Differentiation. What is it? I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of people throwing the word differentiation around with no specific, precise course of action. It is essential that we accentuate specific differences between us and the stereotype of our industry. From the outside looking in, all dealerships look the same and do the same things in the eyes of customers. Find your way to stand out from the masses.
First impressions last a lifetime and you will never have the opportunity to change how you made a new customer feel. Make sure that each customer is treated with respect and is left with the feeling that they “got a guy” in the business. Every time you pick up the phone know that it is your one shot to stand out. Train your team to sell the sizzle of why the customer should buy from your dealership and not the guy down the block. Your competition has the same vehicles you do. If you try to sell it over the phone, you may be just making your closer competition’s job easier.
Make sure that you do not give TMI on the call. Sell the appointment and the dealerships difference. Sell the convenience, sell the fact that your service is above all others and build rapport with the customer. This will not only increase your ROI, but your ROR (return on relationships) which is what creates customers for life.
Three specific action items for real, not manufactured, scripted or fake differentiation:
Action item #1: Watch game tape! Practice every day and listen to each other’s calls. Call your competition. How do they sound? If you were a customer would you go see them to buy your next vehicle? Did they make you feel as if you were calling the right place at the right time, or did they leave you with a feeling they do not care and just want you to come in and buy a car from them. Or worse, did they tell you that they did not know about the vehicles they have and had to call you back. Pull out what they said that would make you want to come see them. Then, more importantly, detail what they said that would put them into the stereotype of the “typical” car dealership. Then don’t say the same thing! Do an honest self-appraisal identifying a specific course of action to create differentiation.
Action item # 2: Train your team and enhance their current skills so every person they talk to wants to come down and meet them. Utilize the self-barometer technique, active listening and the two main ingredients, acknowledgement and validation. Make customers feel as if they now have a friend in the car business that will not lead them wrong. It is far too common for the dealership’s first impressions to be blown by individual sales people that are too busy or too impatient to make that difference. Owners, do quality care checks on your own team. Do they represent you in a way that you would be proud to claim for your dealership? If not, get them help.
Action item #3: Lastly, perhaps most importantly, humanize the conversation and turn dialogue into discussion. Customers love hearing their name and the names of their loved ones. It is music to their ears. Build emotional equity and use commonality based rapport versus the “Rainex slick” car jargon. Every customer needs to be treated as they were your very own grandmother. If you would not let your grandmother buy a car from a salesperson you have in your dealership, then train them to do it right. Ignoring their actions is not only a reflection on them, but is a reflection of you. Make sure that they make you proud and that you do not allow them to just breathe your oxygen because they have good sales months. Your reputation is at risk!
Summary: When you differentiate your dealership in every aspect of the sale, start to finish, and give your customers the ease and comfort of knowing they have bought a car and have not been “sold” one, you have effectively built on the ROR. I am sure that every team I have worked with does not just want to sell a customer a car today, but wants to sell them every car in their future as well as to their family and closest friends.
Cloning is for science, not for sales. Differentiation is exactly how we instill the right feeling and the very important recall of us over anyone else to whom they may have spoken. The greatest closers on earth are the ones who understand people hate to be “sold.” They know those folks do love finding someone that is ready, willing and able to help them buy the right thing and not pay too much for it. Set your mind to make needed changes or be left in the dust when your competition does.