Dishon Putz a dealership general manager got tired of selling cars urges showroom staffers to superior customer treatment and less on sell vehicles but want customers to buy vehicles”
On a wall at the store, Putz posted a sign saying: “If you can’t follow the process, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You just can’t work here.”
Oh, he liked the dealership business (he’s still in it) and enjoyed watching customers drive away in their newly purchased automobiles (he still does).
But at a point in his 16 years in auto retailing, he realized he was becoming obsessed with the number of cars he sold in a given day or month. His fixation was rubbing off on others.
It was self-defining, too. It got so bad he would skip steps in the sales process and head right to the closing. But then came a realization followed by a reevaluation. He opted to radically switch things around.
“I decided I’d be the best on product knowledge, and I’d give customers the VIP treatment. In doing that, I didn’t care how many cars I sold.” Ironically, he ended up selling more cars, getting “tons of referrals” and becoming his dealership’s top salesperson.
“Sell, sell, sell is the wrong way to sell,” Putz says at a recent Thought Leadership Summits automotive conference. “Maybe you could do that before, but not now. You can’t use 1980s sales tactics on Millennials. It’s so customer-service oriented today. Being in selling mode 100% of the time is just not right.”
As a dealership general manager, he urges showroom staffers to center more on superior customer treatment and less on making the sale. “I don’t post sales numbers because I don’t want them to think that’s a driver. I don’t want them to sell vehicles. I want customers to buy vehicles.”
Yet, an overemphasis on sheer selling has “demoralized salespeople, overworked managers and has created a miserable customer experience,” he says.
Here’s what he drills into staffers:
- Become a servant to customers the minute you meet them.
- You are not graded on how many vehicles you sell, but on how well you exceed customer expectations.
- Every customer gets a handshake and a genuine “thank you” from the manager.
- Every customer immediately gets a potential trade-in vehicle’s keys back after an appraisal and also meets the appraiser. “Keeping the keys (as a tactic to keep the customer in the store)? I can’t believe a dealership would still do that.”
- Post-sale, every potential customer need is handled as if that person hasn’t yet bought a car and the dealership still is trying to earn his or her business.
- “People with credit issues deserve as much VIP as anyone else, if not more. They are walking in the door and saying, ‘Help me.’”
Putz expects staffers to bone up on vehicle specifications so they can field potential customer questions. He’ll periodically quiz salespeople on their product knowledge.
“He recalls once making a mystery-shopper call. He asked the salesperson who answered about trim levels on a Chevrolet Traverse. “He said, ‘Here’s what you do. Go to Chevy.com, use the build-configurator and get an MSRP. Then I can give you a quote.’ I said, ‘Man.’”
He lauds people who staff General Motors’ live-chat operations, saying “they’re really well-trained and knowledgeable.”
– Article published on WardsAuto