Now before you prepare your letter bomb or nasty comments for the flaming thread that is sure to follow, allow me to elaborate…. Back when I got started the prevailing wisdom went something like "the sale doesn't begin until the 5th to 7th time you hear the word no...." and I focused much of my time early on in learning as much about 'closing' as I could, reading books and listening to every sales manager I could 'close' deals. As I grew in my own sales experience I discovered that the more I invested in the initial stages of the customer interaction the less I had to rely on my closing ability. When I became a Sales Manager with my first team I focused most of our training and preparation for the ‘Meet and Greet, Show and Tell’ portion of the sale and very little on the ‘write up’ as I knew the best way to overcome objections was to not have them and the best way to ensure there were few if any was with a strong presentation and demonstration. Over the years I have seen a fundamental shift in the employees that are coming into the business and especially after the recent tough economic times folks starting off in sales have a real lack of understanding of the importance of customer service and lean more and more on the strong closing skills touted by the big name trainers like Grant. It seems like as soon as new salespeople get finished with their new hire paperwork they want to skip right to learning how to work the deal like a 'closer', and unfortunately many, MANY dealership leaders are all to willing to start showing them how to overcome objections and hard close customers. The art of the customer qualification (no, not ‘hows your credit’ either!) has become thing of the old days of selling as many salespeople assume the customers have done their research and are ready to get down to business working the numbers. My focus with new people, and even the seasoned folks who have fallen into the trap, is to re-enforce the importance of the critical wants and needs analysis portion of the initial meet and greet stage, and the effective demonstration of the product based on the information gathered. In other words: "Spend two hours on the lot and the write up will take 15 minutes, OR... spend 15 minutes on the lot and the write up negotiation) will take two hours or more and end with the salesperson begging the customer to buy at a discounted price/payment"
Closing becomes crucial when the salesperson hasn’t done his job thoroughly, it’s as simple as that. If the salesperson asks the right questions, listens effectively and then demonstrates how his product best meets the wants and needs of the customer he doesn’t have to close, the customer sees value and agrees to the purchase. That’s not to say there is no negotiation required and that all customers simply lay down for the deal, I’m simply stating that I am convinced that the more focus we put on the initial stages of the sales process when training, the less we have to train the 'close'.
Not the most popular way of thinking with the old school car dawgs I have engaged with however I have seen great results in my own staff here at my store now and at many stores I have trained at. Thoughts? Let me know your perspective in the comments, good or bad lets have some discussion!