When working with dealerships to improve their sales numbers, Bob Clements notices the same problem cropping up time and time again.
“Most salespeople wing it all the time,” says Clements, a dealer consultant and sales veteran with a 37-year track record. “They don’t have a process. But salespeople have to follow processes.”
Clements guides dealership employees to follow a specific plan of action in order to bring about the greatest likelihood of successfully closing a sale. The steps he relies on remain the same regardless of the salesperson’s perceived strengths or weaknesses, he says.
“I tell people who say they’re not good at closing that closing is a natural part of the sales process,” Clements says. “If you follow the sales process, a close just happens.”
Master the Meet & Greet
The first step Clements advises salespeople to take when meeting a prospective buyer is what he dubs the meet and greet. However, despite what most people have been culturally trained to do, Clements strongly discourages shaking hands with a new customer.
“It’s the worst thing you can do with most people you meet for the first time,” he says. “Sixty percent of people do not like to be physically touched by someone they have never met before.”
Meet & Greet
The goal of the Meet & Greet is to put the customer at ease. Before you get started, Bob Clements says you need to identify 2 things for yourself.
- What will you do?
- What will you say?
Additionally, Clements says, striding up to a potential client and offering to shake that person’s hand instantly brands you as a salesperson — a label he says is crucial to avoid being tagged with.
“Most people do not like salespeople,” Clements says. “The key to being successful in sales is not acting like a salesperson. Don’t talk like a salesperson. Don’t do salespeople things because the moment you do, people put up a wall in front of you.”
Instead, Clements encourages salespeople to gently imitate the mannerisms and behavioral tendencies of the customer.
“If they walk in quickly, then I walk up to them quickly,” he says. “If they don’t smile, I don’t smile. I become a reflection of that person. This is a process called mirroring and matching. The easiest way to get you to trust me is for you subconsciously to start thinking you and I are a lot alike.
“People say opposites attract in human beings — they do not. Opposites repel. The more I’m like you, the more comfortable you’ll be with me.”
Part of a successful meet and greet involves focusing on the potential buyer’s facial cues, Clements says.
“Their mouth tells you what their buying style is, but more important are their eyebrows,” he says.
According to Clements, a customer with raised eyebrows is open to interacting, while a customer with eyebrows that move downward is less receptive to an interaction. He uses that information to guide the way he approaches that person, and whether he’ll work to engage the customer directly or simply make his presence known in case there are any questions.
Once a successful meet and greet has occurred, Clements moves on to the next step in his sales process — the discovery process. According to Clements, the discovery process should begin the same way every time.
“The first thing you have to do is find out what they have now,” he says. “People tend to buy the same way over and over and over again — especially big purchases.”
“The key to being successful in sales is not acting like a salesperson. Don’t talk like a salesperson. Don’t do salespeople things because the moment you do, people put up a wall in front of you…”
He also wants to discern how long the customer has had that product, as well as how that person feels about it.
“If they say [they like it because] it’s built like a tank, easy to service [and] dependable, they just told you their needs,” Clements says. “What are you going to focus on when you walk around [with them]? How the equipment is built, how easy it is to service, and the fact that it’s the most dependable piece of equipment you’ll ever own in your life.”
Knowing what a customer needs is important, but so is understanding that person’s wants, Clements says.
“Do people buy what they want or what they need?” he says. “They do both.”
Clements says that while people will pay no more than they have to for things they need, they’ll pay 20% more than what they thought they would for what they want.
“Understand that people are not logical,” he says. “They’re emotional.”
Bring Everyone to the Table
The discovery process goes beyond finding out what the customer is interested in buying, Clements says. A successful salesperson also asks about any other people who will be involved in the decision making, then sells the customer on bringing that person in to participate in the conversation. For example, if the other decision maker is the buyer’s wife, Clements says, then the next step is finding a time she can join him at the dealership to discuss the purchase.
“We want her to be involved in this part of the demo,” he says. “You’re not trying to sell the guy on the tractor — you’re trying to sell the guy on bringing in his wife.”
During the discovery stage, Bob Clements says there are 3 key pieces of information a salesperson needs to gather.
- What are the customer’s needs and wants?
- Who are the decision makers?
- What is their budget and how do they want to pay for it?
If the customer indicates that scheduling issues may make it difficult for his wife to join him during the store’s business hours, Clements says it’s up to the salesperson to work around that.
Clements says the same approach applies no matter who else will be joining the customer in the decision making.
Once the salesperson has a clear understanding of all parties involved in making the purchase, it’s time to ask about budget.
“Many times, people say they don’t know [what their budget is],” Clements says. “The most important thing to do is agree with the person because we’re not there to fight them. But then ask, ‘If you did know, what do you think it would be?’ Then shut up, and pretty soon they’ll tell you where they want to be.”
The Power of Yes
After all the necessary information has been gathered, it’s time for the walk around.
“This is where the sale happens,” Clements says. “The walk around is the close.”
Walk potential buyers around more than 1 piece of equipment, he says, rather than solely focusing on the one they likely want.
“I’m going to try to show 3 different pieces of equipment,” Clements says. “I always start with the lowest, then I take them to the premium one, and then I show them the middle one. Eighty percent of the time, people will flow to the middle.”
Clements says his primary goal during a walk around is to start to get the customer used to saying yes.
“This is where most salespeople fail because they don’t understand the importance of that yes momentum,” he says. “Most salespeople do the walk around without getting the customer saying yes, and then they say, ‘So what do you think?’ If you’ve not gotten a yes after a 15-20 minute walk around, you’re not going to get a yes there.”
In order to build that yes momentum, Clements focuses his walk around on the information previously gathered from the customer about the things they need in this piece of equipment.
For example, if the customer had indicated that durability is an important concern, then that’s what Clements points out on the new piece of equipment.
“I’m going to keep saying, ‘See how they built that? See how this is here? This thing is literally built like a tank — wouldn’t you agree?’” Clements says. “They’re going to say yes because people are not logical, they’re emotional. My job as a salesperson is to create emotion.”
Break Down the Cost
While most salespeople who follow the process Clements advises will successfully close the deal, he says they may still run into one objection.
“The most common objection you’re going to get has to do with price,” he says.
According to Clements, price objections will come in 2 forms — either the price is too high, or it’s more than the customer wants to spend.
“The first thing you do with objections is agree with people,” he says. “Never fight somebody. When somebody gives you an objection, agree with them. If somebody says my price is too high, I would say, ‘You know, you’re right — everything today is too high. Bought any diesel fuel lately? Bought any meat?’ And they start to laugh because now it’s not me that’s too high, it’s everything that’s too high.”
Clements also responds to price objections by breaking down the cost of the equipment into smaller portions.
“What’s the cost of a $40,000 tractor? Let’s say they’re going to keep that tractor for 20 years. I take $40,000 and divide it by 20. So the cost per year is $2,000. But it’s not really $2,000 a year because they’re not just going to use it one time a year.
“Let’s say they’re feeding cattle. They’ll probably feed them every week. So if I took $2,000 and divide it by 50, we’re really looking at about $40 per week to have a tractor they’ve always dreamed of having.”
Clements takes that cost breakdown even further and divides the weekly cost by 5 days a week, assuming the customer will use the equipment most days. That brings the cost from a potentially prohibitive $40,000 to a more manageable $8 per day.
“That’s how you deal with price,” Clements says. “It’s a technique called reduction to the ridiculous. I love it when somebody gives me a price objection because it’s like that ball came right in over the plate at about 80 mph — I just get to crank it out of the park.”
Never Negotiate with Cash
There are still times when negotiations become a necessary part of the sales process, Clements says.
“I don’t ever negotiate with cash,” he says. “I negotiate with parts and service. Why would you give cash away? You don’t have any margin in cash. You negotiate with parts and service.”
Not only are service kits less impactful on the dealership’s bottom line than a cash discount, Clements says, but they ensure that the customer returns to the dealership to pick up the kits.
“It’s important that they start coming in and buying service parts from me in the very beginning,” he says.
Clements notes the importance of giving the customer store credit for those service kits, rather than giving them the kits when the sale is made.
“I want to get them used to coming in [to the dealership],” he says.
Once he’s gone through all the steps of his sales process, Clements operates under the assumption that the customer is going to proceed with the purchase. Rather than asking if there are any other questions, he suggests that they go ahead and start drawing up the required paperwork.
“Then I start to walk away,” Clements says. “I don’t ask them. I don’t wait for a verbal response. I just start walking away. And guess that they do? They follow.
“Selling is easy, if you follow a process.”