Steps to the sale: A process to get you going

Publish Date: 
May 20, 2014
By Tory Hornsby

IN MY April article, I covered the importance of having a training plan and continuously improving it. Having a training system in place separates elite dealers from the ordinary, but it takes time and commitment.

I recently scheduled a new hire to start the day I returned from a weeklong vacation. Things are hectic the first few days back in the office, and I had urgent things to address, but training staff is important. So instead of having the hire shadow someone with no real plan, I followed the training system.

In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey teaches to divide activities into one of four quadrants:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important but Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

Most people spend all of their time on things that are urgent. They demand time and have to get done. But the most successful people discipline themselves to focus more on things that are important, but not urgent -- like developing a training plan. You don’t have to do it immediately, but it’s extremely important.


Your sales training plan should follow the sales process. Define what each step of the sale is and explain what you expect them to do. Here is a basic process, and ideas for what you can cover in each step:

  • Greet. A salesperson’s job is to bypass “just looking” by asking multiple-choice questions, giving the customer answers to choose from and, therefore, helping to guide the conversation. For instance, Are you here for parts or service, or just taking a look around at some bikes today? Are you interested primarily in riding on-road or off-road? Have you been here before, or is this your first time?
  • Interview/build rapport. God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you would listen twice as much as you speak. So ask good questions and then shut up and listen for what the customer wants and needs. What have you owned in the past? Where will you be riding? What have you liked about your previous bikes? What have you not liked?”
  • Presentation/demo. This is where you build value.  Customers buy for their own reasons, not yours. So don’t give them a cookie-cutter presentation based on the things you like. Instead, cover the features and benefits that are most important to them. You should know what’s important to the customer because of the previous step. Never give a feature without a benefit: It has fuel injection [feature], which not only gives you better gas mileage, but better overall reliability as well [benefit]).
  • Ask for the sale. The best way to ensure a good closing ratio is to ask customers to buy. Don’t be scared. If a good closing ratio is 20 percent, that means you have to get a “no” 80 percent of the time. Every time you get a “no,” you are one step closer to getting a “yes.” When you ask a customer to buy, you greatly increase the chance that they will. However, you cannot ask for the sale until some sort of rapport has been developed with the customer and value has been built. Looks like we’ve found the perfect bike for you. Are you planning on riding home, or will you be using a trailer? You’re going to love this model. Do you like the red one, or the black? Are you planning on writing a check for this, or will you be financing?
  • Sit down. Once you’ve asked for the sale, it’s time to lead the customer to your workstation. Just say, Follow me, or Right this way, and then go sit down. The customer will follow.
  • Write it up. Once the customer is sitting at your desk, it’s time to fill out a worksheet and grab a copy of the customer’s driver’s license. Never offer a discount that’s unnecessary. After all, consumers are used to shopping at Walmart, Target and the grocery store, where they don’t expect a discount. Could you imagine someone haggling at the checkout with a buggy full of groceries? Many of your customers aren’t expecting a big discount, either.
  • Handle objections. Obviously, not everyone is going to buy. It’s your job to find out why. Is it something about the dealership, or the bike, or the cost? Don’t be scared to ask. When you uncover their objection be sure to empathize. I understand what you’re saying. We’ve had other customers who’ve said that too, and here is what they found... Continue on and overcome their objection. If a customer said they needed time to think about it, you could say, I understand. This is a big decision, of course. Let me ask you, do you need to think more about whether this is the right bike for you, or more about it fitting into your budget? This will let you know if they don’t like the bike, or if it’s the price of the bike.
  • Close. Done! They are buying. The close is the logical end after you follow all the beginning steps of the sales process. Don’t take short cuts and jump to the close too soon. It’ll come across as being pushy, and actually lower your closing ratio.

The more time you spend up front with each customer, asking questions, developing rapport and building value, the less time you’ll have to spend handling objections and closing.

If you’d like a free copy of a training plan for a sales person, call me at 877-242-4472 ext. 101, or email me at