It’s kind of nostalgic to listen to car salespeople talk with customers on the phone, either in live calls or when leaving voicemails, and hear language that I was taught back in 1982 when I started in the auto business. As difficult as it is to teach adults new strategies and tactics, I marvel when I think of the words we just can’t shake that have been around seemingly forever. They must have just hit at the right time when car salespeople were willing to absorb and commit to the updated language. As I type this, I imagine that some more experienced salespeople can weigh in and say, “that was around in the 60’s, 50’s, 40’s… (fill in the era).”
The Power of Words
One of my personal ambitions in the industry is to assist our clients in updating their sales language in an effort to help them separate from the long-standing reputation that sandwiches car salespeople between Members of Congress and Lobbyists in the latest Gallup Poll on Professions Ranked on Ethics. By the way, the aforementioned professions are at the bottom of the December 2017 Gallup poll. Just like dressing for success can change the way you are perceived, “speaking for success,” can have the same impact.
I’ve often heard that the way you can tell a salesperson is lying is when they open their mouth. And as a salesperson for my entire career, I think this can work in my favor by behaving differently, and that starts with the sales language I choose to use. Let’s start with some of the industry language stalwarts and think of another approach.
“Your presence is your leverage” – in the digital age, I can almost imagine a sales agent for any online retailer contacting you after you agree to purchase online sending a message or calling to let you know, “if you can make it down to the warehouse this evening, we can knock another 5 bucks off your book order because your presence is your leverage.” With the ability to gather all the details about purchasing (specs, price, trade value, financing options, incentives, etc.) from dealership websites, independent consumer sites as well as third-party marketing platforms, one can presume that consumers contact a dealership to firm up the deal or confirm the details.
Be Their Advocate
When auto shoppers reach out from down the street, across town or across the country, shouldn’t they be able to depend on the information they just read online? I think yes. I also think salespeople and managers should be able to depend on that same information too. So, my recommendation is to suggest a simple update for salespeople to use…”My presence is your leverage!” If you can convince shoppers that you are their advocate, and differentiate yourself and your dealership, I believe you’ll enhance your value and build more trust. And, keep in mind, it is still okay to suggest that they come in, so your manager can fall in love with their trade-in and offer a bit more.
“Great News” – this phrase left on voicemails and typed into emails and messages is perhaps used more than any other. I can almost hear sales managers right now sharing this strategy in a sales training class…”just tell them you have great news and they’ll call you back every time.” Let’s say you stick with the Great News strategy but perhaps offer a glimpse of what the great news really is to enhance it…”I have great news about the (price, trade, incentives, etc.) that I believe you’ll find valuable.”
I recently read a great book called “Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact” by Phil M. Jones at the suggestion of my friend John Gottschalk. It was enlightening to hear someone who’s passion for using the right language I shared. In fact, I plan to encourage my clients to use the suggestions in the book to update their own scripts. Scripting actually works great and yet, when we pass down for generations, language that encourages consumers to feel we behave the same as our reputation suggests, there is an opportunity for improvement.
Consider the impact of the words your team uses, and you personally use each day in conversations with your dealership guests and start the update process. I think you’ll be impressed with how positively consumers react.
If you’d like to share some updates you’ve made, please send them my way or if you’d like a thought partner as you update your scripts, just let me know. I’d love to help.