Listening Skills

October 30, 2013 / Automotive, Dealership, Sales /
Listening - Strong Automotive

A very smart dealer once told me that selling cars was the easiest thing he had ever done in his career and owning a dealership was the hardest.  His trick was listening to the customers. He would let the husband describe what he wanted in a car while the wife explained what she didn’t want. After hearing both sides he could make a deal.

People forget that the art of selling starts by understanding the art of listening.

I thought about this while in a dealership the other day. The general manager and the used car manager were discussing  a deal they couldn’t close with a customer. What struck me were their phrases. “We should stick them in this.” “Why didn’t you try to roll them in that?”

As I listened to the reasons why the customers didn’t end up buying a car I laughed to myself and thought, “No wonder they didn’t buy a car, you didn’t listen to what they wanted. You just told them what they should buy.”

The managers said things like, “The wife didn’t want this one because it didn’t have enough room, and the husband wanted all-wheel drive.” I was totally amazed at how little attention senior management was paying to the actual concerns of a customer.

There is far less one-on-one communication that goes on between a salesperson and a customer today vs. 30 years ago. The salespeople (both floor and Internet) need to remember to listen and learn what they don’t know before they tell customers what they know.  It doesn’t matter how customers communicate with you. You are still selling to the customer, and that is the most important thing.

The two people in the room were not successful in making a deal because they didn’t listen to what the customer wanted before they tried to tell them what they needed.


About the author

John Paul Strong: As owner of Strong Automotive Merchandising, a company that increases traffic up to 1,000% for dealerships, Strong lives by the simple concept that your attitude affects your success. Without a positive mind set he would not have been able to grow the company over the last decade from just 10 to over 80 full-time employees. The rapid growth is thanks to his ability to keep the company on the forefront of technology, market changes and an infectious talent to motivate and keep employees striving to fulfill their potential. His beginnings in direct mail gave him the tools and skills to develop incredibly successful marketing plans. From there he moved on to traditional forms of media and has now mastered the dynamic world of digital and social media advertising. With over 150 dealers to please, Strong takes a hands-on approach and personal attention to detail in all aspects of marketing strategies. His expertise in plan development gives him a keen sense on how to maximize a dealer’s budget and ultimately increase their bottom line. Strong is a passionate speaker in the automotive industry. He has authored two books on creating next day traffic. He graduated from the Executive Education Program at the Harvard Business School. Strong received a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Montevallo. He lives with his wife and three children in Homewood, Alabama.