It used to be if someone didn't like your customer service, they would tell 10 friends and they'd each tell 10 friends and you'd then lose that much business as a result. We all know this and we all talk about it. Nowadays, if someone feels like they were treated poorly, not only do all their social media friends and followers know, but everyone who does a basic web search will know it as well.
Whenever I talk to a new dealership, I research where they are located and the product mix they carry. Just by the simple act of typing in their name I also see reviews automatically pop up next to their website. Just the other day, as I was looking for directions to a new restaurant, when I clicked on the location on the map, it not only gave me a menu and address, but a star rating and the three most helpful reviews. While this particular restaurant came recommended, right there in front of me were two negative reviews that made me ask myself if this was a place I really wanted to try.
Making prompt and courteous service a top priority is a great first step to avoiding bad reviews, but there is more you need to do.
The modern salesperson's presentation must be professional and cannot use cliched lines such as "If I could, would you?" or old techniques like feature/benefit presentations. These are cliches that customers are sensitive to and wary about when they hear them. Our customers respond to the cliched salesperson the same way you would deal with a slick con-man - with a battle!
We need to be able to help our customers navigate down a path that will help them accomplish their goal of going camping, without conflict. If there is a constant battle of wills, we won't be able to help them purchase today, let alone expect them to positively respond to any sort of follow up, where the client will take your call, listen to a message or even read a follow-up letter.
The First Step to Becoming Non-Confrontational
Imagine yourself as a river guide and your customer is your rafting client. To be successful, you must jump in the boat with your customer, paddle in the same direction and then apply and adjust the rudder to steer as necessary so you both achieve the shared goal of traveling to your destination. Sometimes, however, there are rapids. But rapids can be negotiated and passed through with an experienced oar.
Downstream selling works the same way.
For example, you might be walking out to show your first product and your customer asks "What are you going to give me for my trade?"
Most, if not all, customers are going to seek the maximum trade value. But what if they were offered more than the maximum amount and you were still unable to satisfy the customer's RV needs? Will it matter what you quoted the customer for their trade?
Your response might be "Let's look at the RVs and if you find one you like, at that point I will remind my manager that you are going to demand maximum allowable for your trade"
The response avoids a conflict as you proceed to show your first model.
Regardless of whether the objection is easy or hard, the customer will not want to work with you if you try to negotiate or set a ceiling at this point in the sales process. Downstream selling must always start by paddling with the customer. Let them know you are in the same raft as them, that you understand their concern and you are there to help them accomplish their goal of going RVing. If the customer sees you as working with them, you then have the opportunity to empathetically communicate with the customer to address their needs.
Downstream selling plays a role in so many different aspects of our business.
-With conflict, you get no repeat or referral business.
-With conflict, you will appear to be closing all the time, as opposed to helping a customer move forward to accomplish their goals.
-With conflict, you come off as trying to do something to a customer and not for the customer.
-With conflict, you may find yourself actually arguing with a customer about what features are best for them.
-With conflict, you often find yourself telling rather than selling.
-With conflict, you never really listen to a customer's needs because you never ask the right questions.
If there is conflict, it is easy to become unorganized with your presentation and it could leave you with an unhealthy grind to close the sale. At that point, no one will be happy. Even if your customers purchase today, how could we ever expect them to positively respond to any sort of follow up, take your call, listen to a message or even read an email?
Downstream Selling Promotes Healthy Business Growth
Your customers spend their hard-earned money and expect a professional with a long-term commitment to product knowledge, selling skills, follow up, integrity, honesty and trust. It is not easy to help customers purchase products. It requires hard work and dedication to your trade. It all starts with making sure your customer understands you are working with and for them to help them accomplish their goal of going RVing.
Every time you get an objection, you have a choice in how you handle it. Make sure your approach to conflict will allow you to continue working with your customers for the long haul and keep them, along with their review-reading friends, in our industry.