Show Your Team How They Can Actually Make Money In Car Sales - Sean V. Bradley Presentation - Sales Manager Super Conference
Whether you are a football fan or not, unless you have been living in a cave you have probably heard a lot about Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow. What Tebow and Manziel have in common is that both are former Heisman Trophy winning college quarterbacks. What they both also have in common is that they are both very much hated and reviled by so many.
From the outside looking in, they are polar opposites in many ways. Tebow is publicly very religious and Manziel is not. Tebow is outwardly extremely humble and Manziel is viewed as being extremely cocky and even arrogant. Tebow apparently lives a very straight arrow life and Manziel has had his share of documented days of partying. Tebow never reacts to his detractors and Manziel seems to give the proverbial middle finger to his. Tebow quotes scripture and Manziel plays rap. Tebow appears humble while Manziel seems to flaunt his ability with a little in your face style.
Manziel and Tebow outwardly opposite in every way but yet both share in common massive doses of venom by the media, coaches, some players and large amounts of the general public. Tebow the humble, virtuous Christian is hated and Manziel the cocky, partying one man show is hated as well. Actually, I am not sure which one seems to be condemned and hated the most. Seems to be a conundrum doesn’t it.
In my opinion, the answer in this does not lie in the characteristics of either Manziel or Tebow or what they do or don’t do. The answer to this conundrum lies with people who are constantly judging others. Often these people judge them but inwardly are wishing they could be more like them. They are not really hating on Manziel or Tebow. Instead, they are expressing their hatred of themselves and their own perceived shortcomings expressed outwardly towards Manziel and Tebow. Haters hate because that is what they do.
Don’t be a hater and stop judging others. Look at yourself and judge yourself. Work on yourself and let others be. Success and happiness is always an inside out job.
Make Money Mondays with Sean V. Bradley - Special Edition with Robert Wiesman
How to ACTUALLY Make Money in Car Sales (Webinar) - Sean V. Bradley
"How to ACTUALLY Make Money in Car Sales" - FREE Webinar - Sign Up Now!
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 12:00pm Eastern Time
Sell more cars, more often, with this step-by-step Mind Map Projection.
All automotive professionals aspire to selling 30 units a month, but not everyone achieves this. In order to sell 30 cars a month, you need to do more than wish for it. You have to create a plan, prepare, and strategize and then execute it appropriately. In this webinar, Sean Bradley will teach you exactly what you need to do in order to sell 30 units a month. With step-by-step processes, you will learn how to accurately project how many phone-ups, walk-ins, be-backs, and internet-ups you'll need to connect with in any given day, week, and month to set you up for 30-car success.
In this webinar, you will not be learning sales gimmicks. You will not be learning tricks, and you will not be sold a product. This straight-forward, no-nonsense webinar will give you the exact steps you need to take in order to sell 30 cars in a month.
Sean V. Bradley
Sean V. Bradley
Founder & CEO,
Sean V. Bradley is the top automotive trainer and consultant in the country and is currently one of the most sought after subject matter experts for Internet Sales, Business Development and Digital Marketing. Beginning as a sales consultant, Sean learned the business from the ground up holding positions at dealerships as Sales Manager, Internet Sales Manager, Special Finance Manager and Business Development Director. Furthermore, Sean is the only certified Franklin Covey Trainer and Facilitator in the Automotive Industry and a proud member of the National Speakers Association. Sean is also the creator the Internet Sales 20 Group, an intensive 3-day workshop that is designed for executive management of dealerships. Sign up at www.internetsales20group.com.
The average dealership hires a salesperson and, after a brief introduction of paperwork, allows the salesperson to begin talking to and selling to their customers. Some dealerships may send the salesperson to a meeting room to watch a series of perfunctory training videos and then cut them loose on the showroom floor to sell. Either way, the day of unleashing an untrained salesperson on a well-trained customer is dead.
The days of counting on a steady stream of traffic and allowing salespeople to train through trial and error are over. The margin for error has been erased. The customers are now unforgiving in having salespeople on the job train at their expense. The customers, through the use of the Internet and their information gathering, have driven the competition for their business to another level.
Selling can no longer be taught solely as features and benefits. Selling is an educational, experiential process won by salespeople and dealerships who have worked diligently at becoming a category of one. A new salesperson with a lack of intense education — from cradle to grave of their careers — is doomed to failure or mediocre results at best.
No longer can dealership leaders allow the idea to permeate their business philosophy that veteran salespeople can’t, won’t or don’t need to be trained. The marketplace is unforgiving and cares only about results. An experienced salesperson without continual updated information and education is no better, and often worse, than an untrained new salesperson. The meaning at the root of the word “sell” is “to serve.” At least a new salesperson usually has an attitude of servitude that may be lacking in an often jaded but experienced salesperson.
Death is a cessation of movement and an unwillingness to adapt and accept change. Today’s marketplace demands that businesses be staffed with team members who display “teachable spirits.” Dealerships who wish to be in a position to compete for a customer’s business will have an intense written, communicated and required game plan for continual education.
The average technician in a dealership can have tens of thousands of dollars invested in education, tools and tool boxes. What about your salespeople? What investment is the salesperson making in his tools? What investment is the dealer making in that person who, with one bad contact with a customer, can in the short term cost the dealer thousands of dollars and, in the long term, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Education is not a sometime thing but an everyday habit. Doctors, lawyers and brain surgeons don’t stop educating themselves upon graduating from school. Would you want a doctor to operate on you who has not been trained on the latest techniques and best practices? I once had a dealer tell me they were waiting to see if a salesperson was going to make it in the business first before investing in him. The only thing worse than investing in a salesperson who does not make in the business is not investing in a salesperson who does make it in the business.
For a free special report “10 Things Your Dealership Must Do To Be Successful” e-mail me at email@example.com with “10 Things” in the subject line.
Everyone talks about change, but few people embrace it. Change is growth, and growth is positive and unavoidable. If you don’t change, the world will change without you and leave you behind. In business today, change is occurring at a rapid pace and is causing the death of traditional salespeople as we know them.
In the age-old process of selling, the emphasis has been on a linear “road to the sale” process. Step One leads to Step Two and so on. The Internet information age has made the traditional road to the sale obsolete. Your customer today may be on Step Three or Four from the beginning, instead of the traditional Step One. Traditional salespeople try to force the customer through a funnel no matter what the customer says or feels. Today, flexibility and understanding in the sales process is the key.
The traditional sales process talked about features and benefits. If you are selling just features and benefits today, you are at a strong disadvantage. It’s simply not enough. You must communicate features, benefits and value wrapped up in a story and shared through an experience. People want to be involved and, when they are, it strengthens their commitment. Traditional selling is something that is done to someone and modern selling is something that is experienced with the help of a communicator/ facilitator/problem solver.
In the traditional sales process, price is never mentioned until the feature-benefit presentation has been made. Price is avoided and evaded. In today’s market, you cannot ignore the issue of price; instead, you must address it up front to eliminate the fear and establish trust. By addressing price, you will move the customer past price apprehension and eliminate the fight caused by avoiding and evading. This does not mean you have to be a quote machine, but it does mean that you cannot be afraid to discuss the issue of price to move past it.
In the traditional road to the sale, you would address the customer’s trade-in at the time of the appraisal because it’s part of the pricing structure and, therefore, part of the negotiations and a potential objection. In the modern sales process, you recognize the trade-in as being a major comfort zone of the customer and a great tool to build rapport and find out the customers patterns of buying. You will now address the trade-in willingly up front in the process. People repeat buying behavior whether it’s in person or on the Internet. The Internet is just another medium used in the process and customers emulate offline and online behaviors and patterns.
In the traditional road to the sale, customers are asked to make a buying commitment before they are given figures. Imagine scaring your customers so much before you gave them figures that you created a fear about buying. That’s exactly what often happens in a traditional sales process. If you want to commit a customer, do so throughout the sales process in small commitments, based upon the process and the value of the product and their satisfaction. Get continual agreements about the two things all customers care about today — time and money. All people want to save time and money. Use these keywords throughout the whole sales process and get agreement about how everything you are sharing with them, everything they are experiencing and the manner in which you are doing it is creating opportunities for them to save time and money. Perception becomes reality. Frame the perceptions and thoughts and you will frame the basis of the customer’s decision all without making them commit to a buying decision too early in the sale process when they don’t have enough information. This old school form of commitment is just “If I could would you…” run amok.
Utilize as many modalities of learning as possible with your customer. Allow people to see, hear, feel and experience. Old school selling was dominated by telling things to customers and making verbally dominated presentations. The problem is that many of your customers are not auditory learners. The popular method of selling in the past has not matched the way a customer tends to learn and absorb information in a comfortable way. Through proper questioning, you can easily define a person’s dominant mode of learning and weave in the other modalities to put the customers buying experience on steroids. Utilize video, audio and experiential steps in the buying process and your customers will begin to feel what I call the “Disneyland Effect.” Create sensory amazement with your customer.
Your customer should never be able to walk away from the buying experience they have with you and compare it to any other salesperson. The traditional salesperson tried to find the right car, information and price for the customer and hoped he got the sale. Today, the customer can get those things anywhere and never leave the house to get it. Your marketplace demands more. Start to reevaluate your sales process by thinking of the following questions:
• What are other salespeople not doing?
• What would be the opposite of what other salespeople do?
• What do customers want, and in what way do they want it?
• What would make you stand out from anyone else?
• What parts of traditional selling should be tweaked, changed or removed altogether to create an easier, better buying experience?
• What is the customer’s biggest fear and how do I remove it?
• What do I have the most fear about eliminating or changing in my sales process and why?
Usually the biggest rewards are in attacking the areas we fear the most. The things we tend to hold as the strongest foundations and that would absolutely be unthinkable to change are the very things that tend to lead to the biggest breakthroughs. Traditional selling is dead and that is a good thing. Ten years from now, the breakthroughs of today will be obsolete. The question for you is, will you be obsolete?
Every year at the NADA Convention, the exhibit hall is full of CRM and BDC companies displaying their wares. Dealers spend massive amounts of money in a frenzy to buy the “magic button” CRM or BDC solution for many reasons. Unfortunately most of those reasons aren’t valid. Putting great tools in the hands of below-average people with below-average processes and little-to-no accountability equals a waste of money.
Let’s look at some of the underlying reasons why dealers buy these tools. Dealers see their dealer friends, fellow 20 Group members and competitors buying these tools and feel the peer pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Dealers start reading trade magazines and attending programs where a lot of the conversation is around customer relationship management and feel the force of momentum around this subject.
Unfortunately, I have been in thousands of dealerships across the country and can say without a doubt that in the majority of dealerships, between 80 to 90 percent of their CRM’s or BDC’s functionality is not being used. Great technology and great tools alone do not move a traditional dealership into the new age of selling. In most dealerships with CRM tools, incremental sales and service numbers are not improved and massive amounts of money are being wasted.
In almost 30 years in the business, I have witnessed the majority of dealerships putting massive amounts of time, energy and money on acquiring new customers and giving only lip service around the importance of existing customers. All research, data and plain logic shows that putting the emphasis on your existing customer base first will reward you more than any other single thing you can do. I conduct interviews with dealers every day, and it’s hard to find a dealer who actually knows what their dealership’s repeat sales numbers look like. Almost none of the dealers I interview can tell me what their sale-to-service retention percentage is. Very few dealers can give a detailed explanation of their CRM process and how it is carried out, and even to what degree it is carried out. Embarrassingly, very few dealers can tell me specifically and convincingly why a customer should buy from their dealership versus their competitors’.
The traditional entrepreneurial dealer focused only on push-driven sales approaches is dead. Dealers have to be better business people than ever before. Gone are the days of being successful in spite of you. The margin for ignorance and operating error is slim.
Bury your old dealership and operating approach as you know it. Take the time to step away from your dealership and evaluate what you are doing versus what needs to be done. Evaluate the 4 P’s of your business – People, Process, Product and Positioning. Evaluate all the tools and technology you use and the effectiveness of those tools and the way they are being used or most likely not being used. You must integrate people and technology together into a cohesive sales and marketing process.
Many dealers will need to come to the conclusion that they will never be able to set up a traditional process with people carrying out all the functions they want them to. Most of your salespeople and managers are not capable or willing to do all the things you want them to do. The truth for those dealerships is that they never have and they never will. If this is your dealership, you may have to let go of your ego and design a process with job descriptions that can actually succeed. You may decide to remove some of the traditional functions and narrow the focus of each person on your team. I have often heard dealers say, “I expect my managers or salespeople to do these things.” In return, I always ask the dealer, “Do they? And if so, how often?” Most of the time, the answer is either “no” or “very little.”
It’s very clear — gone are the days where a dealer can accept that expectations are not being met. You must either improve your people and accountability of those people or completely redesign your dealership with processes and benchmarks that can and will be executed and monitored. I invite dealers to stop playing victim by blaming your people for not executing. You hired them, you set up the process and you created the accountability or lack of it. Therefore, it’s your responsibility and your job to fix it.
For a free special report titled “10 Things You Must Do At Your Dealership To Be Successful” e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “10 Things” in the subject line.
Do you feel like you are missing out on something? Are you confused as to what the next step is in making your dealership successful? It’s a different ballgame than it was even just a few years ago. The traditional dealership is dead and you must bury it to prosper in the future.
For years, the car business could be a forgiving business. There was room for a lot of error in a dealership, and yet a dealership could still be profitable. Those days are gone. Dealerships cannot be run in only a “seat of the pants,” entrepreneurial fashion anymore. To be successful, dealerships have to be measured intensely in four areas: people, process, product and positioning.
You must choose a path that works for your dealership philosophy. You must recruit people on a full-time basis based upon want, not need. The leadership of a dealership must have a written and executed game plan for recruiting that utilizes online services, job fairs, colleges, tech schools, high schools, Web sites, micro-sites, social media, newspaper, mass media and more.
A dealership needs a detailed plan that includes interview questions, a number of interviews, personnel trained to interview, testing methods for potential job skills match, screening methods, follow-up methods, and initial and ongoing training methods for new hires.
Each dealership should have a written and executed process for every part of the dealership: sales process, Internet lead process, marketing process, service process, parts process, manager process, used car inventory process, etc. As an example, the selling process must be reviewed to make sure it is up to date and matches today’s marketplace. Most sales processes being used today were created in the 1950s and 60s and have changed only slightly. Meanwhile, for the customer, everything has changed. Information gathering, overall knowledge, shopping process, volume of choices, expectations, value perceptions and lessening of brand loyalty are all things that have changed dramatically.
Every dealership needs to review their process based upon TLC – Think Like a Customer. What are you currently doing in your dealership process that lessens customer trust or ease of shopping/buying? Most dealerships are living in the stone-age when it comes to something as simple as the meeting and greeting of the customer. Nothing in your current process is sacred, and the mantra for many things should be “just let it go.”
The days of “Stack’em deep and sell them cheap” are over. Your new and used inventory must be monitored daily using analytic systems and technology that measures not only your inventory but others and market conditions. Many dealers have fought using any type of turn system, even though simple mathematics proved you would be better off doing so. Well, the tide has turned again. Turn systems themselves are now outdated and can even lower your dealerships ROI without other factors involved. Each vehicle is an investment — just like a stock or mutual fund — and must be analyzed, bought, priced, marketed, sold and eliminated using several conditions. Just saying that you have a 45-day turn system is not good enough anymore.
Gone are t he days of running display newspaper ads and waiting for traffic to arrive. Your dealership must have a dealership strategy that combines market positioning. Selling vehicles based upon price only will not create long-term success. Successful dealers will no longer be able to delegate all of their marketing to an advertising strategy without educating themselves on the marketing and positioning aspects of their dealership.
Dealers will have to massively educate themselves on things such as direct response marketing methods, copyrighting, multi-step campaigns, integration of online and offline methods, social media, continual customer relationship building strategies, and sales to service continuity programs and retention. Dealers will learn that many advertising agencies do not understand any of these things and simply create lousy to mediocre production and buy the media. Without a well-thought strategy, using intentional congruence with all of the above-mentioned factors, you cannot be successful in this and future marketplace.
In the last year, I have asked hundreds of dealers the following questions:
• What are your overall sales to service retention numbers and percentages beyond a free first oil change?
• What are your number of inactive customers, and what percentage is that to your overall customer base?
• What is your planned and executed strategy for a continuity program to keep your customers for sales and service?
Here is the sad result: Out of hundreds of dealers, only one knew the answer to these questions. I continually find that dealers and managers do not really know what is going on in their own dealerships and are not doing anything to educate themselves to change that.
The reality is that the future belongs to dealers who educate themselves more, execute better and understand the value of speed in today’s marketplace. The marketplace of today and the future will continue to be very unforgiving, with little room for margin of error, inattention or being slothful. The traditional dealership is dead, but the exciting news is your new dealership is waiting to be born.
For a free special report titled “10 Things You Must Do At Your Dealership To Be Successful” e-mail me at email@example.com with “10 Things” in the subject line.
The traditional dealership is dead, but some have not had their funeral yet. It seems as though as much as some things change in the
auto industry, as many things stay the same. Every week our trainers observe things in dealerships that look and feel like holdovers from the 1960s.
Let’s take a look at some things still commonly observed in dealerships that are outdated and should be changed.
1. Manager Towers
High towers built for managers where salespeople go to get their proposal figures. The common reason for these towers is to create a good observation point of the inventory for managers. What these towers signify is demeaning to salespeople and adversarial to customers. These towers create a manager haven for never moving, as well as an air of supremacy.
Solution: Tear down the towers. Look around your dealership and ask yourself the following question: “What do I see that looks like it’s from the 60s?” Please tear it down.
2. The Big Green Sharpie Deal Proposals
These proposals scream of adversarial “you vs. me” negotiations. The figures seem less real and more of just a thought.
Solution: Use printed or screen proposals with full disclosure.
3. Manager TOs at the End of a Sales Attempt
For those of you who may be new to the auto business, a “TO” means a “turnover.” Old-school selling means the salesperson turns over the customer to a manager when he/she cannot close a deal. Often, the new salesperson is berated for not turning the customer to the manager. The reason is the new salesperson feels as uncomfortable as the customer with this process.
Solution: Manager/Coach/Team Leader is actively involved in the sales process from the greeting of the customer. The new focus is to open the relationship so the sale can be closed. The days of sitting behind a desk and screaming at salespeople to bring a deal are dead. Managers will be hybrid sales coaches, assistants and information providers that involve the sales process, deal process and F&I assistance. No longer will the manager be expected to save a lost deal, but will be involved throughout the process with the emphasis on creating, not on saving. You manage things; you lead people.
4. Seat of the Pants Used Car Inventory Management
The days of the guru used car manager — who knows all the hot cars, market figures for every car on the market, what the correct appraisal is on every trade, what every other dealership is doing and managing the used inventory strictly by feel — is dead. The truth is that person never really existed. It was a myth and a fairy tale. Nobody — and I mean nobody — is that good at what they do.
Solution: If you do not have a used inventory philosophy, system and technology to assist you, you will forever be making mistakes that are, in today’s market, unforgiving. You must use your knowledge combined with inventory technology and up-to-date market data to be relevant in the market. The shocking truth is that the 90-, 60-, 45- or whatever-day turn systems used strictly by themselves are also outdated models that not only do not work, they create problems. Your goals are high sales, profit, ROI and yield — not just turns (more on that subject in future articles).
5. A Staff Full of Professional, “Do it all” Salespeople
This one can actually still be accomplished, but very, very few dealers actually do the things to recruit, hire and train the right people to make this happen. If you have never done this before, you will probably not do this in the future. Don’t kid yourself. Running a help-wanted ad in the newspaper, interviewing candidates without a pre-thought out plan for recruiting, interviewing, testing, screening, training and ongoing development is not trying to develop a staff of professional salespeople.
Solution: The solution for many is something most do not want to hear. For most dealerships, you will never put the amount of time, money and energy to set up a high-level approach to getting and keeping great people. It’s just a fact. The solution is to create a process that involves heavy involvement with team leaders, assistants and technology that narrows the scope of your sales staff. Most dealerships are hiring average to below-average people and expecting them to do a myriad of things they are not only not doing, but not capable of doing. Worse yet, the managers are not showing these people or inspecting the process to make sure it happens. If you are honest with yourself and this description fits your dealership, then you must try something different. The long-term health of your customer base and dealership depends on this.
I invite you to take a moment today and before you get busy with the everyday tasks to take a strong look at your dealership and what is being accomplished or not. Be honest. Are you fighting battle you have never won? Do your salespeople, managers, processes and dealership reek of the 60s and 70s? It may just be time for a funeral.
Example of How To Handle An Internet Prospect That Says They Are No Longer Interested In Buying A Car… Send Them An Email Like This From The GM or Dealer
How would you rate the skill sets of the sales staff at your dealership? Let’s review a few of those skill sets:
• Phone skills — taking inbound calls and making outbound calls
• Follow-up skills — Following up sold and unsold customers with an organized game plan utilizing multiple streams of follow-up methods
• Marketing — Utilizing a planned and sequenced marketing campaign utilizing multiple media methods for low- to no cost self-marketing and prospecting
• Action Management — Otherwise known as “time management”; a well-thought out and executed game plan for a daily, weekly and monthly action plan
• Self-Education — A well-planned and executed game plan for self-education based upon increasing sales skills, people skills, life skills and marketing skills
• Closing skills — The ability to bring all the work done with the customer, the relationships and value created to a purchase decision
Over the years, I have been in thousands of dealerships and know that the answers to the above questions for the vast majority of dealerships are a lot poorer than any of us would like to admit. If you are a manager or dealer, my question to you is the following:
If you have been trying unsuccessfully for many years to raise the skill levels on the above areas, what will change or make a difference in the future? If you keep banging your head against a wall and all you get is a bloody headache, then wouldn’t it make sense to try something different?
One of two things will have to change. Either you must spend the time, effort and resources necessary to recruit, hire, train and retain the right type of quality people, or you must devise a new sales process that alleviates most, if not all, of the above responsibilities from your sales staff. There is a much greater chance that you can hire and teach salespeople to execute a few things really well rather than expecting your sales representatives to execute a whole range of responsibilities at a high level.
Some of you may read this and say that I want you to just give up on salespeople and for some of you that is partially true. If you will not spend a tremendous amount of time and resources on recruiting the right people, then don’t bother in expecting better results. It’s ridiculous. What do you presently have in writing that you implement on a regular basis for a recruiting, interviewing, testing and training program for your dealership? My guess is five percent of dealerships have anything. If that is the case for your dealership, once again I must ask, “What do you expect?” If you say you want a good sales staff that performs necessary sales functions at a high professional level and you spend zero thought, time and resources towards getting good people that even have a capacity to perform these functions, then you will get what you pay for.
If you have determined that you cannot get high-quality people or do not want to spend the resources necessary to get the top quality people, then I do not find shame in creating a limited sales process with limited functions for your sales staff to ensure a high probability of success. My hope is that you chose some plan of massive action rather than keep doing the same thing and expecting a miracle. Hoping and praying alone does not seem to work. To paraphrase a quote, “Pray, but move your feet.”
To receive my articles and FREE special report on Death of Traditional Salespeople, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Death of Traditional Salespeople” in the subject line.
A recent article I wrote titled “The Death of Traditional Salespeople” received more response than any article I have ever written. Judging from the massive response, I struck a nerve with salespeople, managers, business owners and just about everyone who read the article. Based upon the overwhelming response and the huge amount of requests for more information on this theme, I am providing the following article.
For as long as I can remember, traditional sales training has focused highly on certain sales skills such as cold calling, presentation-demonstration, objection handling and closing. This model is outdated and out of touch. The traditional model that is taught to salespeople has an adversarial and combative tone that goes against the grain of basic human communication.
Selling is not something you do to someone. By my definition, selling is assisting people in finding and understanding a solution to their problem(s). Every buyer has a problem — whether it is a want or need problem — and it’s the job of the salesperson to guide the buyer to the solution instead of force feeding him product or services. It’s much easier to practice what I call the “slippery-slide method of selling.”
If you were at a pool and it had one of those slippery-slides, you would start at the top and slide effortless to the bottom. In sales, it’s usually the salesperson that puts obstacles in the way of the customer from fl owing effortlessly to their destination. The obstacles start in the form of an outdated mindset of “control” and coercive techniques.
Instead of concentrating so much on outdated word tracks to overpower people, why not concentrate on understanding basic human emotion and thought in assisting the customer, rather than fighting him? Let’s start with the most abused skill in selling, which is listening. So much of selling is actually just listening. It is a proven part of communication that when most people listen, they listen intently for about the first 10 seconds and then quickly shift into thinking about what their response will be. A quick shift occurs in the salesperson that is now self-focused and control oriented.
To truly listen is to seek to understand based upon complete focus on the customer and their perspective. Perception of the customer is the only reality that matters. It’s not about right or wrong or overcoming objections, but about truly understanding the customer and their thoughts and feelings. From understanding comes a shared goal-achieving process with the customer. You and the customer share a destiny, rather than acting as opposing players.
Traditional objection handling techniques stress changing a customer’s thoughts and emotions, rather than understanding them and then utilizing those thoughts and emotions to come a winning solution for the customer. I call this paradigm shift “selling form the heart.” Some old-school types will read this and think it’s a bunch of psycho-babble and feel-good mumbo-jumbo. To those of you locked into that vein of thought, understand that it’s not my mission to change you, as most adults do not change. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t tarry too long with the non-believers.”
You may find this article a bit odd, knowing that it was written by a sales trainer, but I believe that traditional selling is dead on arrival. The days of hiring and building a well-trained sales staff that executes all facets of the sale, follow up, prospecting, marketing, telephone skills and building a database of repeat buyers has, for the most part, been dead for a while.
Some of you reading this may be shocked or even angry at such a statement, and declare that it is certainly not the case at your dealership. However, it is the case for 95 percent of dealerships across the country. If you have been able to recruit, hire, train and retain a professional staff of salespeople who execute on an extremely high level then I say “bravo.” Our company has certainly helped many dealerships do the same thing. However, after almost 30 years in the business, I can tell you it is not the norm.
What I see in the auto business today, on average, is scary. I see lazy, untrained staff members who either cannot or will not learn the skills necessary to become strong, professional salespeople. I see dealerships with weak or non-existent game plans to recruit, hire and train a strong professional staff. I see managers who like to sit behind their desks and wait for untrained sales staffs to bring them deals.
I continue to see dealerships moving to more and more specialization and technology. I see dealerships utilizing CRMs, in-store or external Internet departments, outsourced BDCs and sales processes that heavily utilize managers and technology. Although technology does not sell vehicles, it surely assists you in the process. More dealerships will move towards the old school — but now new school — process of product specialists and managers. People will only be trained and expected to perform in certain areas of competency. F&I managers will be moved more towards the front of the sale rather than the back of the sale. Many smart dealers have moved towards this arrangement years ago.
Dealers have been beating their heads up against the wall forever trying to get salespeople not only trained, but get them actually doing it. For the most part, it has not worked. I have heard certain sales trainers cry out “It’s not an option.” That’s easy to say, but those same sales trainers went broke while owning their own dealerships. I am not writing this article to be politically correct. I am writing this article to be a witness to the truth as I see it. The average salesperson today in most stores is lucky to have a job, let alone resembling anything close to a professional salesperson. Customers just won’t tolerate amateurs and old school selling anymore.
If you are fighting the same battles you have been fighting for years and not getting better results, then it may be time to stop blaming your managers and look in the mirror. It may be time to try a different approach. And, to all the truly professional salespeople out there that don’t fit into the 95 percent category I mentioned, you have my apologies, as you should be held in very high esteem and not lumped in with all the rest. You are truly some of the most valuable people on earth.
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Traffic is slow, business is weak, the economy stinks and banks aren’t buying. Repeat this mantra 100 times and see how you feel. I promise you that if you replay this message enough, you will believe it as absolute truth and become depressed and desperate. No matter what circumstances are at present, the choice is simple: You choose to win or choose to lose.
The one single ingredient that is always present in any success story is self-determination. You are always responsible. You are responsible for the good and you are responsible for the bad — it’s just that simple. If you will allow any excuse for failure — no matter how overwhelming the evidence — you have sown the seeds for more excuses to follow.
To succeed in good or bad economies takes the exact same ingredients, but in tougher times it takes more resolve to keep producing the successful ingredients. Your success or failure is based upon your beliefs and philosophy. If you do not have a belief system to support success and a personal philosophy of self-determination, you are subject to all forces that cause failure.
You must create an impenetrable mind — a mind that can sustain all attacks of negativity and philosophies of randomness. The dirty truth is that most people do not believe in self-determination. Most people are excuse makers, and have philosophies of luck and a welfare belief system.
In the United States, which is the richest country in the world, with resources and opportunities that can only be imagined by people in some parts of the world, people make excuses everyday as to how they cannot control their own destiny. It is much easier make excuses than to take control of your own destiny. After all, how can it ever be your fault? The economy is so bad, and you certainly don’t control the economy.
The economy is made up of single micro-economies that create a larger macro-economy. You do control your economy, and it starts between your ears. When you listen to the news and hear that things are not good, do you allow that to be your destiny? After all, if you hear it on the news, it must be true, right?
Let me ask you a few questions. Did you allow your expenses and debt to get too high? Did you allow weak processes and accept less-than-favorable results? Did you create an on-going relationship based marketing program to your existing customers, or did you ignore your most valuable asset — your customers? Did you neglect to install and enforce daily education? Have you massively self-educated yourself on a daily basis to stay abreast of all developments in marketing, technology, social media and marketplace changes? Have you created a marketing plan based upon measurable direct response media that you continually tweak? Do you allow excuses and surround yourself with excuse makers?
Success is based upon certain fundamental truths. Install and adhere religiously to those truths without fail and you will succeed. Although everyone has setbacks, setbacks are not failures and are only temporary signs to adjust and plan accordingly. Always ask yourself, “What’s next?” Keep moving and adjusting. Success and failure are ultimately choice. The choice is yours.
Michael Jackson and Billy Mays passed away in the same week. The passing of Billy Mays made the news but Michael Jackson dominated it. The underlying message sent from the media is that entertaining is good and somehow noble, but selling and marketing is bad. My question for you is the following: Do you allow this flawed thinking to keep you from being successful in your sales and marketing?
The news coverage of Michael Jackson life was largely reverential and fit for king, while the coverage of Billy May’s life always seemed to mention the loud pitchman with a carnival barker quality. Our society tends to revere athletes and entertainers, but scorns marketers and salespeople. This subliminal message bombards the brains of business people who being to believe it.
Too often, business owners and leaders let their egos and perceptions of image get in the way of successful marketing and sales. Movies, TV and news often shape our thoughts. The problem with allowing your actions to be guided by these mediums is they often create false assumptions.
The first sin of marketing is to be boring. In today’s marketplace it is harder to get noticed than ever before. You must stand out. In different fields and with different styles, both Michael Jackson and Billy Mays stood out. Both Michael Jackson and Billy Mays were shrewd marketers and salespeople. Both were personality driven, and neither Michael Jackson nor Billy Mays were boring.
Many businesses spend tons of money on boring marketing. Often the excuse given is “You have to have your name out there” or “I am building a brand.” Unless you are Pepsi or Anheiser Busch, you don’t have enough money to build a brand. Spending money to keep your name out there is an excuse to not have a plan.
People make fun of personality-driven or wacky themed advertising, but if you measure the results of these businesses, they are usually the best performers in their area. Personality-themed marketing and advertising utilizes the personality to drive home the message and the call to action. Those businesses don’t let false ego and image to get in the way of effective marketing.
You should care less about what you think customers will think and more about what they will actually do. The surest way to create a brand image is by selling tons of products through personality-driven marketing and sales that creates a quasi-celebrity out of you, your family, your staff, your pets, your characters and anything else you can use. The personality has a strong supporting role in the marketing and selling without becoming the focal point. In other words, don’t be wacky just to be wacky.
I believe most business owners are somewhat ashamed of marketing and selling. The marketing of these businesses tries to show they are anything but marketers and sellers. The problem is that this tactic doesn’t work. General Motors Saturn brand didn’t approve of using the word “sale” as if it were somehow dirty. Maybe that’s why Saturn didn’t sell much.
Michael Jackson and Billy Mays were both smart marketers. Michael Jackson was loved for it and Billy Mays was laughed at. My own theory is that Billy Mays didn’t care. His bank cashed his checks the same as Michael Jackson’s. Billy Mays rose from boardwalk vendor to being a rich and famous pitchman. Billy Mays laughed all the way to the bank using personality-driven marketing.
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Don’t you hate to hear your customer say “no”? You spend a lot of time and energy with a customer and when you get to the final stage of the sales process, the customer says the dreaded “no” word. You were all excited and hoping for a sale and then poof, the air goes out of your sails. The good news is that you can change from getting “no” answers to “yes” answers.
First, you must recognize that getting a “no” answer isn’t accidental or bad luck. When a customer gives you a “no” answer, it is systemic from a thought or feeling that occurred before decision time occurred. Although it’s not possible to get a “yes” answer 100 percent of the time, it is possible to improve your ratios tremendously by doing a little review.
Review the last 20 customers you have been with who said “no.” What were their objections? Write down all the objections. Categorize each objection. The good news is that objections only fall into a few categories. Once you realize that you face the same objections over and over, it’s easier to prepare for them in the future.
Now let’s dig into why the objection occurred. For all the complexity of human beings, we are pretty basic in that thoughts and emotions drive our decisions. Small companies, big companies, your country of residence, foreign countries — those things do not change human nature. As a salesperson, you must dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper. When you get to the core, you will find fear. What fear is the customer feeling? The overriding fear is of making a mistake.
When you receive an objection, you must now practice risk reversal. The fear has reached a crescendo and created a perception of extreme risk. Sometimes the easiest way for a customer to deal with risk is to say “no.” Customers object for only four reasons: to stall, complain, negotiate or make a valid objection.
Unfortunately, the majority of objections are also unspoken. You have to use your gut to feel the objections of your customers. You may listen to what the customer says, but you also have to feel what they are trying to say and also what they really mean. These three things can be very different from one another. Listening without feeling and understanding will only cause you to chase veiled objections. You will forever be trying to change objections without getting to a “yes.” Your objective is not to handle or fix objections, but to get your customer to the point of not only saying “yes” but feeling good about their decision. Notice I used the word “feel” once again.
Fears can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. The customer can have information given to them extrinsically that creates a fear around you, your product/service or the money. Or the customer can create fear based upon their own thoughts or feelings. Remember that perception is reality to the customer. What will change their fears, whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic? Confidence is the game changer — confidence that you can show and transfer to the customer. People want to feel confident. Usually, your confidence will come from competence. The more competent you are in listening, understanding, communicating, problem solving, persisting and creating a kindred friendship, the confident you will be and the confident your customer will feel. Your confidence will trump any extrinsic information given to the customer by another salesperson.
Try the following risk reversal techniques.
1. Re-demonstrate Your Product or Service — Move people back from their head with their heart. It’s hard for people to make decisions based upon logic only without creating fear around our logic. People tend to have more confidence and conviction around their emotions than their logic. Emotions are fun and logic is boring, scary, black and white, right versus wrong. Re-demonstrating your product or service renews the emotion that justifies logic.
2. Ask the Pointed Question — “Mr. Customer, if you had to pick one thing only that is keeping you from buying what would that be?”
3. Reduce the Scary Monster of Decision — “Mr. Customer, the hardest part of getting what you want is to make the decision to do so. That’s normal. The root meaning of the word ‘decide’ means to cut off from all other things. That can be a scary thing. Once you make the decision, all the fear goes away and you lift a ton off your shoulders. It’s okay to make the decision to have what you know you already want to do.”
4. Make No Mistake — “Mr. Customer, based upon what you have told me, based upon what you have said you want to do, what your goals are, what you are getting and accomplishing, you are not making a mistake.”
Just as the customer has to decide, you have to decide as well. Do you feel worthy of making this sale? Do you feel like you and your product/service is the best for the customer? When you do, you will go from more “no” answers to more “yes” answers.
The last quarter of the year rolls around and you begin to hear some common refrains:
• “We are waiting until the first of the year”
• “Starting in January I am going to…”
• “We have to wait until spring when business picks up”
• “The first of the year I am really going to get into it.”
Here’s the reality for most people who make these statements: The calendar is the only thing that changes.
If you are waiting for the calendar to change your life or your business, you are kidding yourself. My own observation is that these false start dates are nothing more than excuses and actual obstacles to not face reality and take action. No matter your intentions, I think everyone has been guilty of false statements at some time.
Words are cheap. A U.S. General once said, “Every year I pay less attention to what people say and more to what they do.” Action is always where the rubber meets the road. However, actions are preceded by proper thoughts and beliefs. Just because a person says they are going to do something does not mean that their brain buys into the idea.
When you make a statement, you are consciously choosing to do so. The problem begins when your subconscious does not match up to the conscious choice. If your subconscious does not have any evidence to support your statements, the subconscious immediately begins to sabotage your thoughts. This is precisely why traditional goal setting and New Years Eve resolutions fail.
I have heard many times that in setting goals they must be believable to work. You can hear the “believable goals” mantra and interpret this to mean you need to pick a safe goal. Safe goals rarely inspire you to action. Safe goals are easy to say but they don’t fill enough emotional needs. Behind all realized goals are strong emotions that were on fire to be realized.
First of all, you have to set inspiring goals that create emotions inside you. Otherwise all you are doing is writing out a To-Do list. When was the last time you were “geeked” by your To-Do list? Stop listening to everyone’s “10 steps” and “10 rules” to everything and the “Dummy’s Guide to Goal Setting” and start living by your rules. It’s your life, your goals, your emotions and your rewards if you reach your goals. You make the rules. Go for as large a goal as you desire.
Secondly, start giving your subconscious all the evidence it needs to start believing. You may write your goal 100 times a day. You may write your goal and put on your bathroom mirror and say the goal aloud 10 times every morning. You may find 10 people who have reached your goal and reach out to interview them on what they did. You may close your eyes and visualize yourself at the moment you reach the goal and see it in vivid colors, feel the feeling as strongly as you can feel.
No matter what goal you choose, you have to take some kind action. Take a step, no matter how small, and then set in stone your next action and action date. The next action should be soon. The next hour or the next day would be best. Don’t make the next action step too long after the first, or leave it to chance that you will take your next step.
The dirty little secret to reaching any and every goal is that most goals are made up of small, boring, mundane steps that lead to your success. We live in an instant gratification society – “8-Minute Abs,” “Lose 10 Pounds in One Week,” “Lose Six Inches in One Week,” and so on. Those ads are all brilliant marketing strategies, because they promise instant results. The headline of “Lots of sweaty exercise and eating tons of vegetables will help you lose weight this year” would not get a lot of response. The general public would say they hate hype but the truth is most people love hype. People love HOPE — the easier the better.
Don’t wait for a calendar to change your life or your business. Usually the only thing that changes is the calendar.
The intention of goal setting is to look toward the future and think of and plan for what you desire. Goals provide hope. My definition of hope is “Having Optimistic Predictions & Emotions.” However, goals can create your biggest stumbling block to getting what you desire.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The only thing that will grow is that which you give energy to.” To focus your mind on what you desire is great. Concentrate on the why? “When the why gets strong the howgets easy.”
The Law of Attraction will bring to you what you think about. Your thoughts are impressed into your subconscious mind. “What you impress, you express.” All thoughts and actions will attract similar people and events that support your thought and action patterns. The Law of Attraction is an irrefutable universal law, supported by Meta-Physics and Quantum Physics.
Failure in goal setting comes in trying to get something rather than attracting it. Usually the obstacles anticipated when plotting to get something, rather than asking why you want it, create subconscious messages of struggle and difficulty. A person with the best of intentions can quickly tire of struggling and quit. This let down begins a pattern in the subconscious: struggle, frustration and failure. Reasons to lower standards or to quit can become a reality.
True power comes from knowing “you are who you decide to be at any given moment.” It doesn’t require jumping hurdles; it only takes deciding to become the person you desire. At that moment, by not seeing the how-to hurdles as obstacles, you will begin to think, act and become your desires. You may not know exactly how and when this is occurring, but you must trust that it is.
The root of the word “decide” means “to cut off.” Thus, to decide is to cut off from all other possibilities. This decision for your desires will propel your actions toward a much higher level. The people who succeed at such levels operate at greater consciousness than people who do not.
Understanding the power and process of your mind helps create exactly what you desire. Set goals and focus on what you want to happen, which will put into motion the energy, and through the Law of Attraction, will bring to you the people, things and events to match that energy.
The key to getting what you want is realizing the power of now. To get what you desire for the future, you must realize and accept that the creation and cultivation of your desire is this very moment. Decide, accept and act with the power of now.
“I want to think about it.”
Baloney. If you believe and allow this excuse from customers, you and your family will be eating Ramen Noodle soup your whole career. When customers tell you they want to think about it, they are really telling you they either have an unspoken objection or they are not convinced that you or your product and service is right for them.
The next time a couple tells you that they want to think about it, watch them as they get out of earshot of you. They will turn to each other and begin to talk about why they are not buying. Whether it’s an objection or a concern, it’s going to boil down to Money, Me or Machine. Money can be price, terms, payments etc. The ‘Me’ portion can be you, the business or service reputation or ability. The Machine segment is your product or service.
First you have to identify the customer’s possible thoughts and emotions. Customers have three forms of spoken and unspoken communication when they say, “I want to think it over.”
• What they are saying
• What they are trying to say
• What they really mean
To get past the smokescreen of “I want to think about it,” you must listen to and understand what they are saying and onto what the customer is trying to say and what they really mean.
When you hear the dreaded stall or objection phrase, don’t do what the majority of salespeople do. Do not ask the customer, “What is it that you want to think over?” With that phrase you create a “Turtle Customer.” They are going to feel threatened or embarrassed and pull into their shell. You will force them to feel scared, embarrassed or intimidated and they are going to run like rabbits.
When you hear the objection, the first step is to agree with them by saying, “Sure, I understand, it’s a big decision so you should take your time.” Next, move your customer to the future. The future does not carry the pressure that today does. “Mr. Customer, if it were a week or a month from now and you had given everything consideration and were ready to make a decision, do you think the No. 1 consideration or thing that had held you up from buying would have been the machine or the money?” Notice, I didn’t mention the “you” portion because the customer would usually be too embarrassed to say you were the problem. Most likely if they are still with you, the problem is the product/service or the money.
If it’s the product or service, it’s easy to suggest alternatives that might fit what they are looking for. A salesperson without alternatives fails by a lack of alternatives. If money is the issue, then break the money portion down — Price, Payment, Down Payment, Monthly Payment, Term, Rates etc. Ask, “Mr. Customer what part of the money is the most important to you?” and then give the possibilities.
Next you must move them to close. “Mr. Customer, in the future, when you are making your decision to purchase and feel good about the payments, would the payments be ____, ______ or ______?” Give stair stepped based options on whatever it is that is their main concern. Customers feel less threatened about options and feel like they are in control. The customer will feel less embarrassed in sharing with you what they can and are willing to do.
When you get the answer from the customer, use the “Up to” and “No more than” phrases to raise the customer’s thinking and commitment. Example — “$500 up to?” “Now if you really had to, no more than?”
Notice that the art of closing this sale is not about closing, but about opening possibilities. You must open to be able to close. To get past the “I’ll think it over” objection, you must listen closely and try to really understand what the customer is communicating. You must move the customer forward in a manner that lessens the customer’s anxieties, rather than increases them. All of these steps must be performed with confidence and with an attitude of TLC – “Think Like a Customer.”
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