There are a couple of philosophies concerning what makes a good salesman. The one I want to discuss is the salesman who makes happy customers and provides his or her employer with a good, if not great, return on their investment in that salesperson. As to qualifying a good salesperson as on who ‘takes control’ and crams sales through despite what the customer wants, I’ll allude to that brand of ‘good salesperson’ as we go along.
With that said, most car salesmen are not really good salesmen at all, they are ‘bad order takers’. A good ‘order taker’ would at least give the customer the feeling that they are ‘buying’ rather than being ‘sold’. In the car business, we are working with a big-ticket item that people actually want to buy. The car salesman has these people coming to them with this desire to purchase a vehicle. A good order taker would actually be better than the brand of salesman that we have today. This is not to say that there is no skills involved in being a good car salesman…there are some very intricate skills involved, it’s just that most car salesmen are being trained with the wrong ones!
You might want to argue that ‘this is the way it has always been’…and you might be correct about that. But, look at the polling data. Buying a car rates just above getting a root canal…and this is with people who actually want to buy a car. The last time I looked, the vast majority of people do not want to get a root canal!
One might also argue that it takes a good salesman to close a customer on a particular brand that the dealer is selling. That is also true. However, do you know that only about 20% of the people who contact a dealer end up buying what they had originally sought out? Many of these people came in for new and buy used (many times a brand that was not the dealer’s). Many of these people conversely, buy new when they originally contacted the dealer for a used vehicle. What the common thread is, that most people bought from the dealer that they wanted to buy from, even though most of them resigned themselves to the fact that all dealers were going to inevitably provide the same crummy experience.
How about those few dealers who provided a ‘buying’ experience instead of a ‘selling’ experience? All aspects of the business are improved over the competition including CSI, referrals and closing ratios…not to mention GROSS! I’ve cited Tom Watson’s site http://www.iwanttothinkitover.com many times in the past. It’s worth a visit. By just listening to a few of his audio clips, you will hear the results of over 25 years of performance data regarding closing rates produced by simply learning how to listen and respond appropriately.
I have no stake in Tom’s business, but I do have a stake in changing the culture of auto dealerships to perform at a level equal to other industries that sell high ticket items.
A good order taker is better than a bad salesman, but a good salesman is better than a good order taker. It’s just a matter of understanding what really constitutes a ‘good salesman’.