My wife’s car has been struggling along lately, and it’s finally reached the stage of life support that replacing it is no longer optional. So lastweekend, we went car shopping. We were trying to buy a car. You know who was trying to stop us from buying a car? Car sales people.

Here’s how they did it, the sales-killing mistakes from our weekend trying to buy a car:

  • Fake intimacy is worse than no intimacy. One salesman shook my hand, introduced himself, and said “nice to meet you, buddy”, like a sleazy salesman from central casting. Why couldn’t he have just said “nice to meet you”?
  • Scripts should be about the customer, not the product. I got lots of carefully prepared and well-delivered pitches about the benefits of this-or-that feature or why this vehicle is better than a competitor’s similar vehicle, but no one asked what we wanted to do the with the car. So they had no way of knowing what we really cared about. They had no way of knowing that 90% of their pitch was completely wasted, while they didn’t even cover some of the things we might have considered important.
  • Respect your customers’ buying process. I shouldn’t say that no one asked what we wanted. After giving us a 15 minute overview of a computer system, climate control, doors, trunk, and more, one sales woman actually bothered to ask what we wanted. Why didn’t she do that first? Then, in addition to tailoring her pitch to what we cared about, she would have known that we had hired a babysitter to watch our kids to make the process more efficient, and what we really wanted was a test drive. I was trying to be polite, but at this point I had to just say “we have limited time– can we take a test drive?” She had lost the chance to learn about our needs and priorities by wasting time on features (never demo the features, demo the benefits your prospect values). Some people know exactly what they want and they want to buy. Some people want to sit in the seat in the showroom. Some people need a test drive. Some people need some selling. Almost no one needs a huge feature run down. Figure out where your prospects are, and tailor your approach to their needs.
  • You should be an expert in your product. Your talking points and scripts should be about customer scenarios, but you should still be an expert in the product itself. You should know more than the customer about what you’re selling. It’s not fair to expect sales reps to know everything, but they should be close. Especially if they talk and talk about the features of the car which are readily apparent, it’s disappointing when you ask something that isn’t immediately obvious, and they have no idea.
  • You should know the price of what you sell. This isn’t the sales reps fault, but it certainly makes the buying process less enjoyable and it hurts sales. “We’re ready to offer some great deals on these models.” “Oh, great, what kind of deals.” “I don’t know, I need to ask my manager.”

America is a car country. We love our cars, but we hate buying them. My wife and I failed to purchase a vehicle last weekend.

Avoid these sales-killers, and make it so your customers actually enjoy buying from you.

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