Car dealership salespeople say stupid things all the time. They give too much info. Too little info. The wrong info. Unnecessary info. They overshare personal info. And it happens often, salespeople do, in fact, say stupid things. Sooner or later, we must realize that words matter, and often what we say causes our customers to put up walls. They disconnect from us when we use vernacular that sounds clinical, bland, or rehearsed. Simply put, we need to stop speaking like car salespeople so we don’t sound like we’re saying stupid things to dealership customers.
Without going off on a diatribe, let’s have a little fun. Take a drink every time you have heard someone say each of the following words or phrases on the phone, in email, or in person.
Stupid Things Car Salespeople Say
“I got your lead on the (Year Make Model).”
A couple things I dislike here. Customers aren’t leads. They don’t want to be called leads. They want to be considered more than a selling opportunity, one in a number of faceless Glengarry leads that have no value or interest beyond their willingness to spend money. Secondly, can we please stop BDC agents from reciting the “Year Make Model” when reaching out to shoppers? The prospects remember the year, and certainly the make. Instead, train your team to say, “I see you’re interested in the (Model)”.
“I received your inquiry.”
Why make your team sound like a robot? Now I’m not saying “inquiry” is a word that is new to the American lexicon by any means, but it sounds seriously impersonal. Nor am I saying “received” is too highfalutin a verb, but your team comes off bland and uninspired when using this banal dialogue. Make sure they address the customers like humans, not AI. Instead, use the suggested phrase in the first paragraph.
“Are you here for the big sale?”
(Take another drink if you’re the one that told them to say this)
I know the goal is to build some excitement when greeting a customer, but the great majority of shoppers have already been on your website. They already know that the only “sale” you’re advertising are the OEM-required, generic ads offering 1.9% for “very well qualified buyers” on your homepage sliders. That’s not a sale, that’s an incentive. If you aren’t truly having an honest-to-goodness event sale, don’t make them say it. Instead, how about, “Thanks so much for coming in!”
What is the stupidest thing to say? This is one of my least favorite (and its many versions):
What questions can I answer for you?
Do you have any questions?
Anything I can answer for you?
Take control of the conversation, don’t ask stupid questions
This may not sound stupid off the hop, but what follows most certainly will. Are we training our sales teams to be an information desk at a mall, just spitting out random answers? No! They’re meant to be Sales Consultants. I’ve long said that the person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation. Questions dictate the outcome and influence the process. Why give the customer full ownership of the conversation? Asking the customer for questions isn’t being flexible or accommodating. It’s being short-sighted that we don’t know how to help them. This is letting them dictate the rest of the engagement.
Moreover, do salespeople have the acumen, nay, the authority to answer all of a shopper’s question? No, they don’t even have the desire to answer all their questions. When asking “what questions can I answer for you?” whether it be in phone, email, text, or in person, we’re challenging the shopper to come up with a question. Possibly one they don’t even need an answer for. They’re just fabricating a question for us that is rarely about the product or process, and more commonly about the price or payment.
A question that is usually far too early in the shopper’s path to purchase. Training your salespeople the right questions to ask the shopper keeps us in the driver’s seat. It will prevent your salespeople from saying stupid things to car shoppers by giving the wrong answer, no answer, the “I don’t know” answer, the “let me check with my manager” answer, or a deflection because they don’t want to answer.
Every great salesperson has talked themselves out of a deal. This can be wholly prevented by eliminating unnecessary phrases with redundant messaging or lazy car sales speak. The words we use with customers go a long way to determining the outcome of our engagement. We need our salespeople to be considered an authority, not a milquetoast. Train your salespeople what to say and how to say it, and their conversations will convert customers rather than disengage them. Plus, it’s not just salespeople who say stupid things!
Here is the previous blog in my Words Matter blog series.
A few “favorites”: ‘Your presence is your leverage”, ‘Can I Help (hep) you”, “Our computers are running slow today” and on and on. Stupid stuff that makes us look incompetent and unprofessional. I want to shoot myself every time I hear these things. I feel strongly the reason it’s so poor is because we as Managers aren’t investing in training time for the staff. Sad if you think about it. We rely on them for our income yet we give them a couple of word tracks, pat them on the back and say “Go get them tiger”. Making money is easy now but it will tighten up, and we’ll need to tighten up. So much easier to do that now than to wait for two crappy months in a row and wonder what happened. Just sayin…
Can’t agree with you more, Don. You know those bug me as well. (A blog I wrote a long time ago references one of those you mentioned – https://dealerknows.com/computer-sucks/).