This past week I pulled up at the FORD Dealership and calmed my nerves.
Knowing I was walking in the door in the next minute, I was the equivalent of a wiry wildebeest going for a swim in a lake full of crocodiles.
You know the feeling if you’ve ever been interested in a certain car and had specific questions, entering the sales floor with any intention to buy, you may as well skip down the street with wads of cash and jewelry hanging out of your pockets.
Determined to be strong and not taken advantage of, I put my checkbook in my pocket, cracked my knuckles, kinked my neck, and decided to go for a swim with the piranhas.
Upon entering a sales man came up to me, “How can I help you today?”
Here it goes. I felt like the kid on “A Christmas Story” about to tell Santa my greatest desire…
“Yeah, so I’ve never bought a Ford before, but I’m very interested in the F-150 trucks I’ve been seeing everywhere and was hoping to check out what they look like inside,” I began.
He started shaking his head, “Nope. No, sorry man, we are OUT!”
(In my mind I could hear Santa, as his foot closed in on my forehead to shove me down the slide, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid! Ho! Ho! Ho!”)
“You’re out of F-150’s? The lot is full of them,” I gestured.
“Well, those are all used, to be leased, not brand new, and the chips have all run out,” he confirmed.
“Chips?” I asked. “You guys aren’t selling policemen on motorcycles in tight pants from the 70’s?” (My joke went right over his head)
“Not here. So there’s a chip in the truck that makes them run and they’re not being produced fast enough, so the supply is low,” he said.
Eric Estrada references wouldn’t work at this location, so I kept trying to get a door open.
“Well, I’m happy to just see what one F-150 looks like inside. I’m really most interested in the Hybrid ones I heard about that saved lives in Texas during the power outages, those F-150’s with the built-in generator. I imagine those are going pretty fast,” I stated.
“Nope. Not even an option, man! We have holds on those 16 weeks out. They’re not available nationwide, I’m just telling you, that’s not even an option for you to get one or even consider,” he said.
I returned with my own pitch, “So, can I see what the inside of an F-150 looks like to at least get an idea of what it feels like? I’m hoping to get the one that seats a family of 6 with the console that flips into a seat that I read about?”
“Yeah, that’s a great feature. Not available with the backorder. I have the bench kind, but those are something you don’t even need to see. No need to see that vehicle,” he nodded.
I was baffled. A bit taken aback. Not only was he not interested in my business, he was unselling me what I wanted to buy!
It was like going into the party with arms full of pizza and treats, where you know everyone is going to be thrilled to see you, and next thing you know they’re showing you the door because they have enough food.
I felt like the uneaten wildebeest at the crocodile swimming hole, having a self-confidence crisis while asking himself, “Why are they eating all of my cousins? What, don’t I look appetizing enough for you crocodiles!? What do I need to wear in this lake to get some attention around here!?”
“So, that’s it. You’ve got nothing for me,” I said. “Even if I have a checkbook in my pocket, and am ready to buy whatever you’d be able to sell me, there is nothing you can do for me to get closer to buying the vehicle my wife and I talked about me coming and looking at today?”
“I mean, we have vehicles but the one you’re after is a crazy wait, it’s not worth it, I wouldn’t even bother,” he smiled.
With furrowed eyebrows I thanked him for his time (which was about 2 minutes) and walked out the door.
This was the oddest “sales” situation I have ever experienced.
I understand having low or backordered inventory;
Makes sense there’s a wait;
Brand new Hybrid F-150 is preferred, no question;
But he didn’t ask my name, get my card, ask if I was serious about the vehicle and maybe stick me on a list in case something comes up and he wants to make an easy sell, or even a “let’s get things rolling if you’re willing to wait for it…”
Didn’t drop everything to run me out to the lot to show me at least anything close to an F-150. I saw F-250’s and F-350’s lining the lot. Maybe he could have convinced me to buy a bigger vehicle? Learn about me a little bit…
“Did you say you have a generator at home? Oh cool, well with this F-350 you just throw it in the truck bed and can use the generator whenever you need it!” he could have creatively offered.
I probably would have bought it that moment!
He truly could have taken me to a Prius and said, “So, you wanted to see inside a vehicle today. The Ford Brand has a special interior, and I wanted to just brag on this incredible little itty bitty zippity doo dah car every actor in Hollywood used to drive. What kind of cars do you have right now? Let me show you why this Prius is cool…” and I very well may have driven away in a Prius that I could park in the back of my F-350 I didn’t come to buy, but purchased both anyway!
(Not really, but you get the idea. He didn’t even try!)
And yet, the transaction was over the second he made up his mind that mine was made up.
My mind is never made up about a vehicle, or about most purchases. I know what I want, but I also can be persuaded to consider a new and possibly immediate idea leading to the right solution if a salesperson can create a great solution with me.
Instead, I strolled out the door and said aloud to myself, “Well, that’s a Blog!”
The Promise of Sales is to create solutions.
Inventory low? No problem, let’s figure out a work-around. If you’re interested in buying something ASAP and have a checkbook in your pocket I know I can lead you to consider a few other options.
Budget an issue? No worries, we have this happen a lot, let’s talk through what will work.
To me, this was a tragic conversation that Henry Ford would probably slap himself in the forehead looking down from his Model T in the sky.
In the last year, essentially every single request I have received in my inbox has been the opposite of what I can do for the client. And yet, we form a friendship in the process of figuring out what I can do for them and what they need.
The 3 Sales Promises:
- Listen (“We are interested in the following…”)
- State the Truth of the Situation (“Date not open”; “budget won’t work”, “that’s not something I offer anymore”, etc)
- Create a Solution (“Is your date firm? Can we do your event earlier in the day so I can serve my other client that is already confirmed?”; “Let’s find a common ground for budget discrepancy in other benefits to both of us”; “I no longer offer a Show of entertainment, but I have friends that I can refer you to whom I have coached and are vetted with my standard of performance”, etc)
Often I spend quite a bit of time figuring out where to send the client, getting them a great deal, and they come back to me when they are in need of what I offer and have a better budget, while working around my dates.
But to me, the sales process is fun, it’s engaging, it’s problem solving, it’s getting the client what they really need even if it’s not what they originally came to buy.
And that’s what blows my mind about what I just experienced.
I would think a car salesman would be well versed in the Promise of Sales, which is:
Never let the person ready to buy leave without an armful of options, holding their hand until they’ve had an engagement experience of such care and service that they are grateful to have come by, even if they didn’t do business with you directly, but you led them to the right place, and thus find your business is worthy of returning as often as possible for solutions.
Truth is: I have clients that I have NEVER done a transaction with, and yet they return annually in search of my help.
Someday perhaps we shall work together when the time is right!
“Working for Free” an issue? Well, that’s not how I view it. I’m just thrilled I can be a resource to finding what they need, and if that means I can lead clients to match up with Speakers, Entertainers, Caterers, Event and Meeting Spaces, AV Teams, Production solutions, Virtual Emcees, and so forth – then that is my Promise to the Community and makes me feel fulfilled.
Your Promise Prompt this week is: The Promise of Sales ~
Consider your Promise of problem solving/creating solutions and helpfulness in the sales process.
Comment if you’ve had an experience like I just outlined at the dealership.
Comment as well if you’ve had the opposite, where they couldn’t do business with you directly but they led you to a solution.
And hey – if you see an F-150 Hybrid with generator in the back come up for sale, I’m interested, just don’t tell the dealership, as I don’t want them to talk me out of buying.
~ Jason Hewlett
* The Promise Institute Co-Founder
* Promise Culture Keynote Speaker
* Speaker Hall of Fame
Author of “The Promise To The One”