How to Lose a $40,000 Deal in 10 Seconds.

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How awesome would it be to have a client walk in your door ready to lay out $40,000 for your product or service?Now imagine how bad it would feel to lose that same client within seconds. That’s exactly what happened to several car salesmen last weekend.

Our family is in the market for a new car. We’ve had the same mini-van for the past 9 years. Even though I’m a little nostalgic about getting rid of the car we brought our babies home in, I’m pretty psyched to be getting something that doesn’t have gummy bears lodged in the seats.

For me, part of the fun of getting a new car is doing the research. I love watching the sleek marketing videos, imaging what it would be like to zip down the road in one of those shiny new rides.  My kids are a little bit older now, so maybe we can get away with something besides a mini-van. Maybe…

Whatever we end up with, I want to be wowed. If it’s a mini-van, I want it to be decked-out so I don’t feel so much like Mommy-from-the-Block. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. I just wish there was a way to look slightly more cool driving back and forth to soccer practice.

I also want to be wowed by the actual experience of buying the car. It’s not something you do everyday, so I want it to feel special. With our short list in hand, we went off to do some test driving.

It would be an understatement to say we are motivated buyers at this point. We’ve probably waited a good 6 months longer than we should have to get this project going. The old girl has served us well, but her time has come. I am ready and excited for an upgrade.

As we head out the door, I have no doubt we will happily lay down the money to get the car we want on the spot. There will not a lot of hemming and hawing. It will be, oh yeah, let’s do this!

Now I am very confused. I thought car dealerships actually liked selling cars. I thought that was the way they made money. Apparently I’ve been misinformed.

The first dealership we went to, our salesmen had to ask his manager for permission to drive the demo. Enter said manager wearing a skull and bones black t-shirt. Note, this was not a used car dealership in a bad neighborhood. It was in a swanky suburb of Boston. Said manager leads us to the demo which reeks of cigarette smoke. OMG!

Onward…

We go to check out a Ford Explorer. My husband was interested in the Sport version because it has a special Ecoboost engine. When we tell the salesmen we want to test drive an Explorer he says to us,

Well, the only one we have to drive right now is a Sport that’s fully loaded with features. It’s a lot pricier. I’m sure you don’t want that.

What? That’s why we went there in the first place! He then goes on to say,

I know you guys are local, so you can take it out yourselves. I’m sure you can figure out the features on your own.

Really? Didn’t he want to come along and actually sell the car to us?

I was starting to feel kind of depressed. Wasn’t shopping for a new car suppose to be fun? Wasn’t $40,000 enough to get decent service? We decide to head to a luxury car dealership. At this point, I’d be willing to spend the extra money to get a little love.

God bless you Infiniti of Danvers, MA.

When we pull into the Infiniti dealership, it’s humming with people. Nonetheless, we are greeted almost immediately by Dan wearing a suit and tie and a pleasing smile. His hair is neatly groomed and he’s wearing lace-up loafers. Dan asks us if we’d like some help and then offers to bring us water or coffee. I love you Dan.

Dan spends what seems like a long time talking to us, answering and anticipating our questions and getting to know us. I start to get a funny feeling in my stomach. What is it? Oh my God, I think I’m starting to feel special!

When it comes time for the test drive Dan drives the car first to show us some nifty features in the steering, suspension and breaking system, things we would not have realized had he not shown us. By the time I got in the driver’s seat, I thought this was one of the coolest cars ever.

The only draw-back to the Infiniti was it didn’t have a central pull-down media screen which meant one of our kids wouldn’t be able to watch movies in the car. I know, I know, 1st World problems. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure we would have plunked down the extra $10,000 right then and there. 

Here are some important lessons so you don’t miss out on your next big sale. 

1. Image matters. The image you project must reflect the value of the product or service you are trying to sell. Don’t assume your clients will see past the packaging. Most people don’t like to eat steak off a paper plate.

2. High-end products do not sell themselves. If you are not taking the time to explain and high-light the benefits of your programs, you are missing the boat. Do not assume your clients will just read your sales page and jump into bed with you. You need to be along for the ride and talk them through it. (Please read here, get on the phone.)

3. High-end clients want to feel special. Dan at the Infiniti dealership treated us like important guests the minute we walked in the door. He was catering to our wants and needs. How can you make your clients feel cared for from the beginning to the end of your sales process?

Here’s the most important lesson of all:

The things that make the biggest impact on your client’s buying decision usually costs you nothing. It is completely free to smile, to put on a tie or slip into heels. It’s free to ask thoughtful questions to understand your client’s needs and desires better. It takes nothing out of your paycheck to show-off your product.

On the contrary, it costs you not to do those things. About $40,000.

Your feedback is music to my ears!

Where in your business do you think you can improve your customer experience?

Post your answers below in the comments or find me on Facebook.

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Heather Poduska is a brand strategist, business coach and opera singer who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners create client attractive brands, polished brand images and brand communication strategies to increase their visibility and impact in the marketplace and grow their businesses.