Todd Smith is a serial entrepreneur who is now building the leading sales text messaging platform for automotive dealerships. Todd is an industry author, speaker, and industry expert with over 30 years of automotive retailing experience. View all posts
How are you crossing the trust barrier with your automotive shoppers? This may sound like a strange question to you right now, but by the end of this post, I hope you see the power of developing trust and instilling “Trust Building” whether into your own or sales team’s process as the first fundamental step in the road to the sale.
The definition of trust is as follow:
Trust–firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Today I want to outline a technique that has worked magic for me in my past life as a professional automotive salesperson. I learned this secret early in my career, the secret that makes sales results extraordinary. I found out about this by watching two old-timers Warren and Jerry that had sold cars since the 70s and were pros in every aspect of their salesmanship. People loved these guys, and they each had a massive book of repeat customers. Here I was the green pea trying to learn everything about the vehicles so I could answer any question or objection that ever could come up during the sales process about the car. I believed that when I was able to answer any question about the vehicle, I would become a great salesperson. I was delusional, not because product knowledge isn’t essential. I would quickly come to learn there was so much more to selling that knowing all about every vehicle’s features and competitive comparisons.
My struggle was always the same in the beginning. I would walk out with the shoppers and begin discussing a vehicle and highlighting features. They would tell me about another car they looked at on another lot with some feature the vehicle I was showing them didn’t have. I always had to attempt to overcome all these objections and obstacles with shoppers. It was exhausting, and I felt I wasn’t getting ahead in my sales career.
My real lesson began when I realized I needed to grow beyond product knowledge and learn about the psychology of people.
To accomplish my goal, I began watching Warren and Jerry, and how they interacted with their customers and how the issues I was facing almost never came up in their conversations with customers. So I listened and began replaying every word, they said, and watched how shoppers responded. Once I was able to observe enough conversations, I started going deeper into the subtle art of persuasion, including body language and voice tone. One thing that stood out to me as I listened and learned first hand was their incredible ability to develop trust quickly using a technique I have never seen taught in any sales book or manual. This technique is, by far, the most valuable sales technique I have ever learned in my 30-year career.
Are you ready for the secret?
Here we go, let’s get into one of the most powerful techniques in sales that absolutely will have a profound impact on your results. It all started when I would hear Warren or Jerry regularly use phrases when they first met the shoppers and began talking like, “Well, I don’t know about that one,” “maybe we should skip this vehicle” “If I were you this might not be the right one.”
I found this strange since I thought the number one job was to explain all the features and sell the vehicle, yet listening to these guys as they almost talked shoppers out of buying the car, which initially stunned me because I didn’t understand why they were doing it.
What I soon learned was that they were in the trust-building phase with the shopper first, and injecting the “Negative” was putting them on the side of their shopper and removing the confrontational nature of the sales relationship.
This psychological shift changes you from trying to sell to the person trying to help. If you can move the perception of the customer from an adversarial to someone aligned with the shopper’s own interests, you change the nature of the relationship. When this dynamic shift happens, you have trust, and with trust, sales follow quickly.
I must have listened to hundreds of interactions between shoppers and Warren or Jerry to learn the art of developing trust. I watched them patiently working through their sales process until they heard the magic words. When the shopper stops and asks, What do you think? What would you suggest? I would come to learn that these are trust statements, and you need them before you continue the road to the sale.
This is where Jerry or Warren would change and go hard into the actual selling process once they knew they crossed the trust barrier and are now working on the side of the shopper and not across the desk from them. I would watch this over and over like a light switch getting turned on. I became fascinated with psychology because of this very lesson primal lesson I learned in sales.
This was one of the most eye-opening times in my career as a professional salesperson. When you realize you are in the people business, not just the selling car business, your entire perspective will change for the better. You will learn to establish more rooted, more lasting relationships while also delivering a better experience for your shoppers.
If you haven’t read Influence by Robert Cialdini, you might want to start your journey to learn the fine art of salesmanship by first understanding the fine art of the psychology of people.
One more thing. For all the managers reading this post today, I have a quick suggestion. When you walk into your Saturday morning Hype up meeting this weekend or next and instead of ending your meeting with the usual message to “Go out and sell something!” Instead, next time tell them to: “Go out and establish some trust!” This small change in words can have a profound effect on your team’s sales results.
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