Up, Down and Sideways

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Sale: In general, a transaction between two parties where the buyer receives — tangible or intangible — goods, services and/or assets in exchange for money.

Selling: Offering to exchange an item of value for a different item. The original item of value being offered may be either tangible or intangible. The second item — usually money — is most often seen by the seller as being of equal or greater value than that being offered for sale.

Some of your employees — OK, almost all your employees — find selling uncomfortable. They like cars, not selling things. But customers love buying things. They love buying things they need and things they want. In our business, because your team could be a bit nervous about selling, we usually concentrate on the word need.

This leads to some questions that demand answers. Who says the product or service is needed? The car manufacturers, oil companies or do you? All have their place, most employees I speak with love to lean on the owners manual. But we all know that doesn't always provide the customer what they need.

A more important question is, why? Why is a good or service needed? What is the customer’s situation? There are basically three answers. The first and the easiest answer is that something has failed or broken. The wiper blade doesn't swipe well anymore, the battery is dead or a tire is flat. No hard selling here. Next comes the foundation of your business, — preventive needs. The service is needed to stop bad things from happening or to keep the vehicle operating longer and more efficiently.

Finally, there is a need bordering on wants. There is the need to do more. Better oils, filters, and additives, more frequent intervals for services. This customer prefers to do all they can to protect their investment and baby their “baby.” This is where your employees often begin to feel uncomfortable.

Why? Because these upsells cost more money, and more explanation is required. The key here is to work with the customer and their unique situation and help them see the value of the service or product offered. Weak people over promise benefits and say things like, “You can extend drain intervals,” or some other exaggeration. Only the consumer can determine value. The employee often defines value monetarily but consumers often make these decisions emotionally.

Think about your last visit to a restaurant. There were upsells on top of upsells. Upsells can rub consumers the wrong way. You all are aware of these risks and that is a topic for another day. The opposite of the upsell is the down sell. When you start at the top service and when the guest says no it usually comes down to time and/or money. The down sell is a valuable bandage, or insurance until they can have the full service performed.

Sixty-five percent of your customers are due for a full transmission service. What percentage of your customers say yes? A down sell would be a supplement that restores the depleted additives in the system. If you offer a multi-step fuel system cleaning and the guest says no, you could offer your one step.

Upselling and down selling are usually tied to one area. They came in for an oil change and you offer premium oils or supplements to enhance their visit. Side selling occurs when you move to other products and services.

As always, the key is training. Ask vendors for help or ask me. Go to seminars and conventions.

DAVID PRANGE is currently assistant to the chairman at Next Generation Mfg. He can be reached at 630.699.6813 or: daveprange@aol.com

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