Summer means rural lifestylers are out working, but they’re still buying, too. New projects will pop up all summer long, regardless of whether it’s too dry, wet, hot or cold. When those customers step foot onto your dealership lot, they’re saying, “Help me. Show me.” What happens next at your dealership?

During this busy season, take the time to play “secret shopper.” It’s not about catching your employees slacking off. It’s about seeing your dealership through the customer’s eyes and how you or your team might be inadvertently sabotaging a sale.

Here’s my list of the Top 5 ways to make a sale go away.

1. Ignore your customers.

Make sure someone is assigned the responsibility of greeting customers. I don’t think they necessarily want to be pounced upon, just recognized. A two-second hello also gives your salespeople extra time if they are working with other customers. However, when you say, “I’ll be with you in a minute,” make sure you keep your promise. Otherwise, that greeting looks like a stall tactic.

The same goes for how you answer the phone or respond to email. Just follow good manners: Be polite. Be prompt. Be proactive. Help them find what they need whether it’s a product, a part or information.

2. Try to be their best friend.

This is the opposite of ignoring a customer, but can have the same result. Friendly is good, but don’t overdo the small talk. People are rushed these days, unfortunately, and the days of chit-chat are slowly disappearing. In fact, an overly inquisitive or overly friendly salesperson makes me feel uncomfortable.

Make your customers feel welcome, but move on to finding out how you can help them. There will be plenty of time to talk throughout the sales cycle. When you have built a relationship, you’ll have real things to talk about.

3. Make customers feel stupid.

This is easy to do. When you use industry terms or lingo, you risk the chance of confusing a customer or coming across as smug. They won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. This applies to any age or any gender. Rural lifestylers are probably the most diverse segment that enters your dealership. Some have been operating tractors all their lives. For others, a riding mower is completely new. You can always adjust your conversation when you get an honest feel for their experience level.

Also, keep in mind that new features and technologies are being added all the time. Even the more experienced rural lifestyler may need help understanding the changes in the equipment.

4. Focus on the short term.

Maybe it’s late in the day or sales goals are looming. However, never rush a customer or just be an order taker — even when it comes to parts. Your customers test you every time they enter your dealership. They want to feel one-of-a-kind, so find ways to do that. Offer options and demos. Explain warranties and safety features. Think long term about them and they’ll think long term about you.

5. Act bored.

This is perhaps the quickest way to sabotage a sale. Rural lifestylers want buying to be fun. This doesn’t mean you have to entertain them. Just don’t act like you’re doing them a favor. They can find what you sell in lots of other places.

Selling is not easy, even when the economy is good. Customers can be cranky, fickle and unpredictable, but don’t make it easy for them to walk out of your dealership empty-handed.