Recently, I was in the market for a new car and had the chance to sit on the opposite side of the selling desk for a change. As soon as you say car shopping, it conjures up the feeling and thoughts of the best and worst purchasing experiences many of us have ever had. It had been over 8 years since my last adventure on the over-lit, densely populated lot with shimmering instruments of automotive extravagance; this was a chance to shelve my selling skills and dust off my buying skills.
Immediately, I was reminded of the importance of the initial interaction for any buying relationship. The salesperson’s first interaction set the tone of respect of me as a buyer, my needs, concerns and respect of my time. It also helped define a favorable or unfavorable impression of the brand. Yes…the brand.
At one dealership, the salesperson was too aggressive. Not even sure what I wanted, he was already pushing for a test drive before I was even done browsing. He mistook my knowledge of the car as a clear buying sign and assumed I was very interested as he blabbered on and on about the features of the car before even giving me a chance to respond or ask questions. He used cliché phrases about earning my business and going the extra mile while he exhaled with commission breath.
Another dealership was not attentive whatsoever causing me to leave immediately not even to consider their dealership or brand again. Although, it could have been easy to find another dealership with that brand, I never took the time to look at them again. These two situations caused me to think long and hard about my own industry and how we approach our customers and prospects in the initial meetings. Do we know their intentions and understand their business challenges? Do we know how our solutions will help them to meet not only security goals, but also business goals? Do we really know what is important to them to move forward with a security provider?
Often, we see and hear about security integrators operating with so much tunnel vision that they fail to consult and serve our customers. A mentor of mine used to say, “Cheat the buying process and you risk the customer every time.” This buying experience was a great reminder of how important it is to understand where the customer is in their buying process and not try to fit them into our selling process.
Ultimately, my decision was made to partner with a sales person who understood my reasons for shopping, listened to my concerns and goals and was committed to doing everything he could to remove the barriers to working together. It was a model of how to align with a buyer and I was happy to give him the business. We need to continue to work to be the same caliber partner with our customers to raise the bar in our industry.