Do you know the difference between reactive and proactive service? Understanding it will make a big impact on your sales career and your customers’ experience.
Let me use a common example of going out to dinner to illustrate it. Imagine arriving at a new restaurant in your town you’ve wanted to try with your friends. You walk inside and are immediately struck by the great design, décor, and ambiance. You get seated at your table and after a couple of minutes you notice you don’t have a menu, so you ask the waiter walking by for menus. He replies politely, “My pleasure!” and with a smile hands you and your friends some menus.
Have you noticed anything not quite right yet?
The menu offers a wonderful diverse selection: prime steaks, fresh seafood, and homemade pastas. Even the pricing is a pleasant surprise as all the options seem affordable. As you discuss the options with your friends, you reflexively reach to grab a drink of water. But there isn’t any on the table yet. You ask your friends, “Have they come by to take drink orders yet?” Your friends say no. Once again, you stop a passing waitress and ask her to bring drinks. She responds with, “I’m happy to take your drink orders. Your waiter is Mike and he’ll be right with you.” She takes your drink orders and brings them back right away.
What is missing from this experience?
Now you start to notice something about this place. Despite the amazing ambiance, superb food choices, and the staff always smiling, something is not quite right. Mike shows up, apologizes for the delay, and takes your orders. As he walks away from the table you notice your glass of ice tea is almost empty and try to get his attention, but he’s gone. You flag down a waiter walking by and ask him to have Mike bring you a refill. Mike brings out the refill and the food too. It’s piping hot and smells delicious.
The table is ready to dig in when you all notice there is no silverware on the table. By now you feel irritated. Once again, you signal for Mike and ask for silverware. He offers his apology and brings it with a smile. As the night continues, you ask for refills, desert menus, and finally the bill.
It is not just about serving the client, it’s about the type of service you provide.
In this restaurant the staff were friendly, courteous, and willing to get everything that was requested WHEN it was requested. But your experience will never be excellent if you constantly have to ask for things.
Some salespeople are just like the waiters in this restaurant. They wait for the customer to bring up a concern or to offer an objection. Then, they try to overcome them. This is providing reactive service.
Reactive service is service in response to a request. Once the request is made, the salesperson reacts to it or satisfies it. Reactive service is the most common kind of service salespeople provide.
How could you tell if you provide reactive service? If you constantly hear any of these things from a customer on the lot, it’s one of the signs that your service is reactive:
- I’m just looking
- This is my first stop
- I just want your best price
- The car is not for me
- I don’t have much time
- I just need a trade-in value
- All I need to know is payments
- Just tell me about your programs
- You don’t have what I am looking for
- I’m only gathering information
Do you like hearing these things and then having to overcome them? I didn’t think so! And there is a better way! The better way is to become proactive instead of being reactive.
Proactive service is offering service PRIOR to a request. Being proactive means anticipating instead of waiting for something to happen. My Sellchology Training philosophy is based on the idea of being proactive.
How would it change your experience if that restaurant paid attention to your table and brought menus, offered refills, and made sure you had everything else to enjoy your dinner BEFORE you had to ask for it? It would have transformed your experience!
A salesperson who offers proactive service does not wait for the customer to bring up common issues or objections. He learns to anticipate them and to bring them up FIRST!
By doing this you can completely transform the entire buying experience for you and your customer. Just as every waiter should know that a customer will need menus, silverware, and refills, so should a salesperson know that customers will mention price, shopping around, or being pressed for time! Instead of waiting for the customer to bring up these concerns, you do it first!
I call it becoming a PRO, a PRO-active salesperson. Anyone can become a PRO by learning how to positively introduce common questions or objections FIRST. What can you expect to happen if you learn to do this?
Proactive salespeople see these results:
- Objections are minimized or removed entirely
- Customer experience is transformed
- Salesperson no longer feels rejected
Here are a few examples of reactive vs. proactive approaches when greeting a new customer on the lot:
Reactive: Offer generic help to a customer only to hear them say, “I’m just looking.” Result: You feel rejected and there is no rapport building happening.
Proactive: When you approach the customer, say this first: “Are you doing some looking or shopping today?” The customer will probably respond with, “Yes, we are.” Result: You’ve brought up the idea of shopping around first, and it will not make sense for them to respond with “I’m just looking.” You have positively engaged the customer by saying something they were probably about to say to you.
Reactive: Offer to help a customer only to hear them respond with, “This is my first stop.” Result: You are now in a defensive position having to justify your help. This is a poor start!
Proactive: Be proactive in bringing up the question of whether it’s their first stop: “Do we get to be your first stop or have you been to a few dealerships already?” Result: if you phrase it that way, you turn a potential objection into a compliment – we “get” to be their first stop. And regardless of their answer, they’re responding to your question and engaging in a dialogue with you. You’ve just removed the objection of “This is my first stop.”
Reactive: Offer to help with vehicle selection but the customer says, “No, thanks, I don’t have much time now.” Result: You’ve just heard an objection you now have to overcome.
Proactive: Say this first, “I know your time is valuable. What would you like to accomplish with the limited time that you have and how can I help you do it?” Result: Customers cannot bring up the time constraint because you already acknowledged it! Plus, you came across as a professional who wants to offer a solution based on their needs. Nobody wants to talk to a car salesman but everybody wants to talk to someone who has solutions!
This is the simple beauty of learning how to become a proactive salesperson: Objections are removed or minimized, customer experience is transformed, and the salesperson becomes a solutions provider.
Virtually all sales situations are better handled with proactive service. Take the list of common objections you hear and start practicing the proactive approach – mention it FIRST in a positive manner.