How Not To Sell – By Harlan Goerger

Three Frustrating Salespeople that Lost SalesI’ve been told I maybe over critical of salespeople when I’m in the buyers seat, and it may be true. As a sales trainer I do have expectations when I spend my money.

I had been considering buying another motorcycle for some time and early in June decided to get serious about it. I had a pretty good idea of the type and style I wanted and was not tied to any particular brand. A V-twin cruiser style fit the profile as did custom chopper type units.

Yes, I did finally buy a unit, but I was not SOLD a unit even though several salespeople had the opportunity. Here is the story, determine for yourself if I am over critical!

Here are some of the details of the adventure:

  • In all but one stop I was wearing $80 slacks, dress shirt and tie with polished shoes.
  • Cost was not really an issue, I had the funds to pay cash, but had a number I wanted to try and stay with.
  • I use to race Moto Cross and Snowmobiles professionally.
  • I built custom choppers for several years in my past life.
  • I’ve owned several motorcycles in the past.
  • I’m short, 5’6″ with a 28″ inseam, manufactures do not consider me in their marketing and design.

Here is what I experienced, how does your operation match up?Lack of Engagement: As I talked to the first custom shop they certainly were “bike guys”, yet a total lack of engagement. There were no questions about me, what I wanted or why I wanted it. They had a really nice new custom Harley that fit what I wanted. A bit more $$ than my target, but affordable. “I like the bike, but my feet are not flat on the ground and that is an absolute for me.” A different seat was offered that might help or getting higher boots with heels might solve it, but otherwise it was complete silence as I looked at the bike and they tossed a few product points at me. There was no qualifying or probing about me, how I was to use the bike or why.

Next was the Victory dealer and a guy in his 40′s. “I see you had some used cruisers on your site.” Into the back we went and showed me 4 bikes and a story of each. Once more there were no questions about me, use or criteria. I asked a few questions about each bike as I tried them and indicated the problem of being too high and I’m on my toes with each bike. (ever try to balance 1000 pounds while on your toes?) This did cause him to show me the Vegas and try a hold over unit that was closer, yet still the height issue. His blah blah included warranty, bargain price etc. As I was leaving I gave him my card and he finally knew my name and what I did.

On to the Indian and Triumph dealer. I had to ask for a salesperson and a young man from behind the counter said sure. Indicating a cruiser type bike, he took me to the Triumphs V-twin models. Nice units with the right look, but again the standing on my toes issue. “This is an absolute, my feet must be flat on the ground or no deal.” This backed him up like I’ve never seen before, no response. Again no questions, only blah blah about warranty, bargain price etc. We looked at some used models in the back that interested me, again no questions about me, use or absolutes! As I was leaving I gave my card and he finally knew my name and what I did.

I would think when someone is looking at $15,000 to $5,000 machines you would at least get their name, engage them in conversation about their riding experiences and what they knew about cruiser motorcycles! Not at these dealers!

No Qualifying of any kind: At no time was a single qualifying question asked! Yes, I was dressed in expensive clothes and one might assume money was not an issue, but I could have also been in shorts or jeans and a T-shirt. Not only did they not qualify me on pay-ability, they insulted me by talking about minimum payment plans and financing. (I paid cash for the bike I finally did buy) There was no qualifying about experience in motorcycle riding! Did I even have a motorcycle license! Your putting me on a 800 pound machine with 100 horsepower, do I even know how to ride? What is important to me, power, comfort, long rides, short rides, additional passengers? Not one asked about any of these! I had to infer these issues in my questions to them!

Now each of the 3 encounters above I spent close to an hour of my and their time, yet no qualifying questions were asked in any form! As a sales manger I would have been livid about wasting time with tire kickers and not qualifying first. A simple conversation about me would have give them great insight into my qualifications without direct questions.

Nothing is a worse waste of time then selling a motorcycle to someone that should not have it. They take it, roll it, get hurt and bring it back to you threatening to a law suit! Yes it happens, now who pays for all the time, paper work and legal, not to mention the customer relations and image damage thathas been done!

No Problem Solving: Now some would call these objections and try to address them with some fancy prepared response. But the absolutes I had were not objections, they were requirements for my buying decision.

The biggest absolute I had was the height issue and getting my feet flat on the ground in dress shoes. (Yes I ride to business appointments.) Yet none of the above dealers had or even tried to address the issue! It was not an objection, it was a solution that would have gotten them a cash sale!

Never Asked for the Order: Not a single one of the above dealers asked for the order in any way. They all indicted they would be glad to help me out if and when I decided to buy? How about asking me to buy? At least help me through the decision process by qualifying, discussing my wants and desires and address my concerns in some way?

Never happened!

Epilog: Each of the above dealers had a unit I would have bought, but because of the 4 keys above I had no trust in them. Their ability to help me through the decision process was pathetic at best.

Back to the Internet and Craigs List. A new listing from a boat dealer 40 miles away caught my eye. A quick phone call got me some info on the bike and they would be around Saturday to help me out, also they would accept a check. My daughter came with that morning and we walked up to the bike. A friendly salesman said, “That’s a great bike and bargain, are you the one that called on it?” (I’m in jeans and a T-shirt)

Alas, again no real engagement or qualifying by the salesperson! They did address the height issue by making a call to another Victory dealer (they are a boat dealer, not a motorcycle dealer)  and going on to Ebay. They found both a lowering kit, pedal set back kit and set back handlebars for me. This maybe took them 15 minutes. The unit was a hold over from last fall on a boat trade so they wanted to move it, had reduced the price several times already,so it was a good value.

Ultimately I bought the 2006 Victory Vegas 8 Ball for $7,000 and rode it home. The purchase was not the results of great salesmanship, rather because of thelack of it. The hours spent looking, talking, phone calling trying to find someone to sell me what I wanted went for 40 days! A good salesman at the first custom shop would have cut that down to 10 days!

My advice to you and to these dealers:

1. Learn how to Engage People, at least get thier name and something about them!
2. Qualify! How can you invest time with tire kickers who will never buy and how do you sort them from the real buyers?
3. Discover! Help the buyer uncover what they really want and need! Often times the buyer needs help, education and guidance. Are your asking the questions that help them and you?
4. Assist in the Decison Process! Trust comes from expertise, help buyers through the decision process, through the issues they have to address or solve. Ask them questions about those issues and how they could solve them.
5. ASK FOR THE ORDER: This is sales 101, asking for a decision is the responsability of the salesperson and if people are walking out the door without buying, its the salespersons fault!

Since then the lowering kit, pedel set back and set back handle bars have made the bike a perfect fit. It’s a blast to ride and performs great as the 2000 miles in  2 weeks attests to.

End of my rant, but really, organizations driven by sales and these are the skill sets exhibitied!  Please, observe your salespeople and your own sales approach, are you one of these 3?

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