(Image Courtesy of ddpavumba/Freedigitalphotos)
Two days before Christmas, on top of everything else we had to do, my husband made a decision that we needed to buy a new truck. Now, I will admit, our truck was old & giving us some trouble. And this is the time of the year, if you are going to buy a car or a truck, that you should buy one.
However, it was the holidays; we had a million other things to do, and it was not like either one of us was dependent upon this car on a daily basis. Plus, who in their right mind wants to go car shopping, right? It has to rank as one of the most dreaded sales experiences there is. Just the thought of the endless looking, haggling over price, and trying to navigate your way through the upgrades, the add-ons, and the actual price made my head hurt.
But he was determined, and just watching his entire experience from start to finish made me realize how much the sales process has changed, how much in control the customer really is, and exactly what you and your team need to be doing differently if you want to win in the Trust & Value Economy.
Rob began his sales process online. Yes, that is right, despite the fact that we have hundreds of business cards and contact numbers for people who sell cars, he still began his sales process online. Online on Christmas Eve that is! And despite the fact that it was a holiday, and Rob was expecting to only look at the websites and read about trucks, there was one dealership whose website stood out both in terms of design and, more importantly, engagement. This dealership, even on Christmas Eve, had a live chat option. The dealership, Ken Wilson Ford, has a great reputation, but is over 40 minutes away from our town, and at this point in the sale, that’s a factor that would prevent Rob from being willing to buy from them.
Armed with questions and wanting more information, Rob clicked into the live chat, and the woman on the other end was ready. She was personable, patient, and highly knowledgeable about the trucks, the features, and the inventory the dealership had on the lot. She was so good, that even though he had only intended to get information about the trucks from this dealership (again because it was more than 40 minutes away), he informed the nice woman that he thought he would be out to look at trucks a couple of days after Christmas.
Unwilling to take any chances, and before Rob could even think about changing his mind, a sales person from the Ken Wilson Ford dealership sent him a welcoming email and left him a voice mail message introducing herself, thanking him for checking out the website, and letting him know she would be his personal sales person and would look forward to seeing him just after the holidays. He was impressed, but still uneasy.
For Rob, buying a truck 40 minutes out of town seemed kind of dumb when we probably have 10 dealerships right here, and even one that sells the same trucks as this one 30 minutes away. So the day after Christmas, Rob took a little time and looked into the local dealerships, determined to buy a truck locally.
He started with a dealership where he had already bought a few cars. Unfortunately, Rob’s regular sales guy was tied up, so another sales guy was assigned to Rob. The guy was less than enthusiastic, less than knowledgeable, and clearly uninterested in showing cars for his teammate who would get credit for the sale. He showed Rob around, answered questions, but made no attempt to follow up, build a relationship, or encourage Rob to come back and test drive a truck.
The next dealership, the local equivalent of the Ken Wilson Ford dealership, was worse. Rob already had some bad experiences with their service department (he owns a Ford Expedition), but he was still willing to give them a shot. As it turns out, their sales department is even more apathetic and disengaged than their service department. It took forever to get someone to talk with him, and when they did, they were nice but less than professional or knowledgeable about their inventory.
December 27, 2013, Rob headed out the door to buy a new truck. He drove past every dealership here in town and down the road 40 minutes to the Ken Wilson Ford Dealership to buy a truck. While the experience that got him there was impressive, it paled in comparison to the experience of actually buying the truck. Every single person he dealt with called him by name, could answer every question he had, ensured they patiently worked with him to find the truck he needed, and made the entire buying experience fun, motivating, and an investment that he consistently felt good about. Despite the fact that he made it clear he was ready to buy, had the money to do so, and was willing to make a big investment, no other sales person and no other dealership, other than Ken Wilson Ford, was prepared to work with and win this customer in the Trust & Value Economy.
This story is amazing to me. Here is a guy ready to buy and ready to invest a sizeable amount of money, yet not one dealership understood the importance of investing in educating and training their teams on the three surefire strategies to drives sales and the client experience:
1 – Experience is Everything – Clearly, from the website to the phone calls to the engagement through the entire buying process, Ken Wilson Ford understands that the only competitive advantage they have is the perception of and experience of the customer. They understand they need to be easy to do business with and inviting. From start to finish, Rob felt that all the heavy lifting of navigating who to talk with, how to get information, following up, and keeping in touch was completely off his plate. All he had to do was choose a truck. No question was too big and no time invested was too much. The team at Ken Wilson ensured he understood as much (or as little) as he wanted to know about his truck and let him set the pace of the buying experience, while at the same time being enthusiastic, excited, and motivated to help him do so. They understood connection, and the power of their customer’s experience.
2 – Never Lose Control – Never, not one time, did any member of the team ask Rob to call or email them; they always took that responsibility on themselves. In doing so, they ensured the process remained easy for Rob, while also ensuring they never lost control of the selling process. They always had a reason to move it forward, advance it one more step, and help Rob understand why doing business with them was going to be a far better and more successful experience.
3 – Every Step Matters – The team at Ken Wilson Ford, well, they are a team. While multiple team members needed to be engaged in the sale, and Rob did not work the entire time with only one sales person, it was clear that each and every one was committed and enthusiastic about ensuring he bought a truck from them. Whether or not they got credit for the sale, they were vested in ensuring the process was first class for the customer. Why does this matter? Because it creates continual, positive consistency, and that creates trust. You see, in this economy, the Trust & Value Economy, just one slip up, one bad interaction, and the customer will walk. They have choices; they have other dealerships they can buy from. Understanding that every step from the website to the purchase needs to be superior, just that much better than your competitors, that is where the business is won and lost.
Yes, we are the proud owners of a brand new truck and one we bought 40 minutes away from where we live; that is the power of understanding how to Win In The Trust & Value Economy!