Sales Protocol Intelligence Outclass the Competition

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

“The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”  Oscar Wilde

Competition in the business playing field is fierce, and companies are now looking for people who can handle themselves in the sales or showroom area. Candidates learn to “outclass the competition” with Sales Protocol Intelligence, the supreme business device. Sales people should be taught the social skills of knowing how to greet customers, the psychology of sales, and the importance of knowing and demonstrating their product.

The Greeting
The first impression can make or break a sale. A good ‘Meet ‘n Greet’ can welcome a customer into your showroom and start your rapport-building immediately. Upon a potential customer’s entering the show room, a polished sales person will greet him/her immediately. A friendly smile, direct eye contact, a simple introduction, and a firm handshake are all welcoming gestures. Sales is all about making the customer feel comfortable and valued. Try this: “Good afternoon. Welcome to Edwards Automotive Canada. My name is Bob White. Thank-you for coming to our dealership. I would be happy to be of service to you. Is there a vehicle that I might be able to show you?”

The Importance of the Handshake
The handshake is a simple courtesy that speaks volumes. Who you are is right there, from the base of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. When people shake your hand, they immediately assess who they think you are. Even if they’re wrong, that’s a judgment you’ll have a hard time correcting. Be prepared to shake hands with anyone you meet. This applies to both male and female, including one female’s introduction to another.

  • An appropriate handshake is a firm grip, like a warm hug, with the webs of both hands (at the base of the thumb and the index finger) interlocking, and one shake. Jolting grips signal lack of confidence, as is the dreaded, dead fish (extending only your fingers, resulting in a limp handshake) a common error for women who are seldom taught a correct handshake.
  • Eye contact should be maintained throughout the handshake and conversation. Always smile.
  • Stand for an introduction. It is classy to stand to greet anyone who comes into your office. Smile and repeat the name of the person to whom you are being introduced (ex. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Smith”) and shake his/her hand warmly.

The Simple Sales Protocol
The most aggressive, successful sales businesses train their employees in this complete protocol:

1. Greet with a handshake.
2. Identify a problem.
3. Enhance the impact of the problem.
4. Listen. (the best way is to ask questions)
5. Establish rapport.
6. Demonstrate the product.
7. Close the sale.
8. Say Thank-you.
9. Follow up.

By asking fact-finding questions, a seller can make a buyer aware that they have a problem. For example: What car have you purchased in the last 4 years? What problems did you have with your old car? What was the impact of these problems on your time, your convenience, your cost? Would you choose the same car again? What new features are you looking for in your new car? Why are these features important?

Once the problem is determined, the seller then enhances it, again through fact-finding questions: “Now that you have a family riding in your car, how much of a priority would you give to safety and reliability? On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this to you? It has been proven that side air bags and front-end collision protection in this particular model reduces injuries and deaths dramatically. Here are the statistics.”

“Are you dependent on your car for your livelihood? Would you be able to earn your living without your car? How important is it to you to have a reliable car, one not prone to frequent shop repairs? What would be the impact or costs to your business by not owning a reliable car? Would you like to address these issues?” This encourages an agreement.
Thus, you:
· Identify a dissatisfaction or an opportunity for improvement.
· Enlarge the impact, costs and effects.
· Agree to solve the problem.

Know your Product
Create a demand for your product by knowing its details inside out. There is little that will turn off a customer faster than a salesperson who can’t answer the customer’s questions. If this is what you do for a living, it’s not unfair to say that the salesperson should know everything available. However, if you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t pretend you do by giving the wrong answer. Instead, say, “I don’t know, but I will definitely find out for you.” Study your product lines. In the morning, instead of reading the newspaper, read your product manuals. As soon as new product lines are available, learn all the criteria. Your success in closing a sale may depend on it.

One more suggestion. Product knowledge not only involves knowing the inside and out of your own product, but that of your competitors as well. It really shows you know your stuff when you anticipate the comparisons that the customer could be drawing between the competitor vehicles and your own. Reading trade publications, browsing competitor web sites, and even doing a bit of field research by visiting other dealerships yourself will give you an advantage over the competition every time. This allows you an immediate opportunity to point out the competitive advantages of your product and get an informed sale!

Demonstrate the Product
It is really important that the salesperson demonstrates the product he/she is selling. This means pointing out all the features and advantages. Knowing the product “cold” is imperative. In the automotive industry, this is called “the 6 Position Sell” offered from the vantage point of:
1. the driver
2. the front passenger
3. the rear passenger
4. exterior (overall car)
5. the engine (under the hood)
6. cargo (trunk)

The salesperson stands outside the vehicle and points out all the features to the buyer who is sitting inside the vehicle. This forces a more memorable “hands-on” experience.

The 10% Better Rule
Building a rapport or relationship with customers is essential to your success. Basically, people buy from people whom they like and trust. Key character traits are trustworthy, friendly, honest, cares about you, respectful, product knowledge, and being a good listener. However, it’s unrealistic to think we have to achieve excellence in all of these all the time. What an unattainable task! “You don’t have to be excellent in everything you do,” says Robert Bly in Fool-Proof Marketing, 2003. “That’s impossible. You just need to be 10% better incrementally and consistently in one or more specific areas such as price, speed, service, quality, convenience, support, or personal touch. Most business people are mediocre, so it isn’t hard.” A. L. Williams, self-made millionaire, insurance salesman concurs: “You beat 50% of competitors by working hard, another 40% by having honesty and integrity and standing for something. The other 10% is a dogfight in the free-enterprise system.” There is a lot of sense to this.

Invent a Purple Cow
Be different. Talk about things that no other competitors can. Send the message that part of the advantage of buying from your dealership is the customer gets YOU! Establishing this kind of relationship with your customers will keep competitors non-competitors. “Ordinary” is a word that shouldn’t even be part of your vocabulary. Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur, recently offered this formula: A Purple Cow. “The essence of the Purple Cow, the reason that it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows, is that it would be remarkable,” he says in Fast Company.” Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible. You can’t be remarkable by following somebody else.” Didn’t we all learned the hard way in school that there is no correlation between hours worked and success? Don’t just work hard, work smart. Be creative and think outside the box. Invent a Purple Cow. Find a way to outclass the competition, to outshine masses of cows that all look the same, and then reap the rewards when your sales skyrocket!

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert Wieder

Create your own Luck
Be in the right place at the right time. Find out when the golden hours of selling are and be there. Do proposals, thank you notes, research etc. in slack hours. Success is just as much about attitude as it is about ability. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? The motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins, says if you want it badly enough, you will take “massive action.” This requires you to do much more than you think is necessary to get the sales quotas you want. “Double, triple, even quadruple your action plan with double the intensity and you’ll achieve massive results,” he says. Calvin Coolidge put it this way: ” Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are alone supreme.” Add creative thinking to that (the Purple Cow) and you’ll create your own luck.

On your Way
Once you close your sale, don’t forget the warm handshake again, a sincere thank-you, a follow up with a handwritten thank-you, and a phone call to ensure perfect customer satisfaction.

Your position as a sales person is your bread and butter. If you hired a carpenter to build a garage, you would expect that he would be an expert in his trade, and he would show up to work with all his tools. If he arrived at work without his hammer and nails, and he didn’t know a level from a 2 by 4, you would likely find a new carpenter. When you come to the dealership to sell cars, show up with all the correct tools of your trade: meet ‘n greet your customers warmly, know everything there is to know about your products, demonstrate them efficiently, ask the right questions, and provide the best customer service he is likely to receive anywhere. Your pocket book will thank you.

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