Are You A Used Car Salesman? Become a Better Salesman Today


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Last night I was watching an episode of Dexter on Showtime and he was at a car dealership talking with your stereotypical “used car salesman”. Dexter walked up to look at a minivan and the salesman ran over and started telling him about how he has the same van for his kids and that his wife loves it.  He said he traded in the convertible and it was worth it. He used every sales pitch he could without even taking into consideration what Dexter was looking for (of course if you watch Dexter, then you know that he was looking for something more than a minivan).  Come to find out the salesman was not married, did not have kids and drove a BMW.  I mention this because the writers of this show chose to focus on the common “used car salesman” persona to make a point for this part of the show.  While they might have taken it to the extreme as far as creating an annoying, slimy-type of salesman, the sad truth is that in real life, this is a common occurrence in sales.

Be Genuine!

When you are dealing with a customer, no matter what you are selling the most important thing is to BE GENUINE! Take an interest in your customer and what their needs, wants, fears and expectations are.  Don’t humor them – take a REAL interest.

What is the most important thing to any customer?

Their Name!! Everyone you come in contact with has a name and there is nothing that pays more of a compliment than for you to make the effort to remember their name and use it in conversation.  “Hello Sandy” are words that will put a smile on her face when she walks into your store.  Followup with “How are the kids?” and you just broke the ice in a huge way.   You now indicated to her that she is a real person and that you took the time to remember her name and that she has children.

The more interest you take in your customer, the more it will pay off in future business with that person.

Don’t Lie!

This seems obvious enough, but you would be surprised how many people will lie, even if the littlest of white lies, just to make a sale or seem more interesting to the customer. Even if you are not the most interesting person on the planet, falling into a trap of lies will make it very difficult to remember who you told what as time goes on.  You are better off to focus on the customer and learn about them. The worst thing you can do is to get caught in a lie with a customer.  If they think you lied about something minor, then imagine how they will feel about spending their hard earned money with your business.

Don’t Be Pushy!

Again, another obvious one, but when times get tough and your business needs every sale, there is an inherent need for us to do all we can to close every potential sale.  Our fear of not making rent or payroll puts us on the offensive and can cause us to act much more differently than when times are good.  However, the state of your business is not your customer’s fault. They have their own problems.  Whether or not your business is thriving should be transparent to your customers.  In fact, I would always suggest making them feel business is good.  Who wants to do business with a company that they think is not going to be around?

Not everyone that comes to your business is going to be ready to buy, at least not right then.  Treat that customer well and don’t put the pressure on and they will come back when they are ready.  Consider it like planting a seed.  There is nothing more of a turn-off than a pushy salesperson.

Needs & Wants!

Customers will typically make a purchase for two main reasons: to solve a NEED or fulfill a WANT. If you are in the business of selling gasoline, food, dry cleaning, etc. then you are most likely fulfilling a customer’s need.  However if you sell jewelery, electronics, toys, etc. then you are most likely fulfilling a customer’s want.  Think about what you sell and why your customers buy it.

If you are selling a need, then you might consider taking time to understand any pain that a customer might have that is leading them to needing your item.  Do they have a bad stain in their blouse? Is their car not running right? Are they getting ready for a party and need food and supplies?  You should always be sympathetic to your customer’s needs,  even when they seem trivial to you, count on the fact that it could be a big deal to your customer.

If you are selling a want, then you might talk about any pleasure that what you are selling is going to bring them.  If you sell TVs and someone is looking for that new monster big screen to watch the games or to enjoy movies with the kids, then talk to them about the enjoyment they will have with their friends and family. Think about how proud you are after you buy a new car.  You want to tell everyone.  Your customers feel the same way when they are making a purchase for something that they want.

Put It In Action!

While everything I talked about here is not considered rocket science and many would argue that it is common sense, you would be surprised how many businesses and their sales people fall short on these items.  You have one shot with a new customer to impress them and make them want to do business with you.  Be sure that you don’t fall victim to bad habits that will leave them with a bad taste in their mouth.

If you follow these three cardinal rules, you will be making a huge investment in the future success of your business:

  • Be Genuine!
  • Show your Customer Respect!
  • Take An Interest in Their Needs and Wants!
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