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People Still Love to Negotiate


Many times people say they don’t like to negotiate; yet, they still shop around and never pay full MSRP. Most people act in their own best interest. And most people who say they don’t like negotiating, actually still want to.


There are three things you should always listen to in this business:

1. What people say.

2. What people are trying to say.

3. What they really mean.


Often, what people are saying is they ‘hate’ to negotiate. What people are trying to say is they could do without the way auto dealers negotiate and what they really mean is they don’t want to make a mistake.


When people say they don’t like to negotiate, they are trying to say they don’t like the feelings of manipulation that occur when auto dealers overuse the ‘higher authority principle’ of negotiating. In other words, they dislike an improperly used desk system. You can still use a desk system, but you can decrease the back and forth, and keep the customer from feeling manipulated.


The first step is to have a written process that everyone understands. The second step is to make the process the same for each manager and each deal every time. The third step is to train your sales people how to negotiate, handle objections and assist the buyer to finalize a buying decision.


A written, detailed negotiating process that all sales people and managers understand is essential. Many dealerships seem to operate by the seat of their pants when dealing with the negotiating process. All proposals should be started in the same fashion. Although each deal can vary differently as you begin to negotiate, they should all start the same way to eliminate emotional, bad decisions. Having a precise, written and clearly understood process can eliminate different managers from working proposals in completely different directions that confuse sales people. Sales people should know how to handle any and all objections, verbally and written, without having to think or blink.


Sales people often give a proposal and when a customer objects, their first reply is, “Mr. Customer, what figures where you thinking?” Unfortunately, it may be the worst thing that could be said to a customer. Asking a customer what they are thinking without verifying and validating why you asked for what you proposed, will bring an uneasy feeling to the buyer and usually result in one of two answers, both of which aren’t good. The buyer will usually respond with a low-ball offer or say, “You’re the sales person, you tell me.” In this example, a sales person has violated simple rules of negotiating by asking the customer to set the bottom parameter of the negotiations. This usually will create a shopper from a potential buyer, because they can no longer have confidence that they have reached their best and lowest possible deal. Confidence creates the feeling of ‘hope for gain’ and eliminates the emotional fear of making a mistake.


When a customer asks for a lower price, the sales person must validate the MSRP by explaining the value pricing policy. “Mr. Customer, the vehicles are value priced today, which means they have a much smaller and more reasonable markup than in the past, to eliminate the back and forth and bring a more realistic pricing value to the customer.” If the customer persists for discounts, you can offer the potential of an additional percentage discount on the optional equipment of the vehicle. This validates your MSRP proposal and allows the customer to have feelings of victory by gaining a concession while establishing the bottom parameter of negotiations.


All customers are looking to satisfy certain emotions. Knowing how to professionally negotiate can satisfy all the emotions a customer desires and eliminate the negative feelings of manipulation that are prevalent when many customers leave a dealership after a negotiating process.

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Are You An Olympian?

Did you watch some of the Olympics or hear news reports from the games? The Olympics are always fascinating for two reasons: The performances are amazing, and the back stories for each and every Olympian are just as amazing, if not more so. My question for you is, are you an Olympian?


One definition of an Olympian, of course, is someone who competes in the games. Other parts of the definition can be:

• Majestic in manner

• Superior to mundane affairs

• Surpassing all others in scope and effect


If you are great at what you do, you are truly majestic. If you are great at what you do, you are definitely superior to mundane affairs, and you will surpass all others in scope and effect. If you are producing great results, you are an Olympian; if not, it is simply a choice to be so if you choose.


Often, through fear-based and limited thinking, people make excuses for their lack of performance by saying why they are not getting results or cannot get results. You will also hear people make excuses as to why others are having those results when they are not. The key word is excuses.


Whenever you hear an Olympian interviewed, you often hear the same components. First, they set a goal. Next, they began a course of intense action that involved extraordinary planning, practice, coaching, mental preparation, persistence, perseverance and adjustment to set-backs. You often hear of breakthroughs that come through tragic conditions.


You can be an Olympian at anything you choose if you are willing to set a strong goal and create Olympian habits. Listen to the stories that are told about the athletes. They all get up early every day and follow a habitual course of intense training. The athletes are continually seeking advanced coaching, where massive gains can sometimes come from slight adjustments. The athletes are always seeking even one slight change that can make a difference. Every single athlete can describe conditions of self-doubt, or times where their will seems to be lacking, but they persevere and can see what has come from their persistence.


When you watch a swimming event and examine the time difference between the first and third-place finisher, it can be shocking how close they are. If you watch a volleyball match, you can see a long, grueling match often come down to one play. Watch a judo competition and you may see the winner get their result from one perfectly executed maneuver. In all of these examples, the difference between winning and losing can be slight. In business, if you were to put forth the effort demonstrated by the Olympic athletes, you will always win in the long run. You cannot be denied — it is as absolute as turning on a light. Would you do what it takes habitually if you knew you could not fail? So, go do it. Be an Olympian.


If you would like my free Special Report “Ten Things You Can Do to Become an Olympian,” e-mail me at the link below with the “Olympian” in the subject line.

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Let Your Fantasy Be Your Reality

“In the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities, and in the mind of the expert there are few.”-Suzuki Roshi


What would you do in your sales career if you did not have limitations? Everyone has self-imposed limitations. These limitations can stem from several strong forces – environment, childhood experiences, workplace profiling, etc. Never allow anyone to pigeonhole you into who you supposedly are or who you are not.


People in your work environment continually judge you as to what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you can or cannot do. You must realize that all of these evaluations are subjective. Opinions of you are simply that, opinions. What someone thinks of you does not necessarily have to have anything to do with who you are. The opinion that matters most is your own.


You create your own reality. Who you believe you are is who you will become. You are who you decide to be at any given moment. You really don’t need anything that you might be telling yourself you need. I call this the “When – Then” syndrome. Example – When I get this, then I will do this.” Imagine your limitations are written on a dry erase board. Simply erase them and then take action.


You must continually feed your subconscious mind with the images and messages of who you want to be. Your subconscious does not reject any images or messages. Therefore, what you impress, you express. The dominant messages and images win out, good or bad. Write down what you desire. Write it again and again until you can see it in your mind’s eye. Picture your desires in present tense, as if they have already occurred. Don’t let anyone detract from your mission.

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Lead Generation = Dollar Creation

All businesses are built on two areas of competency – people skills and marketing skills. Many sales people who are more than adequate in their sales and people skills are struggling today. The reason is most sales people lack enough opportunities with customers. Lead generation = dollar creation


As a sales person you are in business for yourself. Having a mentality of being the CEO of your company is crucial to developing your business. The dealership signs your check, and you fill in the numbers.


You have a better opportunity than ever to be successful. The key to your long-term success as a sales person is the creation of a dynamite marketing strategy that dealers overlook and most sales people are too lazy to do.


Your first step is to create a marketing web. Take a sheet of paper and list every way that you receive customers. The first two ways you probably listed were from walk-ins and phone prospects. These are produced by the dealership and are therefore the ones over which you have no control. Begin to control your destiny and think of ways to produce customers from other resources.


What other sources of leads did you list? Here are some suggestions: referrals, service drive, service tickets, be-backs, affiliations, repeats, targeted phone calling, database marketing, targeted list mailings, orphan owners, lost customer marketing, coupon swaps, joint-venture advertising, community board flyer, door-to-door flyers, Web site and many more.


For each source at least one strategy of creating leads should be chosen. If you execute one strategy a day on 10 ways to create leads, your leads will grow exponentially over time. Your business will hit a period of critical mass and explode.


At that point, a sales person has the best job in the dealership. Your pay, hours, stress and job security will be better than the managers’. Your risk will be zero, your investment minimal and most everything is supplied for you.


Why don’t more sales people take this road of action to success? Usually, it’s a lack of buy-in. If you haven’t begun to create a business of your own, it’s because your belief system doesn’t buy into the idea of a self-created destiny in sales. Either you have “Manageritis”, don’t believe you will be selling vehicles for a career, don’t believe you will be at your current dealership in the future, don’t believe it can be done or you’re lazy. The truth sucks sometimes.


Success and failure are all about belief systems and habits. You have to believe and live it everyday for it to work. Speaker and business philosopher Jim Rohn once was asked if you had to take successful actions everyday to be successful and he replied, “Only on the days you want to be successful.” Actually, if you only take successful actions every once in a while, you can’t even be successful on those once-in-a-while days. It takes sustained effort.


If you begin to execute a strategy of marketing and don’t have immediate success, you can’t quit. It’s easier to say something doesn’t work than it is to use the lack of success as a path to figuring out successful actions. Marketing in itself is a series of miscalculations to figure out what works. The greatest marketers of all time have failed more than they have been right. To great marketers, all failures are just tests on the road to figuring out the right formula.


As a small marketer in the Internet age, you can appear to be bigger and more successful than you really are. You can create a successful brand. You can be more agile and target more than larger businesses such as dealerships can do with traditional advertising. The over-hyped, over-competitive marketplace is perfect for the dedicated and creative sales person of today.

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How to Build a Winning Team

Each year at the start of football practice, Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Green Bay Packers started his season the same way. His opening statement to his players was, “This is a football.” Every year, John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins started his first practice of the season by demonstrating to his players how to properly put on their socks to prevent blisters. Pretty basic stuff, huh?


Notice the similarities between Wooden and Lombardi in the educational formats. Whether it’s athletics or business, you must start with the fundamentals first. Just as if you built a mansion on a weak foundation, a business built on a weak foundation will crumble. Bill Walton the former star basketball player for UCLA was interviewed about John Wooden and he recounted his first practice with Wooden and how the coach talked about putting on socks properly. Bill Walton remarked that he expected incredible wisdom to come from his legendary coach in the first practice and was disappointed that the practice started with how to put on his socks. When Bill Walton questioned Wooden about the first meeting, Wooden’s reply was simple. If he were to teach Mr. Walton everything he knew about basketball but he could not do any of those things because he was sitting on the bench unable to play because of blisters, then all those teachings would not matter.


How many times have you experienced or witnessed yourself, sales people, managers and owners looking for miracle cures without taking care of the fundamental basics? Massive advertising campaigns, computers, software, business development centers, new facilities or cure-all sales approaches won’t matter if you don’t have the right foundation in place. What are the components of a solid foundation? First, you must have the right team members. Everything starts with people. I encourage every manager or owner to raise your expectations and requirements for the team members you recruit. Concentrate most all of your efforts into getting the right people before you move on to anything else.


Make sure you have the talents of those people matched to their positions. Many baseball historians have reviewed the “Big Red Machine” of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team in the 1970s and noted the improvement in the team that was made when Sparky Anderson, the Reds manager, moved Pete Rose from the outfield to third base to allow the insertion of George Foster to the outfield. At the time, the move was considered by many to be risky and even ridiculous. In retrospect, the move was genius because it allowed the right people to be in the right positions. In the book, “From Good to Great” by Jim Collins, Collins noted that great companies not only must have the right people on the bus, but that you must have them in the right seats as well. An example would be that great sales people don’t always make great managers and vice versa.


Next, make sure you give your team members the processes to use their skills. Talented team members going in different directions will still create bad results. The proper education of process should include what to do, how to do it, when to do it and, just as important, why. Talented and intelligent team members will also provide beneficial feedback to strengthen your process. It can even be argued that the process should come first. Talented and bright team members recruited into a bad process with limited flexibility to improve the process will just create heightened turnover problems. In other words, if your business model is bad, the better the recruit, the quicker he or she will leave.


When looking at a big task like creating a winning team with a winning strategy, it is natural for it to seem daunting. Remember that all big goals are accomplished one step at a time. Break down your strategy into small steps. Create a simple flow chart that utilizes a visual guideline for your goal. Put estimated timelines next to each stage to create urgency in creating your success. However, don’t be tempted to reduce your level of expectations to just say you made your deadline. Remember your end destination and take action every day, the time of achievement will take care of itself.

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Habits of a Successful Salesperson

If you were to follow around the most successful salesperson you know for a week and then follow a failing salesperson for the same amount of time, the differences would be glaring. It boils down to successful habits. What you do habitually in small incremental actions adds up to huge differences in results by the end of just one week.


Recently, I was visiting a dealership where some of the salespeople had attended a sales seminar I had conducted. One of the attendees of my seminar was their top salesperson. He has been in the business for only a year and a half, but was selling more than 20 units a month, with a large portion of the sales coming from referrals and business from his database of customers.


The salesperson was showing me his daily plan and the system he was using to produce the success he was achieving. As with most things, it was not rocket science, but rather simple in nature and just required habitual execution. The eye opener was in observing what many of the veteran salespeople were not doing, and the lack of results they were getting as a result of bad habits.


It’s simple to discover the foundations of success. You can break success down into the categories of goals, game plans, execution, review and attitude. All of these items seem to be intertwined. One tends to beget another.


Do you believe in yourself, and do you have faith in your actions? Successful people may have, as the song says, “moments of doubt and pain,” but they still keep believing that they are worthy of success. Successful people take action based upon their beliefs and keep at it.


Try this checklist:


1. Do you have written goals for you and your achievements for the week, month, year, five years and even your life? If not, stop making excuses and sit down and write them out. Your brain is a natural goal-seeking computer, so use it.


2. What is your daily game plan on how you will spend your time? How will you break down your day based upon self-education, practice, customer acquisition/marketing, customer follow up, face-to-face selling time, etc?


3. What are all the ways you market yourself? “Lead generation equals dollar creation.” I had expressed in my seminar that all salespeople should have refrigerator magnet business cards and personality-based business cards with pictures or caricatures, call-to-action information utilizing both sides and different ways to enter your marketing web, such as your own Website, social media sties, etc. All cards should also offer something informational for free. The top salesperson had already created the business card tools and was using them to get results. “One” is a horrible number in sales; if you rely on one method to acquire customers, you will experience uneven to bad results.


4. What are your personality-driven methods to follow up and engage with customers? The top salesperson was using a software program to follow up sequentially with all sold customers prospects, unsold customers and referrals. He had a game plan and executed. The top salesperson is a not young man born in the computer age and has no outstanding technical skills, and yet has set up his own CRM system that benefits him. He is open to using any and all technology that benefits him. I showed him a simple but robust e-mail system to add to his plan and he immediately invested in it and began a plan to use it.


5. As noted above, the salesperson was immediately willing to invest in his education, tools and anything else that would advance him. The universe will not move towards you until you move towards it. In any economy, the single best investment you will ever make is in yourself. Successful people practice this habitually and unsuccessful people make excuses, such as “I cannot afford it.” The reality is that you cannot afford not to. Successful people never say they cannot afford; instead, they ask “How can I afford…” and find the answer.


There is a Hindu Proverb that says “Pray, but move your feet.”


6. Have faith, but be willing to adjust. You cannot quit taking action because you did not get results in a week or a month. Persistent equals consistent. However, you must monitor and measure everything and adjust accordingly. Do not quit, but adjust.


7. Be aware of the intentional congruence when you add goal setting, game plans, actions, reviews and attitude together. One feeds the other. When you set goals and seek them habitually, you will have a better attitude. More options will reveal themselves and allow you to review what you do and how you do to become better. The more results you get, the more you want to quantify and qualify your actions. Action begets more action, and good habits create good attitudes that create success. Everything is intertwined and dependent upon another.


There is an old saying that I call the “Tree of Success.” Thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions. Actions create habits and habits create results. Results shape your character and character creates your destiny. Examine this daily to create your habits of success.

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Getting to the Next Level: Part 2

Last post, we took a look at programming your subconscious to be the best supercomputer you’ll ever need to achieve success. This month, let’s take a look at some other ways to survive and thrive in your situation, and find the joy in your career and life.


First, you must quantify to qualify. You have to get a handle on what you are currently doing, and be honest. I have consulted with thousands of businesses over the years. I have found few, who are currently unsuccessful, willing at first to be honest about the reasons for their lack of success. There are almost always tons of excuses and a shocking lack of self-awareness.


Have you ever watched the reality TV shows about unsuccessful restaurants, bars, hotels, etc? You will notice it’s always the same elements in their lack of success. It also does not take a genius to discover it and fix it, but it does take self-awareness and honesty.


Self-awareness and personal responsibility are cornerstones in creating success or moving to another level. Programming your autopilot with successful habits is essential to success. Be ruthless with your time, because you cannot get it back.


Another cornerstone of success and goal attainment is to utilize what I call the “Polarization Effect.” This has taken me decades to truly understand and something I must be mindful of every day to experience ultimate success. Ultimate success is not only measured by the goal attainment, but in also truly enjoying and breathing in all that you have while you go for what you want.


Let me be more specific. Pain can be a tremendous motivator. Pain in your current position can move you towards getting what you want. You may have great pain about your income, financial position, weight, relationships, etc. This pain leads you to a defining moment. To quote the line from the movie Network, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”


Some people may use this pain to motivate them for the rest of their lives. However, true joy and success comes from not only using this motivation to drive you, but also taking a deep breath every day as you drive yourself and realizing the joy you are receiving from the doing.


Attainment of goals without the enjoyment of doing is hollow. In this case, nothing can be good enough and no goal, no matter how big, can fulfill you. Begin to truly enjoy the moments of what you do. Strive to find absolute amazement and wonder in excellence.


Recently, I went to a concert featuring The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Little Feat and Delbert McClinton. I have been listening to their music and watching these performers for decades. I watched in awe at the magnitude of their skill. These performers are better now than ever. Their passion was evident. I have also sat and watched a man shine shoes for 20 minutes and found myself amazed at his skill, communication and passion.


To be an expert and to be truly amazing at anything takes passion and dedication. Every day, look for examples of that passion and dedication in others and in you. Although it takes honesty about what you are doing right, it takes grace to give you and others credit for what you are doing right. Recognize and enjoy the performances.


There is a scene in the movie The Hustler with Paul Newman where Newman’s character, Fast Eddie Felson, is grousing about being a loser in life, but also talking about how he feels when he has a pool cue in his hands and his feeling of something truly amazing. His girlfriend in the movie, Piper Laurie, passionately tells him that most people go through life and never feel that kind of passion or excellence, and that he is anything but a loser.


Just remember, on the days that are not easy and the days you feel down on yourself, you are excellent and that you experience passion like few ever experience.


Go to work on seeing, doing and feeling that excellence as much as you possibly can. When you utilize the pain to motivate and the passion and feelings of excellence to saturate, then you are using my “Polarization Effect” to the fullest. You are using polar opposites in a way to maximize your skills, time, energies and enjoyment. The good news is that it does not take more effort to get to the next level. It is just a different type of effort and awareness.


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Getting to the Next Level: Part 1

If you are not getting better, then you must be getting worse. In this age of instant information and transformation, speed is the new weapon of choice for top performers. To survive and thrive today, you must be willing to learn, change and implement faster than your competition. In this and next month’s articles, we’ll examine some ideas on how to adapt to the environment you find yourself in, and how to thrive within it.


First, you must focus on things that can move you to another level. If you do what you have been doing, you will get what you have been getting. No longer is it acceptable to just show up, do your job and go home. No longer is it acceptable to wait and see what the competitors do, or let someone else be the first to implement something. In today’s market, the first to the show wins the prize.


Daily education, keeping up with changes in your industry and trends in other industries are basic daily activities today. It’s no longer something you do “every once in a while” or “when you get around to it.” Self-education, improvement and adaptation to technology and other changes are the keys to winning.


Winners today make faster decisions than ever before and consensus decision making is dead. If you take the time for everyone to agree on what should be done, you are too late to the party and your competition is already ahead of you. The winners today are visionary leaders who leave their ego at the door and are willing to be humble learners. Learn massively every day, make decisions, make them quick, make mistakes, take the heat, self-correct and move on.


Old-school entrepreneurs who fill their day with emergency activities and bloat their ego by cramming their day with time-filling but not business-shifting activities will be crushed. Those who are disciplined in massive daily education, rapid decision making, implementation and adaption will grow exponentially over the people and businesses used to doing business the old way. The winners of today do not scare of making mistakes, but of not making decisions quick enough.


To get to another level of success, you must understand and master your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind works on autopilot. This autopilot moves you towards what is easy, fun or provides short-term gratification. The subconscious deals only in the moment. When you start work in the morning, your autopilot guides you to talk with fellow employees about things you like, to read the paper and to surf the Internet for topics you enjoy. Managers spend the day doing mundane clerical chores. In other words, you are simply hanging out. The day is filled with filler. You are essentially wasting time and majoring in the minor.


I once made a post to Facebook about keeping a daily journal of what you do with your time for one week. I suggested that a good way to start is to review each hour of the day for a week and write down what you did for that hour. I received a comment from a dealer stating sarcastically they had wasted time just reading and thinking about what I had wrote. This same dealer is one who lost their franchise for a lack of sales and non-performance. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. For you to move forward, you must unlearn your habits of the past.


It’s not natural for you to do in-depth planning, detailed work, long range work, be vigilant of your actions in your time and make big, tough decisions quickly. What is natural is for your subconscious to put you on autopilot. Unfortunately, your subconscious without the right program is a huge waste of your very own supercomputer — your mind.


Fortunately, your subconscious is also a goal-seeking monster. You give your subconscious a goal and it will work diligently towards that goal. Give your mind a goal, followed by habitual actions of concentrated effort. The wonderful part of this is that once you start your concentrated effort and create habitual actions towards your goal, your subconscious gets addicted and wants more. Boom! You have reprogrammed your computer.


Decide what you want, why you want it and create habitual actions that move you towards that goal. Release any anxiety about the eventual attainment in that goal and be fulfilled with your actions and forward momentum. You can always adjust your actions if need be.


Next post, we’ll look at some other methods of allowing yourself to get a jump on the competition and get you to where you want, and need, to be.

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The best sales advice you'll ever receive

Asides from being a GSM, I will always be a trainer at heart. Over the last 10 years I have trained thousands of new hires, especially when I was with AutoNation. One of the things I always do during new hire training is to put on the board the three reasons why many new hires can be successful right away:

1. They have a great attitude

2. They get in front of customers

3. They follow the process

The other day I as training with my veterans and one of them asked me what the key to long term success as a salesperson was. 

What do you think I told him? 

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Done in 60 seconds!

The biggest blockbuster of the summer has all the dealers ranting and raving:

Done in 60 Seconds...

Forget about Nic Cage and Angelina, the only dynamic duo here is the salesperson and the sales manager. For those of you who have yet to see the trailer, let me set the scene. You just took a customer out for a test drive. The next moments coming back are crucial to finishing the sale, yet it’s a difficult situation to navigate. If the customer hasn’t yet made up her/his mind, being overly aggressive can easily backfire leading to a jaded customer. Or, the customer can have her/his mind totally made up that she/he wants to drive home in that car today, and your own apprehension and weariness could blow the sale. You can make the world of a difference in just one minute, and be Done in 60 Seconds!

Assuming you’re with a customer who crossed over from looking to buying, you must keep up the pace and softly move from showing to selling. The transition comes with increased tension and a bit of fear, on both sides of the bargain. You begin to feel the pressure from fighting back the urge to (prematurely) ask for the sale and the fear of the lost sale (before it even happens) also known as the “I have it but I don’t want to lose it” syndrome. While you’re wondering whether it’s the right time to move forward with the sale, buyers get caught between the fierce desire to buy and the creeping fear of making a mistake.

The next 60 seconds is paramount to making or losing the sale.

First, you need to set the stage. As you approach the dealership on the way back from a test drive, text your manager to be ready to receive you and the customer. The manager can then in position to greet you warmly: “Welcome back! How was it?”

Think of it like you were back in a high school dance. You see someone across the room that you think has been looking back at you too. Your fear of rejection could totally kill your chances of dancing away the night with your high school sweetheart, and at the same time your premature confidence might backfire and ruin it for good. That’s when your buddy saves the day, walks over and tests the waters for you. Let your manager be your wing-man! All your manager has to do is invest a minute to converse with the buyer:

“Welcome back, how was it?”

“Is it the one you like best?”

“If we can work it out to your satisfaction, can wrap it while you are here?”

“Great, let’s start the paperwork and lets see if we can make everyone happy.”

The above should generate an exchange that would give everyone the green light to start the write-up process and would only take an extra 60 seconds but it will keep the salesperson out of the monetary conflict: the source of tension in every buying and selling situation.
It will produce a verbal commitment from the buyer before it goes on paper, and it will make it so much easier to secure the 5 elements of a solid offer:

Specific car to be delivered.
Specific time to do business.
3.     Conditions and contingencies.
Customer consent.
Source of funding and appropriate documentation.

So now that we’ve confirmed that the buyer is ready to buy and we know sellers are always eager to sell… it looks like we’re almost DONE!

Done in 60 seconds: Coming soon to a showroom near you!

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Five Tips for Beginning Sales People

1. Educate Yourself

Don’t wait for managers or anyone else to give you the sales education you need. Unfortunately, the automobile industry has been stuck for years in a, “Throw them in and see if they can swim mentality.” Some dealerships take new recruits to a meeting room and have them watch training tapes for a day and expect them to be trained. Neither of these options will increase your odds for success.


Begin a massive self-education program that will continue your whole career. Combine visual, auditory and experiential learning. Listen to sales and motivational material every day on the way to and from work. Read, watch DVDs and then put it all together by role-playing with a manager or fellow sales person. Education Creates Motivation - Motivation Breeds Perspiration - Perspiration Creates Elevation.


2. Avoid Cancer

Attitude is everything in sales and life. All companies are full of people with negative attitudes and limiting beliefs. These beliefs and attitudes begin to perpetuate into a culture that is counterproductive to all sales people and potentially deadly to the new sales person. You can insulate yourself from the cancerous attitudes by taking the following steps. 1. Avoid smoke-and-joke circles. There has never been a positive conversation in one of these pity party circles, and there never will. Avoid them like the plaque. 2. Utilize motivational material daily. Nobody can be fully self-motivated all the time. You need tools to assist you. CDs, DVDs, pictures, music, books, quotes, spiritual material, mentors and mastermind circles are all tools that you should use.


3. Utilize a Follow-Up System Religiously

Pick a manual or software system that you will use from day one. Every customer, every prospect, every time. When you start with an organized system, you will be focused on the fundamentals that will make you successful both short- and long-term. Collect as much data as you can on each prospect and customer and organize your follow-up by using post cards, letters, gifts, newsletters, e-mail auto-responders and sequential auto-responders. Persistent = consistent.


In sales and marketing, you must always remember the order of importance of potential sales. Your current customers will always provide you the most return on investment. So often, new sales people are in a constant mad dash for new customers and forget to maximize the potential of the ones they just sold. It’s easier to maintain a good system that was created from the beginning than it is to start a new one later on.


4. Take Massive Action

It’s all about action management, not time management. You have 1,440 minutes in everyday. Success is determined by the actions you take in those minutes. Avoid the time trap of getting caught up in the stuff. Stuff are the things that are minor in nature that we spend most of our day in that create little results. Don’t major in the minor. Continually ask yourself if what you are doing will contribute to a sale either now or in the future. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Each day you must evaluate your actions and create a stop-doing list. After reviewing your day, determine what actions you should lessen or eliminate. Start your day with major actions so it sets a trend for the day. Jump in, don’t wade in.


5. Be Your Own Marketing Manager

Don’t expect any business or anyone to bring you customers. You must take the mindset from day one that you will provide 100 percent of your own customers and anything your company provides is extra. Start by creating your own brand. What will your slogan be that defines you? Utilize your picture, caricature and slogan on all marketing materials and business cards. Create your own Web site as a benefit to the customer that can be integrated with all marketing material.


Next, determine your ideal customer base that buys your product. You can purchase lists of people who drive your brand of product from one of many different list providers. Begin a multi-step marketing approach to these potential customers. Read as many books on copy writing as possible to learn the secrets of getting people to take action from your words. Educating yourself on marketing and copywriting will pay you more dividends than any other single thing you can do.


Sales people are made, not born. It’s the people who do the work, who learn to market themselves, follow-up, handle rejection, persist and maintain a winning attitude that win in the sales profession.

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12 Solutions for Being a Better Leader

1. Manage things and lead people.

Processes should be defined and managed daily. People should be lead by example daily. Management by strict control inhibits star performers and eliminates creativity of intelligent people. Feelings of manipulation are caused by strict control. Control, manipulation, and disrespect keep many dealerships from moving to another level of performance.


2. Speed of the boss = speed of the team.

If the boss has a sense of urgency, the team will, too. The leader sets the tone. Great leaders create an attitude and atmosphere of winning. The leader sets the stage for the proper belief systems necessary to succeed.


3. Coach people more than you manage deals.

If you spend your time coaching people through training, one-on-ones and positive feedback, your people will become less addicted to you. Spend 80% of your day with your team and your customers. The rest can wait.


4. Create a .Stop Doing List..

To find out what to do, you must also define what not to do. What are you doing everyday that you should either, stop doing, delegate, or do less of, or at a different time?


5. Practice the 4 D.s of action management.

Dump it, Defer it, Delegate it, or Do it. With proper action management, you will spend less time in crisis and emergency mode.


6. Recruiting is an ongoing process.

Determine an ongoing action plan for recruiting. What channels will you use to recruit and how much time each week to do it. What automated systems can you set up through web sites, job boards, college placement centers, military posts, etc. can you set up to increase potential candidates? Don’t wait until you need people to dig through the drawer to find the help wanted ad that everyone else uses.


7. Set clear expectations.

People need and desire clear expectations of their job functions, behavior, and performance. The days of hiring people and showing them the inventory, their desk, and telling them to get busy are over. For a greater chance of success, people cannot succeed without written and communicated expectations.


8. People don’t change that much, so stop trying.

Do not try to put in what God left out. When a person has reached adulthood, they primarily tend to repeat the patterns either they have created or that are based upon their nature. Grow a person’s strengths, and stop trying to fix their weaknesses.


9. Educate and motivate daily.

Good people want continuing education. Educate and motivate every day. Educating daily creates results; periodical training never does. If you have people rejecting education, then you must reject them. Would a great coach allow certain players to not practice because they didn’t want to?


10. Listen, listen, listen.

Nothing inspires people more than when they feel a manager will actually listen. People need to be respected and heard. A manager’s best customers are the people they coach.


11. Get out from behind the desk.

Lead the team. People want to know that their leader is one of them. Desks can become huge barriers to communicating.


12. Don’t forget emotions.

Behind all goals, dreams, achievements, and failures are emotions. Learn to tap into each team member’s pleasure and pain motivators to better guide them. Coach each team member with this in mind – thoughts become words, words become actions, actions create habits, habits create results, and they are all seeking emotions.


Great leadership is essential in creating great teams. Expect more of yourself and your team will follow. The leader is the final reason for success or failure.

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“Let’s meet halfway” or “Let’s split the difference”: AKA The Worst Closing Technique Ever!

We’ve all witnessed the following negotiating technique one way or another. A Seller is selling an item for 20,000 dollars. A buyer offers 18,000. So what’s the next natural move? 19,000 dollars, split the difference, right? WRONG! The “Let’s Meet Halfway” negotiating tactic is one of the most common logical pitfalls of any sales process. Maybe at first glance it sounds or seems fair, or even logical, but it is truly the worst closing technique… ever!

Here is why.

First and foremost, it’s “bad” for profit. Let’s say a manager wants to sell a car for 340 dollars a month and a customer offers 300 dollars. A salesperson proposes to “meet halfway” by settling for 320 dollars a month, thinking it sounds reasonable and fair. This kneejerk logic just gouged the potential payoff big-time. Worse yet, this cognitive “shortcut” is often proposed immediately, without even putting any effort into a more persuasive or logical arrangement. Even if the Customer agrees, which is highly unlikely, and the manager approves, which hopefully he/she wouldn’t, we just blew away 20 dollars times the number of months of profit. That’s 720 dollars for 36 months, 960 dollars for 48 months, and 1,200 dollars for 60 months! Where is all of that money going to come from?

Secondly, it’s terrible for your credibility and reputation. When a salesperson suggests to “meet half way”, falsely believing they’re showing flexibility and fairness, a potential buyer gets an immediate feeling that they’re dodging a huge bullet. The “they were trying to stick it to me!” sentiment immediately surfaces. After a while, buyers just start assuming everything is marked up to be sold at some mystery halfway point. The manager would look like the “bad guy” trying to take advantage of buyers that weren’t as vigilant, and a salesperson would compromise the “agent” role, knowing that $320 is possible.

Additionally, it’s truly counter productive for turning a buyer into a shopper. A potential buyer can’t help but think: “If they are willing to “meet half way” (coming down to 320) just like that, I bet they will come all the way to $300 if I stick to it! In fact, I should have started lower...” $250 becomes the new target at their next stop. Buyers becoming paranoid, doubtful and combative is hardly a sign of progress.

Consider an alternate approach.

Rather than focusing on two large numbers, isolate the difference between them. Remember the first example? What sounds more daunting, 20,000 dollars, or a 2,000 dollar difference? Shifting the paradigm from the large numbers to the relatively tiny, impeding gap number shifts the entire thought process. Back to the car payment example, rather than jumping to the halfway point, ask the customer: “So it looks like we have a 40 dollar gap. Is that it? Let’s work it out.”

Next, you need to properly address the two numbers. Using logic and reason, explain the logic (or more likely, lack thereof) of their stance. Using honest and real facts throughout, walk the buyer through the manager’s position. Build up an ethical and professional case for your stance. Soon, you will identify a moment where a buyer realizes your position is grounded in fairness and fact.

As the buyer becomes more aware of the reasons behind your number and becomes (even a little) more visibly comfortable with your position, buttress your logical appeal with “goodwill.” Emphasize the roles of everyone involved: the salesperson as the agent, the manager as a true professional and “good guy” (remember EMI?), and the dealership’s everlasting commitment to service.

Next focus on reemphasizing the value. Shine the spotlight on the new car they’re taking home, the expectations you’ve exceeded, and the amicable relationship you’ve forged. All the while, the customer is viewing the aforementioned gap as a minor obstacle between all of these things.

Finally, Seek agreement through facial expression, A persuasive eye-to-eye direct look, and then move confidently into a close. Praising the manager’s efforts, extending a confident handshake, and ask for the sale: 340 is more than fair, let’s do it!

Let’s all agree to leave the “splitting differences” and “halfway meetings” to yard sales and flea markets; in this industry, you need professionalism, strategy, and innovation to succeed – not an “old school” consolation “one-liner”. 

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Automotive Sales Training - You Are the CEO

Are you the CEO of your company? If you’re a sales person, and you answered no to this question, think again. To be successful you must have a CEO mentality. All successful sales people view themselves as a business within a business. Never forget that the company you work for writes and signs your check, but you fill in the numbers. Always take responsibility for everything. You are the CEO.


What does a CEO do?

First of all, a CEO designs a marketing strategy. How do you get your business? Walk-ins, in-bound phone calls, repeats, prospecting, networking, referrals, bebacks, affiliate marketing programs, database mining, database swapping, niche marketing, seminars, websites, email responses with auto responders and sequential auto responders. Do you have at least one strategy for utilizing each one of these? Many people may not even know what many of these items are. The bad news is that you are way behind the top businesses in the world, but you can catch up and even pass the most productive sales people with dedicated strategy and smart actions.


Top sales people gain and maintain their results through many avenues beyond walk-in traffic. When you are new, you spend 80 percent of your time gaining new customers and 20 percent maintaining them. As each month goes by, your goal will be to reverse the time used to 80 percent maintaining current customers and 20 percent gaining new ones. To do this, you must develop a marketing web with multiple streams of lead generation. Lead generation = dollar creation.


If floor traffic dries up, you will have an excuse not to sell vehicles. From now on, excuses are not allowed. What is your strategy for walk-ins? Do you have a process? Does anyone besides you follow up with unsold customers? If you TO in person why not TO on the phone? Are you utilizing monthly planners or productivity software that allows you to automate your follow-up of sold and unsold customers by phone, mail and email? Do you have a monthly newsletter or, better yet, an email newsletter that reaches your customers unobtrusively and at zero-cost? There are companies that will set up auto responders with pre-set messages to be sent at certain intervals to your email list. This automates some of your follow-up to the point that it is being done while you sleep or are on vacation.


Have you set up affiliate programs with other businesses to share customers and provide an introduction to one another? Example, “Who does business with whom I want to do business with?” Ask that question first to think of businesses that you can set up reciprocal agreements with to provide a value proposition to their customers with enough leverage so they will want to call, fax or email you to get what you sell.


Most businesses utilize one-stage marketing. This requires running an ad and asking someone to buy. For many sales people, this is expensive and not effective. A better strategy is to form two or three stage marketing techniques. You are asking a customer to respond that they are interested and want more information. Here are some examples: Give a be-back cd to every customer who does not buy and ask them to play it on the way home. The cd should have two to five minutes of information that thanks them for the opportunity and provides them with specific reasons why they should buy your product from you, at your dealership. Give the customer an incentive to call you back. Arrange with a local restaurant that you will provide a coupon to every customer who shops or services with your dealership, an offer for two-for-one at the restaurant. In return, ask the restaurant to also reward their customers by giving each customer a coupon with their bill that provides a special offer from you, with enough leverage for the customer to respond for more information. Provide seminars for local groups on the subject of, “How to buy a vehicle and not get ripped off.” Do you know where the last 10 customers who have bought from you work and how you can set up automobile buying programs with their employer? If you let your mind expand, your wallet will follow.


You have two choices, you can use excuses like, “My managers won’t let me do anything,” “I don’t have the time,” “I have to make money right now,” or a million other excuses. Or, you can think of your business as a business and become the CEO with a long-term, committed strategy to grow expeditiously.


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There is a revelation that is shocking and, quite frankly, scary. A dangerous and potentially fatal mistake is being made everyday in businesses. The mistake is the confusion between strategy and tactics. Strategy is your overall goal for your business and your overall marketing philosophy to achieve those goals. Tactics are executable actions you take to achieve those options. The good news is that once you have clarity about your strategy, and then apply emotional direct response marketing methods, you can create a continual stream of customers to your business. The scary part is that it is as easy as flipping on a light switch, and yet very few people know and understand the simple secrets to make this happen.


Your business is actually comprised of two businesses: the people business and the marketing business. You can be great with your people skills and handling of customers, but if you don’t have the customers to be great with, it won’t matter. Lead generation equals dollar creation. You live and die by the success or failure of your marketing efforts to create new customers and retain existing ones.


There are three simple things you can do immediately to make a dramatic impact on your customer flow and sales: Market, Message and Media


Step One – Define who your market is.

If you were asked who your average customer is, do you really know? Do you know where they live, what they do for a living and what their hopes, dreams and fears are? Have you begun to break down every element of what makes up your best potential market of customers? Many dealerships open the doors every day and spend tons of money to drive customers through the door without ever giving extensive thought to who their market really is. Successful businesses don’t try to do business with everybody. If you believe your market is everyone, you are wasting tons of money. You must match your message to your market. The more accurately you define your message while also narrowing your market and niche, the more success you have. You also greatly increase your return on investment.


Step Two - Define an effective message.

Remember that you are not in the car business. You are in the emotions business. Your customers don’t buy cars. What they are doing is seeking to emotionally solve their perceived problems. If you believe you are in the car business, you have just grouped yourself into a fishbowl with every car dealership and every sales person in the world. You can immediately differentiate yourself by creating an SDP (Specific Defining Proposition) built upon emotional pull.


In other words, what does your business do better, more of or more originally than any other business in the world? Begin to tell your story. Facts tell; stories sell. You may not have spent enough time figuring out what your story is that positions and sells you. If you don’t believe you or your business is better or unique, I would argue that you are wrong, and you should do more work on figuring it out. If, after careful consideration, you still don’t believe you are better or unique in any way, the good news is that it probably doesn’t even matter. Since most people or businesses never tell their story, you will automatically differentiate yourself and stand out if you do. There are three legs that must be established to create a winning marketing approach to your business: Message, Market and Media. You have now created the second of three legs that builds your business – the message.


Make sure that all of your marketing messages contain the following: an emotional story, a specific and incredible offer, a strong sense of urgency with a specific call to action, multiple ways to respond and, if possible, a specific deadline that creates a real or perceived fear of loss for a lack of action by that date.


Step Three – Define your media strategy.

Be forewarned, advertising agencies are usually nothing more than commissioned based media sales agents. The focus of the majority of advertising agents is to place the largest amount of money possible in media. This is a recipe for waste and lackluster results. Although there are technically no bad media selections, you must define which medium is best for your market and message. If you can’t dominate a medium, can you dominate the way you use the medium (for example, infomercial versus regular TV)?


A huge mistake would be to believe that the medium itself is what gets you the results. A good example of this is a dealership that chooses a particular medium, such as radio or TV, as their favorite and then places tons of ads that are strictly brand-based messages. For dealerships, branding should always be of secondary importance to the actual direct response offer. The best way for a dealership to build a brand is to sell a bunch of vehicles. Unless you are Budweiser, Coca-Cola or some other huge brand with tons of money, spending money on brand-based advertising is like pouring money down the drain. You are in the business of creating customers and profit, not in the ego-inflation business.


When you get very clear about your strategy and tactics and use emotional direct-response marketing to achieve your goals, you will have flipped on the switch to a continual flow of customers and sales.

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In the last several years, I have had a revelation about the art and science of sales. The answer to sales success is within all of us. The answer is simple but the key to unlock the answer is elusive.


If you were to go back to the late 1800s, the first formal sales training provided by the likes of J. Edward Douglas and others, you will find teaching geared toward techniques — tie-downs, inverted tie-downs, etc. For more than a century now, sales people have been trained with various forms of techniques, word tracks, closes and other sales processes. Do these things work? Is this what creates success for the best performing sales people? My own unscientific research says no.


For more than 25 years I have been involved in sales and sales training reaching the highest levels of success. I have read more than 250 books and listened to hundreds of CDs on sales. I am considered a world-class expert on sales, but I am just now tapping into a higher level of consciousness in the arena. My conclusion is that most of what you have been taught about sales and use on a daily basis is not what creates the highest levels of success.


In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Tipping Point,” Gladwell describes theory and various supporting research about human behavior and how people make decisions. The author uses the term “small slicing” to describe the idea that substantial and correct information can be obtained about a person and his or her future behavior based on small slices of their communication and current behavior. The information in this book supports theories and research that I have had for the last several years. However, the theories are hard to articulate and get others to model. The key to success is simple but hard to define.


The old phrases, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” and “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” are examples of simple truths. The magic answers to how do you make a great first impression and how do you say things correctly are what are much harder to define.


Sales techniques, sales processes and word tracks can all be helpful but are not the key to peak performance. If those things were the answer then everyone who ever had sales training or had modeled a successful sales person would become peak performers. That’s not the case.


Even the words “sales” and “selling” create a false direction for sales people. The proper mindset for a sales person is to think of very personal interaction with buyers. The mission of a sales person is to create an environment conducive to buying for the customer. TLC – think like a customer. Not just any customer — the particular customer you are with now. One-size-fits-all selling does not work.


The so-called road to a sale or sales process is only as good as the personal interaction of the sales person with the customer during the process. This is why training on just sales process without education in understanding interpersonal communication, behavior or the art and science of persuasion creates a sales environment of failure for sales people and frustration for customers.


Think more about the customer’s thoughts and emotions and how they are being expressed to you. To create a buying environment for the customer, you must take all your senses and intuition to a higher level. You must begin to see like a deaf person, hear like a blind person and understand the customer as if you were his or her deepest and most caring friend.


If you would like seven quick tips to start you on the road to higher sales success, email me at with the phrase “7 quick tips” in the subject line.

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