|How Car Salesman Control Customers|
Successful salespeople have control of their customers. They can control their customers by leading them though a step-by-step system (salesmen’s seven steps ) that will increase their odds for a sale. The very best salespeople can do this effortlessly and will usually put the customer under the impression that they have no idea what’s going on. (See the KISS Method).
As in most sales professions, it is necessary to have a system in place that will increase the odds of a sale. However, some car dealers have taken this methodology to the extreme. This extreme behavior can be traced back to dealerships known as "system houses". These dealerships are called "system houses" because they put all of their customers though the same rigid system. Unfortunately, these systems were designed to the keep the customers at the dealership until they purchased a car. As one can imagine, the customer's experience could quickly become a nightmare.
The core belief of these "system houses" is that the salesman must maintain control over their customers at all times. Sometimes, even extra commission would be paid to the salesman simply by demonstrating this "control" of their customers.
For example, a salesman could earn a "Spiff" if they were able to get the customer to kneel on the wet ground and look under a car. Other times, they would direct the customer to climb in the trunk to demonstrate the massive storage space. These examples of "customer control" would earn the salesman not only extra “spiffs”, but the respect of their colleagues.
Of course, treating customers like mindless trained monkeys does not help the reputation of the dealership and in the past their reputation wasn’t very important. However, customer satisfaction is now much more relevant with current dealers, (see the CSI article on this website ).
Although not many of these "system-houses" are still in existence, their methods created a culture of focused salesmanship and have really defined the current sales processes. These elements have had a lasting effect on how salesmen behave in most modern day dealerships.
A basic example of how salespeople try to control their customers can be found in what they say. For example, salesmen may end their comments with a question that will provoke a repeated “yes” response from the customer.
For example, a salesman might repeatedly end their phrases with the question “…do you see what I’m saying?” In the hopes the customer will respond with “yes”.
They hope that over time the customer will become accustomed to agreeing with them and eventually be more easily controlled. This can be considered a form of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Meaning it may be possible to program a customer's response or at least make them more agreeable during the negotiation.
Similarly, salesmen may “Acknowledge and Ask” during the conversation. They will say that they understand what the customer is saying (Acknowledge) and then redirect the conversation by asking a question (Ask). They do this to keep the dialogue within their sales framework. This also allows them to side-step the customer's question. Count how many times you hear a car salesman answer your questions with, “I understand, but let me ask you this…”
Verbal commands are another effective "control" technique. For many customers, it feels unnatural to question the salesman's simple requests, so they do what they are told. Essentially, the salesman basically tells the customer what to do (like the extreme example of the salesman having the customer climb into the trunk of car).
The best example of this technique is the “follow me” command. This is performed when the salesman says “I want to show you something...follow me”. Then the salesman spins around and walks away from the customer. Almost always, the customer will follow the salesperson. This method is often used to lead the customer into their office to begin the negotiations. One may be surprised how well this works, no matter what the customer would like to do, when the salesman says “Follow Me”, the customer will usual follow.
Of course, not every customer will fall in line with what the salesman would like them to do. When a salesperson feels like they are losing control of the customer, they must "turn" the customer to a new salesperson. A “turn” is simply when a new salesperson takes over from where the previous salesperson left off.
For example, the original salesman may be having difficulty convincing the customer to take a test drive. At this Point the first salesperson would introduce (turn) the customer to a brand new salesman. This change of salesmen is strangely effective. Many times, customers will be more agreeable after they have heard the same information from more than one salesman.
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