I am every salesperson’s worst nightmare. Whether buying a new car or a home, I am constantly looking for the next best thing. Before the ink dries on my contract, I begin eyeing the house around the corner or the car next to me at the stoplight. I’m human. And that means I am prone to being suddenly drawn away from the products I thought were the answers to my problems only minutes earlier. I’m not unique in this—humans are switchers by nature. It behooves salespeople to know this reality and take steps to prevent cancellations.
One of my most basic (and powerful) approaches in business is to copy successful people. And there’s nobody with a better reputation for creating loyal relationships with buyers than Joe Girard, deemed the “Greatest Car Salesman” by The Guinness Book of World Records. Girard sold 1,425 cars in 1973 and 13,001 individual retail units over his 15-year career. According to Girard, though, he never sold a car—he sold himself. The most valuable products his customers walked away with were Joe Girard and his “service, service, service.” Girard’s principles worked out well for him, gaining him endless return customers and referrals.
If you want to keep your buyers from straying with your competitors, take a lesson from Girard. Never stop selling.
Girard says, “The sale begins after the sale.” This means he never saw his buyers as someone else’s responsibility. If they had a problem with the car, Girard was involved. He took care of the mechanics so they would take care of his buyers. He never wiped his hands of the deal. As far as he was concerned, things were just getting started the moment the customer purchased.
Let’s be honest here. Do you step up your game after customers sign on the dotted line? Or is that when you sit back and relax?
Can you honestly say that you are as excited to see customers and clients already under contract as you were when they were still a hot prospect? What about the ones who return with a concern? Do you see their concern as your personal concern? From this point on, whatever you’re selling, ... keep selling it. Girard never stopped selling.
One thing we need to recognize is that the very moment a prospect signs is the moment the product reaches its all-time peak in the buyer’s perceived value. If we’re not careful, the same will be true on the flip side, too. That is, the moment a prospect signs is the moment their value reaches its peak in our minds.
We don’t do it intentionally, but we just don’t look at buyers with the same sparkle as we did when they first walked through our door. When they are still prospective buyers, we are motivated and greet them with energy and enthusiasm. We do the “be-back” dance (the They-like-me! They-really- really-like-me! dance) every time they show up. And it’s a far cry from the Oh-crap-what-do-they-need-this-time? shuffle. These are the ones who have committed to us and put money on the line for what we’re selling, but we appreciate them the least. Yikes.
After a sale, Girard told his clients they’d bought two things: the car and Joe Girard. Then he’d add, “I'll tell you something else. If you happen to have gotten a lemon, as God is my judge, I am going to turn it into a peach. I am going to show you that I am different from any other salesman in the world. I will give you service like you never saw.”
That kind of confidence and skin-in-the-game make it hard to cheat on Joe Girard with some guy down the street. As long as your customer feels like they are more important to you than the paycheck you’ll get from them, they’ll stick with you.
Carlos Beruff of Medallion Homes takes this idea to heart, saying, “The only thing we care about is a happy customer.” No matter how many homes they build in a year, they think of each one individually—as each customer’s future home. They upped their service level to concierge level. A hotel concierge is there to attend to every need and make the experience unique and special. Carlos Beruff and his team ensure this same attention, starting with sending someone to the door within 24 hours of being contacted.
Whether you realize it or not, customers can sense that you just aren’t as interested in them once they’ve signed. So stop it! Be excited. Remember that these are the folks paying next month’s bills and referring future business. Treat them that way. As long as they feel just as wanted after they’ve contracted, you’ll fend off the buyer’s remorse and build loyalty.
To decrease cancellations, increase customer satisfaction, and obtain referrals—never stop selling. As Tony Robbins says, “Do what you did in the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.”