Selling Between the Lines

Before reading on, stop and ask yourself, “What do I sell?” When I ask this question to a group of finance managers or other dealership staff members, I get a variety of answers. 


“We sell motorcycles,” I hear. Or, “I sell financing,” or, “I sell warranties and insurance.” These are all correct on the surface when we think about a job description or the nuts and bolts of what we do. 


The truth is that a customer can get a motorcycle, financing or insurance at many different locations in your area. Even if they can’t buy the same brand, they can still fulfill their needs. We see this all the time. When we can’t get a customer approved for one bike, we switch them to a different bike. It still fulfills their core desires. 


They are not buying a motorcycle. They are buying the ability to fulfill a desire.


Let’s go a little deeper to find out what you really sell – or, what customers are really buying. 


If you say, “We sell motorcycles,” stop and think for a minute that you are not really selling the customer a motorcycle, but rather you are selling:


Fun times riding with friends

• A bonding experience with spouse and/or kids

• The experience of riding to Sturgis or another rally

• A way to release stress

• The joy of riding all over this amazing country


If you answered, “I sell financing,” you are really selling them:

• The ability to afford a dream

• A way to build a solid credit history and one day own a home

• A way to keep some money as a safety net just in case


f you answered, “I sell warranties and insurance,” realize that what this means for your customer is:

• Peace of mind

• The ability to afford a mechanical failure

• The ability to make the cost ownership affordable


When we think, “We sell motorcycles” or, “We sell warranties,” what we’re thinking about is how these tangible products affect us and our dealership’s bottom line. When salespeople, sales managers and finance managers shift their thinking from what their products mean to them toward what their customers can gain, customers can hear it in what they say and how they act. This communication “between the lines,” as it were, can mean the difference between a customer buying at your dealership and moving on to your competitor.


What your customers can’t get at other dealerships are:

• You! (your knowledge, friendship and smiling face)

• The community that has formed around your business

 • Rides

 • Bike nights

 • Poker runs

• Dealership events

 • Open houses

 • Customer appreciation days

 • Chili cook-offs

 • Ladies nights

 • New rider events

• Coworkers knowledge 

 • Combined years of service experience

 • If the people you work with are also riders

I worked with a man by the name of Donnie for 10 years. You could ask him the part number of the front fender on a 1979 Honda CB750K (or almost anything else) and he would know. I’m sure he still knows. Customers couldn’t find that anywhere else. In fact, we had customers who would only buy their parts from him. 


So, try to make this shift. The more you talk about what the customer wants out of their purchase and less about the actual item, the more the customers will desire to have what you offer. 


Go to www.gartsutton.com for details and new workshops as they are announced. 

Upcoming Workshops:

August 2014

Parts Management

F&I Level 1

September 2014

Service Management

Service Advisor

5 Profit Centers 

        (dealership mgmt)

NEW F&I Level 2

 Steve Dodds II is a moderator, trainer and consultant for Gart Sutton and Associates with experience in every position in the sales and finance departments. Dealers rave about his ability to identify areas for improvement and implement the changes that produce superior results. If you have questions about what he or one of GSA’s other consultants can do to help you meet and exceed your goals, you can email: [email protected].

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