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The Most Important Decision of Your Life

On November 19, 2005, a day after having surgery, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma cancer. I would compare receiving the news to going to the dentist and being numbed. However, this numbed my whole body. For 20 minutes I rushed through all kinds of thoughts and emotions – shock, anger, “why me?” questions, sadness.


After the 20 minutes, I made a big decision. I decided to live. I decided that all of the emotions and thoughts I was experiencing were not supporting me. I decided right then and there to switch my mind and all actions to that of support and complete cure. At that moment, I was cured.


On January 31, 2006 I received my 33rd and final daily radiation treatment. I am now cancer free. I did not need the doctor to declare that for me; I had already made that decision from the day of diagnosis. I had even told my doctor that at my first appointment.


My whole life I have believed in the power of the mind. The ability to create your outer life from thoughts and emotions from within are undeniable. Nothing is as powerful as your personal philosophy in life. The good news is that your personal philosophy is simply decided by you and your own free will.


In my lifetime, I have been both poor and rich. I have had both sad and happy times. I have lived through tragedies and triumphs. One thing that has never wavered has been my mental approach to whatever has come towards me. Nothing can create wealth and abundance in any segment of a person’s life more than their attitudes and thoughts.


I have seen materially rich people with great poverty of mind and I have seen people in great struggles with an attitude of abundance. Wealth and possessions can flee in an instant, but nothing or nobody can take away your mind and your choice of thought.


Whenever friends or relatives would begin to discuss my disease, they would focus on how it was so unfair, especially since I am a lifetime non-smoker. Ninety-nine percent of the particular cancer that I had occurs in heavy smokers. I had to make a decision not to focus on whether it was fair or not and focus on what could be done to move forward.


I made a decision to research my disease. I wanted to be empowered in my decisions. I created a regimented approach that included traditional treatment along with nutrition, supplements, whole body detoxification, exercise, proper rest, mental imaging and prayer. Some of these approaches were never mentioned by traditional medicine practitioners. However, I made the decision to be in charge of my knowledge and my actions.


After witnessing many people going through treatment for cancer and experiencing both my parents passing from the disease as well, I am more convinced than ever that your attitude and power of your mind makes a difference in everything you do in life. Your decision about your attitude in life is the most important choice of your life.

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Words Are Cheap

Words are cheap. What matters is the true belief system behind your words and the actions you take because of those belief systems. Economies don’t improve, people improve. Waiting for something to happen is for losers. The most important economy is the one created between your ears.


During down markets you have to get creative to make things happen. Although you may not be able to push a new car market if it’s not there, you can niche market, create affiliations, utilize your customer base better and push a used car market. In other words, there are options for success. Standing and waiting for the world to create your economy is not a good option.


There is an old quote that says, “When you go to work on yourself and get better it’s amazing how much better your customer’s get.” The one activity that can always pay off during a down economy is individual and organizational development.


Everything boils down to the four P’s of business - people, process, product and positioning. Do you work daily on your personal development? Do you work daily to increase your knowledge and ability to sell your product? Do you work daily to increase the effectiveness of your process? Do you work daily to increase your positioning through better marketing? If you work on these things daily you will determine your sales success in good times or bad. Good times will now become the norm.


Thoreau said it best: “Things don’t change; people change.” Make a commitment to figure out why you want to do something. When the why gets strong, the how gets easy. When you know why you want something, ideas of how will flow to you. Concentrate on the solution, not the problem. When you dwell on the idea of a prosperous market you create the reality of a prosperous market.


When you open the door to your belief system, you close the door of scarcity. When you are suffering from a lack of something it’s because you have a mental condition of lack. Everything apparent in your outside world of today is a direct reflection of your inside world from yesterday.


As you improve yourself you begin to think and act on another level of energy. Imagine the analogy of playing a video game and having to get a good enough score at one level to go to the next level. Once you improve enough you enter a whole other level that creates another opportunity for improvement.

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Negotiate Like a Professional

Negotiating can be done in a professional manner that can increase customer satisfaction while helping to protect both parties’ interests.


Let’s first look at some of the problems that give negotiating a bad name and then look at the solutions. A lack of training in negotiating in the automotive industry has put sales people at a disadvantage. Usually, a sales person is taught how to negotiate in a learn-as-you-go method. Although all learning must be accomplished by doing, some preparation has to be done to make the learning experience more effective. All sales people and managers should go through a course on basic and advanced negotiating. Assuming that sales managers can automatically teach your sales people to negotiate professionally is asking for trouble. How did the managers learn to negotiate?


Sales people should be taught the expected procedures. I like to call these routing procedures. Routing procedures will define everyone’s responsibilities, from the moment a customer is greeted until they are delivered, including the necessary paperwork and who initiates what. Included in the routing procedures are items known as, black and white items. Black and white items are the things that should never vary at your dealership. These items are to be defined by your top management and can include such things as not quoting discounted prices on the lot or never low-balling on price.


Another source of problems in negotiating is the misuse of traditional negotiating techniques. The “higher authority technique” is a technique of always deferring to a higher authority for a decision. The technique is a solid negotiation tactic that has been run into the ground by automotive people. Having your sales people run to the manager more than once or twice in negotiations is a crime. Not giving the sales person any latitude or decision-making capability in negotiations leads to the yo-yo effect that creates mistrust in the sales person and customer.


When is the last time a sales person in your dealership was taught what to do when a customer asks for a lower down payment, lower payment, higher trade values or a reduction of the sales price. Most veteran sales people in dealerships all over the country could not verbally and written give you at least three or four steps to each one of the above objections without having to think or blink. How many objections in negotiation are there? Most objections fall into only a few categories. Have your sales people role played recently on those objections and the potential answer to them? Example: “Mr. Customer, we would be happy to lower your monthly budget $50 a month. Did you want to go 60 months instead of 48, or put $1,500 more cash investment, or look at the car with about $50 a month less in equipment, or look at a lease/Smart Buy program? Which would be best for you?” Whether you like my words or there are some others you prefer is not as important as having a way to handle the objections and practicing them over and over until the sales people know their negotiating skills.


“He or she who prepares the most, wins the most.” A large part of negotiating is knowing when and how to negotiate, as well as being prepared for all situations. The tragic death of John Kennedy Jr. might have been prevented with more preparation. Although negotiating may not be life or death for a sales person, it can feel like life or death to a sales person that wants to help his or her customer and doesn’t know how.


The following are few simple negotiating techniques:


1. Flinch - always fl inch at any proposal or counter proposal.


2. Split the Split - When customers offer to split the difference, offer back to split their proposal again. Example: $3,000 apart $1,500 split offered $ 2,250 your counter


3. Bracket proposals - If your desired gross profit is $3,000 and the customer offers you $1,500, propose back as much above your desired profit as they proposed below, example: $4,500 gross would be the same $1,500 amount above your desired gross, as they had offered below. Most likely they will offer to split the difference and it also lends credence to your offer.


4. Give/get - Try always to get something in return for giving something. This will stop the customer from nibbling and eroding your gross. If you don’t use give/get, you will not only give away all your gross but will also create a shopper.


Everyone negotiates everyday. Whether it’s on vehicles, houses, relationships or pay plans etc., everyone negotiates on things we sometimes didn’t even realize we had negotiated on. Somehow people walk away from negotiating things other than  automobiles feeling extremely positive about the process. Why? I invite you to ask how you would feel negotiating at your dealership and what you could do to make it better for the customer, sales person, manager and dealership.

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Can I Trust You?

When you have a first encounter with a customer, they are usually wondering one simple question. Can I trust you?


There are three stages of buying:

1. Character and Trust

2. Emotion

3. Logic


I don’t know that one stage is more important than the other but I do know that the trust stage usually happens first. When you build a house and the foundation is weak, no matter how nice a house you build it comes crumbling down eventually. A sale is the same way. You can sell all you want. You can create an emotional frenzy. You can justify emotions with logic and reasoning but at the end if the customer has a twinge of doubt about you they will pause and hesitate to complete the sale.


Usually when the customer stalls after showing all the right buying signs, we blame the customer and create some unflattering names for him or her. Here’s a news fl ash: Most of the time it’s your fault. It’s not the customer’s job to trust you. It’s not the customer’s job to create a rapport and a bond. It’s not the customer’s job.


Often, the customer comes in sold on your product and has a need and desire for it. They want to buy it. But when it gets to the end, one thing keeps them from buying – fear. Fear of making a mistake. Your customers are human. Customer’s have fears of making a mistake in buying the wrong vehicle, getting the wrong price, getting the wrong information or having a bad experience.


To sell more, you must allow the customer to buy. To buy a customer needs a path without obstacles and doubt. To remove the customer’s doubts and fear you must practice risk aversion and reversal.


Sales training has focused primarily on handling objections and other reactive selling approaches. Practicing risk aversion is a proactive approach to selling that addresses common fears up front and removes them before the become an obstacle. Fifteen minutes spent on proactive risk aversion can eliminate two hours of reactive objection handling.


Take a pencil and paper and write down all the common fears of your customers and common objections you receive. Write down the silent objections you don’t get but you know are really there. No matter what you sell, it’s the same objections over and over. It doesn’t take that much to be aware of the objections, to be prepared to proactively eliminate them and even answer them if they still come up.


Listen to what customers say and what they are trying to say. Listen to what customers really mean. And, listen to what customers aren’t saying but intuitively you know they are thinking. Increasing your intuitive ability is a major step in becoming a master sales person. Watch your customer’s body language. You don’t need a course to teach you what people are thinking by their body language. You simply need to observe, think and feel as they do. TLC – Think Like a Customer.


Remember, that trust comes before money.

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The Five Keys to Success

Do you want to be more successful? You can achieve greater success if you begin to follow certain secrets that blow open the doors that are closed for you now. I am comfortable in saying that all people have some closed doors that limit their achievement. What are the doors that I am talking about and how can you open them?


The doors are a metaphor for the gateways to successful achievement. The keys are the secrets that unlock them and allow you move forward faster and with less conflict toward your dreams than ever before.


Key #1 - Energy

Everyone needs physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy to propel them toward their goals. It’s often been said that “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” What do you do that gives or robs you of energy? Make a list of 10 common actions in your day. Next to each, put a plus or a minus according to whether it gives or depletes energy. The mind, body and spirit go hand in hand. If one source is constantly drawing energy it will affect the energy in the other area. Do you ever feel so depleted mentally that physically you are just going through the motions?


Create an action plan to eliminate or greatly reduce all things that deplete your energy. Decide what your tolerance is. Successful and satisfied people create levels of tolerance for themselves and others who come in contact with them.


Key #2 - Enthusiasm

Ethos loosely translated means, “The Breath of God.” This means enthusiasm is contagious. It’s hard to get others excited unless you are excited. Nobody is excited all the time. We all have our ups and downs. What anchor do you have that will immediately connect you to the enthusiasm that you need to achieve the successful level of living that you want? Just by having a built-in and pre-arranged filter that detects when you are not at your peak level of enthusiasm will enable you to make corrections quickly. Without the filters you can become a zombie simply going through the motions until you or someone else makes you aware of your lack of enthusiasm.

Key #3 - Emotion

Do you live with emotion? You don’t have to be drama queen to live emotionally. Emotions are about feelings. Successful people tend to live in the moment. Stress, fatigue and worry detract from the joy of living in the moment. “Worry is paying interest on a debt not yet due.” Everyone experiences levels of depleting emotions that create a false and overwhelming sense of reality. How many times have you heard of people with near death experiences who now live with a greater sense of awareness and emotion?


Colors become brighter, jokes become funnier and experiences become richer. Your level of attainment in emotional living will increase your connection to others. To enrich your chances of success, you have to enrich others.


Key #4 - Humor

Nothing can bond people quicker than humor. Nothing can change your attitude, emotions, enthusiasm and outlook more than humor. Humor releases endorphins in the brain and creates a feeling of euphoria. Humor is an instant-on switch for changing your actions and outlook toward everything you face in your day. Experiencing humor is powerful. Being a conduit of humor for others is power multiplied exponentially.


Key #5 - Persistence

Persistent = consistent. Persistence is perhaps the most common denominator of successful living. Successful people keep moving when others quit. It’s been said that most of success is just showing up. Persistence is the key to showing up when other have quit. History is full of examples and testimonials to the power of persistence. Failure only occurs at the time when you quit. Those who live successfully know the power of persistent pursuit.


Persistent pursuit of goals and dreams creates a powerful sense of living unmatched by anything else. Persistence becomes a life force that creates self confidence for those who execute the power of persistence on a daily basis. In a world where the strong survive, persistence equals the playing field and gives the edge to those who apply its power.


Combining all the keys to success will create a sense of urgency needed for success. Examine the current level of each of the five keys to success in your life and create a personal game plan for successful living.

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The Champion Coach

Great managers view themselves as coaches more than managers. There is an old adage: “Lead people and manage things.” There is a fine line between creating and utilizing systems and processes and micromanaging details without emphasizing the power of personal interaction.


Good systems and processes should allow employees to raise their performance by giving them confidence in their direction and lessening the burden of the manager and coach from having to constantly inform people of their expected actions.


The problems and obstacles for mangers and coaches happen when the process is elevated over the players who utilize those systems and an improper implementation training process is used. Great systems with poor people make for poor results. Great systems tied to poor coaching of people in the system results in poor results. Managers and coaches can’t give a process to their players and expect the process to work without consistently motivating and leading the players in the system.


Think of your process like a machine. A machine is created to perform the desired function. Once you create the machine, you test it and know it will work. It fails when the mechanics of the machine break or when the operator has an error in operating the machine. Your business process is much the same.


When you integrate a player into a system, you must explain what they are to do. Next, a coach must explain why the player must perform the tasks required utilizing the desired process. When the why gets strong, the how gets easy. If a player is clear about the why, the process will be performed with maximum results.


The third step is to demonstrate how the tasks and process work. Don’t just tell – demonstrate. If the player believes the process can be executed properly and has evidential proof that his or her coach or someone else can do it in the way that is expected, the player will emotionally buy into the process. The coaches must get the commitment or buy-in for anything to work. Therefore, coaches must have the trust and respect of the players. There is also a second part of the demonstration that must take place. The demonstration phase should move from the coach demonstrating to the player to the stage where the player performs the functions with close direction and inspection of the coach.


The last step of the implementation is never-ending. This stage is continual coaching and inspection. Players must know they are continually being coached, inspired and reviewed in their performance.


Recently, my daughter Erin secured a summer job after her first year in college. She is employed by the J. Alexander chain of restaurants. The process employed by J. Alexander’s is not only a good reference point for the steps of coaching that I have mentioned, but is a reference for excellence.


Erin was interviewed and profiled by three different managers on three different occasions. When Erin was hired, she had to complete detailed training that would make many businesses green with envy. Erin had to train with a study guide consisting of more than 100 pages. Erinhad to pass six written tests just to begin serving as a waitress or as they are called in their culture – champions. She had to be able to recite the company creed. Further training and testing was required to be able to serve on the weekends, which are their busiest days. Before being released to begin her position, Erin had to shadow another trained champion and then switch and have the experienced person trail her. Both Erin and I were amazed at the commitment to process, training and implementation.


Remember, the processes and dedication of J. Alexander’s produces a champion who can serve and produce an experience that is measured in small dollars. Your business may produce a product and experience that is measured in many thousands of dollars. Based on your process, training, implementation and coaching, are you a coaching champion?

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The Powerful Salesperson

Customers don’t buy vehicles, and sales people don’t sell vehicles. Customers buy solutions to problems they can feel emotionally. Sales people are the conduit that helps customers discover those emotional solutions.


People buy from people. Customers generally do business with people they like and trust. Your customers don’t walk out of your dealership telling you that they bought from you because you are a jerk. Customers can get vehicles anywhere. Most of you are not selling a rare commodity. Therefore the decision criteria of a customer are based upon money, me and machine. However, you are the secret ingredient. You have the power to influence the perception of the customer about you, the machine and the money.


A customer will move through three stages of the selling process – Character/Trust, Emotion and Logic. People have to like and trust you, then they allow you to guide them to emotions that eventually combine with logic. Emotion distorts reality. That’s why everyday customers walk out of F&I and tell you that they did not plan to buy a vehicle today.


The number one reason people buy a vehicle is and always will be confidence. Confidence they feel in the money, me and machine that you give them. Therefore the most empowering decision you can ever make as a sales person is accept full responsibility for every sale made or lost.


Once you accept full responsibility for winning and losing and eliminate the easily accepted notion that it’s about price, you become an incredibly powerful, winning sales person. If you allow one excuse for losing into your subconscious it opens the door for a million excuses. Weak sales people raise skinny kids. Eliminate all excuses such as price and watch your sales take off.


If price is the issue, what can you do to influence the price or the decision? Practice apples to oranges selling. If everybody else is showing the customer apples, you show them better apples and show them oranges, as well. Always think HFG – Hope for Gain. What is the customer trying to accomplish and how can I apply to their sense of HFG.


How will the first stage of your engagement with the customer set you apart and influence the customer? Most customers decide to buy from you in 15 seconds to two minutes. The decision is made about you long before they ever make a decision about price. Try this greeting: “Hi folks, are you out beginning to look and shop around?” What are they going to say, “No we are just looking and shopping?” Be proactive. Take the objection away up front and make the customer feel at ease while you do it. Nobody else is greeting the customer this way.


Most sales people operate out of the same gene pool. If you do this you eventually become a homogenized, generic sales person. What follows are bad results, lots of price shoppers, low sales, low incomes and eventually a bad case of excuses. Never forget that everything you do makes a difference.


Before any customer leaves, are you and your manager “walking the wheel”? “Walking the wheel” is a phrase I use to remind us to explore all avenues. Bigger car, smaller car, car to SUV, new to used, used to new, demo, longer term, cash back, delay payment, pay off the remaining lease payments on their trade, trade another vehicle, trade two vehicles, etc. How hard do you fight for every sale? Persistent = consistent.


Winning at sales is simply a choice. You can choose to win or choose to lose. Once you choose, you become the sales person you have decided to be at the given moment.

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The managers in your dealership must have a written job description with clearly defined responsibilities and expectations.


Having specific goals for the department is required. Daily action plans for selling, training, appointments, one-on-one coaching, save-a deal meetings, deal structuring, follow-up, etc will increase sales by 20 percent without spending more for advertising.


If you read biographies of successful people or businesses, one common thread always seems to be a strong sense of passion fueled by big goals. When you write specific goals down on paper, you are committing yourself mentally, emotionally and physically to the attainment of those goals. Do your dealership and your employees set the long and short-term goals? As the dealer, have you committed your dreams to paper for the month, six months, a year, five years, 10 years, 20 years? Speed of the boss, speed of the crew, if you make the commitment, your employees will, too.


Once you have set your goals, plan your specific actions to reach them. Write a specific action plan for when to train, what to train on, who will conduct the training, how long the training will last and your expected goal of improvement for that area. Post a training schedule for the month and make it a monthly priority. Training is not a sometimes activity. It’s an everyday requirement.


Set goals for appointments and make action plans to reach those goals as a dealership. This requires goals and action plans for each sales person as to their activities to set daily appointments. Strive for and monitor appointments and watch your sales increase.


Every sales person should be coached daily in a one-on-one session. Set a game plan for who does this, when they do it and the expected results. Items covered in those sessions should be their sales pace in relation to their goals and their percentage of success for total seen contacts, demos, write-ups, closed and deliveries. Those items should be monitored for both yesterday’s traffic and month-to-date totals. Each sales person should have a day planner. The sales people should be required to have a plan for their day that is broken down into an hourly focus. To-do lists and follow-up systems should be reviewed for both sold and unsold customers. Review yesterday’s traffic for each sales person, walk back through what happened and listen for clues that would show breakdowns in their sale process. These activities alone can increase your dealership’s sales 20 percent.


To make more money, each morning the managers hold a save-a-deal meeting in the F&I office to review yesterday’s sold and unsold traffic. All deals in F&I should be reviewed. Review approvals to see if they have been delivered and if not, why? If delivered, have they been booked out and turned to the office? Review finance turndowns for reasons why and any possibilities to approve those deals. Review dealer trades and the status of those deals. Review heat sheets and contracts in transit for deals not funded and deals that have missing items, such as titles, etc.


It takes increased effort and focus to improve your sales 20 percent. Many dealers just increase their advertising in hopes of increasing sales, and in turn, make their sales people traffic junkies. The percentage of gain in bottom line and long-term benefits is what you are seeking, not short-term fixes. The first step is to get rid of the notion, that there are good and bad months. You either have good or bad goals, game plans, actions and reviews of actions. Good or bad months are directly attributed to those items and are not luck.

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The Power of Action

I was invited to be a guest lecturer for an entrepreneur class at the University of Cincinnati. In the question-and-answer portion of the program, the professor asked me to sum up what I felt was the most important message I could stress to the class. My reply was one word – ACTION.


At a sales seminar I was giving, I was going over low- to no-cost marketing strategies designed to increase leads for sales people. At the first break after the marketing section, one of the sales people in attendance who had fl own across the country to attend, got on the phone and called a list vendor I had suggested during the class. Before the break was over, he purchased a large list for a small cost, created an outline and had begun to write the letter based upon proven copy writing techniques and marketing strategies. Afterward he was able to express the value of the campaign to the dealership management and they agreed to cover his costs of his campaign.


At the end of the day, I was having a conversation with the promoter of my seminar and I asked him how many people would take action on that one idea. His answer was few, if any, other than the one sales person. He asked me why I thought that was the case, and my answer was simple and scary – I didn’t know.


From my days as a general manager and leader of people in dealerships to my now many years of training, consulting and sharing with people in dealerships all over the world, I have constantly been stumped by the lack of action by the masses. The truth is indisputable that a small minority will move through their fears and excuses and begin to take action on the necessary steps for success.


In the last few years, I have begun to unlock and share some of the secrets to taking action and achieving success. Unfortunately, even when I share these ideas and suggest simple steps that can guarantee massive self-improvement and eventual success, I know that most people are comfortable being comfortable. Even when that means being comfortable with below-average results. Is my statement negative or just recognition of reality?


Successful people create their own reality. Most people who would take the time to read articles like this are part of the minority of action-takers. For your action takers, let me share just a few ideas on action, the reasons for a lack of it and some corrective measures.


1. Write down the first 20 ideas and teachings that you learned about money. Did you hear these typical messages? “What do you think we are, rich?” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “We can’t afford that.” “Money is the root of all evil.” You are more influenced by early learning than you might believe. Many ideas and messages you hear from TV, teachers and even parents are negative and rooted in scarcity. The root of the word scarcity is scare. When was the last time you saw a movie or TV program in which the rich guy was the good guy?


2. Are you clear in your goal of what you desire? Have you written it down? Less than 5 percent of people will ever write their goals and begin to focus on their desires and action plans to get there. Clarity of thought creates questions that bring answers.


3. When you write a goal, you are making a conscious choice. Your actions, however, are often directed by your subconscious messages. Often the goals you have chosen with your conscious thought and the actions you take directed by your subconscious are in direct conflict and opposition. This is why at times you can feel such an enormous state of struggle. The only way to get past the struggle and create positive action is to remove the negative and opposing messages and images in your subconscious. When you write your goals, what are the limiting thoughts and feelings that pop up that are implanted in your subconscious? Once you have identified them, rewrite them to erase the limits and negatives. Create a conscious and subconscious that acts in unison.


4. Write down your top five largest fears. Fear can be described as false evidence appearing real. We can escalate fears or goals to reality. Both are simply a choice. What are your most dominant thoughts? Do your thoughts lean toward action, achievement, success and abundance or toward lack, scarcity and fear?


Only through action can you make the necessary mistakes that will lead to success, rewards and happiness. Nobody has ever sat and watched their way to success.

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Building Your Business

Have you made the commitment that automotive sales is your career choice? Unless you commit, it’s impossible that you will take the necessary steps to create the business you desire. Long-term thinking in addition to short-term goals are keys to continued success.


When you first enter into a sales position, 80 percent of your time is spent acquiring customers and 20 percent of your time is spent maintaining those customers. Eventually, with the right efforts, that model should be reversed. Eighty percent of your time should be spent maintaining your customers and 20 percent to acquire new customers.


You face a paradox of time management in building your business. The paradox is that you must work in the business and also work on the business. When you are face-to-face with customers you are working in the business but no matter how busy you are, you must find time each day to work on the business, as well. Working on the business includes marketing, prospecting, follow-up, networking, delegating, automating etc.


Insurance sales people, real estate sales people and sales people from many industries continually think and act on building their business. However, in the auto industry the majority of sales people seem addicted walk-in traffic. Eliminating this addiction is the key to long-term success.


Lead Generation = Dollar Creation. Begin to build multiple streams of leads by building a marketing web. List every way you presently acquire leads such as walk-ins, phone prospects, be-backs, referrals, repeat customers. Then begin to list new ways you could begin to acquire leads and how you can strengthen or add to your existing methods of generating leads.


Do you presently have a software program for following and managing your leads? Not the dealerships program, your program? Don’t trust anybody or anything to manage your most important resource – your customers.


Secondly, do you have a set follow up strategy? How often will you follow up? How will you follow up. What rewards will you give, and what special offers will you provide to bring them in for service? That creates the Law of Familiarity and Obligation leading to repeats and referrals.


E-mail follow-up and marketing is essential. Automate your follow-up using technology. E-mail, Autoresponder e-mail and Sequential Autoresponder e-mail are all ways to follow-up and add value that can be done while you sleep or on vacation. Video e-mail and personalization are keys to making a connection, removing the impersonal nature of e-mail and adding the wow factor.


All sales people need their own personal Web site. The site should include sign-up forms that collect e-mail addresses. The site should be personalized with your picture, family picture, your own personal story, rewards for visiting the site and helpful information for the customer. Your Web site should include an audio introduction link.


Do your business cards look like 99 percent of others sales people’s business cards? Don’t use a picture of a car, use your picture or caricature. Business cards also need the sales person’s Web site, e-mail address and slogan. Put a call to action on your cards for the customer to come see you, call you or visit your Web site.


Maximize traffic by creating a be-back CD. Create a CD that you give each customer who does not buy and invite them to play it on the way home. The CD should include information about you, your dealership and product that would benefit the customer. Include testimonials and a reward for the customer if they come see you.


Create coupon swaps with businesses around you. Visit a local restaurant and offer to build their business on their worst traffic day of the week for free. You can build their business by creating a coupon with an offer they approve and then pass these coupons out at work from the cashier, receptionist, and all departments to every customer who enters your dealership. In return ask that the restaurant pass out coupons from you approved by the dealership with a special offer to come see you.


Once you start the marketing web it will grow and take on a life of its own. Building a business first requires long-term thinking and a commitment to the industry as a career. When you commit, you have already created a business, only its shape is unfinished.

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Phone Dynamics

The first step in advancing the productivity of your staff in using the phones is a better understanding in the importance that the telephone can play and how it affects your business. Often a lack of the right attitude is displayed in the treatment towards the receptionist position. The receptionist is usually hired without any guidelines that would be used to hire for an important position. In your dealership do you have personality profiles, set interview questions and guidelines to hire an exceptional receptionist? Do you have a formalized training process and performance based pay? Often the receptionist is the lowest paid person in the dealership but is often the person who influences the customer first. Why not pay the receptionist a bonus based upon various criteria such as average time to answer a call, average hold time for a customer etc.


The sales people also need training on the understanding of the importance of both inbound and outbound sales calls and how this can affect their incomes. A sales person can sit around all day waiting for someone to come in, but they can take incoming sales calls and treat them like they are not important. The average dealership will spend a fortune on advertising to get people to call and come in but not pay attention to what is happening when the customers call or come in. Call a competitor or call your own dealership and mystery shop a few times and ask yourself if you are impressed with the results.


Let’s talk about a few things to improve the importance of sales performance in utilizing the phone. First of all, the dealership needs a formal call tracking process. Many dealerships know their floor traffic but not their phone traffic. Why? This sends the wrong message. You must quantify to qualify, meaning you must know where you are at to understand where you would like to go. Have the receptionist use a call tracking sheet that they are trained to use. Example: On an incoming sales call, the receptionist should positively remark that they will be happy to get a sales representative for the customer and then acquire the customers name by asking “and your name is?” The receptionist can then list the customers name on the log with the date and time received and page for a sales representative. Now the receptionist can write their name on the tracking sheet as well. The sales representative is responsible for putting remarks of the results on the log after the sale. The above process can be altered according to the technology you have established in your dealership. Managers can now include a review of the phone traffic in their daily one on one coaching sessions.


Sales people must have a formal tracking sheet they use when taking calls to assist them in remembering the right steps and collecting the information necessary. The first step in changing the view of a sales person towards the phone is to show them how easy it is to pick up several units each month just by having better phone skills. The Internet has increased the number of sale calls and the quality of customer calling.


Sales people must be taught new techniques that match the marketplace of today. Sales people have been taught the importance of getting name and number so much so that they are jeopardizing the appointment and scaring customers away. Gone are the days of telling the customer you are out in service and not at your desk so you would like to get their name and number and call them back or that the customer just needs to come on down so you can show them in person. Customers are looking for ways to dismiss you as an option and outdated phone skills will make that happen quickly.


Review the telephone operations in your dealership and take steps to increase the skills of everyone using the phone. Better phone process and skills uncover hidden wealth.

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Find Your Hidden Wealth

What is hidden wealth? Hidden wealth is an unused, dormant or under utilized part of your business that contains great value. All businesses have at least one hidden wealth. Even the best businesses in the world contain hidden wealth. The key is to determine your hidden wealth and begin to mine the potential gold that lies therein. All businesses are different. Each business should require their leaders to conduct a concerted effort of introspection and egoless honesty to determine what their hidden wealth may be. One way to begin is to ask deeper and better questions about your business than you ever have before. What is the story of your dealership? How is that unique and more importantly, how does that benefit the customer?


Begin a journey to determine what your business does best. What does your business do better than anyone else? Then ask yourself these questions about that one thing, “How”, “Why” and how can I prove it to my customers in a way that benefits and motivates them? Once you determine the one thing that you do better than anyone else, then ask your customers why they think you do it best? See if what you feel and they feel are the same. If your business does something great but your customers don’t know, it won’t matter. If you customers don’t hold the same value in what you think you do great, it won’t matter. Better questions lead to better answers and better businesses. Ask yourself, what do you have that others don’t have? What do you have that is better than what others may have? Is your sales staff better? Is your service better? Is your location better? Is your inventory better? Is your pricing structure better? Is your process quicker? Is your facility better? When you determine what you have that’s better, you must ask yourself, why is that true?


You must also ask yourself, how can I explain what we do and how it’s better in very specific terms that the customer cares about? You can’t say you have a large inventory. It doesn’t mean anything. But you can say you have 500 vehicles worth ten million dollars in inventory and that no one comes close to your selection and because of that it takes the hassle out of shopping. What ever you decide is your strong point, ask yourself this question, “Who cares?” If you can’t tell your customer in a way that benefits them, they won’t care.


Some dealerships have a large database of untapped business. Some dealerships have a great location with many possible synergies with other local businesses that could be explored. Many dealerships have community relationships that could be utilized. Many dealerships have talented but untrained people. Many dealerships are either sending the wrong or mixed message to the market or sending a good message to the wrong market or utilizing either the wrong medium or not enough mediums to reach their market.


Each dealership has assets that contain vast riches if they can be explored and tapped.

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Fake It Till You Make It

You are who you decide to be at any given moment. It does not take money, a degree, a certain age, a certain appearance, tons of experience, knowing the right people, past success or any other qualifying factor that you may be currently using as a subconscious roadblock to your desired success. Your belief system creates your results both past and present. If your current belief system is not what it should be to support your success, you must fake it, till you make it.


If you currently don’t appear to be on the path that will create the level of success in the form you desire, you must begin to identify the mental programming that is limiting your success before you can change your resulting limiting actions.


You must pay close attention to your inner dialogue when you write goals or have thoughts about anything you desire. When thinking of your goals, if you repeatedly think of the specific reasons of how and why your goal may be hard to obtain, you are creating the “When-Then Syndrome.” Your subconscious identifies your current programming that tells you that for X to occur you must first have Y. If that is the case, your current mental programming is limited and will not allow you to break through your current barriers to further success.


Write down the first twenty mental images or messages you heard or were taught about money. When closely examined, most of the images and messages remembered will be limited, negative, and fear based. Those negative messages and images have taken a life of their own and have been accepted in your subconscious as absolute truths. To increase money, you must identify your current limiting messages and rewrite the messages to create accepted new truths.


Every person you come into contact with tries to define you based upon his/her own thoughts and beliefs. Your workplace is full of people with their own limiting mental programming that want to define you in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. People will create images such as “you are just lucky” or “the favorite of the boss” or “a weak sales person”. So often you act in your work environment in a role based upon the images and messages accepted by your subconscious. Unfortunately, your subconscious accepts all images and messages without filtering. However, you can overwhelm the negative messages with your own positive messages. Your conscious mind will choose and react to the strongest messages being given to it. Don’t allow others to create your destiny based upon their own limited beliefs.


Your subconscious can act as an automatic responder in a positive form just as it can negatively. You must bombard your mind with positive and repetitive images for your conscious mind to react with positive messages. Read and listen to the material that will support you in creating the images you desire, while reducing and eliminating the negative influences you encounter from relatives, co-workers, and the news. You create your own reality. It’s your responsibility to choose the right sources of information to saturate your brain.


To start manifesting your desires, you must become clear on your goals. Write what you want in present tense using vivid details of your emotions and thoughts at the time of obtaining those goals. The repetitive conditioning of your subconscious with the imagery you have created will begin to grow just as your muscles grow by the repetitive action of lifting weights. Soon your positive imagery will be so strong that your belief system will accept this as reality before it has ever transpired as reality. There will be no difference between your chosen reality and your current state. Your belief system will accept each step and each day as a part of your path to success. Dare today to choose what you desire and the actions that support those desires.

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You Can Make Things Happen

Thoreau once said, “Things don’t change, people do.” If things are to happen, you must make them happen. Good people and businesses always make things happen. Let’s look at the essential rules of making things happen.


Rule 1 – Always have a CEO attitude – You must start by taking responsibility for all things both good and bad. Accept that your company signs your check and you fill in the numbers. Your own personal philosophy, which is determined strictly by choice and your own free will, determines your first step in success or failure.


Rule 2 – Every business operates two businesses: People and Marketing. If you are great with people but don’t have people to speak to, you fail. Marketing has become essential to all sales people.


Rule 3 – Lead generation equals dollar creation – The more leads you generate the more money you earn. How do you create leads? Develop a marketing web – Draw a small circle on a piece of paper and put the name of your company in the middle. (Your company, not the one that signs your check). Now draw lines in different directions that look like spokes coming out of the circle. Label each spoke as a source of leads. (Example: walk-ins, incoming sales calls, referrals, repeats, be-backs, service, networking, prospecting etc.) Notice that each spoke can have multiple spokes that sprout from it.


Rule 4 – Add value first – The perception of price is always in relation to the value perceived. Perception is reality for your customers. What do they perceive to be the value in your offer, product, you, or the business? To create value you must TLC—think like a customer--and then take action.


Rule 5 – Give HFG - hope for gain. People always want something better than what they have. It’s human nature. Hope for Gain follows the pleasure versus pain rule of life. People act to either find pleasure or avoid pain. Hope for gain moves people toward pleasure.


Rule 6 – Offer risk reversal - Take away your customers’ risk and it creates urgency in the eyes of the customer. You must lower the barriers of entry that discourage customer traffic. Risk reversal allows your customer to avoid pain.


Rule 7 – Provide leverage – Hope for gain and risk reversal provide leverage for people to take action. You must always be thinking of ways that your customers can get excited about contacting you now. Urgency, emotions, social proof, incentives and testimonials all provide leverage.


Rule 8 – Facts tell; stories sell- Stories add the most important element of sales and marketing. People think in pictures. People relate to stories that they can see themselves in the staring role. Make them the star. People will avoid advertising and marketing on purpose, but they will react to a good story.


Rule 9 – Utilize the law of obligation and reciprocation – In sales or marketing, you must be willing to add the wow factor. You must be willing to give people extra service, extra offers, extra emotion, extra humor, extra enthusiasm... extra everything, until the customer feels an overwhelming obligation to give you a chance.


Now let me give you some examples to create leads using these rules.


1. – Record a two to five minute be-back CD that you give to each customer who doesn’t buy a car and ask them to play it on the way home. On the CD, thank the customer for the opportunity, tell them your SDP--specific defining proposition- to get them excited about doing business with you and purchase your product.


2. Nice trade call – Every time you take a nice trade-in, call at least 20 of your sold customers and let them in on a secret. Let them know about the beautiful vehicle you now have and how it hasn’t been put all the way though service and clean-up yet. Let them know you’re calling a few of your preferred customers about the newly acquired vehicle. If they don’t want it, ask them who might be.


3. Create affiliations – Who does business with whom you want to do business? Always think of how you can add value to them first. What can you do to help their business? Offer coupon swaps. Offer to create a coupon for a two for one special at their restaurant. In return, ask that they distribute a coupon from your business.


4. Offer a free program – Offer a thirty minute program to some of the varying associations on how to buy a vehicle. Take brochures with coupons offering value that would make them take action to receive something of value from you. Create a lead first.


5. Postcards – Postcards are cheap. You can send to targeted markets, with a targeted message, such as, “Employee Purchase Program – Buy a vehicle for what I would pay!”


6. Val-Packs – Postcard advertising made even cheaper.


7. Orphan Owners - Call every orphan owner and offer them something of value. If you offer all the clients who’ve not been contacted the chance to do business with you, a large percentage will consider doing more business with you in the future.


8. FSBO call – Call everyone selling your brand of vehicle and ask them about their trade. Offer to get an appraisal and to help them purchase their new vehicle.


9. Create a Free Special Report – “How to buy a vehicle” – You could combine your postcards with this message and once you’ve created a lead through their response by fax, phone or email, you can follow up after sending your special report.


10. Create your own web site – Put your web site address on all your business cards, mailing, materials etc. Put your picture, biography, special offers, recipe of the month, etc. Make people go to your site for a special offer.


John Wooden said, “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.” You can’t change economies, but you can work daily to change your actions. A little extra effort put forth everyday will help build a successful business. Make it happen!

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10 Tips for Recruiting Sales People Successfully

Sales people provide life for all companies. If everything starts with sales people, it only makes sense to make sure that you are recruiting the best potential sales people


Tip 1: Recruit from want, not need. Make recruiting an everyday activity, don’t wait until you need it.


Tip 2: Have a strategy to recruit people all the time. To orchestrate a successful ongoing recruiting program you must first have a game-plan. Plan and develop a flow chart of your desired results. Write down the obvious. You must know why you are looking to create a recruiting strategy. “When the why gets strong, the how gets easy.”


Tip 3: Know who is in charge of recruiting and his/her qualifications. People must be educated on creating and orchestrating a strategy that works. Don’t leave the who and how to chance.


Tip 4: Newspaper ads – the Sunday paper is full of ads for sales people. If you plan on using help wanted ads as part of your recruiting, you must write the ad with the mindset of the good sales person you are looking to recruit. Use two age-old formulas: WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” and AIDA – “Attention, interest, desire and action” when creating your ads.


Tip 5: Try using several avenues to recruit such as full color newspaper inserts, business journal classifieds, a banner ad on your web site, local colleges, Internet job postings, radio ads, military bases, job fairs and employee referral program. Never leave the vitality of your company to just one avenue of marketing. You must build a marketing web that has many marketing branches to attract good people.


Tip 6: Have an “ideal employee” profile. Know who you are looking for before you find them. When you’ve developed a precise guideline of what the perfect recruit looks like, you can begin your process with that in mind and then remove the emotions involved in interviewing.


Tip 7: Payment plans satisfy base-level needs of the potential recruit. Pay all recruits during training and guarantee them a living wage during their learning curve. Many potentially good sales people are not given the chance to ever enter the business. Lower the barriers of entry in order to find the best people.


Tip 8: Have at least 50 written interview questions. Don’t you show a sales person how to profile customers? Preparation is key to a good interview. Be ready with sub questions to the interviewee’s answers that allow him or her to elaborate and communicate in detail. A good interview will follow the 80/20-rule and allow the recruit to speak 80% of the time.


Tip 9: Test and profile a potential sales person. Anyone who has interviewed people has come across a great interview, horrible employee. A good recruiting strategy must utilize many tools to reduce the emotion and help to make a more logical and quantitative selection. There are many tools today that can be used to gauge the personality, sales aptitude, emotional IQ, intelligence and just about anything else you want to know about a possible future employee


Tip 10: Don’t hire people based only upon resumes. If you want to hire good sales people, recruit and hire based on talent and attitude and teach them the necessary skills.


Recruiting and hiring effectively is a continuous process that is both part science and being creative. Having a consistent plan will make your recruiting a success.

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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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