Three Tips to Avoid Sending a Sale Sideways

As part of his work to help stores sell more cars, Cory Mosley gives a lot of thought to why internet salespeople lose deals. While he focuses on what can be done better the next time, he also calls out the things they shouldn’t be doing.

“Prevention, ultimately, is the best cure,” says Mosley, principal at Mosley Training. To illustrate the point, he cites three common but easily avoidable scenarios. Dealers who continue to repeat these mistakes, he says, unnecessarily jeopardize the deal or leave money on the table. For example:

1. Treating all customers the same. “If your approach is singular to every customer, then you’re going to alienate groups of customers that you’ll never be able to sell,” Mosley says. “Your personalities will be too mismatched.”

Instead of adopting one-size-fits-all tactics, Mosley recommends that salespeople mirror shoppers. He doesn’t suggest they cede control of the process; rather that they tailor their presentation style to the individual. Just as buyers who want a “relationship” will be turned off by a domineering manner, customers preferring a “professional” transaction will be offended by too much camaraderie.

What should you do once you realize you’ve crossed the line?

“You may need to add a new face to the deal,” Mosley says. “It may be time to get a manager involved or another salesperson that might be better suited. Certainly, half of something is better than the whole of nothing.”

2. Confusing rapport with a commitment to buy. While Mosley acknowledges the importance of being liked by the shopper, he cautions that more is required to win the deal. “The obligation has to be stronger than that because people buy from people they don’t like all the time,” he says.

Giving customers the sense that they need to buy from you begins with asking how they plan to use their vehicle and then demonstrating the relevant features. A salesperson who shows an expectant couple how to lower the third-row seat in a minivan, he says, makes the connection in a way the one who asks about the names they’re considering does not. So too does the dealer who follows up with a safety-conscious buyer to offer new information about the car’s latest crash-test ratings.

“You’re the person that called and had something to say. You didn’t just call and say, ‘Are you ready to buy a car yet?’ That creates obligation,” Mosley says.

Failing to create this dynamic from the beginning of the transaction may not cost you the deal, he says, but you may not like the terms.

“When the customer has a low opinion of you, it will lead to nothing but a price conversation,” Mosley says. “Once that happens, there’s no turning that around. Once the customer takes the position that you have no value to them, then it’s really no holds barred. There’s no empathy that goes along with negotiating with you.”

3. Taking the deal for granted. “A lot of salespeople assume they don’t have to do any selling because it’s the internet customer,” Mosley says. “That customer must know what they want, they must know what they’re ready to pay, so let’s just get to the bottom line: ‘Here are your numbers, Mr. Jones. What do you want to do now?’ – and Mr. Jones wouldn’t know a Camry from a Corolla yet.”

While Mosley concedes that taking this route may occasionally land a quick sale, he advises playing a more active role. Most online shoppers have yet to decide on what or where to buy, so they reach out to dealers for help identifying the vehicle that best meets their needs and budget. Stepping up to offer this information increases your chances of winning the deal, allows you to hold gross and positions you to win repeat and referral business.

Anything less, Mosley says, and you may not be able to recover. Once prospects have your out-the-door price, they’ll either use it to shop you or look for a dealer willing to give them the attention and service they need to be sure they’re buying the right car.

“You have to invest the full amount of energy into each customer,” Mosley says. “You have to go into those deals without prequalifying.”

Additional Resources

Looking for additional tips you can implement in your store today to drive more traffic with your online advertising and desk more deals with your internet sales processes? Check out Cars.com’s DealerCenter. Here, you can read our DealerADvantage blog or listen to archived recordings of our DealerADvantage LIVE webinar series.

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