Sales Success Tip – The Customer is Not Always Right

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Sales Success Tip – The Customer is Not Always Right

We’ve heard it all our lives. Even before we got into sales. Even as youngsters growing up, we heard it. “The customer is always right.” Well, I’m about to tell you that this universally accepted phrase is completely wrong! Let me explain. Here’s a true story.

A man (customer) walks into a car dealership. He is immediately greeted by a salesperson who asks, “Good morning! How are you?” “What brings you in today?” (Notice, he did NOT say the sales killer phrase you hear at almost every store you ever go into.) “Well,” said the customer, “I am looking for a truck.” “Great!” exclaimed the salesman. “I’m certain that you’ll find one that will be just what you want.” “And I already know what I want. A 2019 “XYZ” truck.” “I see,” said the salesman. “I can certainly see why you would like that truck. It’s a great one. And in demand too. So much so that I’m afraid we don’t have any left and we won’t be getting any in for about 2 weeks.” “Apparently,” said the customer. “This is the third dealership I’ve been to today and it’s the same everywhere. The other dealerships put me on a list and said they would let me know when the new shipment comes in. Will you do that for me?”

Now, this is where the story takes a different road. You would expect a “good” salesperson to do as the customer asked and hope that his shipment arrives before the others. But not this guy. He understood that we have to give our customers what they want, but sometimes they are not entirely aware of what they want! I’ll explain it a bit further.

This particular salesman said. “I’ll be glad to do that for you, but before I do, may I ask you a few questions?” Ah yes, those wonderful magical questions. “Just for curiosity, what exactly are the features of the 2019 “XYZ” that you like so much?” The customer named about or 8 features that were what drew him to the vehicle. I won’t list all of them because I don’t want to bore you and also because I don’t remember what they were! That’s not the point. The point is that our salesman whipped out a sheet of paper and began taking notes. When he was sure he had all the features that were important to his customer, (How did he know…because he asked!) he invited him outside to the lot where he stood next to a 2006 model of the same truck.

“Now,” said the salesman, “let me make sure I got everything.” He then went down the list that the customer had just given him. The customer responded, “Yes, I think that’s about it.” Now, here’s what the salesman said. “Mr. Customer, this truck has every single feature that you described to me. And, “it has two very important features that the 2019 model doesn’t.” “Really,” said the customer, “what are those?” “It’s here on the lot today, ready to be driven off and it’s $2000 less than 2019.” Bam! Done deal! Less than an hour later, the customer drove off in a new 2006 truck that was everything he wanted and more!

What have we learned here? The customer is not always right. In this instance, the customer insisted that he wanted a 2019 truck when all he actually wanted were the features of 2019. The customer had to be educated. He had to learn what it was he really wanted.

Just as importantly, the salesman did not immediately give up on the sale and take his name and address, nor did he “tell” the customer he would be just as happy with 2018. He let the customer tell him! He asked the questions, the customer sold himself. Had the salesman insisted on trying to convince the customer that 2018 was just as good, the customer would have resisted. Instead, he came to the conclusion on his own.

Remember, when you say it, you are a salesman trying to make a sale. When your customer says it, it’s the truth. Thus the mind of your customer.


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