Accurately interpreting a prospect's body language may be the key to closing a difficult sale.
Watch for meaningful nonverbal clues that the motorist is seeking additional information or reassurance about the pending transaction.
For years, I have observed interactions between motorists and service salespeople. One reason is that I sold equipment to automotive service facilities in a former life.
Another reason has been my practice of gathering in-shop data and information.
One ongoing concern of mine is a salesperson who will not or cannot recognize vital clues from the prospect's body language.
No, I don't claim to be an infallible interpreter of the human condition — especially folks who may be purchasing tires and auto repairs. But all too often, I see a struggling salesperson who doesn't seem to notice telltale, nonverbal messages. These include customers who roll their eyes, fail to maintain eye contact, cross their arms, scratch their heads and/or look bewildered.
To be fair to all readers, countless transactions occur smoothly and very quickly.
In fact, many service salespeople I have encountered are spoiled by quick sales; they become easily frustrated when it actually takes effort to close a sale.
They privately concede that motorists who ask questions — require explanations — are either mental midgets or distrustful types that no salesperson could satisfy.
However, many prospects are reluctant to admit it, but they believe they've been taken advantage of in previous transactions at auto service facilities.
What's more, the complexity of the vehicle intimidates them. Often, they're really just searching for a service provider they can believe in — people they can trust.
I've been fortunate to work with and observe some very talented service sales pros. Several of them have emphasized that "converts" may become the business' most-loyal customers.
They define a convert as a confused, doubtful motorist whom they won over by exceeding expectations.
The way they exceeded expectations was by recognizing this person's nonverbal clues. Then they committed extra time to uncovering objections this car owner was reluctant to discuss at first.
What's more, these service salespeople emphasized that their converts consistently generated high-quality referrals.
Interestingly enough, they told me, were the comments these referrals made.
For example, referrals from Mr. or Ms. Convert state they were assured that service advisers would take the time required to explain problems and nobody would talk down to them. They were told that no one would try selling them needless maintenance and repairs.
These kinds of comments cannot be bought with millions of bucks in advertising. Rather, these were earned the hard way via solid interpersonal skills.
These comments were earned by sales pros who sensed the uncertainty or confusion and politely but persistently addressed those emotions that were blocking the sale.
Finally, let me re-emphasize a step that savvy salespeople have taught me: Don't be afraid to ask questions in order to uncover unstated objections.
Suppose the prospect's body language telegraphs confusion, disbelief, etc.
If so, politely and nonchalantly probe for the objection. For example: "Forgive me, ma'am, you look unsure. I'd be happy to describe the condition a different way for you."
Or perhaps your probe would begin with something like, "Sir, I sense you have other questions about the estimate. Please ask because there are no silly questions when it comes to earning your trust and your business."
This isn't a fool-proof way to reach the actual objection. After all, some people ultimately never admit why they're not buying.
However, carefully responding to common nonverbal clues may be the shortest route to revealing and addressing genuine objections to the sale. Try it.