Becky's blog

Treat Them as Individuals

Effective closes are based on effective rationale

By Rebecca Chernek

Ward’s Dealer Business, Feb 1, 2010 12:00 PM

No two snowflakes are exactly alike. The fingerprints of no two people are alike. The customers who step onto your lot are not exactly alike either. So why are you still treating them as though they were?

Perhaps you’re not capturing more product sales for this very reason. Effective closes are based on effective rationale, and the underlying principal of selling to all of your unique customers is to first get to know them and then sell to only their needs with an individualized presentation.

Not only has the car- and product-selling environment changed over recent years, so have your customers.

What you did years ago — and even last year — to obtain the sale no longer works as efficiently.

If you were to approach your customers sporting a 1970s-style mutton sideburns and wearing bell-bottom slacks, you wouldn’t be taken seriously.

If you were to approach your customers as though they had just won the state lottery, they would turn on their heels and run.

If you still take your customers to your office, shut the door, and force-feed them memorized hard-sell lines, such as “You need all these products and I’ll tell you why,” you’ll only succeed in losing the sale altogether.

These days, most customers come to you well prepared. They know what they want and why and how much they can afford to spend. They’ve become product savvy through hours of online investigation.

What should you do? Research the same online sites they do. See what they’re reading. Learn everything they do. Know why your products are equal or better and why buying from your store is better.

Think about how you can present this information without being a pushy know-it-all salesperson; the kind most buyers dread.

Then, greet all your customers at the sales personnel desk with friendly and unhurried interest. This is the time and place to review their information.

Verify the transaction details, without interrogating them with rapid-fire questions. Be engaging and unscripted. Establish a friendly rapport while learning about your customers’ buying habits and perceived needs.

Don’t assume anything. Encourage them to talk and then listen! Without solid information, it’s difficult to effectively overcome objections.

You are accustomed to beginning a memorized product pitch the second your buyer is seated. After a year of slow sales, you are even more eager to squeeze it all in.

Your customers, however, are counting their pennies. They’ve had a rough year, too. They must never feel that you are trying to sell them things they don’t need or want.

Present your products confidently, but with heightened decorum. It shouldn’t pain you to hear any customer say, “No, I’ll stick with the base payment.” This happens at least 50% of the time. That response should never persuade you to close the deal.

This is the time to quietly state that certain products bring beneficial value and not taking advantage of the opportunity to add them to the base price could negatively impact their circumstances in the future.

So, ask for the reason the products are being rejected. The cost? The packaging? Simply not interested? Don’t assume anything. Know your subject matter.

Never ask a question without having the answer. If your customer says he plans to put on 15,000 miles a year and keep the vehicle until the wheels fall off, it makes sense to ask why he’s not taking advantage of a service contract.

You already know his answer. It costs too much. The best way to overcome such objections is to match them with a proper response, a logical one.

Today’s customers can adapt to a higher payment, but not to surprises. Win them over through effective closes based on an easy-to-understand rationale for each product presented. They will buy, thank you and return next time.

F&I trainer Rebecca Chernek is CEO of Chernek Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at 404-276-4026 and

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