Issue Date: Service Advisor May 15, 2008, Posted On: 5/15/2008
Use the related skills of questioning and then the often neglected skill of listening to the answers Competition in the automotive service business today is fierce. Service advisors will need to practice "consultative" selling if they want to influence customers to get a vehicle serviced today or in the very near future. One way to demonstrate consultative selling and improve your service or menu closing ratios, is to develop the habit of asking questions first and listening, really listening, before responding. It is the most effective way to learn about your customer's needs. Asking questions and listening also helps to gain your customer's confidence, and shows them you care.
Why is it that so few service advisor training programs focus on listening skills? Advisors make a living by meeting customers on the service drive. But instead of taking the soft approach, they start conversations by asking what can they do for you today Or, they'll ask one quick question such as "How are you?" and start selling, instead of asking questions.
Are you losing service revenue and commissions because you're talking when you should be listening? Remember that your customers need you to listen to them about what is important to them. They want to make sure that you understand their needs, concerns, priorities, problems, and expectations. If you don't listen, they'll go to one of your competitors who will.
Avoid the impulse to start selling until you've asked a few questions. You need to be able to direct your customer's thinking to uncover their needs.
At the Meet and Greet stage Try these questions:
"What's most important to you about ...?"
"Why do you think you need a tune up?"
"How' has your car been running up until now?"
"Why did you consider our dealership for service?"
"Can you tell me more about when this condition occurs?"
"What would you change about the last dealership you did business with?"
"How will you paying for this service?"
Ask open-end type questions - How, What, Why, Who - and take careful notes.
Asking questions is highly beneficial for these reasons:
Questions lead to answers.
Answers lead to rapport, and discovering what the customer needs to know and needs to hear from you to influence them.
Asking questions gets your customer's attention, and gives you control of the conversation.
Asking questions allows your customer to talk, so you'll gain insight on how to respond.
Asking questions gives you the opportunity to observe their personality and body language, so you'll know how to act and respond appropriately.
Asking questions demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in them.
It's not about you and how great your dealership is. It's about them. Always be sure to use the word YOU in the questions.
Get them talking Here's a technique to keep customers talking so you can listen more. Ask a question for clarification. Here are a few of the most effective questions to ask that will help you control the conversation:
"How do you mean, exactly?"
"Can you give me an example?"
"What has made the biggest impact?"
Be a good listener Below are a few tips to remember when listening:
Block out all other thoughts and stay focused.
Nod your head and maintain eye contact.
Nod your head when listening.
Put yourself in your customer's position as you hear. Listen not only to words, but listen to what your customer is seeking to convey. Listen with intent to understand.
Resist the temptation to keep talking. Don't be afraid of silence. Ask more questions, if necessary.
You'll never listen yourself out of a customer. Make it a habit to ask questions to learn about your customer's desires, needs, opinions and fears, and you'll know how to position your service recommendation where it will be perceived as being critical to your customer's success.