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Keys to ‘performance selling’ start with building trust

By Jon Mohr
Contributing writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Do not negotiate with a customer on the sales floor, it places the buyer in control. Plus, since people sit down to make decisions, negotiating while standing devalues the product being sold.
That was one of the lessons imparted during “Performance selling: Sell more units and make more money,” one of several training sessions held by instructors from Dealership University who were on hand to teach attendees at Dealer Expo 2009 in Indianapolis.
“Performance selling is about recession proofing your business,” Tory Hornsby, general manager of Dealership University, told a roomful of dealers during the event.
Hornsby then went on to outline a sales process that he walked the class through, offering suggestions and examples to help a dealership’s sales staff achieve better closing ratios.

Make a good impression
Customers visit a dealership because they’re interested in what is being sold. But if there is only a 20 percent closing ratio at the very best dealerships, where are those other 80-plus percent going? Hornsby says they are pursuing other activities, such as boating, golf, a vacation at Disney World or any of the millions of other things someone can think of to spend their disposable income on. That is why building a trusting relationship with a customer is so important in helping make a sale.
The proper “welcome” of the customer to a dealership, the first step that Hornsby talked about, is crucial to building that trust.
“The definition of selling is to transfer enthusiasm,” Hornsby said. And the enthusiasm with which a customer is greeted goes a long way in making a good first impression. Hornsby offered several greetings as examples, including this one: “Welcome to DU Cycles! Are you heading to parts or service or are you just looking around today?”
The advantage of greeting a customer this way is that allows the employee to both begin to guide the conversation and also invite the classic response a customer usually gives when they are greeted. “No thanks, just looking,” is a reflex objection that we are all conditioned to say when approached by a salesperson, according to Hornsby. So you invite that response and get it out of the way. They’re going to say it anyway so by inviting it you get what Hornsby calls “conversation ping pong” started.
If the customer says he or she is just looking, follow up by saying “Are you looking for something on-road or off-road?” They pick one and the employee can begin to guide them.
Hornsby talked about the importance of never asking a customer a close-ended question: The kind of question that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No.” Those kinds of questions start with words like “Are,” “Can,” “Do,” “Did,” “Will.” Hornsby advised salespeople to ask open-ended questions that start with words like “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” “How” and “Why.” He also says it is best to give customers multiple choice questions so they have answers to choose from. This also helps guide the conversation.
After the customer is welcomed, the next step of the sales process is to “interview and investigate,” according to Hornsby. He says it is important for salespeople to build rapport with customers when they begin to work with them and cited a University of Wisconsin study that found that 50 percent of sales are made due to feelings of friendship that have been developed.
As part of the investigation, Hornsby says the salesperson should find out six things from the customer:
• Personal information
• Unit information (what they are looking for)
• Trade information
• Time frame (How long until they buy)
• Decision maker (Who is calling the shots on the deal)
• Financial information
• Make the case
The salesperson also has to make a presentation to build value in the mind of the buyer. But Hornsby says it is important salespeople don’t just tell a customer something, they demonstrate what’s in it for them. For example, don’t tell the customer that a motorcycle has fuel injection, explain how fuel injection will benefit them by saying something like: “Do you want a crisp throttle response that will allow you to shoot away from your riding buddies? That’s what this fuel injection will give you.”
Hornsby says salespeople should always look for the customer’s hot buttons during the presentation. What are those things the buyer is most interested in: looks, performance, etc. Up to 80 percent of the buying decision is made during the presentation, according to Hornsby.
And it’s critical that a salesperson always ask customers if they want to buy. Why? Because salespeople will miss 100 percent of the shots they don’t take and customers are looking for someone to convince them of what they already know. Hornsby cited another University of Wisconsin study that found salespeople don’t ask for the sale 93 percent of the time. He also gave an example of what a salesperson should say: “It looks like we’ve found the perfect bike for you. Are you planning on getting some accessories or will it just be the unit today?”

Focus on the buyers
Hornsby concluded his presentation by talking about the different types of customers a dealership gets and the importance of concentrating on those customers who are most likely to spend their money. He said while walk-in customers will end up as buyers only 10 percent of the time, “be-back” buyers, and referral, repeat and phone customers will purchase at a much higher rate: 70 percent in the case of repeat customers.
They produce higher margins, better CSI, less negotiating and a number of other benefits. So these are the customers a dealership wants and focusing on them is the best way to increase the closing ratios Hornsby mentioned at the beginning of his presentation.
The best way to get as many of those kinds of customers as possible is to have salespeople who are likable and are able to build relationships, Hornsby says. And using a telephone is one of the best ways to build those relationships. But Hornsby advised salespeople to have something concrete to tell customers when they call them. If the customer had come in looking to make a deal, a salesperson should say they’ve been able to rework some of the numbers and are now able to offer them a little more for the trade they had. Don’t just call to shoot the breeze, offer them something.

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