Friday, July 31, 2015

Be a Professional; Life Tips from a Former Car Salesman

These are a few things I gleaned from selling cars that will help you in dealing with people in person, on the phone, or online. These are things I learned by trial and error, witnessing good and bad examples, and doing whatever I could to sell a car.
A lego car salesman approached a lego family

Follow Through
If you tell someone you will call them back do it. If you don't follow through, your failure to act will become expected. Customers rarely kept their word, but I had something to gain so I kept mine. I saw quite a few salesman absolutely refuse to call a customer back because, "You can't buy a car on the phone." You can't drive a car home on the phone, but you can sell it.

Being new,  I once got a letter, written in crayon, asking for a brochure. I could have made a number of assumptions and thrown it away, but instead I stapled my card to a brochure and mailed it.

A few months later a guy asks for me by name. He had my card in his hand and he had ridden the bus to see me. I wish i could say he bought a car, but he didn't. I chatted with him, and while many will call it a waste of time because I didn't make any money, I'd rather have someone praise than curse me.

You can't control whether others keep their word, but you can control your actions.

Use the Available Tools
If you called the dealership and got me, you would wonder if I was a car savant. I knew every detail about any car we sold. It wasn't due to my great memory. On my computer I bookmarked a link to every car product page for every vehicle I sold. With the click of a button I knew everything about any car. While other salesman fumbled from memory or ran to get a brochure, I instilled confidence in the buyer.
Car salesmen take multiple product knowledge tests yearly. I was told the method to complete the test was, "to keep taking it until you pass. You can take it as many times as you want and the test is open book so don't waste time studying."
There were salesmen that spent a days on the tests, others paid someone else to take the tests. I completed all the tests on my first try in an hour. It's not because I studied for weeks before I started. The book containing the answers was also in PDF format on the manufacturer's website. With a keyword search within the PDF the answers were easily found. After I passed my tests, I was labeled as a guy who knew his stuff. No, I'm just a guy that knows how to use tools available.

Using Words to Your Advantage
When I walk into a store and a sales associate asks me if I need help, I say, "No! Just looking." Even if I know exactly what  I want, I will tell them "No." and wander down the aisles twice before I finally relent. Here's the thing. In a sales environment, we've been trained to say no to any question. A no stops a conversation. If the sales associate asked me what I needed, I would tell that person.
My customer isn't buying a car, they're taking it home. Buying is a bad word. That means I'm going to pry money out of their hand. Taking the car puts the action on them.
If I ask, "What's your phone number?" I will get a curt, "No thanks." If I ask "Are you calling from home or work?", I catch them off guard and they will tell me.  When I follow that with , "And the number there is?", I garner a phone number. It's a subtle trick but it often works.

Attitude goes a long way in any situation. I always assumed I would sell a car to any customer. Even when I was told no, even when customers were rude and downright mean, I never took that as an invitation to reciprocate. I knew I'd hear "no" more than "yes", but I was not going to miss an opportunity. I've been called a liar and cheat, been told exactly where to go and given specific instructions on the how, but the prospect of selling a car was worth more than telling them off. When I was cursed at and told I didn't know how to sell cars and I was too young and inexperienced, I offered to introduce the person to a more experienced salesman. My 'customer' cursed at me again and left. I smiled and waved.

These are skills you can use anywhere. You have that friend that always backs out of plans or forgets to do as promised. Maybe you are that person. If you tell a friend you'll help them move, do it.
Don't try to move a household full of stuff in your compact car. Use the available tools and rent a moving truck. Spending that money saves you time and money.
I could ask someone to help me move and get a quick no. Or  I could ask the same person if they like pizza. When they confirm they do (because who doesn't like pizza?), I add that I've got plenty at my house and they're welcome to it if they help me move.
Find the advantage in your approach to life, the words to describe the world, and always be reliable.
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