Written by: Lauren McLean, Dealer Spike
Lake Oswego, OR (August 22, 2017) – Consider some of the best experiences you’ve had when making a big purchase. There was likely a process of events that took place to make the sale happen, whether it was at an electronics store, a jeweler, or somewhere else – and a salesperson who led you through that process. Chances are, one of the main reasons you look back at that experience and consider it a good one is because you felt like the salesperson really understood your wants and needs, and they found a solution for you.
It seems so simple, but that’s what people really want – to be understood. When you know exactly what your customers want and you’re able to give it to them, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Customers happily leave the dealership with their new trailer in tow, and you close a sale.
What’s required to truly understand a customer?
While this isn’t any new phenomenon, it can be harder than you might think, and it’s very possible that you’ve been doing it wrong. Most commonly, the biggest obstacle to active listening is our habit of thinking about the next thing we’re going to say while the other person is talking. We may not even realize we’re doing it – it’s human nature. But to establish that relationship between a customer and a salesperson that results in a sale, active listening is key.
It does take practice, but the best way to initiate active listening is to make a conscious effort to listen more than you speak. In other words – be quiet! Let your customer tell you what they’re looking for, why they need it, what they like and don’t like, and so on. Let them tell you.
While the customer is talking, ask him or her questions. Not only does this make your customer feel like they are being heard, but it also helps clarify their wants and needs for you so that you can better sell to them. Phrases like “I understand” and “I see” are good, but even better are phrases like “What I’m hearing is that you need a new trailer;” “I’ve noticed that you’re not impressed with the 2017 models;” and “Let me make sure I understand what you need – a used flatbed that’s still in great condition, and sturdy enough for the Pacific Northwest winter season.” In this scenario you have reiterated the information they’ve given you, you’ve made your own observations about how best to serve them, and you’ve clarified exactly what they want so there’s no confusion on either side.
Sometimes the most simple techniques can make the biggest impact. While listening to your customer is no new concept, truly practicing active listening could be the key to unlocking your dealership’s sales potential. Put active listening into practice and start tracking the results you see – customers who feel understood and appreciated are the ones who will make the purchase.