A while back I wrote a post about singing the same song with your coworkers. After further reflection, and few conversations, it crystallized the point that, as members of the Internet sales revolution, we must continuously be mirroring those around us. Singing a lovely chorus with our coworkers in Latin can only get us so far. In order to go from good to great, we must adopt the vernacular of our customers. In the same week I had two conversations that really drove this point home for me.
The first conversation involves my loving wife, in which she said something that stopped me dead in my tracks. (No, she is not leaving me for a better looking man.) We were talking about the different types of clients that she sees (remember, she’s a veterinarian who focuses on internal medicine; the vet that delivers the bad news) and the different ways she has to communicate with them. Surprisingly, she declared that medical doctors were her favorite owners to see. I was thinking to myself that it would be like oil and water, and every treatment would come with an argument. It is quite the contrary. She likes working with them best because she doesn’t have to water-down or candy-coat any of the information. She can share the data of the test results in scientific terms, meaning she doesn’t have to filter the information, delivering the results in its purest form. She’s able to much more quickly establish the highest level of respect and trust, allowing her to do what she does best: fix Fluffy and Fido as efficiently as possible.
The second (longer) conversation involves my brother (the culmination of many) after he found out his car was totaled. We had the leasing vs. buying conversation, the new vs. used conversation, and the ever popular traditional vs. hybrid conversation (I know some of you are nodding your heads right now). I also decided to throw a few curveball suggestions on some vehicles he didn’t think he could afford (an old habit from the retail days). I finally suggested he test drive his favorites to dial-in his potential replacement. He already had narrowed it down to two different vehicles, so he proceeded to spend an afternoon taking a couple test drives. What he experienced was the high and low of purchasing a vehicle.
The first test drive took place courtesy of a luxury dealership. He’s fairly new to his current locale, and pretty much selected the dealership at random (I couldn’t get him a referral fast enough). He’s new to the brand of vehicle, and certainly wouldn’t represent the manufacturer’s core customer. After a brief conversation in the showroom, he proceeded to take the vehicle for a test drive. Upon returning, he had another brief conversation, informed the salesperson of his intent to think it over, and went on his way with a friendly handshake. Easy-peasy.
For comparison purposes, he wanted to take a look at the same brand of vehicle he drove before to see how the offerings compared, so again he picked another random dealership. After he drove their comparable model, he also explained his intent to think things over for the day. The salesperson then uttered the infamous “what can I do to put you in the car today” question. He was then posed a dozen “if I could, would you” questions. I kindly explained to him that is what the salesperson was expected to do (hell, I’ll give them props for their diligence). As expected, he then had to speak with the Sales Manager before he could go. After laying all his cards on the table, the Closer conceded to let him leave the store to think it over. Less than easy-peasy.
To no one’s shock or awe, he ended up going with the luxury vehicle. Granted it still took a couple hours to take delivery, but his experience was exponentially better. It didn’t have anything to do with the panache of the luxury brand. He never considered it until I suggested it as an alternative. Like my wife and the medical doctors, he and the staff spoke the same language.
Too often we’re so concerned with doing what we’re trained to do that we simply forget we’re dealing with another human being. While we diligently speak our word-tracks, and cleverly espouse some cool phrases we recently read in a book, we often sound like Charlie Brown’s teachers to normal people. Whomp-whomp, MPG, whomp-whomp, VANOS, whomp-whomp, APR, whomp-whomp-whomp, earn your business…
Contrary to popular belief, templates, scripts, and processes aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. What makes them worth millions of dollars are the men and women who skillfully translate them into a variety of understandings. They perceive the context of the customer, and comprehend what tools to apply, and when to apply them. They talk to people as if they were people, and not an up, client, or customer. They say gracias, danke, spasibo, xièxiè, and thanks. The best strive to speak the same language.
Your training needs to continue evolve to meet the Internet user’s demands. Your templates need to be altered on the fly to reflect the subtleties of the inquirer’s desires. Your phone scripts need to be dynamic, so that the customer is open to what you have to say. If you can’t engage in a customer’s preferred fashion, you are merely writing essays and performing monologues for yourself. Compel them to engage on their own terms.
Now it’s time for you to have a serious conversation with yourself. Are you taking the time to understand your customers’ dialect? Do you take the time to empathize with your customer, and present solutions based on that context? Or, do you simply try to dazzle them with a deep bag of bullsh…I mean…tricks? Singing along with your dealership isn’t enough. The day you decide to understand how to speak to your customer in their own language, is the day you win the car business.