**This month's article was written with the help of ATI coach Mike Bennett.
We all want to help our customers see the value of investing in their car, so we read and listen to presentation techniques that fit our shops’ culture. More often than not, they are big-picture suggestions or theories on how to sell; however, this month’s article is very different. I overheard ATI coach Mike Bennett teaching a client exactly how and when to sell value, and I thought it would make a great column for this month’s Profit Matters. I have also included a link to the ATI Service Advisor Checklist to help you and your staff present estimates better. Mike began:
“Man, it’s just that time of the year; it’s tax time; it’s the weather; it’s the holidays. We just can’t get anyone to say yes.” As a coach, I must hear one of these “justifications” a couple of dozen times a week. Justification? Maybe a better word would be excuse. Yes, it is really just an excuse. “We can’t get an approval on this because (insert above excuse).” Let’s make one thing clear. When we are talking about selling, it’s more about customers buying. We don’t believe in forcing anyone to do anything. The key is to present the very real needs of the customer so that they can make the informed decision to maintain their vehicle.
Now, I am a realist. I do understand that there are times of the year when a customer’s willingness to invest in their vehicle and give us an estimate approval does go down. In looking at it though, maybe it is not that the customer’s willingness has gone down. I believe it is more true that their need to feel and understand value has gone up. Really, to understand our customers we need to understand that a purchase decision is not based on just price or their willingness to give up dollars. It is based more on the value they perceive in what you are presenting versus the dollars they are going to have to give up to get it. There are times when it may seem that their perceived willingness goes down. However, it’s more accurate that, because of whatever is going on in life or the world, their need to feel value — their value threshold — has gone up.
Let’s be realistic: our presentations do not change a whole lot from day to day or season to season. We present an estimate the way we present an estimate. What changes is that there are times when a customer’s decision-making threshold, or the value they have to perceive to make the approval, goes up.
Talk to the customer’s value level
I use this descriptive analogy all the time when talking to shop owners: Let’s assume your standard presentation has a value level of 7 on a scale of 1-10. If a customer is getting ready for vacation or their child is getting ready to take the car off to college, they are probably in a frame of mind to make a purchase, so their “need for value” threshold is, say, a 6. So, your presentation at a level 7 value will certainly be enough to satisfy their level of value threshold, and you will likely make the sale.
Now, let’s imagine it’s February. There are no real plans to travel any time soon. The Christmas credit card bill has just hit the mailbox and oh yeah, the youngest was just at the dentist and they are talking braces. This customer’s value threshold just jumped from a 6 to a 9. So if you’re making your standard sales pitch at a value level 8, chances are you are going to get the “Let me think about it for next visit” answer. Translation: You are not going to get the sale today!