Real Caring vs. Perceived Caring

I know where you think I am going with this. You think I am going to tell you how to tell how other dealers or other salespeople may act like they care when maybe they do not, but this post is a confession. I truly care. I want people to find the vehicle that best fits their wants and needs at a price that best fits their budget. I want people to be happy with their purchase. I am destroyed when I find out that a vehicle that a customer has purchased from me has caused them probems. But this is not a post about how great I am as a salesperson. It is about how I have failed to properly display how much I care at times.

Earlier today I was making calls to follow up with past customers. I was rolling right along thinking how awesome I was for actually making these follow up calls, because, as I am sure many of you have experienced, a lot of salespeople in the car business do not provide good follow up with sold customers. As I was making these calls though, I could tell something was off.

Some customers sounded very appreciative. Yet others actually seemed disappointed. I have had this feeling before, and I have always been unable to put my finger on the problem. That is when I heard a booming voice from on high. Ok, actually it was just Richie Tipton, our new car manager. If you know Richie, you will know why I use the term booming.

Richie asked me what the problem was with my call. I was beginning to think Richie was a mind reader, but he simply said, “You need to sloooooooow down.” That is when Richie pointed out the problem that had escaped me. I sounded scripted. I am scripted. Here is what I say:

Me: “Hi, this is Bill Vaughn from Kirksville Motor Company. You purchased a X from us X months/years ago and we just wanted to follow up and see how things were going.”

Customer: “We are doing just fine.”

Me: “Great! If you ever need anything from us, please do not hesitate to give us a call!”

Offhand reading that it probably does not sound so bad. Now imagine hearing someone say that who you might imagine has said it over and over again for the last year and a half. Guilty as charged.

What Richie pointed out to me was that it did not matter how sincere I feel in caring about the customer. If they do not feel that then it is not real. That resonated with me, because I am a believer in the idea that perception is reality. I am so used to saying my unintended script and hearing that everything is fine that I just blow right through it.

The problem is not that I do not care. It is that on these calls I sometimes do not seem like I really care. Frankly, it sucks realizing I have let those customers down rather than having made them feel even better about their purchase and where they bought their vehicle. Outside of addressing any potential issues, that is the entire point of the call.

Bravo to Richie. Richie did not tell me that I needed to work on this to sell more cars. He told me this because he wanted me to do a better job of showing customers that I care, and that means he cares. After all these years in this cutthroat business, that often gets drug through the mud, it still matters to Richie that customers feel cared for. And it means a lot to me that Richie took time out of his day to make me better.

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