Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Selling Cycle - Part IV Needs Interview

Imagine. Your customer enters the controlled lot and walks through the sparkling, fully stocked showroom to be greeted by a well-trained dealership ambassador. The ambassador introduces you as the RV consultant specializing in the type of unit the customer wants to pay full retail for . . .

Until REALITY sets in and your inventory is across the street from the showroom. A gale-force wind heralds an early fall rainstorm, and by the grace of a higher power an opportunity just drove onto the lot. You zip up your windbreaker and dash out to greet your guests. They ask about a vehicle that is not in stock. You invite them into the nearest unit so that you can escape the elements. The key to your success is the interview you are about to conduct.

The interview is the cornerstone of the deal. In fact, every missed sale can be tracked to an error or omission in the interview process.


Just as in real estate, where you locate to conduct the interview matters. While there are die-hard proponents of the workstation, showroom, or inside a unit as the one and only place to conduct a customer interview, the real mission with location is to remove the customer from the distractions of the lot. Weather, road noise, and even the sheer number of units in your inventory can distract your customer from the business at hand. So find a place that gives you the best chance of gaining and keeping your customer’s undivided attention.


Whether you escort the customers to your workstation, a round table in the showroom, or inside a unit, sit down with your guests so that you can keep all the decision makers close and zero in on their verbal and non-verbal communication during the interview.


The purpose of the interview is to learn about the customer’s Family, Occupation, & Recreation in order to deliver your Message.

Engage your customer in a conversation that will let you learn more about them before you help them make a purchase decision.

• Where do they live?

• Where do they work?

• What do they do at work?

• What are they RVing in now?

• How many folks go with them when they camp?

• How many sleep inside? How many sleep outside?

• What equipment do they bring along? ATV? Canoe? Horse trailer? • Are they interested in hunting? Fishing? Hiking? Star-gazing? Or do they simply want to create some happy memories with the people who mean the very most to them?

If you are a towable dealer:

• What is the customer’s tow vehicle?

• Do they have the right truck or SUV to pull the RV?

• Is this RV going to be mobile or parked somewhere?

• What do they like about their present vehicle?

• What changes would they make to the unit if their wishes could come true?

• How did they pay for their current vehicle?

• Is it going to be a trade? [You need to know if your customer is a payment buyer or difference buyer]

• Where have they been shopping for RV’s? [Sales managers like this question since customers usually shop 3.4 dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. If you know your competition, you will be able to identify why the sale was not made down the street. If the deal was really great at the other place, the customer would not be sitting in front of you now!]

When you make an inquiry listen for responses such as "We like…. I wish it had . . .I saw this at . . ." Restate the wish list into a positive requirement. Summarize the wish list and do a mental check of your inventory. Do you have a match? If not, you may want to ask the customer to rank the most critical items on the wish list. After all, you do want to sell what you have in inventory.

The more you know about the customer, the more on target your Message will be. When you choose vehicles that satisfy the customer's needs you demonstrate that you listened to them and care about what they want. Good interviewing skills make it easier to select and present your products, increase your sales and earn your dealership a reputation for providing solutions.

Imagine. Your customer enters the lot. You escort your customer to a location free from distractions, invite them to sit, and get inFORMation.

Soon, REALITY sets in and you are ready to make a Product Selection that will meet the needs of this customer that the other 3.4 dealerships missed. Congratulations! You’re ready for Part 5 of the sales process.

RV Executive Today, October 2003, p. 12 & 14