Colin Rees, sales trainer to the cycle trade, believes that teaching staff how to deal with the situations they fear most – complaints and closing sales without a discount – is the key to improving those net figures...

CHAIN REACTION: Boost your team strength

Many dealers have called me in the past to ask what I offer on sales training courses. I usually reply with descriptions of the techniques we train, opening questions, closing the sale, psychological customer manipulation, the simple stuff.

Invariably though, the course contains a number of techniques, not just designed to increase skills but to foster a team attitude, to stimulate discussion back at the shop and to instil confidence in often quite young bikey delegates. If I can find something that I am pretty sure the owner won’t have thought of in his own training, it’s a bonus. Naturally, these techniques are most useful in the really difficult situations… like when you say to the customer ‘do you want to buy this bike?’ and he says ‘no.’

In many cases, that’s enough to scare off the most confident sales person as most staff think there really is nowhere to go. There is. It’s the reason why sales people hate to close sales, that powerful human fear of rejection even though it is said closing sales can increase sales by a straight ten per cent if you do it every time.

So how about a little preparation? Anything planned beforehand gives a better delivery than ‘off the top of the head’. The word ‘no’ reflects an objection. Something is wrong. There is an issue the customer has that wasn’t covered properly. It might be the comfort of the saddle, the price of the bike, the colour and so on. You know them better than I do, you deal with them every day. But what’s the best way to deal with each objection? Have you ever sat your staff down and talked specifically about dealing with objections?

Surely, logic dictates that if every single staff member knows the proper way to deal with every known objection that can be raised in buying a bike (because you prepared them properly), then can there ever be a time when a customer says ‘no’ and doesn’t still go out with it?

So, we start the process off in the sales training session with a chart that the delegates discuss and fill in listing the main objections, the best way to deal with them and suddenly, their confidence in selling bikes goes sky high. If the dealer carries it on and flogs it to death in the shop, sales/profits have to increase. Simple? So why isn’t every single dealer training sales staff in handling objections? It’s the only reason customers do not buy. By the way, in any facet of human life, if anyone says ‘no’, the next question should be ‘why’. What they come back with is an objection!


A second area that has been known to scare the living daylights out of unconfident sales staff is the complaining customer – especially when the boss is on a break. Again, dealers have a right to believe that cycle-specific sales training should offer something more than they can give themselves and customer complaints is a good example. Before you read this, you might like to jot down the way you would train a staff member to handle complaints.

Let’s see if we agree anywhere. We have to take the worst possible example to help staff the most. The customer has spent three weeks working up to the visit. Egged on by his partner, the lads in the pub and everyone else, he appears in your store ready to give someone absolute hell. How on earth can you pacify a screaming maniac?

Our answer is to do something he doesn’t expect to bring the conversation to a sensible level. Let him scream himself out, take no notice of his use of the word ‘you’, he means ‘the event’, and let him burn out. When he’s finished, say ‘thank you for bringing this to our attention. Unless customers are willing to do that, we can’t put things right. Now then…’ He will just not expect it. The playing field will be level, the aggression will be gone and you can move on to solve the situation. Training teaches the next steps to take.

I can hear the pundits saying that won’t work. Maybe not, it doesn’t always, but the real point is, if you give your staff at least some guidance in dealing with difficult situations, they will have so much more confidence about everything –and more confidence means more sales.

In all the cycle-specific sales techniques I train, I can only ask people to try them. Some will, some won’t, but to be able to send people back to the branch with more skills, confidence and inclination to work together as a team has to produce a result. It’s up to the owner to build on that.

I’m sure all owners are perfectly capable of training in sales to a degree. The question is, do they have the time to research and plan modern psychological training techniques that think outside the box and hold so many distinct advantages for increased net profit over just experience?

Colin Rees
Cycle specific sales trainer
07786 262 460

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