Previous Installment: Selling Yourself and Your Product
In Part 1, Bob Clements looks at how to present yourself and your dealership in a way that attracts and excites customers.BClements.png

When you meet with a customer for the first time, you should create a comfortable selling situation for both you and the customer. This is called building rapport. It is your ability to relate to the customer and the customer’s ability to relate to you — a two-way interpersonal connection. While a number of factors determine the level of rapport you will have with a customer, it will be helpful for you to use the following rapport-building techniques.

Empathize with the customer’s needs and feelings. If a customer currently uses the competitor’s product, listen and let them know you appreciate their choice. If possible, share information that will help them evaluate their options and determine if the decision they made is still the best one.

Another technique you can use in creating a positive buying experience is mirroring. Mirroring means reflecting a similar attitude, disposition or communication style to that of the customer. Customers will reveal their personalities, values and expectations in their body movement and facial expression. It’s important to understand that most people tend to respond more positively to people who are like them. For example, someone who speaks slowly and quietly tends to expect others to do the same. Often, there is an unfavorable response to those with different behaviors.

Find common ground. It may be a goal, an interest, a hobby, a fear or a concern. Align your experience, background, needs, or interests with those of the customer. If both you and your customer like sports, you’ve found something in common you can use to build rapport. Although if he or she has an opinion about sports you don’t agree with, it may be to your advantage to keep your opinions to yourself.

As you build rapport, you will discover that your customers will tell you what they want if you just ask them. Keep in mind if the customers are engaged and asking questions, they are not bored.

Another important part of the positive customer buying experience and one of the most financially rewarding parts of making a good sale is capitalizing on the good will of your satisfied customers. Make sure your customers are pleased with their purchase and are proud of the wise decision they made. You want them to see a need to continue doing business with you and expand the seller/buyer relationship.

Building Long-Term Relationships

Successful sales professionals take care to develop long-term relationships with their customers. They understand that the only way to consistently generate orders and increase business is through customer loyalty. This loyalty is built by continuing to monitor and cultivate the customer’s satisfaction.

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In order to structure a long-term relationship, you need to document the selling process and ensure your company is providing good customer service. You will also want to understand the buying cycle of your customer and use some type of contact management system to complement the follow-up process.

Many people resist and procrastinate documenting sales because it’s not particularly fun and certainly not glamorous. However, it’s absolutely essential in building and managing a business. Documenting your sales ensures the customer’s order is properly filled and executed. It also provides you with the information you need to follow up on the order and gain repeat business.

Besides taking care of the order process and inputting information in your contact management system, now is also the time to make any notes to yourself about what you did well and what you need to work on or change in your sales approach. Learning from every selling experience ensures continuously improved sales competence. You made the sale, but you will eventually pay a price if the customer isn’t satisfied.

Ensuring that the customer receives effective service should be a high priority. As a minimum, your customers expect the equipment to perform as promised. An excellent follow-up tactic is to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchase. Address their expectations during the selling process an then follow up to make sure they have been fulfilled. Customer satisfaction is your responsibility.

Keep in mind that not only should you plan before the sales call, you should plan after the sales call for the next order. To get repeat business and grow a loyal customer base you need to consistently service your customers. Remember that once you have received the initial order, your real work starts. This is how you ensure an exceptional customer buying experience. If you have all these elements in place, you can and should expect referrals from those customers that enjoy working with you and the line of products you represent.