5 Lessons Any Business Can Learn From Car Salesmen
As a result of movies and plenty of people who actually reinforce stereotypes about their profession, car salesmen are in the running with lawyers for being the most commonly stereotyped and joked about profession.
Although it's unlikely that those stereotypes will go away anytime soon, that doesn't mean the people who excel in this line of work actually fall under that umbrella. On the contrary, the stereotypes they're up against mean that dedicated car salesmen have to work even harder to succeed.
Because they have to overcome some major obstacles, here are five lessons from successful car salesmen that you can apply to your own business:
It's All About Relationships
Experienced sales professionals in the auto industry know that if they get referrals from existing customers, their success rate is going to be much higher than if they had to start form scratch again.
But in order to get those referrals, they have to take care of their customers from beginning to end. That means striving to maximize referrals for your own business will reinforce the importance of providing the best customer service possible.
Listening is More Important than Talking
The way great car salesmen operate goes against the biggest stereotype about their profession. They understand that no amount of talking can make up for what they can gain from five minutes of listening to a customer.
Whether it's through surveys or one-on-one discussions, don't ever underestimate the value of information that comes directly from customers.
The best salesmen are happy to jump in a car or coordinate with a different location. You can gain a lot by building the same type of mobility into your business.
If you're currently using a CRM but it doesn't have any cloud functionality, switching to one that does can noticeably improve your sales team's productivity.
Sell Benefits, Not Features
If you decide to buy a new or used car, a salesman will have no trouble going through all of its features. But they know that the best way to actually get you to buy is to find and focus on ways that specific car is going to make your life better.
By keeping that approach in mind when you're writing copy or doing any other marketing or branding activities, you'll be even more successful at connecting with prospects.
Successful car salesmen know that the more friction they eliminate from the sales process, the more sales they'll ultimately close. This philosophy can apply to many areas of your business.
For example, if you add a form to your website so that visitors can sign up for your email newsletter, you don't want to make them fill out five or more fields. Instead, by simplifying your form to only ask for a first name and email address or even just the address, you'll eliminate unnecessary barriers that would prevent a significant percentage of visitors from signing up.
Regardless of your specific industry, if you take a page from successful car salesmen's book and focus on building relationships, listening to prospects and customers, becoming mobile, selling benefits, and eliminating friction, you'll be able to improve your own bottom line.
Ralf's comment: Thanks, Craig, for this unusual and interesting look at car sales men and what we can learn from them for our business. I hope you don't mind me adding the super-clicheed used car sales man as featured image. :-) Your third item, Sell Benefits – Not Features, reminded me of a previous life, 25 years ago, when I was training insurance sales people.
One of the hardships in selling insurance is that it's not a very sexy product and it doesn't have immediate desirable effects for customers. In my trainings I frequently used car dealerships as example for selling benefits.
Selling the experience. A good car sales person won't bore you with technical details about the car (unless you're a bit on the geeky side). Instead they will shove you right into the car and get you to enjoy a free test drive.
Imagine sitting at the sales persons desk reading the brochure compared to taking a ride! It's very obvious how much easier the sale is.
You can use this strategy in any business.
While many products and services don't offer an exciting test drive before purchase, as business owers we can easily create better sales pitches. Either in personal talks, or in our brochures and web sites, we can put the customer (in his imagination) into the situation of actually using the product and enjoying the benefits.
It's not even hard to do. Ask yourself: How can you help your customer experiencing (in real or in imagination) the benefits of using your product or service?
Just a few minutes of thinking about it will give you the right ideas. Then it's only a matter of testing your idea with real customers.