by Candie White, Author or "The Green Pea"
The beginning and end of this is simple. It’s the middle that you will need to breathe for. Buying cars is emotional. Much more emotional than logical. Unless you are in charge of purchasing twenty fleet vehicles for your company, the decision to sign on the dotted line will be mostly influenced by those warm fuzzy feelings that got you excited and pictured you behind the wheel of a new automobile.
For as long as we have had advertising to lure us in, who has society said without a doubt are the shoppers of the family? Who has society said is the emotional one of the sexes? Women- on both counts.
Then why aren’t women presented more on the decision making end of the auto industry? Fear. Fear by men that we might just do a good job.
The auto industry can no longer afford to be afraid of progress. More than ever, car buying is emotionally driven. There is a different brand of automobile on every corner and a new dealer of the same brand on the next. The only way to sustain your dealership is to make it stand out. Be truly different.
While this country has seen a lot of wonderful changes in the last half-century, it has also seen society become lazy, complacent, materialistic and narcissistic. Do these words sound harsh? Try standing on a car lot for a month, knowing that the only way you can put food in your families mouth is by appealing to a car buyers desire to fill their emotional appetite when the competition is nipping at your heals with every step. Auto manufacturers offering huge rebates and 0% financing cut your ability to make a decent commission and you spend 8 hours on a Saturday doing paperwork and cleaning the new car for delivery to an often paranoid and ungrateful customer. But that’s not all; your bonus depends on this same customer answering a survey that must depict you with 100% excellent ratings. Please. Why would anyone want to sell cars under these conditions? And as a customer- feeling the pressure that emanates from this salesperson; are you comfortable buying a car from this person? Probably not.
The flip side to this daunting scenario is the freedom to move about during the day without being constricted to a desk. Working as if you have you’re own business but without the fear of meeting payroll, workman’s comp claims and finding money for advertising. Meeting new people every day. Unparalleled experiences and training for both sales and life in general. And, the ability to create your own income.
So, how can more women help dealerships sell cars?
Starting with the basic fact that over 50% of auto sales are to women and estimated 87% of all sales are influenced by women ( as in couples ) How can you ignore putting women on the floor to sell? More importantly, how can you not see the advantage of a woman’s direction and perspective in management when planning for future sales and training.
As hard as an apple tries to be an orange, it is still an apple. Mixed together there is twice as much Vitamin C and anti-oxidant. But alone, that’s all you get; one apple.
As a woman and a communicator of emotions I always tried to connect with my customers on an intimate level that was natural. I always began my sale by explaining the sales process as if I were training a new salesperson. I was not alone in this tactic and my point here is not to just focus on women. I am referring to a female energy. That talking gene that connects emotionally. Many of my male co-workers also tapped into this energy when connecting with customers. I had some incredible trainers and managers that also became more female-centered when teaching and managing. When this happened, we all made a lot of money and the customers were happy.
In The Green Pea I tried to offer a general description of the whole process of car buying with an emotional connection to the salesperson. It has been my experience that upfront honesty relieves the unknown fear that has been perpetuated by real life experience and negative stereotyping of the auto purchase experience. I also emphasized the gift of stepping into another’s shoes and experiencing the trials and tribulations of the management spectrum and remembering the human fear of commissioned sales.
The only way to invite more people into your dealership; to attract more people to your product is to appeal to them on a level that does not undermine their intellect. The old auto sales philosophy that insinuates a buyer doesn’t understand and it is our job to explain it, is true. But this needs to be enforced with a caring and emotional empathy that creates a friendly invitation not a demeaning reprimand.
Don’t just pretend to make friends with your customers, truly get to know them; but first, truly get to know your employees. Know your salespeople. Listen to them and learn from them. They are the ones dealing with rejections all day long.
A father punches his son in the arm and tells him to be tough. A mother hugs her son and asks where it hurts.
Try doing both and see how many sales come from a salesperson with confidence and support that he/she is free to connect and be honest with their customer. The customer feels it and they will tell their friends.
Dealerships must start at the top. The owner or CEO must remember what it was like to be young, to be a salesperson and to live in the fear that the next customer will either pay your rent or send you to a park bench.
Don’t compete with the dealership down the street. Compete with the person in the mirror. It’s 90% emotional and if you aren’t getting it then get some (woman) to help you.
You can purchase Candie's book, The Green Pea, here.