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Keep it simple, sir

There is a new kind of business growing across our country. It is the chain store of used car dealerships.  Wanting to keep up with the most recent trends and techniques of retailing, I decided to visit one recently.

So as to make my visit more realistic, I pretended that I was wanting to purchase a 1997 burgundy Jeep Grand Cherokee.  As I walked into the very clean large building, I was greeted promptly by a cheerful salesperson.  "Is this your first visit to our dealership?", was the question he asked.

With an affirmative answer, the salesperson began to explain their technique of selling cars.  The introduction continued as he explained their selection, ability to find specific cars, pricing, guarantees, and method of making sure the vehicle was structurally sound.

It was a pretty impressive display of information.  And, obviously this used auto dealership has an extensive training program.  It reminded me of the advertising of a local retailer whose promotional line has been, "An informed person is our best customer."  For, there was nothing about this business that I now did not know.

It would have been an impressive display of customer assistance if there had been one additional attention to detail.  Remember my statement that when I walked in, I wanted to look for a Jeep?  It took the salesperson over twenty five minutes to ask about it; a great display of knowledge, but a failure to put the customer first.

Surely, as with the example of the advertising slogan, an informed customer is desirable.  There is an old saying of, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."  This is too often the case when you look at advertising done by some merchants; perhaps some of these merchants are your competition.  Their price point is prominently displayed, but little reference is made to the fact that the exceptional price is due to the fact that the item being sold is a "stripped version", or that the product is in a package that is 5 pounds lighter than the traditional size.  Too often the customer only sees the price, and it is your responsibility to explain the misconception.

Looking at retail overall, no matter what products or services you sell, it is likely that you are selling something that is desirable but not a necessity of life.

Even if you are a grocery store, you are selling some necessary food items, but the majority of items in the cart are there because of desire instead of need.

So, what could this well trained salesperson do to become a better representative of his product?  Think of any service or product that you sell.  There are reasons that a person would want or need to purchase the item, as well as there are related products that could be sold with it.

Sure, there is the old retail truism of selling the sizzle instead of selling the steak; just as a person buying an electric drill is really buying holes in something that are created cleanly and quickly.

With your example product or service, the best selling technique calls for a three point sale.  First sell yourself. As you are interacting with the customer, the confidence of the customer is gained not by your knowledge but by your ability to relate to them.  Customers approached with a genuine interest in their wants and needs are more open and receptive to your add on or selling up techniques.

The second point of the sale is to sell the business that you own or work for.  You may be selling a product that is the same as being sold in other stores.  So, why should your customer buy from your business?  If you cannot verbally give your customer a reason, then it stands to reason that they should shop according to price.

If you were to create a list of ten reasons that a person should shop in your business, price should not be one of the reasons.  For if "we have great prices" is one of the reasons, then you are suggesting that your customer shop for price.  Reasons such as: selection, having products on hand, backing up what you sell, convenient location and hours are usually on the top of the list that customers would give to you.

The third and final point is that you should sell the product.  Of course, we do so by guiding the customer through a series of questions to tell us why they are making a purchase.  At this point, you will be able to determine if the product or service they are asking for will meet their needs.  Knowing their needs opens the door for add on or additional sales.

More importantly, a customer that is getting their needs met are more apt to return to your business, or call your company for additional service.

And when the time does arrive that you will have to explain your product, service or company to a customer, a combination of two adages are the best guideline:  "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care", followed by what I wanted to say to the car salesperson, "Keep it Simple, Sir". 

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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