Q. Dear Zenagos, I can see that one of your co-founders worked as a car salesperson. What lessons can she share with us from that experience?
Zenagos Expert Mavis Chin sold new and pre-owned cars at the highest-volume Lexus dealership in the United States. She has written the article below from her perspective.
I decided to sell cars at a time in my life when I really wanted to learn about sales. I had never sold anything before (at least, not in an “eat what you kill” manner, where almost all of your income is from commissions). Since I enjoy the car negotiation process, I thought I could learn something by selling cars. My friends used to take me to the dealership with them when they were going to buy a car. Believe it or not, I think the negotiation process is fun!
Times are definitely changing with respect to car sales, especially with vehicles in short supply during the pandemic. Many of the dealerships that once used questionable tactics (like taking your keys and not returning them until you started talking price) are being replaced with “no negotiation” dealerships or with “take-it-or-leave-it” pricing. Some manufacturers have stated their clear intention to follow the Tesla model and have customers choose their car and its options online and skip the dealership experience altogether.
These changes may eventually grant the car-selling business a less sales-intensive reputation, but at the time that I worked in the field, salespeople were front and center, and you couldn’t buy a car without working with a salesperson. I learned a few lessons worth sharing, since they apply to selling almost anything.
The dealership I worked at put me through a 3-week training program, and (much to my surprise at the time), only one week of the three weeks was about the product or the facts and features of the cars. The rest of the training was about human behavior and the sales process that the dealership wanted us to follow. I found the experience invaluable, and I developed a tremendous amount of respect for good salespeople.
Here are some of the broadly applicable lessons that I learned:
1. Use a consultative approach
2. Surface objections early
3. Understand that emotions can drive purchase decisions
4. “No” is much better than “maybe”
5. Get all the decision-makers in the same place
If you are enjoying my car-selling stories, let me know by submitting a question at the Ask a Question linke below. I’ll be happy to share!