Are you Making These 3 Selling Mistakes?

Feb. 1, 2023

There are a variety of ways to approach sales, and while many have varying degrees of success, some can do major damage to your bottom line. It’s tempting to focus on how a selling strategy can boost revenue, but many shops overlook how sales tactics also affect customer loyalty.

To find your winning sales strategy, you must understand your customer and what their needs are, which is why Valvoline has done extensive research into what customers want from their shop experience and what keeps them from coming back.

So, what mistakes are shops making?

Being Aggressive

It’s easy to see why this ranks highly amongst customer dislikes: No one wants to be pressured into spending money. And while being aggressive may help increase your ticket revenue in the short term, it can hurt your shop in the long run.

“Aggressive selling and loyalty are in direct opposition,” says John Stotz, Senior Brand Manager of Lubricants for Valvoline. “You can be aggressive and get more revenue from upselling with a customer, but that negative experience will keep them from coming back, and you’ve lost out on any future sales.”

Pushy sales tactics can manifest in a variety of ways, like creating a false sense of urgency to perform services, overloading a customer’s inbox with promotional material, and charging for services without permission. These all create a negative customer experience and will keep customers from returning to your shop.

Talking Over Their Heads

Customers come to you because they need your expertise, but just because you're the expert doesn’t mean you should leave the customer in the dark. By using industry jargon, you can perpetuate the stereotype that technicians and operators upsell their customers into services they don’t need by leveraging their lack of knowledge.

How do you combat this? Meet your customer where they’re at and take the time to educate them. Provide approachable resources, like a checklist that breaks down the timeline for their vehicle’s routine maintenance. Stotz says this can be a valuable practice, even if a customer doesn’t choose to add a service during your conversation.

“A lot of preventative maintenance services are sold during the customer’s previous visit,” says Stotz. “By letting them know their vehicle needs in the near future, you are managing customer expectations and preparing them to choose those services the next time they’re in your shop.”

By working to educate your customer on what their vehicle needs and providing options, you are empowering them to make informed decisions about their vehicle. And if a customer feels confident that they made the right choice for themselves and their vehicle, they’re likely to return to the shop that gave them that positive experience.

Focusing on the Transaction

“One of the biggest mistakes I see shops make is that their outlook becomes too transactional,” says Stotz. “You have to look beyond the transaction and remember that there’s a person in front of you that needs your help.”

When there are lots of vehicles coming into your shop, it can be easy to forget that you’re in the business of helping people. Some shops tend to deprioritize customers with lower ticket values or consider what will boost numbers instead of what meets the customer’s needs. But as soon as a customer feels that you don’t care about them, you risk losing their loyalty.

Ron Kauffman, Chemical Business Manager at Valvoline, offers a great rule of thumb for a people-first approach.

“Treat each customer like they’re your mom, your sister, or your brother coming into the shop. If you approach customers’ vehicles like they belong to your loved ones, your focus will be on protecting the customer and their vehicle. Because that’s our job — to keep vehicles operational and safe for a small cost to the customer, and hopefully that prevents bigger issues down the road”

For more insights on how to boost sales and build consumer loyalty, check out Valvoline’s SPARK Program. SPARK offers training and resources to Valvoline installers based on in-depth marketing research on how consumers shop and increases customer motivation to buy premium products by giving those customers an efficient way to make choices.

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