Originally published on LinkedIn.com on April 20, 2016 By Andrea Culligan
My dad was a car salesman for almost 40 years. Not just any car salesman – he was the best in the business and I learnt more from him about customers and sales than I did from anyone else.
His sales prowess was incomparable but more importantly, his customer service was absolutely incredible.
His service levels were so well known and recognized that recently I stayed at a ski resort where the gentleman who owned the resort remembered my dad fondly through one of the deals he did – 25 yrs ago.
25 yrs! Can you imagine 25yrs later, a random customer still remembering the exact details of your transaction? What an incredible achievement.
He was so very different in his approach, he bent the rules of how things “should” and did “work” and people adored him for it.
Let me tell you where he was so different.
It was never about cars.
I love sales, I love being able to provide a solution to a client who so desperately needs it that I move mountains in their business life, but mostly, I love to be able to solve problems – and every day for close to 40 yrs that’s exactly what my pops did.
I remember him coming home telling me stories of how he’d just dropped off recent cars to NHL hockey players or famous media personalities in town and thinking – he’s just dropping off a car – but he wasn’t – he just kept solving problems.
Dropping off cars to celebrities wasn’t about status, it was about time poor individuals needing someone to do the leg work for them. Upgrading tires and not charging the customer wasn’t about additional sales, it was about making sure the customer was safe. Cleaning their car before it went back to them – ALWAYS – was never about making sure the car was clean – it was about taking one other thing away from the customers frustration. It all added up and people referred him constantly. He had high profile buyers, entire families, sometimes 2-3 generations that would only deal with “Kev” and it continued. He knew the secret sauce and no one could compare.
Not everyone has the ability to do the things dad did to help his customers, but the same key principles apply:
1) Ask the right questions
Yeah, I know you want the end game to be a big fat sale to get you through to next payroll – I hear you – but if you don’t ask the right questions, you’ll never be able to provide the perfect solutions/answers. Ask questions about the pain points in the business, what their key challenges are. Ensure you’re genuinely asking to find out whether or not you’re a good fit for them, ask them about them – what keeps their engine going – god knows, we all love to talk about ourselves so give the customer the opportunity to do just that.
2) Just F*&@# Listen
There are so many sales people/business owners out there happy to tell you all about themselves, what their product is and how much it’s going to rock your world – but they haven’t actually listened. They’re too busy talking to realise that they haven’t heard a word you said. It’s a simple one – but a big one. Think about this – someone has spent almost 40 minutes asking you questions and they’re intently listening – Not to figure out how to sell you the next big thing, but truly, genuinely listening. You know how that feels don’t you – go make your customers feel the same way.
3) It’s NEVER about the product
With all due respect to your product/service/invention/amazing new thing – it’s never really about that. It’s about what problem you’re solving for the customer. It could even be a problem they didn’t know existed until you provided a solution (Think Ipod – Itunes) but for gods sake don’t sell them the product. No one cares about your product – there’s a million more out there and a gazillion choices to choose from – dive into the emotive reasoning for the product. Tell them what problem you’re solving, and how it makes them feel when they use it – give the customer your big WHY and the PURPOSE of the business – the definitive brand of who you are – and the right customers will LOVE you.
4) Go the extra mile
My dad could (and still does!) share stories about how he showed up at peoples homes with cars to test drive, or put tires on for free without the haggle, or ordered something extra special that he knew the customer wanted (because he listened) or provided a free rental in between pick ups or picked up a customer when they needed a lift to the dealership – he made sure that he was going the extra mile. That meant that sometimes he didn’t make the biggest commission on the day, but he sure did in the long run. Imagine showing up at your office with your brand new car to test drive in your lunch hour with all of your colleagues watching – he didn’t just get one customer – he got 10 new ones. Imagine someone arriving at your house after hours because you’re pressed for time to hand over a vehicle lease and take the old one away for you – bringing paper work to sign and a bottle of wine to celebrate.
That cost my dad $14 for a bottle of wine and an hour of his time to get a life long customer. Not many people are going the extra mile and it will be remembered long after you leave.
People still speak of my dad and what an amazing guy he was. They don’t say he was a sales guy – he never sold them anything. He solved a problem, provided a solution and always went the extra mile.
What if you could stand out so far from the crowd and create a following that truly believed in you, your brand and your solution – not just your car. Imagine what you could do with that and then think of how many opportunities there actually are.
I listen for your passion and purpose in your business. I see possibility you can’t see. I create a brand and program for your idea that makes people feel moved and inspired. I help you to be unstoppable on your journey toward success.