By William Burton (Dale Carnegie London)
A colleague of mine once had the opportunity of working with a luxury carmaker by helping one of their most prestigious showrooms increase sales. This particular showroom wasn’t doing so well, languishing at the bottom of a league table of 18 – and by some margin. My colleague Chris decided to pay them a visit to speak to the Dealer Principal and to try and find out why this was happening and see if could help.
As he walked up to the showroom he noticed a cleaner engrossed in cleaning the enormous glass panels on the outside of the showroom. As he approached the main door they briefly made eye contact but almost instantly the cleaner looked away and continued his cleaning. Chris then walked onto the main floor of the showroom and encountered another cleaner, polishing the outside of a display car where exactly the same thing happened – they briefly made eye contact and instantly the cleaner looked away and continued his cleaning.
The conversation with the Dealer Principal was not a long one and they agreed that Chris would work with the sales team. “Just one other thing” Chris added, “we should include the cleaners”. The Dealer Principal wasn’t too sure at first but he didn’t take much convincing when he was told it wouldn’t cost any more money! Chris then ran the programme, focusing on the essentials of connecting with people and ensuring that their people skills were as honed as possible.
A few weeks later Chris was driving along one day and thought to himself that he should really give the Dealer Principal a phone call. At that exact the moment the phone rang and yes you’ve guessed it – it was the Dealer Principal! While it is not possible to reprint that exact words here the first words out of his mouth were “one of the **** cleaners sold a **** car!”
Apparently a customer had wandered in at lunchtime while all of the salespeople were at lunch. Leaping on the opportunity to practise his newfound people skills, one of the cleaners had welcomed the customer and invited him to climb into the car and make himself comfortable. Failing to find a salesperson after a brief search the cleaner had then returned to the customer and explained some of the key features of the car to him who then responded by saying he would buy it!
There were two important changes in that particular dealership that day – firstly cleaners now enjoy sales commission if they sell a car and secondly the salespeople no longer take such long lunch breaks…
When we show genuine interest in people anything can happen!