By Doris Barnes
In a world where service advisors don’t want to be considered salespeople, we need to search our souls. Why is it that “selling” has become a dirty word? Why is it that we cringe at the term “sales?” It’s simple! Most service advisors do what they do each day because they care about people. To become a “salesperson”, in their mind, means to become pushy and overbearing. To most, it means that their interest must shift to one thing and one thing only… The customer’s Visa card! So, what’s the best way to overcome this misperception? First and foremost, we need to get something clear: Selling is helping people through a difficult decision making process.
Let’s face it: Many of our customers are poor decision makers. How many times do customers come into your shop, only for you to discover that they’ve been neglecting their vehicles? In many cases, this is because a service advisor has never helped them truly understand the value of vehicle maintenance. These customers who have a pattern of making poor decisions are the ones who need our help the most! True salesmanship is always going to put the customer’s best interest ahead of everything else. If selling starts violating ethics, in my mind, it is no longer selling; it’s stealing.
Over the years as an advisor, I discovered that in most cases, a customer’s decline in vehicle maintenance happens slowly. This gradual decline can be primarily attributed to the failures of the advisors. Rather than genuinely caring about what’s in their customers’ best interest, service advisors are acquiescing to their customers with the attitude that, “It’s the customer’s money, it’s the customer’s safety, and he can do whatever he wants”. This is the easy way out; the path of least resistance! We need to ask ourselves…is this right? What if this customer was your grandmother or your daughter? Would you just roll over and accept that they made the wrong decision? Of course not!
So, where do we go from here? Well…service advisors need to become true salespeople. In large, sales skills come into play once you really grasp how people behave and react in a buying environment. When we sell auto repair, we have to keep in mind that we’re selling something that isn’t pleasurable for people to buy! Many times, we’re also selling an intangible. Talk about tough! We need to learn how to sell in a way that helps our customers see the true value of each service, because in order for the customer to authorize the service, the perceived value of that service needs to exceed the value of the money the customer will have to spend.
We always need to ask ourselves, “How will the customer win by saying, ‘yes’?” This is, after all, what your customers care about most, in that they will always be thinking, “How do I benefit?”
If we, as salespeople, can master selling benefits instead of parts and labor, then we’re one step ahead of the crowd. Let’s work together to help our customers, because they need us! After all, we are the experts… right?
This article was contributed by Doris Barnes of Elite, a former industry-leading service advisor who currently heads up the Elite Masters Service Advisor Training Course.