Selling at the front counter can be extremely difficult when customers are in a hurry and frustrated with even having to bring their car into your shop. Not to mention when you are really busy and everyone wants their car back today. This typically leads to lower average R.O. days as well. I was listening to veteran coach Eric Twiggs explain what many a great service writer can forget in the heat of battle, the real secret to successful selling. Here is what he had to say:
My interviewer threw me a curveball! I had just graduated from college and was interviewing with a sales manager named James for an outside sales position with a major copy machine company.
“Sell me this pen!” James demanded, as he slammed the pen on his desk in front of us and awaited my response.
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I responded by creating an imaginary list of all the features the pen had to offer, to include special ink that lasted a lifetime! “This will be the last pen you ever buy in your life!” I confidently exclaimed.
I felt good about my selling performance as the interview concluded. I was sure that I aced “the pen test” and was looking forward to getting a call back. As I sat by the phone waiting for it to ring, the only sound I heard was crickets outside my window!
Where did I go wrong? All my sales training up to that point had stressed the importance of clearly communicating the features and benefits of the product.
Several months later, after reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, “The Sales Bible,” I realized where I went wrong. Gitomer wrote the following statement that forever changed how I viewed the sales process:
“Listening is the first commandment of selling.” And then it hit me. I had nothing to listen to, because I never asked James any questions related to his need for a pen!
Was he in the market for a pen? What did he like about the one he currently uses? How specifically did he plan to use the pen? I was so focused on talking that I forgot about listening.
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Has this happened to you? Well, you aren’t alone. Consider the following research findings of Dr. Ralph Nichols, a pioneer in the field of listening: “While participating in a conversation, the average person forgets 50 percent of what the other person is saying immediately after they finish speaking.”
In most conversations, when one person is talking, the other is mentally rehearsing his or her response, while they wait for their turn to talk.
Think about your own life for a moment. How many people can you name that actively listen without interrupting, and give you their undivided attention while you are speaking? For most people, it’s a short list.