Many of you have been involved in auto sales at one point in your career, and if you worked with good people, you probably learned a lot about selling. I know that I was employed at an import dealer with an amazing sales manager, and had my eyes opened many times. I was reminded of this recently when my wife and I went looking for a small SUV.
I found unknowledgeable salespeople – which can happen – but at least they could go and find the answer. I found lackadaisical salespeople – which usually means lack of management skills; and I found salespeople who were having no fun at all (they should find another line of work.)
But the worst was the fellow who, after having a ten minute conversation with my wife, whose car we were looking for, asked me what I did for a living. Now, I wasn’t really involved in this search, but was there to advise her as we went through the process. She was the one who did all of the research, and she was the one asking all the questions, and he should have concentrated on her.
After I told him what I did, he told me how much he likes dirt bikes, and wants to get his street license someday. I assumed that he’d already had the work conversation with my wife, but after we left, she commented that he had never once asked her what she did for employment. Needless to say, she will never go back there.
Another time, long ago, I watched a fellow I worked with talking to a couple. They were looking for a motorcycle for him. The salesman, after a while, was almost completely ignoring the husband, and often had his back turned to him, concentrating his focus on her. He sold the bike, and afterward I asked him what that was all about. He told me that she was the one in charge, and without her on his side, he was never going to sell anything to them. So basically, he sold the bike to her… for him to ride!
Quite often I see salesmen (and it’s almost always sales men who do this. Saleswomen get it naturally) ignore the wife of the customer, and totally concentrate on hubby. And what if, and this happens often, it’s she who wants a new bike? You’ve lost points. Instantly.
This happens more often than it should. Watch the salespeople in your showroom. When talking to a husband and wife, are they concentrating on the man? I know when I talk to a couple, I try to ask the woman what she rides, many times before I ask the husband. Most never notice, which is fine; but those who do notice seem to appreciate it.
When making such a presentation, make sure that your sales talk is made to both parties. Do not ignore either one. If there are more than the two of them, include everyone; have a party! It will ultimately make a big difference. How many times have you heard the client’s wife say, “Why don’t you just buy the bike? It’s perfect for you!”
If you’ve never heard that, you’re doing something wrong.
Look at the stats for women riders; they’ve been 12 to 14% of the riding population for over thirty years. It’s the same today. Many shops don’t really cater to women because they are concentrating on the 86 to 88% that they know. Or they just but the pink clothing. Let me ask you this: who usually influences the husband more than anyone else? If she likes your salespeople and the experience of going to your shop, guess what?
She will be more than happy to drop in and see what’s new. And while not being in control of the bike, she may enjoy sitting on the back of the bike, soaking up the scenery and the camaraderie of the journey. She, ultimately, is far more important to the success of your business than that 12 to 14% would indicate.
Perhaps some of you think I’m being sexist and I’m looking at stereotypical views of couples. I can only tell you what my experience has been. Women seem to be far better at defining wants as opposed to needs. A man in a motorcycle shop sees everything as needs. Women are smarter, and see them as what they are. Let’s face it; most of the time motorcycles and ATVs are a luxury.
We have to appeal to all of the components of any given family. We can’t afford to alienate any of their members. Now, get out there and SELL!