This article is based on the concepts in Educar’s 12 Keys to Sustainable Selling

Some of you know the Four Steps of the Educar Sales Process:

  • Introduction
  • Investigation
  • Invitation
  • Implemention

Today, I’m going to talk about the first step – the Introduction.

Introduce - to cause to be acquainted.

This step covers everything that happens before you start to investigate their problem.

Imagine that someone is looking into making a purchase. They might ask for recommendations on Facebook. They might research using Google, YouTube, or Yelp. They might look at various web sites, including your store’s web site.

So, before a potential client drives to your store, or calls, or emails, they have some experience of you, right? They may have seen your ad, or read your Yelp reviews, or Googled you. They have some feeling about you.

And you can’t control all the information they’ve seen.

If you own the store, you control the website and the Facebook page, and you control your ads. If you’re an employee, you might have no influence at all over those things.

But none of you have direct control over what someone finds on Yelp, or using Google, or hears on Facebook. Even if you’ve built the best reputation ever, you can’t control those things.

What you can do is know about them. When you first greet a potential client, you could know what they might have heard about you, or seen on Yelp, or found online. You can’t control those things, but you shouldn’t be surprised by them, either. You could know about them so you can deal with any of them, should they come up.  I think you should know about them.

OK, so let’s say the customer decides to contact you. More customers use email or social media to do that than ever before. I suggest that you practice responding to those written inquiries in a professional way, even if your goal is simply to bring them into your store.

I’m not convinced that should be your only goal. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been amazed at how many projects – and how many dollars – I’ve sold without a visit.

But let’s talk about the potential client who visits your store. They’re going to find your building (hopefully). They’re going to park in your lot. They’re going to walk up to the front door and grab the handle and come in.

And during that entire process, consciously or not, they are absorbing more information about your business. They’re looking at the parking lot and the building and the glass and the door and the door handle and the front mat, and they’re deciding how much your business cares.

Now, if you actually own the place, you probably have some control over the paint and the pavement and the door and the door handle. If you’re not the owner, you may feel that you don’t.

But I’m telling you that you have control over the weeds and the leaves and the trash on that parking lot, and how clean the glass is, and how vacuumed the front mat is. Not only that, but when you’ve exercised the control you have over those things, and you know when a potential client arrives that you’ve played a role in their experience of that business – that knowledge will make you a more confident and more successful representative of your company.

I say that as someone who vacuumed the mats and cleaned the windows and dusted the showroom and cleaned the bathrooms at the store he co-owned, for years.

So, now they’ve actually crossed the threshold. What do they see and hear?

It honestly doesn’t matter if they hear music or not, and it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a tie or not, or if you have tattoos, or any of that crap. What matters is if you look like you want to help, and that you seem capable of doing so.

So you want to make eye contact. You want to say hello. You want to be friendly without reminding them of the movie Used Cars. Even pre-Covid, I didn’t get that close and I didn’t offer to shake hands. Be calm.

And what I said at that point was always – always – based on the assumption that I was going to be helpful.

It was also an open question which couldn’t reasonably be answered with “no”.

Thanks for coming in – How can we help?

- is my favorite.

Never ever EVER ask, “Can I help?” That possibility shouldn’t even enter your mind, because we all know the answer: “No thanks, I’m just looking.”

Now, some shops don’t ask that yet. Some shops always start with a tour. And I get that, and I’ve done that too. You need to decide if you want to give a tour to someone who’s lost and looking for directions,  but if your business really is tour-worthy,  a tour will improve your success rate and your average transaction size. Often, during a tour of a shop, the client makes up their mind if they will do business with the shop. Which way do they make up their mind – well, that’s a function of what they see on the tour, isn’t it?

During a tour, I make sure to show:

  • The projects underway
  • How we protect the cars
  • Any awards we’ve won
  • Our fab shop

The entire sales process is intended to dispel distrust and fear, and build confidence in your organization. The Introduction is critically important for that. It’s the foundation for what follows.

Think of banks. Bank buildings  are intended to make potential clients feel that their money is safe. Well, for many of your potential clients, their car is the second-most costly item they own. Convey its safety when it’s in your hands.

Homework: Look at your business with fresh eyes.

What can improve the potential client’s experience during their Introduction to your business? The web site, the Facebook page, the building, the door, the entryway – look at every bit of it.