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Revitalize Your Sales Strategy: Transparency through the Transaction

Article Highlights:

  • Transparent, direct, and genuine interactions are the best way to sell.
  • Make the most of available information and critically assess the situation.

You probably wouldn’t be working in sales if you didn’t have a stellar sales pitch. But, what if I told you the perfect sales pitch wasn’t really a “pitch” at all, but a transparent, direct, and genuine interaction with a customer that ensures the vehicle they’re buying meets their true needs?

Curious how to refine your approach to customers? Meet The Challenger Sale. I was introduced to this book years ago, and while it’s over 12 years old, it’s still a top sales book today. It’s helped define how I interact with customers, and it makes great salespeople even better.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Even in the face of limited information, the point is to critically assess what should happen and how to best make that action happen.”

When going through a sale with a customer, you rarely have all the information. You can’t know everything that led them to your dealership. After all, your first interaction with a customer typically won’t be their first interaction with your dealership. However, you can act on the information you’re given and “challenge” any assumptions during the sales conversation by asking deeper level questions and remaining transparent, direct, and genuine.

Let’s Walk Through an Example

A couple arrives at your dealership ready for their test drive appointment. They are excited and have already filled out the credit app online. You know they’re looking for a vehicle to hold all their outdoor equipment based on the questions they asked your online chat agent. With that information, you may assume this is the right vehicle for them, but challenge yourself to dig deeper and make sure you are helping them find the vehicle that will meet their true needs.

Why Challenge Assumptions?

Start by asking direct questions based on the information you have from that online conversation. During this deep dive, they tell you they love going fishing, and had actually been looking at a few other vehicles, but they think the one they chose would be best for all their fishing equipment.

Now, “outdoor equipment” and “fishing equipment” are vague; dive even deeper and ask:

  • How many poles do they carry?
  • Do they share a tackle box or each have their own?
  • What about chairs, coolers, extra clothes, shoes, or food?
  • Are these day trips or weekend-long camping trips?
  • Do they fish from the shore line, a boat, or other large equipment?

By asking these types of questions, maybe you uncover they take fishing trips with another couple and are hoping to buy a boat in the next year. With this new information, you realize the current vehicle they are looking at doesn’t have enough towing capacity to haul a boat. Not to mention, the backseat legroom is terrible.

Without diving into these direct questions, they could have purchased the wrong vehicle for their needs. But, this line of questioning helps you remain transparent with your customer without telling them they are wrong. Lean into your expertise as a guide for these customers to find the right vehicle and build confidence in their purchase, and you as a salesperson.

Keep in mind, no customer wants to come sit at your desk while you chat about their interests. The trick is to make this feel as seamless and effortless as possible. Ask these types of questions while you’re on the first test drive or walking the lot looking at vehicles.

Transparent, Direct, Genuine

After some conversation and an additional test drive, your customer finds the vehicle of their dreams, that fits their budget, and most of their needs, but isn’t perfect, yet. Use the information you gathered to offer important accessories that match their outdoorsy lifestyle: a trailer hitch, a roof rack, and all weather floor mats. Provide them insight into your accessory inventory to see what could be added to make their vehicle perfect, while showcasing flexible options and payments.

Allowing your customer to take control of their purchase doesn’t mean you lose any control over the sale, it means you’ve offered a level of transparency that is unmatched. What I’ve taken away from The Challenger Sale is to not push your products on customers; instead, naturally lead them to a product they truly need. By leading to a product, rather than leading with a product, you provide real value.

This approach to selling makes you a more agile salesperson and can improve your relationships with customers, so they keep coming back to you time and time again. Don’t let yourself get stuck on the sales pitch you’re used to, when transparent, direct, and genuine interactions result in increased and profitable sales.

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Director, Reynolds Consulting Services

Carl Bennett is the director of North American Consulting Operations and Sales for Reynolds Consulting Services. In his consultant role, Bennett teaches automotive retailers in the U.S. and Canada how to achieve higher levels of success and better results in vehicle sales and F&I. Prior to joining Reynolds and Reynolds more than 15 years ago, Bennett worked in dealerships for 15 years as a general manager, finance director, and sales manager.


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