Recently, I received a cold-call from a car dealership. The call went something like this… (the names have been removed to protect the needy).

“Hello Mr Sykes, it’s X here from < Global Car Brand>, how are you today?”

Me: “Good thanks, you?”

“Great thanks. Mr Sykes, looking through our database, I noticed you’re two and half years into your four-year lease contract and I’m calling to let you know I can get you into a brand new model, without a deposit.

What a guy! But wait, there was more…

AND I can save you £60 a month on your repayments. I’m guessing that a new car and saving money is something you’d be interested in, hence my call today.”

A fairly typical outbound sales call from a car dealership, fair? It ticked all the standard “cold-call” boxes they no-doubt teach you at Global Brand Car Sales School. He quickly got onto the reason for his call and in his eyes, he delivered value.

But that’s the problem, value is only a thing if the customer perceives it as such and the reality with his call, as with many other cold-calls I receive, is it was totally self-centered – his call, despite the offer made, was driven by a need to benefit himself first.

Add into the mix the fact there was zero empathy, it was almost like he was delivering news that could have been sent by some form of AI.

There’s no doubt that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is growing and our increasing interaction with it will only accelerate its growth. Consequently, the harsh reality is that some jobs will be at risk in the not too distant future and retail sales is definitely one on that list.

In case you’re worried about the risk to your job, you can check out this website called, “Will Robots Take My Job?” – car sales should look away now, because according to this website, they’re doomed.

With Tesla already leading the way on a ‘salesperson-free’ customer experience, it’s only a matter of time before the ‘BUY NOW’ button becomes the norm across the car industry. The good news for the folks on the forecourt is that the prediction is for a 75% chance of automation within the next two decades – so there’s still time to save yourself.

So back to the phone call from X at Global Car Brand…

Unless you’re OK with losing your pay-check to Metal Mickey, stop speeding up the process of the likelihood of that happening by behaving like him…

Here’s three things that X from Global Car Brand could have done that AI couldn’t and in doing so, extend the life of the species…

  • 1. Don’t Be A Stranger – Please tell me I’m not the only person who thinks it’s not rocket science to call a customer within 90 days of making a significant purchase to ask if everything is OK! How can thinking going rogue for two and a half years could ever serve a car salesperson well? Especially when the opportunity to create a ‘lifetime customer’ and reoccurring sales is so high?

Hello Mr Sykes. I’m calling to make sure that you’re 100% happy with your purchase. I know how important it was for you to achieve the published mpg, so how’s that looking? Are you getting what we promised you?

A personal phone call at 3 months, human to human, simply to make sure that their return on investment has been achieved is all it takes. Nine months in, call the customer and offer them a flat-white at the dealership next time they’re passing – heck, even chuck a bucket of water over their car, punters love all that. Your reward is their undivided attention as they sip their coffee and a completed customer feedback survey.

  • 2. Stop asking stupid questions – the assumptive close belongs in the 1980’s, it’s no longer relevant in modern-day selling. Secondly, unless you are me, how can you possibly know what I’m interested in? Having said that, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be interested in saving money, so that makes it a really, really stupid question!

Hello Mr Sykes. When we last spoke, you mentioned that you would consider changing your car after 36 months. Well, it’s that time, so do you mind me asking what was going through your mind back then?

In sales, our results are defined by the quality of the questions we ask. If we want better sales results, we ask better questions. The very best sales people are obsessively empathetic, they understand the customer’s needs first and avoid prescription before diagnosis – it’s both malpractice and the quickest way to win the race to the bottom.

  • 3. Price isn’t that important – Sales people who lead with or make price a big part of their outbound sales strategy are not Sales People, period. If you sell on price, you are behaving like a monkey in a dinner jacket and no differently to Amazon. Of course price is a factor, but it’s not THE factor – ask any experienced buyer worth their salt and they’ll tell you that price is third or fourth on their list of ‘must haves’.

Hello Mr Sykes. I’ve just driven the new model and can honestly say, I’ve never experienced a car like it. There’s three significant upgrades to your car that I’d like to show you and get your feedback on when you’re next passing…

Offering to save me £60 on monthly repayments without needing to is very charitable, but completely unnecessary at this early stage. If you really want to ‘hook me in’, forget the logic of cash and talk to the emotional part of my brain (Nucleus Accumbens) that dishes up dopamine and makes me feel pleasure – keep the cash in your pocket for the time being.

We can’t stop AI and why should we want to? Technology is something we should embrace and celebrate, especially given the way our lives have been enriched by it with things such as Google Maps, Face ID and Uber. Maybe two decades is far enough away to not have to worry about losing your job to a robot, but if you’re in Sales, my advice is to do what it takes to become indispensable – get back to basics, start making selling personal (again).

Found this post useful? Maybe you’ll like listening to one of the following podcasts:

SP211: How to use a Sales Process to get more Sales!

SP205: Are you making these big mistakes when sending your customer a quotation?

SP202: How to Avoid Discounting Your Prices and charge what you’re worth!

Matt Sykes is Founder of professional sales training and coaching business, Salescadence. Contact Matt on T: 01603 819136 E: matt@salescadence.co.uk or visit salescadence.co.uk

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