Many, many years ago I switched to the dark side. Yes, I worked in a car dealership selling cars and trucks. Any of you who have done this will know that selling cars is a completely different animal than selling power sports. But this is not what this column is about.

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We are talking about the sale of equipment. I worked with a guy who looked like he knew nothing about cars. This was not true and he always answered questions but realized he was not a real car. I don’t believe this technique will necessarily work when selling ATVs and motorcycles, but it has shown me what I enjoy so far.

All he did in the sales process was get to know the customer. I’m sure everyone has had a customer who wants to show you on the phone photos of their 20-year-old bikes, or their past cars, or their grandchildren. You’re probably rolling your eyes in your mind and trying to change the subject, right?

Well, a friend of ours, whom we’ll call Mitchell, would take an incredible interest in what the client was saying. He paid full attention. Many times I’ve seen other sellers smile because Mitchell spent time on customers and didn’t talk about the units they expected to purchase. But in the months that I worked with him, I realized what he was doing. Most sellers would try to get the customer back the way they were, not the way the customer went.

The more I watched Mitchell, the more I realized that the further he made the client think about the unit, the better he worked on it. Customers loved it. He apparently did not have an agenda. Why, he didn’t try to sell them a car or a truck remotely.

No. What he was doing was getting to know the customer better than any salesperson had ever known them before. He would know everything about the client – the names of his wife or husband and children. Where did the customer and his story come from. Where he worked. Where he lived. Where they loved to rest. What work they did. What hobbies they liked. Did they go to college? If they had come from the country where Mitchell was, he would have remembered with them. When they came from a country where Mitchell had not yet been, he grilled them.

During the interview, and it was, he also learned which car they were driving. What did they do with it. What they did not like. What they wanted this time. He learned all this almost as a sideline. He was a genius.

Don’t get me wrong, he was also phenomenal in qualifying. If there was no sale, you would soon see the customer rise and wander. But Mitchell escorted them straight to the parking lot, talking and questioning all the way. They often returned in a few weeks or months. Guess who they asked for? Guess who they will just talk to? He had more reason than all of us other sellers put together. And, of course, customers who bought from him, often recommended to him their friends. Other than that, they referred customers to him, even if they didn’t buy his car.

Sometimes I started copying it. It was hard because I didn’t learn to qualify as well as he did. However, I soon realized that he was a genius.

After I went back to selling power sports, I realized it was a different environment. People bought cars because they needed them. They bought power sports equipment because they wanted it – they are fun! In the power sports shop you could hang out, look at the new units and talk to everyone who came across them. You had to be much better at qualifying than car dealers, so I did that.

I was kind to people who were “just looking” (although many of them buy just then – they just need help). I viewed this as planting seeds for a later harvest.

That’s the task I set for all of you who sell – try Mitchell’s technique. First, of course, you need to pass the qualification. But we all know when a deal is possible – at least great sellers. Once a customer has sat down, try NOT to talk about his purchase while maintaining control.

Talk about his work, life, other hobbies, anything but his purchases. Finally, translate the conversation to what and how he rides. Meet him. Pretty soon you’ll find out what he wants. Stand up and approach this block or similar so that it sits on it. So far, if you did everything right, it should be a very simple closure.

This technique works. Give it a try. Let me know what’s going on. I am confident that closing rates will rise.

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