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Get ‘Em In Today

March 9, 2010

First it was Johnnie Liddi.  Then it was Grant Cardone.  While Grant’s message was delivered MUCH better and gave the viewing audience a way out of “sucking” by giving them a clue as to how to fix their problems, the message was still the same.  We need to do what we need to do.

Now, I am not suggesting that we go into our sales meetings and tell everyone how horrible they are (Johnnie Liddi), but there is one area of concern that has been eating at me for a while.  And since we are all “telling it like it is” these days, let’s explore what’s been on my mind, if you’ll indulge me.

Somewhere along the line, it became acceptable to pre-qualify our customers.  These days I am constantly hearing salespeople try to get a “5 liner” credit app before they help the customer select the right car.  I even hear them trying to get it over the phone.  What happened to selling the car and not the financing?  Doesn’t the finance department have a better time selling their products to a customer that is excited about their purchase and not trying to hold on to a payment?  As a former F&I Director, I know I was able to help the customer better when my salespeople sold the car and not a payment. 

When is the right time to get a customer to fill out a credit application?  Over the phone?  Before a test drive? In my humble opinion, NO!

We must remember the steps to the sale. 

1. Meet and Greet
2. Interview
3. Vehicle Selection (lot walk)
4. Selective Walk-around (based on interview)
5. Test Drive (We always go with the customer, all right turns)
6. Trial Close
7. Trade Evaluation (when applicable) and negotiation
8. Close
9. F&I
10. Delivery

This is how I remember selling 18-21 cars per month consistently.  Your process might be slightly different, but the same.  (And please don’t chastise me for not having step 11. Follow Up.  I haven’t forgotten about that, but that’s a whole other post)

“But, I don’t want to spend all day with a customer just to find out they have bad credit and can’t get a loan.”

A proper interview (step 2) with open-ended questions will reveal everything you need to know about the customer’s ability to buy.  This is also the time you start building your relationship with the customer.

If we get their credit up front without having them landed on a car, we do many things to kill the sale.

First, we start to decide for the customer what car they can have.  The customer has to make that decision, not the sales person.  A proper interview of the customer (step 2 again) will lead them to making the right decision.  We must help them based on that, not their credit report.

Second, we pit ourselves against the customer.  They don’t want to give us credit info until they see a car they like that will fit their needs.  Asking for credit info before the right time makes you look like you don’t care about them.

Third, we empower the marginal credit customer into thinking they can go anywhere to buy a car.  Now that you have seen their credit, you will be inclined to tell them you can help them.  If you don’t sell them a car, someone else will, whether they “get ’em done” or not.  You just gave them license to shop.

Let’s not lose the customer in hand, because we are worried about missing the next one.  Be a salesperson.  It is not up to you to decide what they can buy.  It is up to you to help them select the right vehicle.

I have thrown a few car clichés in this post like “5 liner” or “get ’em done.”  Here is one more I am sure you have heard over the years.  “No shortcuts.”  Get ’em in, sit ’em down, use the process and sell more cars.

If I have offended any of you with this post, there may be a good reason.  You might be that guy.

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