Depending on your passions and personality, buying a car is either like death and taxes or it’s like vacations and massages. It’s either unavoidable or a much-anticipated joy. I tend to fall into the former category where I dread the activity of buying a car, not because the car itself is a problem but the experience of buying one is painful. Over the past few weeks, it’s been an anthropological journey assessing the many salesmen who’ve pitched me the benefits of their brand and failed miserably. So, in the spirit of helpfulness yet recognizing that Mike, Spencer and John (three salesmen from Acura, Jeep and Toyota) will not be reading this PR News Blog, I put forth some ideas for selling me a car the next time I drop by, and I wager that as a communications pro you’ll detect the relevance with your own brand marketing and evangelism efforts. Here are six tips for selling your brand to a time-strapped, money-conscious, brand-knowledgeable skeptic:
- When asked why I would buy a Toyota over a Honda, do not say “Because Toyotas are just better.” Give me the competitive facts but read me correctly; the fuel system and transaxle are less important to someone like me than safety and smoothness of drive. (My husband cares even less about what’s under the hood and chassis than I do.)
- When asked for a test drive, do not assume the husband, rather than the wife, is the one to hand the keys to. Similar to when you’re in a restaurant and the waiter hands the check to the man. What year are we in? (Check research on the gender most likely to buy cars and other big-ticket items.)
- The customer’s always right (especially about subjective items). Do not try to convince me that I want the sage green car when I am asking for midnight blue. Cater to my preferences, even compliment my color choice.
- Don’t let a prospect walk out the door without getting her name. If I’ve walked into your shop and committed time to the process, always find out my name and contact info so you can follow up. It might be annoying to customers (like me), but it’s probably more annoying to Management that you might have let a good one get away.
- Tell me the real price of the vehicle, not a price so low that sticker shock will set in minutes before the contract is (not) signed. Transparency is always appreciated and might even sway me to spend a little more.
- Don’t assume your brand will sell itself. I went into the process thinking Toyota, but my family and I were so turned off by the salesmanship at two Toyota dealerships that we lost interest. We not only fell in love with a particular Honda vehicle, but we had a great experience with the salesman and will recommend the Honda dealership to our friends and family.
You know this, but as a communicator it’s sometimes hard to control: It often comes down to the quality of the people who are in front of your customers and prospects everyday – whether in person, on the phone or via email. Don’t assume they know how to sell, or that your product sells itself. Those days are over.
— Diane Schwartz
Follow me on Twitter: @dianeschwartz