The main theme of the Showroom Sales Skills philosophy that I talk about on this blog is to structure every encounter with a client or prospect such that you keep the client coming to you. If you start chasing the prospect, that amounts to pressure and it is a natural human tendency to want to avoid being pressured. It’s so easy to get offside with a prospect in the showroom right out of the gate and not realize how your words, tone, and body language communicate pressure. It’s so easy to get off on the wrong foot because the “old school” sales training that you probably received comes from an era when the customer-centered expectations were not the priority.
Keep in mind that your objective during the early stages of the first visit is to overcome the prospect’s tension and stress about being on unfamiliar territory and raise excitement about new learning and solutions that work. In other words, work toward transferring the prospect’s apprehension about the process into excitement about the product. But, first, let’s learn how to both “meet” and “greet” the prospect who has arrived on the lot or in the showroom.
In the Meet and Greet phase, I call the “meet” part Step 0 and the “greet” phase, Step 1. Meeting your prospective customer on the lot or in the showroom in a manner that engages them will determine if you get a chance to interact (which is the “greeting” that is so important to setting the stage for a relationship to blossom). In order to “meet” someone who has just arrived, you need to approach in a non-threatening way. A million years of human evolution has conditioned us all to guard our personal space and in North America, that means do not move directly toward someone and as you approach, do not initially get within “reaching” distance. If you are close enough to grab someone, you are a potential threat in the other person’s reptilian brain. Here is how “Step 0” should work:
Step 0: Suppose a couple arrives at your dealership. You should walk in the general direction as if you are not looking at them- perhaps at a 45 degree angle away from them. Don’t look at them – pick out a vehicle close to them and walk up to it. Pull out a business card or pad of note paper and write down the stock number as if it was the real reason you are out there. Start to walk away (this will put them at ease at this point) and then turn to them at an angle and say, “Hey, have you folks been helped yet?” When they will say either “no” or “just looking”, you will reach in your shirt pocket and retrieve your business card and, with your left hand, reach out with a straight arm and pass it to them while saying “that’s fine, I’ll be nearby when you need me”. Now, turn away and take a step away from them, pause and turn back and say “Anything in particular I can point you toward?” Unless they say something that seems like an invitation, move away but stay within visible distance and continue to take some notes. You want to be within hailing range much like a good waiter at a fine restaurant.
Now some might argue that there is a possibility that the prospects might just leave at this point. That is certainly possible but the question is, would a more traditional car sales approach have worked better? You know what I mean, where you walk straight up to them and ask who’s the lucky person buying a car today?
If they stay, which I contend is much more likely when you give the prospects the opportunity to “come to you”, it is quite likely that they approach you after a few minutes and say something like “Actually, we’re looking for a compact SUV”. Now you can move to Step 1, the Greet phase which should go like this:
Step 1. Always use a script that you have rehearsed (and I don’t mean a bad script like “how can I help you?” Instead, say “Welcome to Tip Top Motors. My name is Gord, and you are?” Smile and look them in the eyes and offer a friendly handshake if you sense the body language is positive to do so. (Some people are uncomfortable shaking hands so play it by ear). When they tell you their names, repeat their names and ask an either/or question such as “Is this your first time here or have you been here before?” That will also let you know if they are here to see another sales person.
Now you are ready to transition to the Discovery phase (which some of the “old schoolers” call Qualifying) and which I covered in another post. Try this approach consistently and you will find you will get a shot at moving more prospects through the sales process in a relaxed and low pressure way.