Selling Service Doesn't Have to Feel Dirty

Publish Date: 
Jan 4, 2010
By Dave Koshollek

IN MY OCTOBER 2009 column, “Give Your Service Clients a Break,” I talked about ensuring customers’ service and safety needs by identifying them during the vehicle check-in. This issue also relates to selling upgrades.

Selling doesn’t have to be a dirty word. If you deliver your recommendations tied to a reason, most customers will appreciate the personalized attention. The act of selling only sucks when we try to coerce someone into buying something in which they have no interest, and we won’t take no for an answer.

With the details of a service and safety inspection covered in part one, let’s look at the lighter side of service: upgrading the vehicle to make it look, feel or function better. Just remember, for liability’s sake, always perform a service and safety inspection any time a vehicle is checked in.

To sell well, people like me need to change from our technical mentality to something more light-hearted. We need to slow down the check-in process and create more of a casual atmosphere. We need to increase our awareness of ways to make customers’ motorcycling experiences more enjoyable.

That takes me to step one, the approach. Determine if the check-in is going to be a five-minute service and safety inspection or a 10-minute upgrade conversation. For example:

  • A five-minute service and safety inspection is about all you can perform when your plate is full with multiple customers at the service counter, phone calls and/or techs waiting for parts or assignments. Likewise, if the customer is short on time, such as having a ride waiting, don’t irritate him by running overtime on the check-in. So, when time is limited, perform a service inspection and gather the customer’s contact info and signature so you can proceed with the work.
  • A 10-minute upgrade conversation is perfect for times when both you and the customer have at least 10 minutes to share. When you have time to talk upgrades, change your approach to something less technical. For me, I envision donning a sombrero so I automatically assume a more casual persona. The sombrero just seems to be the hat that evokes a light-hearted spirit.

Step two is to visually and verbally identify accessories that could make the customer’s experience more fulfilling. For example:
1. While performing the walk-around inspection, look for accessories already on the bike that have upgraded the looks (custom paint or chrome), improved the feel (touring seat, handlebars for comfort, windshield) or enhanced the function (saddlebags, hunting accessories, performance parts).
2. While inspecting, ask a few routine questions to identify areas the customer may want to upgrade. I use questions such as:

  • What type of riding do you do? I’m scouting out a desire for engine performance parts, suspension upgrades or cold weather accessories
  • Do you take many rides greater than 50 miles? Scouting out a desire for a windshield, saddlebags, a touring seat, GPS, heated accessories, etc.
  • Are you and your passenger totally comfortable on longer rides? Scouting out a desire for a backrest, a touring seat, footboards or highway pegs.
  • Are you totally satisfied with the power and sound? Scouting out a desire for a performance air cleaner, exhaust or big-bore kit.

Third, based on what you’ve learned, tie your recommendation to something on the bike now or something the customer tells you. For example:

  • I see you installed chrome handlebar controls; very nice. Did you know we have some cool chrome billet mirrors that could take that look to the next level? We could install those at no charge while the bike is in for service. What do you think?
  • You said your wife isn’t totally comfortable on long rides. Would you like to see some touring seats that would make riding more pleasurable for both her and you?

For when there isn’t time for the 10-minute upgrade conversation, there’s a backup plan. Because you’ll have the vehicle for a few hours or maybe a few days, all you have to do is ID the accessories on the bike now, create a list of upgrades that go well with those accessories, and verify which accessories are in stock and what it’ll cost to install them. Armed with this information, don your sombrero again and call the customer: (Continued)