Retailing is a sensory experience. The sights, sounds, smells, textures and yes, even tastes found in a motorcycle dealership can be thrilling. Do you remember the first time you ever walked into one?
You more than likely entered through the front door, took three steps, and stopped to survey your surroundings. (Watch your customers. This is almost always the behavior of first-time visitors to your store.)
Immediately that unique and intoxicating mixture of Cosmoline, rubber and leather fills your nose and brain. Your eyes dance from gorgeous gas tank to gas tank, taking in the flat-out coolness of the whole experience.
And then it happens.
Somewhere deep in the store, like the thunderous foot steps of a Tyrannosaurus Rex stalking its prey, you hear the unmistakable rumble of an engine with a perfectly tuned exhaust. Now, you’re hooked.
Scientists don’t really know exactly how the brain works in total, but we do know bits and pieces. One component to being human is that your nervous system reads information, which then provides instructions to your body and your mind.
Emotions are really chemical reactions in your brain. (Have you ever had a scary thought and then felt your heart racing? That’s what I’m talking about.) If you understand how to create and leverage these reactions you can dramatically increase the number of excited new riders you generate.
Did you know that a study published in The Washington Post in 2008 noted that when both men and women hear a high-performance gas-burning engine, their testosterone immediately rises. (And more so in women!).
Then, in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, it was shown that when your testosterone levels are higher you have a decreased sense of risk aversion. Which means you’re more than likely to say yes to something.
Creating a ‘Thunderstruck Moment’
During the purchase process, when you and the customer are homing in on the bike of choice, you should say something like this: “Do me a favor and stand back, look at the bike in all its glory, and then tell me two or three things you really like about it. I have to go get something for you, and then I’ll be right back.”
When you come back with the keys, ask for the customer’s findings and then respond with: “Should we fire it up?” Regardless of the answer, simply smile and say, “Let’s fire it up!”
Now, I’m an OSHA-be-damned kind of guy, so I like to fire up motorcycles on the showroom floor. But you will still need to follow your dealership’s policies and practices. If you have to take the bike outside, grab the handlebars and say to your prospective buyer, “Do me a favor, get the doors.” And then start pushing that thing outside.
Next, stand on the clutch side of the bike and ask your customer to stand on the throttle side. Put the bike in neutral, fully compress the clutch lever and then start the bike.
Once it’s running, blip the throttle three times. Typically, at this point the customer will be grinning so big that he or she could eat a banana sideways. Then shout over the din: “How does it sound?” Then blip the throttle three more times for emphasis.
Next — and this is crucial — have the customer operate the throttle. Some will grab the throttle enthusiastically; others will have to be coaxed. But you want the would-be buyer to roll the throttle. This ramps up the excitement level.
While your customer is standing there grinning, ask this: “What do you think?” If you receive a positive response — and you most likely will — move on to the next step.
Using your process judgement, you could either say, “If you’ve got your motorcycle endorsement, what do you say we go burn some gas?” And then go for a test ride.
Or, if you’re feeling confident in this moment of sound and fury, simply inquire, “Would you like to sit down and start to figure it out?”
And then you’re in.
Long-term sales success — and not some short-term, price-reduction transaction — requires you to have established a trusting relationship with your buyer so that you can match that person with a motorcycle that fits physically, aesthetically and financially.