Do you remember your first car? Of course you do! Even though it was a beat up old whatever nearing the end of its life, it was sacred to you. You bought custom floor mats and seat covers, lovingly washed and waxed it, and even got some little do-hickey to hang from the rear view mirror. You loved it and made it YOURS.
Americans never really give up their love connection with their cars. Any time you are on the road just take a minute to look at the other cars around you. There are all makes and models on the road, usually personalized with statement bumper stickers, specialized paint jobs, lift kits and even dangling hitch accessories (you know what I’m talking about.) There is a reason people choose the vehicle to drive that they do, and it’s not all just functionality and price either. It’s a lot to do with personality.
Learning a customer – their needs and wants – to genuinely connect with them scares my introverted self, while at the same time it exhilarates my creative nature. There’s so much to be gained and learned from really listening. Ideas sparked from a conversation is just one benefit to the human connection.
When a customer hits your dealership floor,do you see them as one of many? Are you calculating your profit margins before they take a test drive? Counting the minutes before you can get this one to sign on the dotted line and move to the next one? Are they just a number? There are sales quotas to meet and commissions to make. It’s a vicious cycle when you are just a cog in the ever-spinning wheel of sales.
Ignoring the human connection – an attitude of “they wouldn't be here if they didn’t want to buy a a car”– can be more detrimental than a dead hooker in the trunk.
Consider this story from Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions*:
Nick approached while I was looking at kitchen faucet fixtures. He did not say "May I help you?" or any other mundane opening like sellers usually do. He said "What color of countertop have you selected?"
I told him that we'd probably go with a granite called "verde butterfly" and he knew exactly what that was. He told me where to go to get it for less, called to check if they had any in stock, told them to take good care of the "nice lady" he was sending in, and gave me his card just in case there was anything more I needed. No sales pitch at all. I went to the place he recommended and saved quite a bit on granite. So, of course, I went back to ask him about flooring...
What did Nick do differently that separated him from the pack? He looked at me and my needs, not just at my wallet and his potential commission. He didn't worry about making a quick sale. He knew that personalization and solutions for stated needs would ensure an eventual sale. He got to know me so that what he offered was truly of value to me.
...I asked Nick about his approach and sales philosophy. I asked him about that risk and how it usually worked out for him. This is what he said:
"My reputation is more important to me than any single sale will ever be. People come to me and come back to me because of the reputation I have built. What I stand up for is helping people find out what they really want. Then I help them get it."
This story sums up the human connection in beautifully simple terms. “He got to know me so that what he offered was truly of value to me.” Do you get to know your customers, so that you can offer them value? After all, a car is a deeply personal product to the consumer; don’t you want to make the purchase of one a personal experience and of personal value to the buyer?
The human connection is fundamental to sales, which is itself the exchange of something between two humans. Don’t discount what it brings to your next customer interaction, your next sale, your job, your career, or your life. Even an introvert like me appreciates the human connection!
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