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Dec. 28, 2009 – Training Day-First and most important sale

December 28, 2009
Filed under Features

OTTAWA, Ill. — When a potential bike-buying consumer walks into a dealership, what’s the first thing they must be sold on?
The salesperson.
“You’re the first and most important sale,” Ron Catrino, a V-SEPT consultant, told members of the sales department at Starved Rock Harley-Davidson, site of a recent Powersports Business Training Day.
Catrino notes consumers walking into a dealership have already selected the brand and the facility, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the store.
“What they don’t know is you,” he said. “Sell you first.”
Catrino outlined how to do that as well as discussed other key parts of the sales process in his training session, including how to discuss the inevitable price issue, ways to generate more store traffic and the importance of following up with consumers.
The key, however, is starting the relationship off correctly by avoiding the dreaded, closed-ended “may I help you?” question and starting a genuine conversation. “Greet them warm and friendly,” he said, “but give them some space. People don’t want to feel smothered.”
Besides the sales process on the showroom, Catrino noted the importance of salespeople’s habits away from the dealership. “You have to market yourself, your brand and your organization,” Catrino said, noting Harley-Davidson salespeople should always wear Harley T-shirts or apparel outside the store to trigger conversation with potential consumers.
“No matter where I go, I’m going to talk to somebody about what I do,” he said. “You have to be a little forward about it.”
The idea of being a little forward — Catrino describes it as “bordering on being obnoxious” — is a way for salespeople to overcome a worrisome trend. Catrino said studies show more than 90 percent of new bike buyers do not remember their salesperson’s name 12 months after the time of purchase.
This could be easily remedied if salespeople keep in contact with their buyers, a practice Catrino believes should be done at least once every 90 days. “Send them an e-mail or a card,” he said. “Some little tidbit.”
It also could be a phone call where the salesperson doesn’t sell but uses the former buyer to explore for any possible new prospects among their friends or family.
“You’re always prospecting,” he said.
That should include social networking, he said. Starved Rock does not currently have a Facebook page, although one of its salespeople does have her own page. Catrino suggested the dealership as a whole have one and make an effort to reach their consumers on a timelier basis through this medium and others. Starved Rock contacts some of its consumers routinely through a loyalty program but Catrino believes the staff should step up efforts to boost store traffic. This could include prestuffing bags with fliers that entice consumers to return with a coupon or a special, dated promotion. This is a practice Starved Rock does on occasion, but Catrino suggested this become routine.
Addressing and alleviating consumer price concerns also should be a routine practice, he said.
Catrino said consumer price concerns should be met with a firm statement: “Let’s make certain this is the right motorcycle for you first. I promise you I won’t miss your business.” The key to this approach is “establishing control and authority upfront in a professional way and start to move them along through the custom sales process,” he said.
Before the consumer leaves the store, Catrino advises sales personnel take a picture of the consumer on the motorcycle they’re considering and then e-mail that to them the following day. In many cases, this will be a pleasant surprise to the consumer who is not used to actually hearing back from a motorcycle salesperson. It’s all part of a process to continue sales prospecting in a way that “borders on being obnoxious.”

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