A good sales person in a dealership makes a habit of expressing gratitude for a prospect’s visit as well as a customer’s purchase. Saying thank you begins to build a relationship and future business is all about relationships. But in practice it can take more than just the ol’ thank you note or some canned email to build that relationship.
These days it seems every merchant, service or eatery that gets my email address sends out a thank you email faster than I can digest the food (never mind the ones that want me to do surveys, too!). They’re usually cookie cutter pieces that trigger “delete.”
A professional salesperson can do better than that says Evan Baehr, co-author of Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of Your Dreams. He’s also cofounder of Able, a low-interest tech loan company. “Effectively expressing gratitude to others takes a certain kind of noticing,” explains Baehr, “and getting from an intellectual agreement about the merits of gratitude to a daily practice is no easy feat.”
That understood, there are distinct skills a boat sales person can learn and perfect that will make the road to any relationship a shorter one. The key is this: “Once you pick up on something that a person cares about, showing gratitude can be pretty easy - and fun,” explains Baehr, who offers several practices worth considering:
First, the old-fashioned hand-written thank you note on nice paper shouldn’t be shunned. It definitely gets read more than emails. But it needs to specifically show how your meeting made an impact on you. Too often this is what gets sent: Dear Joneses: Thank you for visiting our showroom. I enjoyed meeting your amazing family and hope we can work together. Is there anything else you need? Sincerely. It feels cold and generic and will likely have low impact.
If you learn and practice the power of observation, however, you can do much better, like this: Dear Joneses: I hope you enjoyed our time together as much as I did. I loved your story about learning to water ski as a kid. I’ll use your advice with my own boys. Thanks for sharing your stories and I’m here to make your boating plans a reality. Sincerely.
The key to this improved note is your observation that is a sincere appreciation for something specific to them. It shows you listened, shared personal information and remembered their story.
Second, depending on how big a sale could be at stake, you may want to take the thank you to a higher level. Baehr suggests sending something fun. “Busy people get a lot of inbound communication,” he says, “so if you want to stand out, make your communication stand out. People get fewer handwritten notes than emails, so notes always win that one. But people get even fewer FedEx packages. So consider a package, or at least something beyond a note.”
For example, Baehr’s coauthor of Get Backed, Evan Loomis, wanted to send someone who had helped with their book a nice thank you gift. Bottle of whiskey? Fancy pen? No, thanks. He listened and observed that this person and his 9-year-old son enjoyed Nerf gun fights. What did he FedEx? The fanciest Nerf gun he could find with a note about never losing another Nerf war.
In another example, Baehr revealed he had some of his favorite quotations printed on nice card stock that he would occasionally include with a hand-written thank you note. Those small details matter.
OK, let’s get outrageous. . . send a video thank you! According to Baehr, the COO of Main Street Genome, Eric Koester, records a video message on his iPhone and sends it as a form of a thank you, follow up, or sometimes even an introduction. Sending a video – or even an audio note – lets you convey emotion, enthusiasm, and context in a quick and unique note. It’s a technique Baehr also uses at his company, Able.
Finally, you can always make a good old-fashioned phone call. Baehr cites a friend who keeps a call list handy. When he has a few minutes in the car, he dials the next person on his list. He knows many of them won’t be able to answer during the workday, but even leaving a voicemail provides an opportunity to say thanks, tell them he’s thinking of them, offer a little encouragement and reinforce a desirable relationship.
Taking the time to creatively show gratitude, and work toward building a relationship, could be a top sales person’s winning combo.