As a salesman, one of my truly great heroes is Sam-I-am from Green Eggs and Ham . We all know the story. Some hairy creature named Sam-I-am spends 54 pages of irregular rhyme trying to convince some nameless creature to eat a suspicious-looking meal. They go back and forth for page after page, as the persistent Sam-I-presents presents and the other rejects them. Finally, after nameless one rejects the 10th offer, we see the following exchange: “'do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam-I-am.' 'You do not like them. SO you say Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you, I can say. The next 2 pages have no words, just a picture of the nameless creature nervously eating a tiny morsel of the meal, as the world watches with bated breath. Sure enough, he loves it! He eats the green eggs and ham, tells the world about it, and thanks the persistent little Sam-I-am for not giving up. If you want to sell your car for top dollar, you have to convince someone to buy it. You have to be a Sam-I-am.
How did Sam-I-am do it? How did he convince the nameless creature to eat the green eggs and ham? To begin with, Sam-I-had had a story to tell. It never says this in the book, but it looks clear that Sam-I-am had experienced green eggs and ham for him at some point. He knew about it; he was excited about it. He had ate the meal himself and wanted other people to eat it, too. When it comes to selling your vehicle, you have to have a story to tell. We have already covered something of this in the articles about preparing, pricing, and marketing your vehicle. It is your value story. It is a story about what makes you and your vehicle unique. This is why you have to prepare your vehicle thoroughly, price it right and market it well. If you follow those steps, you will have people in front of you to see the vehicle for themselves.
Once you have people in front of you, you have to continue your value story. Notice I said “continue”. When someone is in your presence to look at your vehicle, you are at a critical juncture. They are there because at some level, they believed your value story; they trusted you and what you were saying enough to show up at your doorstep. It is vitally important that your value story stays consistent. If it does not; you will lose all credibility with your customer and lose the sale instantly. If anything, your customer should get the impression that you were holding back in your pricing and marketing. But at minimum, you need to make sure that the value you convey when your customer is in front of you is the same as the value you presented in marketing the vehicle.
Here are some practical steps to making sure that your value story stays consistent.
1) Practice what you are going to tell people in front of a mirror. Communication is only 7% content (what you say). The other 93% is your tone of voice and physical mannerisms (how you say it). Because of this, you need to know how you look to other people when you are speaking. Practice until what you say and how you say it matches.
2) Develop a planned route for introducing the car. Start in the front and go all the way around the vehicle so that your customer ends up in the driver's seat. If you plan in advance, you will remember to show your customer all the important parts of the car and not miss anything.
3) Set appointments with your customers. Do not give out your address in your advertising. Always set appointments to make sure that you have time to give you and your vehicle a final once-over. Make sure everything is ready, and you will have a good, consistent value story to share with your customer.
Not only did Sam-I-am have a story to tell, he shared it with creativity and enthusiasm. I do not know about you, but I am not sure I could have come up with eating a meal “in a box with a fox.” But he did. And at every turn, he enthusiastically shared his ideas. Once your customer is in your presence, you need share your story enthusiastically and with conviction. As you share the story, take him on a tour of the vehicle, following the route you planned out. Open everything: doors, hood, trunk, fuel door, power moon roof, etc. Flip every switch, pull every lever, push every button, twist every knob. Be thorough. And if your customer wants to find out more about specific things, share it with him with enthusiasm. This whole process should only take about 5 to 7 minutes. At this point, if your customer is not already in the driver seat, invite him to sit there. Help him adjust everything so that he is totally comfortable and ready to drive. Then have him drive the vehicle for himself.
The test drive is where the sale will be closed. It will be where your customer decides if he wants to buy your car. Here are some basic do's and don'ts for a test drive.
1) DO NOT ride with your customer on the test drive, unless it is someone you personally know well. This world is just too dangerous. No sale is worth your life or health.
2) DO NOT allow your customer to drive without a current license and insurance. Before you have your customer drive, inspect his driver license and auto insurance card and make sure both are current. The last thing you need is liability from unlicensed or uninsured motorist who wrecks your car on a test drive.
3) DO inspect your own insurance to make sure you do not let someone too young test drive.
4) DO set a specific time limit for the test drive. Usually 20 minutes is long enough to become thoroughly acquainted with the vehicle.
5) DO exchange contact information and make sure all numbers work before you let the customer test drive. This way, if something happens, you can stay in contact.
6) DO hold on to something of value, such as the customer's license, while he drives. This will help remove the temptation to just drive away with the car.
7) DO meet your customer at his mechanic, if he wants to have it inspected. Never allow your customer to go to a mechanic without your being there. Get the name and address of the mechanic from your customer and verify the information to make sure it is not fictitious. Once you are satisfied with the mechanic's legitimacy, you can either follow the customer there in your vehicle or agree to meet there at a certain time.
If you take these simple precautions, you can ensure a safe, successful test drive that will close the sale for you.
Of all the qualities Sam-I-had, the most important one was persistence. The nameless “sucker” turned down 10 offers before he finally agreed to try the green eggs and ham. It was not Sam-I-am's creativity, enthusiasm, or story that extremely closed the deal. It was his tenacity. The nameless creature came to understand that the only way he was going to get out of the situation was actually eat the green eggs and ham. So he stuck the bargain: “Sam! If you will let be, I will try them. You will see.” If you want to close the sale, you have to ask for the sale. You have to actually ask your customer to eat the green eggs and ham. When your customer returns from a successful test drive, he will have decided by then if he wants to buy the car. In sales, we are taught all sorts of questions to ask to see if the customer is ready to buy. For your purposes, there is no magic question. If you have reached this point, you have earned the right to ask for your customer's business. Ask how the test drive went and listened to their answer to see if there are any unanswered questions. If there are some questions, answer them plainly and honestly. Then, plainly ask them to buy the car. “It sounds like I have answered all your questions. Let's wrap up all the details and send you home in this car, OK?” Be that direct. It will help you finish up the sale.
There is nothing to fear, if your customer resists. Remember, Sam-I-am asked 10 times for the sale, before he finally got an agreement. If your customer resists, but does not run away screaming, it means that he wants to buy the car and is trying to justify it or play “hardball” to get a lower price. But if they do not leave, it is the same as saying yes. It just means that you may have a few more questions to answer first. Ask plainly what is holding them back. Whatever answer you get, re-phrase it back to them in this way: “So what you're saying is that, other than x, you're ready to take home the car, right?” If the customer says yes, then you know that this is the final thing you have to deal with. If they say no, then you know that you have other issues, too. The main thing is to be a Sam-I-am. Every time you deal with a question or resistance, ask for the sale again: “Would you, could you in a house, on a boat, with a goat, etc.” If your customer does not run away screaming, then he wants to say yes. So do not give up, and you will close the sale.
Here is how Green Eggs and Ham ends: “Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE! I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am.” You have a great vehicle that you have prepared, priced, and marketed. You have the green eggs and ham. Somebody somewhere needs what you have and needs you to sell it to them. You have a great value story. Share it with someone face to face. Then ask for their business and do not give up. In the end, that person will get it. They may even thank you.