Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focus: Selling From Credibility Even If It Means No Sale.

There’s probably nothing harder than releasing the tentacles from what you’ve deemed a qualified potential customer when it appears the only stumbling block holding the sale back is: your competitor has a sale price that you know is a gimmick, yet, your potential customer keeps alluding for you to match it – or they’re walking. And the harder you try to dispel or bring light to the issue – the more obstinate they become.

If you continue “selling” or “pushing” you know or can feel you’re losing credibility. Yet, you also believe if they walk now – you’ll probably lose them forever.  What is one to do in these situations?

There are times (and yes, even in tough economic times) not only should you let them walk – you may need – to help them out the door. As contradictory as this sounds to every “sales” strategy told or sold. One thing is certain: It only works if integrity, and credibility is the underlying factor. Otherwise it’s a fool-hearted throw of the dice.

Case Study: Early in my sales career during a period of recession I was in need of work and took employment selling new cars at a local dealership. As many know that have ever bought a car in any economic climate, car dealerships are notorious for hard selling. They are also petri-dish styled hot beds for the next latest, greatest, new, and improved sales techniques known to business.  Many are mandated to be followed without deviation from the coached “scripts.” And if you are one of those that dare deviate – you’re met with discipline and verbal abuse that would make a 15th century “inquisitor” proud. I know for I was once placed on these very “racks.”

The reason for my tongue lashing was the day before a potential customer I was paired with asked me to demonstrate a car. After all was said and done he pulled an ad from a competitor and stated point-blank, “These are identical cars, meet this sale price and I’ll buy right now. If not, I’m going there to buy it.”

I knew the car in the ad was a loss leader and the chances of that car being purchased at that price, regardless of the ad, had less than a 2 in 10 chance of happening. However the more I tried to express it, the more obstinate he was becoming. So, I did the exact opposite of what every sales teacher, and manager would tell you to do. I told him if he really could get that deal he should take it. I couldn’t match it and I believed even they wouldn’t and expressed it politely.

However, before he left I explained what I believed would happen. I told him, “You’ll ask to buy that car and you’ll find it’s either already sold or some other story.” I also expressed, “Even if they have another car with the exact same details or specs – you won’t be able to purchase it for that price.” I bid him best of luck with genuine sincerity and showed him the door. Hours later I was accosted by the dealership’s management for committing what seemed the crime of the centuries: allowing a potential customer to leave on my own. I was called out the next day in the morning sales meeting in ridicule and used as the example of, “What one is never to do!”

There is a twist to this, and here it is. The customer returned the next day only hours after my meeting. He asked for me by name and then proceeded to tell me everything I had told him that probably would happen, did in fact happen. He left and was here to buy the car I showed him the night before. After the deal was inked he then said, “Now I want the exact same car only in a station wagon for my wife.” There was no Kabuki theater needed to settle price or terms. We worked out what was a fair price and he purchased. I went from zero to hero in less than 24 hours. However, the only reason why I even had a chance was because I stood behind my credibility.

As for my career in car sales going forward? For the record there was a standing reward for all new sales people. If you could sell 10 new cars in your first 30 days you would receive a sizable monetary bonus, plus a demo car to drive as your own. It was a big prize that everyone tried for but it was looked upon as unrealistic or unachievable. It was dangled as a “carrot” but assumed near impossible for a newbie to ever hit. I sold 11. They balked and tried to change the rules saying it no longer applied, I said of course it didn’t. And quit.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.