How do successful salespeople persuade guarded or disinterested car buyers? On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Matt Easton, sales trainer, consultant and founder of education platform Easton University, to talk about a simple tactic dealers can teach their staff to overcome this obstacle.
One of the most common, and yet most difficult, situations sales professionals find themselves in is talking to a customer who refuses to engage or listen. This can be especially frustrating when the client is determined to choose a product that will not work for their needs and yet declines to listen to any alternative. The more they are pushed, the more closed they become. This type of encounter is what Easton calls “strangulation.” Consumers are already wired to distrust or dismiss the salesperson, and when many sales professionals find an exceptionally cagey client, they set themselves up for failure by making a pitch.
“What we can’t do Jim…is just all of a sudden just hitting people, choking people, strangling people on you’ve gotta do this, you’ve gotta improve this,” explains Easton. Many sales professionals and dealers are so focused on finishing their pitch before they lose their customer’s attention that they forget to show interest in the client’s well-being, raising their guard in the process. However, in normal conversations between friends, people show empathy and awareness. “Every time you go and have coffee with a loved one or a friend, you guys do this naturally,” he continues. “Yet with our clients, we don’t do it.”
Easton recommends using “triangulation” to avoid raising a car buyer’s guard or strangling them with an unnatural conversation. In this method, the sales professional references a third party during the discussion: this could be the author of an article, another customer, etc. For example: “Hey Matt, thanks for calling me back. So I was thinking about you and your landscaping business and remembered I read an article on how small businesses struggle to handle fuel costs for their fleets. I was curious if that was something that you experienced?” From here, the conversation can transition to electric pickups, trade-in values for Matt’s current fleet vehicles, etc. This approach is not only more conversational than a traditional sales pitch; it also engages the client by introducing a trustworthy or relevant source. Tying the third party directly into a problem the customer can empathize with seals the deal.
Using triangulation is one of many tactics dealers can teach their sales staff to reach even the least engaged car buyers. The method works because of how natural it is and because it removes the pitch from the conversation entirely. “You’re having an organic conversation,” concludes Easton.