By: Jim Leman
Early in my career, my dad asked me to read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Since then, I have worked hard at learning to make good first impressions, creating trust, and moving people to say yes.
Mike Hirschfield, president of Cornerstone Dealer Development, LLC, an F&I training firm, is smiling at this. Mike preaches the same good practices to his clients, reminding them that consumers want to feel important, and providing them with straightforward honest ways F&I practitioners can quickly build connection, trust, and agreement with their customers.
I asked him to share a few thoughts for FandIQ readers. He offered these seven ways to touch consumers in a manner that wins friends and influences their buying decisions:
- Smile: Openly celebrate what you do, and approach each customer with enthusiasm.
“I have found that if I don’t love what I am doing my customers won’t love what I do!”
- Seek to Serve & Act Appropriately: Respect and enjoy the differences in people by adjusting your words, your body language, and your cadence to align with each customer.
“I have learned that people like people who are just like them or how’d they’d like to be, and if I want to influence people different than me I must act differently!”
- Demonstrate Empathy & Understanding: Meet your customers where they are by taking the time to recognize their attitude, their skills, and their knowledge.
“I have discovered that my customers don’t care what I know if I don’t know them.”
- Ask Personal Questions: Avoid small talk, limit the transactional talk, and become genuinely interested in your customers’ family, occupation, and recreation.
“I have confirmed that in sales, if it’s not personal it’s not compelling. I must first get personal, if I want to be relevant and make my products and services personally compelling to my customers.”
- Be Vulnerable: Open up and share “me too” stories of your own challenges and lessons learned.
“I have found that easiest way to get a customer to open up to me is to first be open with them.”
- Be Present: Give your customer mutual eye contact, and listen for the purpose of learning and leading (not just responding).
“I have learned that the surest way to get my customer interested in what I have to say is to be interested in them.”
- Pay a Unique Sincere Compliment: Take the time to find something you like about your customer and pay them a single, sincere compliment.
“I can attest that if you meet your customers’ basic human need to feel important, they will want to find a reason to say yes to you.”
Consumers want an enjoyable personal interaction.
- Be aligned: Focus on how your products and services help your customers get what they want on a personal level.
- Be guided: Take their hand (actually, if necessary), ask good questions and share relevant information that informs, inspires, and pulls them towards a decision.
- Be assured: Encourage them in their choices; and speak of the personal value they’re getting from their decisions.
Got other great ideas for improving customer engagement and increasing product penetration? Comment here, please. Thank you.