AKRON — As any couple knows, it's hard to develop a long-term relationship without some kind of commitment. And the same is true with business-customer relationships, according to sales trainer Dan Molloy, who has been preaching his “Language of Commitment” philosophy to tire dealerships and auto service businesses for the past several years.
His company, Molloy Business Development, helps retailers convert price shoppers into customers by what they say when they first talk to a customer, usually on the phone. Instead of acting like a help desk and giving out prices and technical information, he said salespeople should draw customers into the store with a verbal promise to take care of them and their vehicle problems.
“Commerce is only produced when commitments are exchanged with other human beings,” Mr. Molloy said. “Communication is responsible for everything on the planet….We have to coordinate with other people, otherwise nothing happens. So it's communication and action.”
However, computers and the Internet have replaced the tried-and-true way of doing face-to-face business and reduced many knowledgeable salespeople to acting as a “help desk” that provides only pricing and technical information, he said.
“As a society, we've been deprogrammed. We've been relegated to becoming information terminals. So customers call up, they ask for information and we look it up and we give it to them. And that's it. And then we hope the information that we gave to the customer, whether it be price or technical information, is magical in some way and the customer says, 'Yah, I'll buy,'” Mr. Molloy said.
“What's missing from conversations today throughout the country is the salespeople and companies making personal commitments to take care of customers,” he said.
Mr. Molloy, who previously was a partner in the former ProCare Automotive chain, said he has been studying and formulating his “Language of Commitment” training program for the past 30 years.
He founded his consulting company 10 years ago to provide live workshops, one-on-one coaching, mystery shopping, screened calls, and DVD and online training. Mr. Molloy admitted that while the training is not complicated, it does require a lot of practice over a period of time.
His firm works with numerous companies in various industries, including tire and auto repair shops, glass dealers, car dealerships, and paint retailers to help them improve their phone skills and sales conversations with customers.
For training purposes, Mr. Molloy's company will record the live phone conversations a retailer's salespeople have with customers, as well as “mystery shoppers.” The company teaches salespeople how to handle calls by reviewing the live calls, grading their effectiveness and making them available for coaching and training purposes.
“In a typical company, 90 percent of the time commitments are not made. They are just giving out information,” Mr. Molloy noted.
Mr. Molloy acknowledged that tire dealerships receive calls all day long from people asking for price quotes on tires and service. The typical salesperson will ask the customer for the tire size and look up the price on the computer. “So they ask for information and give a price 99 percent of the time and the customer will go, 'OK, let me check with my spouse.' Or 'I'll get back to you.' And that's where it kind of ends up.”
If a customer calls just for a price, and not only gets a competitive price but also a commitment of a human being, “where do you think they're going to go?” Mr. Molloy asked.
So when someone calls for a price quote, Mr. Molloy said, the service advisor's response should be “Oh, I'd love to talk to you about that. You have called the right place. I'm going to get you a great price but not only am I going to get you a great price for tires, brakes, any type of auto repair that you will need, I want you to know you can count on me and the company to be here for you. As a matter of fact, I'd love to see you at…,” and then make an appointment.
An important step in the conversation is not to ask the customer to just “stop in anytime.” Rather, making an appointment ensures the customer will actually come into the store and will come at a time when the shop is not busy, according to Mr. Molloy.
Molloy Business Development offers self-study programs for small “mom & pop” shops that can cost $495 for a one-time fee. Larger companies with multiple locations may require a custom program with a monthly fee for each store.