I am not convinced that salespeople who sell at lower margins are not good sales people, just that they have not had training on the “soft skill” side of selling. I have been selling since the early 1970s and learned way back then that people are not logical, but emotional. If you can tap into the emotional aspect of a customer, in most cases, the customer will work to find a way to do business with you. 

Conversely, today’s manufacturer training is focused on highlighting the differences between competitive products. While there is nothing wrong with that training, it does nothing to help salespeople who are only selling against the same color at a different dealership.

From the manufacturer’s standpoint, either way, the customer ends up with their product, so it is a “win” for them. However, the challenge is in margin erosion. As equipment margins go down, so does the health of the dealership and the experience the customer has with the manufacturer’s product. 

So as an owner or manager of the dealership, how do you overcome the race to the bottom for sales? Teach your people to sell the dealership’s story. We all understand that the equipment carried by inline competition is going to be the same, but there is a world of difference between one dealership and another. It is a sales person’s primary job to highlight and then amplify the differences between their dealership and the competitors.

Tell the Story

Work with your salespeople to teach them how to tell both your story and their story so that a potential customer can feel the impact you have had with other customers like them. Let me give you a quick example. I was doing a sales webcast with a multi-store dealership and was asking the salespeople to share with me why a customer should do business with them. One of the salespeople spoke up and said, “Because I answer my phone.” I laughed and asked if he thought that the competitor’s sales people didn’t answer their phones. He said they might, but not anytime day or night.

“Amplify your dealership’s differences…”

I said, “Give me an example of when you did answer the phone outside of business hours and the impact it had on the customer.” He went on to tell me that on July 4th, a customer called him who needed a part and wanted to know if he could help. He called the parts manager and met both the parts manager and the customer at the dealership that morning to take care of him. The customer was overjoyed with the help and the attitude of the dealership.

I said, “So, if a customer were to come up tomorrow and tell you they could get the same piece of equipment from another dealer for less money, what would you say?” He laughed and said, “Well, I would say they could get the same equipment, but they wouldn’t get me.” I said, “Exactly. I would encourage you to tell them the story you just told me.”

I then asked him why else a customer should do business with his dealership. He mentioned their great service department. I said, “Every dealership says they have a great service department, so give me an example of something your service department did that exceeded a customer’s expectations.” He then went on to share how recently a new customer had an issue with their equipment that was just out of warranty and how the service manager worked with the manufacturer to help make it right so the customer was taken care of.

I suggested that when a customer asks why they should do business with your dealership, give them those examples. So, instead of saying, “I answer my phone” and “we have great service,” say, “Let me give you just two reasons why you should do business with us…”

Your dealership is full of positive stories in which your team has served your customers beyond their expectations. I encourage you to spend time every week to share those stories with each other. As you do that, you will find your salespeople will begin to share those stories with customers and I am convinced that in doing so, you will see an improvement in both your margins and your sales.


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