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She said, "Forget the tricks. Don't play games with me. Either you love me or you're just stringing me along for your own pleasure." She was finally on to me and meant business. I walked away, chastened.
Rather dramatic, I know. But this is what many of our customers are saying to us today.
We cut our teeth on such wise advice as, "Answer every question with a question." "Don't give out prices over the telephone." "Just go for the appointment."
It's hard when our unfaithful and deceptive responses are tagged and rejected by those who have seen through our deceptive practices. And yet the instinctive response to that rejection is to double down and do more of the same. And yet that road leads nowhere.
Some dealers still tell a customer that a car is available when it has been sold. Some put pricing on the Internet that includes incentives that the customer probably won't qualify for when they come in. The idea is to just "get them in". Some write things into contracts that the customer doesn't discover until they are in finance, or worse, until they are home.
You may fool them once but they will alert the whole world to you on Social Media and customer reviews. Those who rely on the one-shot deal find there are only so many new customers who cost so much more in marketing than repeat customers and referrals.
A dealer who is truly competitive and offers more than just the "best price" is not afraid of the Internet, transparency, and the future. That dealer is concerned with great customer service, relationship building, and word-of-mouth marketing to deliver customers and advocates for life.
All those things are available to every other dealer. What makes you unique in the eyes of customers?
Are you the first with a new idea? Or are you always playing catch-up? It doesn't matter unless you understand the cultural changes that have created all of these new ideas and techniques,
The customer is on to us folks.
They understand your evasiveness and your need to go right for their information and the appointment. They know all your tricks and they resent your ignorance of that and your arrogance.
Try to see things their way. Give them a competitive price but give them more than that. Offer them respect and politeness. Offer them genuine friendliness with the feeling that you want to assist them to the best of your ability.
And then, produce. That's where you prove yourself a professional.
Today, we all sell great vehicles that we can be proud of. The variations in quality today, between brands, has become negligible.
But are we selling ourselves?
Yeah, I know you may call me naive, but I have been in this business for almost 20 years. I have been on the Internet side of this business for 15 years. I have seen all of my predictions for the Internet side of this business come true and more.
The true understanding of the Internet comes not in the increased sophistication of devices, but in the increased sophistication of our customers.
Those of us who are jaded and have a poor opinion of our customers will pooh-pooh this. But that is the very arrogance that represents the dinosaurs in this business.
Not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it.
Hope to see you at AutoCon 2013!
Written by Tom Gorham
Editor, From The Trenches