Marinucci: Use Plain Language to Describe Vehicle Problems
Some sales professionals argue that communicating effectively is more of an art than a science. You may question this conclusion, but hopefully you won’t question the need to practice the technique.
The more seriously you practice plain language, the more easily you will engage – connect with – the people on the other side of the service counter.
No two sales prospects are exactly the same. Therefore, justifying an expensive repair job to them will not necessarily be the same either.
Word choices that engage one motorist won’t necessarily succeed with another.
Patiently listen to follow-up questions from prospects. Watch their facial expressions and general body language, as this often shows how they are receiving your message.
A negative reaction may signal the need for simpler, clearer words and/or more familiar examples than those you have already used. A sales rep is on the right track when the prospect responds favorably to these reviews.
Service salespeople use a variety of words, phrases, and examples to simplify auto repair for customers. Here I will cite two practical examples.
Modern vehicles have a multitude of on-board computers performing various tasks. A car manufacturer may call a computer a regulator, module, node, controller, etc.
Some service writers have told me that these names seem to intimidate or confuse customers. Therefore, they began to use their own generic terms – computer or minicomputer.
“Today, the word computer is simpler and more familiar than other terms,” one salesperson told me. “It’s familiar because most people have ‘a computer’ at home and at work.”
A computer works only as well as the data it receives. Many sensors transmit vital data to on-board computers and these sensors are more likely to fail than the computer itself.
A failing sensor can disrupt computer operation as it sends erratic and intermittent data. Sometimes this confuses a motorist.
I’ve heard several seasoned service writers clarify and familiarize this breakdown with current IT jargon: Garbage in, garbage out.
Specifically, the failing sensor feeds IT garbage instead of clear, consistent data. Therefore, the computer reacts with garbage instead of logical decisions.
In conclusion, remember the old axiom – err on the side of safety. Likewise, favor simplicity, dignity and familiarity when talking to customers. I bet they will appreciate your approach.