|I’ll get to the golf talk in a bit, but first I’d like to share a saying a good friend of mine, Darrell Bradshaw with Automotive Training and Development, coined: “About the time we were all five years old we quit asking what and started asking why.” At least, I’ve never heard anyone else use it.|
The 4- or 5-year-old says, “I want this,” and the parent usually responds no.
The 5- to 95-year-old says, “I want a low interest rate, no money down and a $75,000 Escalade even thought my credit has been shot since the Reagan Administration. I also want a $199 monthly payment on that Escalade.”
What is important is how you respond to the request. Most dealers I see answer the 5- to 95-year-old demographic the same way they would the 4-year-old little child. They simply say no. And, they say no without ever answering why, which really is the question being asked. In my mind, the most effective dealers sit down and patiently explain why. What they should tell the unrealistic customer is, “You don’t really want to pay $199 a month for a $75,000 Escalade because it would take 20 years to pay off at that rate. I know all the banking guidelines, and I don’t believe a 240-month note exists. Even if it did, it’s certainly not in your best economic interest. That’s why.” By answering why without the customer actually uttering the word, you’ll find it is an unbelievable relationship builder.
This is important because it has everything to do with the customer’s mindset. I look at the customer’s mindset from a marketing point of view, or what I need to say to them to get them to act. How do I provide the answer to the question “why” through advertising? What’s going to make them call me or log onto my Web site instead of someone else’s? I need to get them off the couch. My friend Darrell looks at it from a retail standpoint because he wants to know what to say to a customer to get them on his side and in the right car. They have already gotten up off the couch and he’s sitting eye-to-eye with them, but we are really doing the same thing—just in two different arenas. While I’m on television and he’s on a chair behind a desk, we are both positioning ourselves to the get the most out of all opportunities. We both have learned the hard way that just telling people “what” is not good enough. To achieve the goals we all want to achieve, we must tell them “why.”
Telling them to buy a car from you because you’re the biggest and baddest doesn’t get it done anymore. You have to deliver the message and answer the question “why” in every sense of the word. When you get in front of a customer, you have to tell them why everything that’s happening to them is occurring—why they don’t qualify for a certain offer, why their credit is shot or why they can’t get the car they thought they could get when they came in. People respond to “why” even if it is unpleasant at first.
Let me give you my best example of what versus why: golf, a sport we all collectively curse but mutually love. If golf club companies focused on “what,” they would simply show picture-perfect drives leaving the latest titanium alloy clubface and never tell us why the ball went so far. But they take it one step further when addressing all us hackers, duffers and shankers.
During any Titleist Pro V1 golf ball commercial we learn everything we ever wanted to know about this ball’s Ionomer casing, the 392 dimples arranged in an “icosathedral design” and the 1.530 inch core. What does all this mean, and why are they telling me all this? All this engineering is going to create “penetrating trajectory” and “Drop-and-Stop” greenside control every time my clubface hits the ball, that’s why. We have more technology in our golf bags than a lunar orbital because golf club companies always convince us why a Taylor Made rescue club or White Hot putter can cut 11 shots off our stroke average the very first round we pull these scientific-breakthrough sticks out of our bag.
Golf companies say we’ve got a club with the largest sweet spot in the world and here’s why. We have discovered titillium technology or some other word concocted in a boardroom somewhere. Or this is the first-ever composite plastic, synthetic, metal, hybrid, alloy club engineered by NASA. That’s why you’ll split every fairway. In other words, Titleist doesn’t say you’re a hack and “it is what it is.” They say you can be great and here’s why. Every club manufacturer tells us they have got a driver, three wood, rescue club, iron, putter and wedge that will make us the Tiger, Phil, Jack or Ben of our next member/guest golf tournament and here’s why. Look at the lengths golf companies go to in order to tell us why. We should all take a lesson from their book.
From a retail and marketing standpoint, there really is no more valuable tool than to tell why instead of what. In marketing, it’s not good enough to tell them what you’ve got; you have to tell them why you’re the choice they need to select. In an effort to complete the customer sales cycle, tell them why on the showroom floor as well. That way we can all create more drivers and remove more wedges.
Brian Reed will depart F&I Express, the company he co-founded in 2008, four months following its acquisition by Cox Automotive.