How to Sell A Car – Part Two
In my last post, we examined your basic alpha nature, your need to dominate other people. Did you read the comments after the post? Wow. Not very happy are they? No surprise there. As you know, most people think car salesmen are the scum of the earth: cheating, lying, arrogant, ignorant, over-aggressive sumbitches with their own circle in Hell (where they try to sell each other five-year warrantees for all eternity). Are consumers wrong to hate you so? Nope. But don’t worry about that. There’s nothing inherently wrong with your innate desire for interpersonal dominance. It’s what you do with it that matters.
Remember media mogul Ted Turner’s desk sign: lead, follow or get out of the way? It’s more than a warning; it’s every possible human interaction defined on 12” of brass. When two or more people meet, those are the options. The TTAC’ers who described their horrific experiences with car salesmen are, in the main, alphas (smart, car-savvy ones to boot). They walked because they weren’t willing to follow your lead. That’s alpha to alpha conflict for you; it almost always ends in tears. More importantly, the end result was exactly the same as if these car-buying alphas were brochure-grabbing submissives: they “got out of the way.” The followers? They bought a car.
This is your job as a car salesman: turn as many customers as possible into followers. And to do that, you’ve got to be a leader. Not a bully. A leader.
Before I explain the difference between the two, I want to counter a concept that’s been infecting car sales for some time: rapport. According to the trainers spreading this bone-headed pseudo-science (called Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP), rapport is the “quality of harmony, recognition and mutual acceptance that exists between people when they are at ease with one another and where communication is occurring easily.” They’ve got lots of tricks to help you: matching, mirroring, modeling, pacing, etc. Bottom line? They think you should be the customer’s friend.
Have you ever heard the expression “never sell to a friend?” Well, exactly. There’s no better way to ruin a friendship than to sell your friend a car. As soon as something goes wrong, the friendship is toast. As you know, a car is usually a customer’s second largest (i.e. most expensive) purchase. As you may recall, your non-alpha car buyers are profoundly risk-aversive. They don’t want a friend that can schmooze about baseball or house prices or restaurants. They want someone they can trust to help them buy– or not buy– a car. Confused? Think of it this way: would you rather hitch a ride in an airplane flown by your best friend– no matter how well trained– or a professional pilot?
Not to belabor the point, but did you ever have a teacher you really respected, admired and trusted? Someone who taught you something important and filled you with confidence in yourself? Did you play videogames with them at home? I don’t think so. (Again, resist the urge to think of any exceptions.) A successful car salesman can be friendly, but he or she should never try to be the customer’s friend. Ingratiating yourself to the customer means subverting your natural alpha tendencies to establish a peer-to-peer relationship. That’s just plain wrong. What car buyers want, what they need, what they deserve is a professional. A leader.
Entire forests have died to create all the books on the subject of leadership. Let me condense them for you. A great leader is honest, passionate, knowledgeable, attentive, clever, patient, disciplined, committed, charismatic, open-minded, positive and, lest we forget, funny. All you need to think about is honesty. A great car salesman should never, ever lie to anyone. Remember: your potential customers are looking for an excuse to confirm their profound distrust of your basic character. One lie, no matter how small, and your ability to lead is history. You can always fall back on bullying, but that sucks. It erodes your ability to look yourself in the mirror in the morning and, eventually, makes your customers hate you on sight.
So, never lie about price, availability, depreciation, specifications, features, the dealer’s profit, your commission, your uncle’s role in the Kennedy assassination, what you had for lunch, your favorite football team, anything. The NLP zealots are right about one thing: 90% of communication is non-verbal. One tiny little lie, and your hyper hyper-sensitive customer will know. They will never trust you again. Nor should they. By the way, do you know why you lie? Because you’re desperate. You don’t have a proven and comfortable sales methodology that takes you from first customer contact to vehicle handover and beyond.
We’ll start on that in the next installment. Meanwhile, the “right” thing for the customer to do is to trust you. Well, it will be, when we’re done.
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