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Don’t let a potential customer walk away

I recently went to a car dealership to have my oil changed. I walked toward the lounge adjacent to the showroom, but instead of heading straight to the lounge, I wandered through the cars.

A car junkie, I walked by a couple SUVs, stared longingly at the pickup truck and drooled over the Camaro convertible and the Corvette next to it. As I was coming around the Camaro, a salesperson approached me, “Can I help you with anything?” he asked.

I told him, “I’m just looking.” And he walked away. Seriously, he walked away. And he wasn’t heading off to help another customer; instead, he joined the rest of the sales crew, hanging out in one cubicle.

Little did he know that I’m a huge Camaro fan, and I’d love to talk about Camaros for 10 minutes. And my husband and I plan to be in the market for a new car for him this winter. But that salesperson didn’t take the time to learn any of that. He took “I’m just looking” as my final answer and moved on.

Now, I know, you hear someone say, “I’m just looking” 100 times per day, and 99 of them are really “just looking” and not interested in buying. But is it worth it to probe a bit with all 100 just to find that one who is buying? And what if you find another one or two that you can build a relationship with, so when they are buying, they call you?

Every person you let say, “I’m just looking” and walk away from is someone who could’ve been thinking “I’m just looking right now, but I’m ready to buy something by the end of the week/month/year.” Or he or she could be “just looking” at that super accessorized Ranger on your show floor, thinking about how to order the roof online at home. Wouldn’t you rather sell him or her that roof on the spot?

As we’ve all heard hundreds if not thousands of times, sales is about building relationships. We’ve all walked into a store and said we’re “just looking,” even when we go in 100 percent prepared to buy something. We’re trying to avoid the hard sell. But if the salesperson says, “OK, cool. By the way, I like your Minnesota Vikings hat. How do you think they’ll do this season?” they’ve struck up a conversation and started building a relationship. And by then you’ll be more likely to by from them now, possibly buy more than you thought you were going to because they’ve shown they care about you, and you might just come back and ask to work with that person again.

Don’t take “just looking” as a no.

Liz Keener is the senior editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine, online and via social media. She produces the magazine’s annual Market Data Book and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine and its ancillary products. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis, Power 50 dealership honors program and dealer education.




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One Comment

  1. Wow! Sounds like a rookie salesman on the floor at this dealership. There are more lessons to be learned. Unless you are helping the next person in line at Subway Sandwiches, “can I help you?” is one of the worst questions a salesman can lead with. EVERYONE’s natural reaction is to deny that inquiry. “No, I’m all set” and “just looking” are two of our natural defenses to ward off bad salespeople who want to give us a pitch instead of digging deeper to find out more about our wants and needs. While I give this guy a point for asking a question, questions like “what color do you like better?,” “convertible or hardtop?,” or an ice-breaking comment like, “Camaro or Corvette? The decades old debate!” would be great conversation starters and pave the way for more qualifying questions. Unfortunately for this salesman, he was done before he even started.

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