Ditch The Script

April 5, 2021
How to approach a sales pitch with your customers.

In order for a shop to be successful, they have to effectively communicate with their customers. It doesn’t matter how talented or technically sound your team is. If they can’t explain the importance of the work and engage in an authentic conversation with potential customers, it’s hard to be profitable. 

“Even in the digital age we’re in, people still buy from people and they always will,” says Mark Seawell, director of service advisor training for RLO Training. 

One of the most common conundrums shops encounter is whether to have a sales script for their staff, or take a more personal approach with every customer. 

Seawell has more than 22 years of experience training service advisors in the automotive industry and has some helpful advice about how to navigate that predicament and maximize conversations with customers. 


Have a plan, not a script 

There are two schools of thought. First, script everything, because a script is written by professionals and used in a great many places in a great many scenarios. Secondly, there’s the school of thought that avoids that strategy with the worry that it will come across as inauthentic. 

In my experience, you still need to have structure and a plan for every conversation. What I teach in my classes is somewhat of a hybrid. I absolutely want people to develop relationships with their customers. I teach a strategy of, “Hey let’s build a rapport, let’s build a relationship.” But then I also know there are some benchmarks, some level up achievements that I have to have with every conversation. 

The greeting is often scripted to make sure I can collect vital information like their name, phone number and problem. However, I want to make sure within that short script I am showing empathy. I want them controlling the conversation and I want them to guide the conversation in the right path. Tone is important and something that can be lacking with a script. So my mindset is: have a plan, not a script. 

Level up the conversation.

I want the service advisor to hit some benchmarks. You can say different words all you want, it doesn’t have to be the same over and over. But the idea is it builds on one another. If you’re showing value and building trust that you need you, you’ll ultimately make a sale. I teach a 10-step process. Treat it like levels. You need to do the first before you can get to the second and so on. Here are the steps: 

  1. A friendly greeting – begin to build a relationship.
  2. Verify the concern(s), establish the customer’s reason for being at your shop.
  3. Get yourself and your customer organized, establish expectations.
  4. Describe your diagnosis to show the value.
  5. Present logical solutions that address the customer’s concerns. (needed repairs)
  6. Establish the value of correcting the needs with your repairs, be sure that the customer agrees.
  7. State the Price and when it will be completed– Confidently.
  8. Address and Overcome any Objections – provide the consequences of not performing the services you suggested.
  9. Recap the details of your agreement  (Total, completion time etc).
  10. Thank your customer.

In a car, everything is going to be different. It is very rare that you’re going to get the same problem, in the same day, from the same car and have the same kind of customer. A script is hard to mold to that. But the idea is you can use the 10-step process in any situation and fit it into the specific issue that the customer is facing.

Speak the language.

Every service advisor has to be able to speak technician, and they have to be able to speak customer. I want them to be technical, but not too technical at the same time. Really, that’s the art of being a service advisor. 

The idea is when you describe something to someone, it is walking them through the motions of what it does. And many times it’s just asking the customer, “Do you understand what this product is and what it does? Do you understand how brakes work? Do you understand how an oxygen sensor works inside a system?” Then a lot of that is going to be, “Well here’s what it does.”

I recommend using analogies. I’ve been accused of too many analogies, but I truly believe that as I’m presenting things to customers, I think people understand what I’m saying if I can connect it to a common life task. You’ve been to the doctor many many times and probably to an auto shop just a few times. Find commonalities. Not only does it help them understand, but it bridges a connection with the customer. 

About the Author

Paul Hodowanic

Paul Hodowanic is a staff writer at 10 Missions Media, where he covers Ratchet+Wrench and National Oil and Lube News.