me? Hey I like you! When working with customers, find something in common to talk about. The research on this is crystal clear. We want to do business and spend more time with people whom we like and respect, especially people who are like ourselves. Regardless of what that similarity is (sports, politics, your son’s pee-wee team — whatever), any genuine similarity that leverages the principle of liking is good.

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4. Great bike! An excellent selection. Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered the salmon only to have the waiter compliment you on your selection. "The Salmon is an excellent choice, sir." Now you and I both know that guy is saying the same thing to every other person in that restaurant, regardless of what they order. But there is something to the human condition that supersedes that knowledge. Even though you know this waitperson is probably paying that same compliment to others, somewhere deep down inside your mental conversation replies with something like this: "It is a good choice." So, how can you use this to help you dramatically improve your sales success? When you first meet a new customer, find out what they are interested in and compliment them on their selection. Again, they can be looking at anything in your store: bikes, parts, gear, whatever. Even if it isn’t the bike you ride or the jacket you wear, there is always something to like about an item. So pick out the positive and tell them, "Great bike! There’s a lot to like about that model. What specifically do you like?"

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5. Reciprocity: the cosmic force of the universe. The principle of reciprocity is the idea that people repay others in kind. What does this mean to you? You get what you give. So give the gift of your attention, energy and enthusiasm for the person with whom you are working and, guess what? They will be enthusiastic about you and what you have to say. So, increase your energy level, look your customers in the eye, smile and laugh, and be extatic that they are spending time with you; they will be more inclined to be happy and enthusiastic about what you have to say as well.

6. Want to increase your CSI? Get more forms sent back in. How do you get more forms sent in? All you need to do is say something like, "Not only are we concerned about your experience, but so is the company. In a few weeks you’re going to receive a survey in the mail. When you get it, please fill it out completely, honestly and, most importantly, will you promise me you will return the form? To which most customers agree and say, "Yes." And what you’ve just done is win/win. It’s a win for the manufacturer because they get more forms and more data. And it’s a win for you the dealer because you’ll have more forms to counterbalance any negative feedback. One dealer we know changed nothing about their business practices except for the improvement mentioned above. He went from being ranked 16 in his region for CSI to 4, and all they did was implement this one idea.

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7. Small commitments lead to larger agreements. Sales success is really predicated by small agreements, not some big score in terms of closing questions. What are some small agreements you might use:

  • Day off?
  • May I show you something cool?
  • May I ask you some questions about your experience?
  • What prompted you to buy your motorcycle from us?
  • What have you liked about your experience?
  • What could we have improved?
  • Will you promise you’ll send the CSI form in?

We can use agreements like these without "selling." Ignore this psychology at your sales commission’s peril.

8. The language of experts. When you are in the dealership you are the expert. Use the language of expertise. Recommend. Suggest. Advise. These are words that connote your knowledge and dramatically increase the likelihood that people will comply with your requests.

9. For me? Thank you! Disabled veterans were having an 18% response rate with their direct mail efforts. They changed one thing and increased their success to well over 30%. What was the one thing they did? You guessed it: They included self-addressed return labels in their mailings as a gift to the recipient. They literally gave a useful gift benefiting the recipient, which, in turn, benefited the charity.

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What can you give? On the sales floor, your gift may be a brochure, a pen or a high quality key fob. The other idea to keep in mind is effort in a gift. If I’m showing customers motorcycles on the show room floor, I pull them out of the lineup and then leave them out while working with this customer. Why? They look around and may think to themselves, "Man this guy is really working for me!" And I am. Then they may give me more time and attention or, perhaps, their business!

10. Present your most extreme offer first. How do you dramatically increase the likelihood of your success? Present your most extreme or expensive item first. Why? Because the customer may say yes, and when they do that’s the clear coat on the paint job. And if they don’t, then you can retreat with your next package. This is called concessional reciprocity.

Cialdini tested this on the streets of Phoenix. His research assistants asked passersby, "Would you like to be a chaperone on a day trip to the zoo for our group of juvenile delinquents?" As you may imagine 83% of people said, "No."

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The next groups of passersby were asked, "Excuse me would you like to be a big brother or big sister for a juvenile delinquent in the Phoenix area? It’s a two-year commitment which requires at least four hours every other weekend." People were aghast. Two Years! Four hours! No. And when the people said no, the researchers simply asked, "Really, well then how about being a chaperone on a day trip to the zoo?" Over 60% said, "Where do I sign?"

11. Highlight exclusivity, leveraging the principle of scarcity. If you have a particular product or service not available anywhere else, highlight that exclusivity. It may be a model motorcycle, a special used bike or a service. No one else does at home trade evaluations in our area. We do.

12. Use an evidence binder with third party comments; this leverages social proof. When you can show how other customers have benefitted from your products and services this can have a dramatic effect. Get testimonials from customers, use third party articles from the media and keep examples of paid GAP and ESP claims.

13. Use Loss Language. As you move from more expensive to less expensive items with customers, use what experts call "loss language." People are much more driven by what they stand to lose versus what they stand to gain. So when you describe a less expensive item, describe what benefits will be lost. Some people have suggested that this isn’t a quality method because the customer hasn’t purchased anything yet, therefore, they literally haven’t lost anything yet. I disagree. We are talking about the customers’ future state. If they choose a lesser item they are losing the potential protection of the larger package.

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14. Hey, all the kids are doing it! Point out other customers who have taken advantage of what you’re talking about. Talk about how many people purchased a certified pre-owned motorcycle from your dealership. Talk about how many have benefited from your extended service plan. Talk about how many customers purchase your pre-paid maintenance plan. Talk about how many employees in your dealership have taken advantage of your offer.

15. Consistency. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you want to have a great, long, successful career as a dealership manager, you need to do what you say you’re going to do. If you promise to help the customer perfect their title, help them. When the customer pays off his motorcycle early and is due a prorated refund on backend protection, help them get it. If you promised to be available after the sale … you get the point.

There is an art and science to persuasion. Understanding Cialdini’s six principles and the above 15 ways to apply them to your finance and insurance office can yield huge returns to your customers, your dealership and your career.

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