Get the balance right and more cars will be sold

There are basically two types of customer in this world; the one who likes to be attended to and acknowledged the minute they set foot on the forecourt or in the showroom and then there is the one who likes to be left to browse and touch and feel before being approached by a salesperson.

This is all fine and we are all different except that the art of detecting this is much more difficult unless you happen to be a body language expert. I was reminded of this recently because it clearly represents the tale of two markets. On the one hand, when business is buoyant and there are more customers than sales people there is a tendency for some staff to ‘cherry pick’ who they want to speak to in the belief that there are plenty more customers to go around. Therefore potential buyers, who have been made to wait for a long time, will go away disgruntled and retain a poor impression of the dealership as a result. On the other hand when its quiet there is a tendency to overkill the customer service where a customer will be asked by several different sales people whether they need assistance, within a short space of time, leading to them feeling intimidated and giving the impression of hassle from pushy sales people.

There of course needs to be a balance and achieving that is no mean feat. Too much ‘assistance’ leads to scaring buyers off, while not enough leads to people getting annoyed and leaving the site. So

What is the answer? Well, probably a bit of both. We all know, having visited a retail establishment where we need to be able to try the goods before we buy, that if we have been there 5 minutes or so that it would be good for someone to acknowledge us and we are then in a position to either engage with an assistant or acknowledge the offer of help and go back to them when you are ready to take the enquiry a stage further.

By doing this we will also establish if a person is at the stage of his/her research where they might want to take it any further. In which case finding this out at an early stage is good for both parties, as long as a connection has been achieved and there is a useful communication line, whatever the initial outcome.

This is a reasonable approach and any customers who go in and immediately want someone at their beck and call, in my experience, have usually had a prior bad experience and are therefore defensive and distrustful, so the sales person who engages them may be the victim of someone else’s bad attitude.

Handling this type of customer is often much harder because it involves trying to break down barriers, establishing a trust base and starting the process right from the start and attempting to make the customer as relaxed as possible whilst not antagonising them, means there could also be a successful outcome for all concerned.

Selling a car on those terms can often be far more rewarding and will certainly provide a valuable experience for similar customers in future.

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