How to Establish Sales Processes

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Steps in building a sales process

Key Points
Fit your mannerisms with those of the customer
Apply presentation skills
Overcome objections immediately
Do a trial close

This column is part of an ongoing "real world" series describing the challenges of buying an existing dealership and then making it your own. Previous columns have focused on renovations and clean-up, establishing new job descriptions, and sales coaching.

Over the last several months, we have been discussing the role of a new owner of an existing dealership, and the challenges in turning a legacy store into a new, vibrant business. This month, we concentrate on sales processes and techniques.

Our new dealer principal, who had previously been an employee in this same store, wanted to review the store's sales processes and whether they needed improvement. His goal was to figure out which sales processes worked best for his customers, and, therefore, best for the dealership.

The sales force, to his advantage, was open to any new processes and training that would help them sell more units. Buy-in from his staff was a hurdle that, fortunately, he would not have to address. (Those that weren't receptive to the changes moved on to other careers.)

New Rules

The owner conveyed to his sales staff that a customer's first impression still "rules." So he updated the sales uniforms. He worked with the sales staff to improve their attitudes toward the customer and generate enthusiasm toward the business.

The owner established goals for each sales shift, and monitored them daily. He compared the achievements to last year's performance during the same time period.

The sales staff received training. They wanted to convey confidence, enthusiasm and product knowledge to their customers.

So the owner established training programs that involved role-playing exercises, verbal presentations and training on how to communicate effectively with their customers' varying personality types.

The owner established six processes that should occur when conducting a sale:

  • Salespeople should observe each customer's behavior, mannerisms and style, and adjust their conversational style to fit the customer's.
  • Salespeople should quickly identify the best sales opportunity for a particular customer — for example, whether the customer is interested in a particular vehicle model, or whether budget is a priority.
  • Salespeople must apply their presentation skills.
  • They must address and overcome objections immediately.
  • They should get the customer to make a general verbal commitment: a "trial close." This happens when the customer verbally commits to considering a purchase if you can meet their needs, solve their problems and overcome their objections.
  • Once they have a "trial close," the salespeople can continue the presentation, and ultimately conclude with the sales agreement.

Other rules were established. For example, salespeople must direct customers only to the products that are relevant or mean something to them. Salespeople must avoid phrases using "I." They also must show and establish value, and avoid price quotes.

Meet Their Goals

When's the best time to ask for the sale? As early as possible in the sales process. But make sure that the sale meets the customer's goals, satisfies their desires, matches the correct product with the customer and, most importantly, reinforces the value of buying from your store.

As part of the training, the sales staff agreed to eliminate the following conversations from their vocabulary: the weather (if it wasn't conducive to recreation), the economy, credit declines, model shortages, and competition. The intent? To begin again — to create a positive sales atmosphere that incorporates a "whatever it takes" philosophy.

These new processes won't be mastered overnight. But when implemented day by day, our new owner should begin to see improvements over sales from the previous year. Much of what we just described had not been part of the store's culture under the previous ownership.

Steven Zarwell is a dealer consultant and manages the Dealernews 20 Groups. He also is a member of the Dealernews editorial advisory board. Send questions and comments to editors@dealernews.com.