To be a thriving automotive dealership, you must know how to be persuasive. After all, your sales team is the lifeblood of your business. Without being able to persuade customers to purchase from your dealership over your competitor, it would be impossible to stay open.
While your team undoubtedly already has some persuasive secret weapons, these tips – inspired by the book Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion – are simple, effective, and can be put to use today.
You believe that your products are the best quality for the best prices. Now, you have to convince your customer of the same. These techniques will help you do just that.
○ Establish credibility with a teammate’s help. One of the first things a salesperson must do with a new customer is establish some form of ethos, or credibility. Rather than touting your own experience, having a teammate brag to the customer on your behalf will come off as more genuine. You may not always have someone around to do this, but setting up a system among the sales force will let everyone benefit from a little extra endorsement.
○ Mention a small drawback, but with a positive spin. Revealing a small drawback or negative feature in what you’re selling conveys honesty and makes the rest of your message more credible. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t add a positive spin. For example, you could mention right off the bat that a car has a smaller cargo space, but that the smaller size of the vehicle pays off in better gas mileage in the long run.
○ Mirror speech and vocabulary. This one can take a bit of practice. But if you notice that your customer favors certain expressions or a style of speaking, incorporating some of that into your own sales pitch will help the customer identify with you and trust what you’re saying.
○ Use scarcity to motivate. Scarcity is common in advertising and sales, but remembering to stress it can be the extra push your customer needs to make a decision. For example, if you only have two of a certain model and color left on the lot, make sure to mention this to the customer and highlight the savings they may lose out on if they wait too long to purchase.
○ Encourage a trip to the coffee bar. Depending on the time of day, it’s worth your while to encourage customers to visit your dealership’s café or coffee station. Research shows that caffeine makes people more receptive to persuasive arguments – but only if your argument is strong to begin with.
Customers aren’t the only ones you should use these techniques on. Encouraging persuasive arguments among your team will help ease cohesion and lead to more fruitful meetings and memos.
○ Add a sticky note. Are you having trouble getting a teammate to fulfill a request? Attaching a handwritten sticky note to a document greatly increases your chances of getting a response. It’s simple, but the personalized touch will get people’s attention.
○ Encourage dissent. Not everyone likes to be challenged, but groupthink is a real threat to progress and innovation. To bring a fresh perspective and ensure that you’re considering all sides of an issue, encourage dissenters to speak up and voice their concerns at the appropriate time.
○ Beware of the “magnetic middle.” People naturally gravitate toward the average, or middle. Be careful when reporting on average sales, average number of calls, and other performance figures. It can give above-average performers an excuse to lower their performance.
○ Ask for confirmation. When you need someone to do something, asking for an answer will make them more likely to follow through. For example, asking, “Will you let me know when the report is done?” will stick in a co-worker’s mind better than, “Let me know when you’re done.”
These techniques tap into the basic psychological functions that most people live by. Adding them to your arsenal will help you craft more effective messages and up your persuasion in the office and on the sales floor.
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.
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