From my e-Book 'No String Selling'
Provide ALL of the Information a Client Needs to Make a Decision
If a client requests information online or shows up at your dealership or store, he or she is trying to decide if buying a car is the right thing to do. Additionally, many of them are looking to get a good price. In internet sales, I do not always get the luxury of holding equity or gross on a new car. With websites like TrueCar®, Edmund’s.com, Consumer Reports Online, and many others, a client can find out just about every bit of information he or she will need to make a buying decision. The same holds true for other industries.
For most people, the buying process is like a funnel. Michael Mulhern, in his article The Psychology of Buying, describes it in an intuitive way. He says that because buyers are presented with a plethora of options and because of time constraints and cognitive limitations they are pushed to simplify the steps. These are the steps he sees in the buying process: The buyer determines that he has a need and begins his research by choosing several brands or services to analyze. Using heuristics—an informal process one uses to solve problems; one that creates outcomes that are good enough for the goals he has—he will rank the product based on the features or benefits being offered. The buyer then tries to identify what he needs and what is not needed. Next, the buyer narrows the choices by price, reviews, and other internal and personally important factors.
By the end of this process, the buyer tightens the options to a few probable choices. Most of the hard work is done and the client has a pretty clear sense of what would be best for his goals. The idea of experiencing or getting a demonstration of the product or service is really part of narrowing the decision down even further to the best and final option and this allows the buyer to pull the trigger. The final step will be determining if the terms meet the client’s needs. Many times the terms are not perfect, but the buyer likes the salesperson so much that he is willing to pay a bit more for the car to work with the salesperson. A recent survey by Strativity Group suggests that 44% of respondents say they would pay 5% or more for a superior customer experience. Strativity is not alone; Steve Finlay, in an article on Wards Auto, discussed the importance of the customer experience and suggested that a dealership that functions on price alone has nothing to offer.
Let me take a quick moment and share how the buyer would use this process to make a decision when buying a car (this can be used in any business):
1. The Need or Want- This step is usually at the beginning of the buying process. Perhaps their car had engine problems or is getting old. The client might be tired of the old car or just ready for a new one. Possibly, the client just likes to have the newest features. Regardless of the why behind the decision to look, the client decides he is ready for a new vehicle.
2. Features- There is no lack of suppliers in the car industry. A client can go online and choose manufacturers that offer the features he wants. He may want an SUV or all-wheel drive or something that holds up well over time. He may want something sporty or luxurious. In this stage, the client determines what features are important to him.
3. Brand Reputation/ Options- If a client has had a previous experience with a certain brand, he may prefer to buy that brand again. If the client is venturing into new territory, he will look at review sites to determine which brand offers the features he wants and which brand has the best reputation in that category.
4. Value- In this stage, the client will look at the value he gets for the money. One brand might offer updated electronics. Whereas, another brand may have a strong warranty. In any case, the client wants to get the most for his money and will narrow down the search based on the features he receives for the money.
5. Budget- Next is the step that narrows the search even further. The client likely has a budget that he can make work. In this stage, the client’s goal is to get the absolute best price—or feel like he is getting the best price—for the product he wants.
6. Source- When it comes to the source, the client is generally concerned with finding a source that will fit his minimal needs, a heuristic known as satisficing—a term coined by Herbert Simon that means good enough. However, the source’s reputation and reviews, the buying experience, and inventory will all be factors in narrowing the decision. While clients do not generally care where they buy their product, the salesperson has the opportunity to sway the client’s choice by giving the client the best buying experience he has ever had.
7. Terms- After deciding what to buy and where to buy it, the client’s final hurdle is determining if the terms will fit his needs. If a salesperson changes the terms or misrepresents information, this is the stage where the deception will be found out. The salesperson has the opportunity to follow through to a successful transaction if he has been honest and truthful with the client. It is at this point that the client signs the contracts that make him the proud new owner of his vehicle.
In one sense and because of technology, buying from a salesperson could be seen as a formality. However, there is something to be said about having a human advocate to walk you through the buying process. While computers, programs, and apps can help increase confidence in one’s decision to buy, the buyer still needs confirmation that he is making the right decision by talking to another person. In many cases, that person is the salesperson.
Unfortunately, this is where most salespeople start playing games. Instead of trusting the buyer to make the best decision for himself, the salesperson, or team, tries to manipulate the buyer into doing what they want. Sadly, this is the most common tactic of salespeople; to push another person in a direction he or she was not expecting.
If the salesperson would only ask the buyer what led them to the point they are at, and why they decided on his product, he would increase the odds of selling the product; keeping in mind that the goal is to fill the client’s needs. The salesperson could tailor a presentation that fits what the client is looking for. Remember, the buyer narrowed down his or her choices and is trying to see if your product or service would be the final and best choice for his or her goals, and it may not be—which is okay. The goal of the salesperson should be to provide ALL of the information the client will need to make a decision; even if that decision is not to buy.
In some cases, you may offer a solution that is even better than what the client came up with without impeding the client’s decision-making process—this is completely different from manipulation; this is serving. By giving all of the information and explaining the process through to the finish, the client can use his or her heuristics to decide. Sometimes they are ready to make an agreement in the moment and sometimes they need time to think it through. My experience has been that even if they think about it, they nearly always come back to me. Granted, there are a few who do not, but the majority do and they are the type of clients who are loyal to me for life because of the way I treated them.
Remember that the client is filtering options way before he talks to you. Your goal should be one of service. Help the client through the final stage of the decision-making process by providing all of the information he will need to pull the trigger. The client will appreciate the honesty and forthrightness and will rave about you to his peers. There is no need for manipulation, games, tricks, or tactics in the decision-making process. Just serve the client and let him do what he is best at…deciding!
Dr. Peter Noel Murray in his article How Emotions Influence What We Buy, said: “When we are confronted with a decision, emotions from previous, related experiences affix values to the options we are considering.” The emotion of relaxation and peace that the client experiences when working with you will be so different from other dealers that he will be more inclined to go with you when he makes a final decision.
A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.