The Tale of the Sunny Day Used Car
Did you ever buy a used car? If so, do you remember what the weather was like that day?
Over 20 years ago, I bought a used VW Squareback for $900 on a beautiful sunny day. It was a great car; it met my budget and did what I needed: 25 miles per gallon, 4 doors, hand crank moon roof, 30,000 miles on the odometer. There was only one problem: I bought the car on a sunny day.
Several months later, I was driving the sunny day used car in the hills of Binghamton. It was not a sunny day; the rain was pouring from the sky, pounding on the roof of the car. It was raining outside the car, and as you may have guessed by now, it was raining inside the car as well.
I had made this classic mistake: I bought an old used car on a sunny day.
The car had rust and sheet metal perforations in the body, which weren’t obvious till it poured “cats and dogs”.
Imagine how I felt that day – 3 inches of water in the driver’s well; I was cold, wet, uncomfortable. I felt stupid.
This experience was so searing, it led to the family proverb: “Never buy a used car on a sunny day.”
Now, I know that you have never done anything as foolish as buying a sunny day used car. But all of your prospects and clients have done so; they have bought their own version of a sunny day used car. As a result, they are very skeptical when we sell to them; in fact, they don’t believe what we say.
So buyers hesitate in making commitment. They are concerned about being defrauded again. This makes it necessary for us to have a strong program to substantiate our points in a sales call.
We need to be “loaded for bear” with press releases, articles, testimonial letters, case histories, before and after pictures, etc. And we need to prove early in the sales process. When prospects listen to our statements, they classify them as either facts or opinions. Opinions they can safely ignore. We need our statements to be taken as facts; facts on which the prospect will act.
This much may be fairly straightforward. What isn’t obvious is how such skepticism will affect their openness with salespeople. Prospects may wind up saying things we want to hear, at the moment, but which are not necessarily related to closing a sale.
Salespeople may be skeptical as buyers (say, when you buy a car). But are you as skeptical when you persuade? Do you make it a point to test a prospect’s answers, as you may test a new car or computer? This is crucial to achieving sales success. You need to be a skeptic. Many salespeople fail because they don’t test the information provided by a prospect.
The best evidence is to watch what a prospect does, not what the prospect says. Look for evidence that the prospect is engaged in “getting to know you.” Examples could include: visiting your facility, checking references, introducing you to other team members.
Otherwise, you might just wind up “buying” a sunny day used car.
Andy Gole has taught selling skills for 17 years. He started three businesses and has made approximately 4,000 sales calls, selling both B2B and B2C. He invented a selling process, Urgency Based Selling®, with which he can typically help companies double their closing or conversion ratio.