Needs Selling Is The Solution!

As I am sure my readers know, the core of Lifeline Business Solutions centres around the Financial Management of a dealer’s business operations.  Without this fundamental management tool, a business is left to flounder in the dark.  Equally important however, is the dealer’s ability to effectively sell product at a reasonable margin.  Many dealers have told me that this is a real challenge in today’s economy, so how do you tip the scales in your favour?

I recently had lunch with two former colleagues whose friendship dates back to the late 80’s when I added ITT Finance to the dealer inventory finance options we offered for the purchase of product.  Jeff Allen and Gary McGugan have built a wealth of experience through a variety of roles in the power sports, automotive and financial services industries.  As a result of their exposure to thousands of sales people, in hundreds of companies, they co-authored a book called “NEEDS Selling Solutions”.

As Gary put it, “We were fortunate to work with top corporations in a variety of industries, and learned a lot about selling by watching what the most effective salespeople do differently.  We wrote NEEDS Selling Solutions to help others benefit from these observations and move up the learning curve more easily and more quickly.”  I have also been the beneficiary of many sales meetings and training sessions, but I think Jeff and Gary have hit on a very common sense approach to what I always thought of as qualifying your customer.

As the title of their book suggests, Jeff and Gary find that one of the most important aspects of effective selling lies in the ability to truly understand a prospective customer’s needs, then meet those needs as precisely as possible. In their book, Jeff and Gary tell the story of Susan and Maria who are sales representatives for photocopier companies.  They use dialogue and explanation to demonstrate the different approaches of these sales people, and the different ways of asking questions to understand what needs a customer is looking to satisfy.

They start each chapter with a quote taken from that section in the book and, with their permission, I share the following 4 quotations with you. I think these quotes demonstrate the passion Jeff and Gary use to guide sales people to the importance of listening to the customer.

“… there is nothing more important for a sales person to do than completely understand what is important to a potential buyer.”

“Highly successful sales people tend to be the best askers of questions – and the best listeners to the answers provided!”

“Top sales performers not only identify a need, they focus with laser-like precision to determine the real importance of a need in the prospect’s buying decision.”

“… the secret is not exclusively in the asking of questions; rather the key to success is an ability to listen intently.”

NEEDS Selling Solutions uses stories and examples throughout the book to demonstrate and explain Jeff and Gary’s observations about how the most effective sales people, find new customers, identify their prospect’s real needs, qualify the customer’s ability to purchase, effectively present the characteristics of a product that meets these needs, and finally close the sale.

In a challenging selling environment, I am sure we could come up with a million reasons that sales are down, but the real challenge is how to maximize every opportunity that comes through the door of your dealership.  You want to not only convert every possible opportunity into a purchase; you also need to generate the most gross margin possible with every sale you make.

As Jeff and Gary reminded me, selling success at a dealership often is determined by the quality, motivation and training of sales people.  Like professionals in every other aspect of business, very few sales people are ‘born to sell’.  Rather, just like accountants, technicians, or other experts in a dealership, effective sales people develop their skills with both training and experience.  To achieve the twin goals of more sales and better margins, you might want to consider NEEDS Selling Solutions.

Do yourself a favour and check out the website for some great insight on how to improve your sales.  Want to know more, contact me.

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