INDY LIVE 2012: Want to increase your sales chances? Then sit down

Publish Date: 
Feb 18, 2012

When a customer walks into your store, you’ve got less than 30 seconds to make a first impression. Within that sliver of time, you must convey enthusiasm, strike up a good rapport and, above all, try to make a sale.

Luckily, said Tory Hornsby, EVP of Dealership University, there are key things you can do to increase your chances of making that sale, he told dealers during his “Five Fundamentals of Selling” seminar. S.W.A.P.P. stands for Selling skills, Work habits, Attitude, Product knowledge and Phone skills. Being well-versed in all of these categories makes for a successful sales experience.

Have a seat. One statistic raised everyone’s eyebrows: Salespeople who can get their customers to sit down before making a decision will have upped their sales closing ratio from the industry-average 10 to 15 percent to a whopping 50 percent. “Negotiating while standing on the showroom floor devalues the product and puts your customer in control,” Hornsby said. “People sit down to make important decisions.”

From “just looking” to buying. Ask a customer the age-old question Can I help you? and 80 percent of the time, they will say No thanks, just looking. That’s why, Hornsby said, asking closed-ended questions don’t generally work. Instead, try questions that start with who, what, when, where, why and how. For example, if you ask someone at Dealer Expo Are you enjoying the show? they will answer either yes or no. But if you re-phrase that question to How are you enjoying the show? it leaves the door open to start a conversation.

Hornsby favors multiple choice questions. “This is the easiest type of question to answer because you lead customers into the answer,” he said. “You give the customer answers to choose from. It helps to guide the dialogue.”

Something like Are you heading to parts or service, or are you just taking a look around today? lowers their guard, and makes them actually think about their answer.

30-second rule. About 50 percent of all sales are due to feelings of friendship, Hornsby said. That’s why it’s important to develop trust within the first 30 seconds of meeting a potential customer. “The definition of ‘selling’ is transferring enthusiasm,” Hornsby said. “If I can transfer my passion and enthusiasm for the product, then I’ve increased my chances for you taking that product home.”

But there is a fine line between being enthusiastic and being, well, just plain nuts. Communication is a combination of the words you use, the tone of your voice, and the body language you have. Strike an overall balance between these for best results to be the voice of reason in addition to enthusiasm — but be genuine. “You’ll notice a lot when you talk to me on the phone that I switch back and forth between [different] tones all the time,” Hornsby said. “If you’re tapping the rev limiter on the enthusiasm all the time, people will think there’s something wrong with you.”

Activities in, sales out. Sales, Horsnby said, is just a numbers game. The more activities you do, the more sales dollars you will generate — it’s that simple. Activities you can do include thank-you cards, birthday cards, follow-up calls, follow-up literature, customer referrals, even handing out business cards when you’re out and about.

Hornsby also outlined various sales closing tactics, simple equations for calculating sales ratios, the five types of customers and other nuggets of wisdom. Those who attend Hornsby’s seminar receive a certificate of completion via email. For Indy attendees who missed Hornsby’s seminar, he will repeat it today from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in Room 132.