Bennett: 6 Secrets of Consistent Sales Success

May 22, 2023
Learning to master your communication and build value in every presentation will produce higher closing ratios.

"Man, it's tough out there” …. “We just can't get anyone to say yes" … "It's tax time” … "It's the weather” … "It's the economy" … "It's inflation."  

These days, there seems to be no shortage of opportunities and excuses to hang your hat on for lost sales. Even the most successful salespeople will struggle to get approvals and close deals occasionally. The question is, why? Why are there times when it seems you sell everything, and then there are periods when you can't buy a yes despite the clear need? 

To better understand customers and their thought processes, we might need to consider that a purchase decision is not just a "how much will this cost?" question. The purchase decision often depends on a customer's perception of the value of the service rather than the cost. As stated more clearly, the decision is based on the weight and need that a customer feels from your recommendations and their confidence in the information (features and benefits) you have provided. There are definitely times when customers will have priorities and distractions other than their vehicle. These outside influences can increase their anxiety and absolutely will influence the purchase decision. Under these circumstances, they are less likely to approve unless the sales presentation and value commitment overcome their objections and any other distractions. As stated, their "value threshold" goes up, so your presentation value must do the same. 

So, the opportunity is to take an honest and critical look at our sales processes and scripting to figure out how you can make every presentation a perfect 10 out of 10! Are you taking enough time and working to communicate the value of the service? More importantly, have you worked to build value in the vehicle ahead of time, which helps to make the investment more appropriate and sensible?  

When working with service advisors and reviewing the elements of their value presentation, I try to stress a couple of essential points: 

Great salespersons are not born. Excellent sales skills must be developed and honed. Practice and preparation make perfection. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. 

You must have complete confidence in what you are selling. If you don't believe in it, neither will the customer. I have observed that the very best salespeople passionately believe in their products. If you can't or don't, figure out why before you get in front of your customer and handle it.  

With the proper mindset, it's all about creating a consistent sales and presentation process. Below is a list of what I have found to be the crucial elements of an excellent sales presentation.  

Six Keys to a High-Value Presentation 

Don't just dial the phone

Be prepared with an idea of the key points to cover in the presentation. You never want to read a laundry list of recommendations. Note the most important points you want to communicate before contacting the customer. Prepare descriptive analogies and ensure you understand what you're discussing and presenting.  

Take a breath. Be prepared to communicate with control, energy and passion. Bring emotion and a dynamic voice to the conversation. No one enjoys listening to a drone presentation. 

Lower the walls

When they answer the phone and realize it's you, they are instantly apprehensive about the situation. "How bad is it? What will this cost me? Is the vehicle even worth it?" is likely their initial thought. You need to lower the anxiety level. Your opening comments should focus on putting them at ease and building value. Help them start from the point of feeling value in their vehicle by not simply launching into a laundry list of needs. "We've had a chance to evaluate the concerns you mentioned and give the vehicle a thorough inspection. We have to say, overall, the vehicle is in excellent condition, and it is clear you've done a great job of maintaining the vehicle …" 

Use a Presentation Model

Follow this 4-point presentation model for each item, system or recommendation. You want the conversation to be simple, clear and understandable.  

  • What Is It and What Does It Do? A simple explanation of what component or system you're referring to, how it works & why it is important. 
  • What Goes Wrong? An explanation of the factors that can cause the condition and what happens when it goes bad. 
  • What Are You Going to Do to Fix It? You're the professional. Explain what you're recommending and why.
  • Finally, and Most Importantly: What is the Value? What is the customer going to notice or how will they benefit from the repair or service? Why should they want to spend the money and what is in the win for them? 

Use layman's terms and analogies so the customer can clearly understand and relate to what you are saying.  

This is Not a Monologue

Make sure the conversation is a two-way conversation. Ask questions they can acknowledge and respond to with a yes.  

Mrs. Jones, have you noticed that the steering wheel has been shaking for a while when you hit the brakes? YES. Ok, I assume that condition has been getting progressively more noticeable, then? YES. (Remember to praise them. Let them know that they've done a good thing by bringing the vehicle in and having the situation addressed). Well, Mrs. Jones, it is a good thing that you brought the vehicle in for us to inspect. The condition is certainly not going to improve, and it is getting to a point where it could affect the reliability of the brakes in a panic situation.  

Getting a customer to say yes three to five times in a conversation increases the likelihood of a positive response to the close question.  

Wrap the Presentation Up and Ask for the Close

Review the plus points of the vehicle and reiterate the value you've already built into the recommendations.  

And as we have discussed, Mrs. Jones, your Chevy is in excellent shape. You've done a great job keeping up with the maintenance and the overall condition shows it. We are going to get these couple of items addressed and handled, so the car should be back to purring like a kitten and delivering the solid reliability you'd expect. The price for everything I have reviewed, including sales tax, is $XXX.XX. Mrs. Jones, we can get this done for you today by 5:00. Is there any reason we can't get started on this or you?"  

People are wired to say no instinctively. Phrasing the close this way isn't trying to trick them into giving you a yes by saying no. It provides a moment of pause and causes them to think about their response. It bypasses the knee-jerk stimulus/response instinct to say no.  

Most Importantly, Once You Have Asked for the Sale, Shut Up!

If you have done your job using the techniques above, the only logical response the customer should be able to give is: YES, let's get it done! There is a saying in sales that goes, "If you're talking, you're not selling." You've made your pitch and presented every benefit. Once you've given them the price and asked for approval, be quiet. Any additional conversation on your part gives them time to talk themselves out of giving you an approval. 

So, in today's highly competitive sales environment, it's easy to find excuses for lost sales, such as blaming the economy, the weather or inflation. However, to succeed in sales, it's crucial to understand that the purchase decision is based on the customer's perception of the value of the service rather than the cost. Therefore, developing and honing great sales skills, including effective communication and building value in the vehicle, is critical to achieving success in sales. By following the seven keys to a high-value presentation, including preparation, communication, building rapport and asking for the close, salespeople can increase their chances of success in every presentation. With practice and perseverance, sales professionals can improve their sales process and achieve consistent success in the highly-competitive sales environment. 

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett has more than three decades in the Independent Auto Repair industry. Mike has been an ASE Master Technician and is the owner of Mike’s KARS Inc. in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Fully immersed in the industry for his entire professional career as a master technician, shop foreman, general manager, and automotive shop owner, Mike has a unique and broad perspective on the shop owner experience. Mike is able to communicate with real-world experience and a “been there and done that” perspective. As an Alumni shop owner with the Automotive Training Institute, he continues to operate his shop with his wife Shelle. Mike is now a nationally certified executive trainer and he has spent the last 11 years as a full-time business coach with ATI as well as leading two of ATI’s premier shop owner 20 groups as well as the first-in-industry CEO/COO development program.

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