You probably answered “no.” Who wouldn’t? I wonder how your customers would answer that question. Do your customers think you, your product and your business are boring? People want to be entertained. Entertainment = Sales. Boring = Broke.
Your customers get their news from FOX News and USA Today, their food from drive throughs, their coffee from Starbucks, their money from ATMs, their exercise from 7- minute abs DVDs and their information from the Internet.
To be successful, you must provide the perception of ease in doing business, some semblance of speed, and high entertainment value. Your customers have been trained to pick up on “boring” at lightning speed and move towards “wow” in mass.
To provide high entertainment value you don’t have to be a comedian or a circus performer, but you must possess finely tuned people skills. All things being equal, customers will choose the lower price. Your job as a salesperson is to make you stand out so strong that it makes everything else pale in comparison. Your value raises the level of all other considerations. Never forget that you are the difference maker — period, end of story.
Weak salespeople play the price and blame game. Good salespeople concentrate on what they can influence. When you accept total responsibility for your success and failure, you move from blame to fame.
Let’s cover some ways to increase your entertainment value. The easiest way to stand out from the pack is to do the exact opposite of your so-called competitors. First of all, you must change your position of power and leverage by marketing for leads rather than begging for a sale from someone who randomly shows up.
Next, you must think about your first point of impact and how that adds or subtracts from your position. You must either change the location, wording or nature of the first meeting.
Evaluate your conversations with customers. Are you playing the same qualifying game that most salespeople do? When you openly try to qualify people financially and to see if they are ready to do business, you should realize in doing so that you are offending them and putting yourself in a position of beggar. Try giving a reason for people to qualify for you and your product. Stop qualifying them for financial data and make them qualify in a positive way that creates a mental take-a-way.
The take-a-way positioning creates scarcity, urgency, and provides you maximum leverage. Example: When you are profiling your customer in the beginning of the sales process, make sure to mention that you would like to ask a few questions up front to make sure you can assist them the way they desire and to make sure you and your product would be a good fit for them. It’s OK to tell someone up front that you and your product may not be the best fit for everyone and that you purposely don’t try to sell everything to everybody.
It’s a proven fact that customers who have to take certain steps or actions before purchasing create their own sense of emotional and psychological commitment to purchase. In simple language, youallow them to buy rather than trying to sell them. When people commit to something by their own choice, they will go to great lengths to do business, if nothing else but to save face. People don’t want to look bad.
You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with being boring? Boring salespeople do what 99 percent of all salespeople do; they beg and pant like a dog for a sale and put their salesperson dunce cap on for customers to laugh at. STOP IT. You are more important and valuable than that. Salespeople with leverage and a different game-plan for everything — including their sales skills, people skills and marketing skills — never appear boring. Their actions attract and endear customers without having to be a comedian, huckster or circus clown.
Ask yourself again honestly if you are boring and if your sales positioning leaves your customer with a strong mental and emotional feeling about their experience with you. Do you stand out, or are you boring? Boring is usually fatal.
“Work more hours.”
“Put your nose to the grindstone.”
“You have to pay your dues.”
“Climb the ladder of success.”
Do all of these sayings sound familiar? These common phrases often espouse ideas that become anchored as limiting beliefs in your brain. Here’s the shocking news; these phrases often put into motion a cycle of struggle and failure. These common teachings may have kept you from having the kind of success you desire. The missing ingredient is not your work; it’s your thoughts.
Just reading that first paragraph may have made you mad. You may disagree so strongly that your emotions may cause you to disregard the possibility of truth from the message intended. If so, this is a direct reflection of those often well ingrained lessons. Dwell upon this for a minute: If these commonly held beliefs were true, why aren’t more people happy, successful and rich?
The answer to the question is those beliefs by themselves are wrong and harmful. People who dig ditches work hard. Salespeople work lots of hours. Corporate people try to climb the ladder of success. People who manage you often want you to pay your dues. How many of these people do you know that are wildly happy, successful or enjoy their success? The answer is often few, if any.
What you generate in your brain is the key. More hours and more work with misguided thoughts will only speed up your frustration and failure. The first step is to throw away and clean the slate of all the damaging sayings, lessons and beliefs that you have been taught. Start by writing down your 20 earliest thoughts about money. Do the same with work. When you are finished you may notice that most of these memories are negatively based or entrenched in scarcity based thinking.
Those memories and beliefs are exactly why when people tell you to just think positive that they are not only wrong but potentially harmful. Until you erase the negative programming that you have acquired, you will not be able to truly have positive thoughts that are believed and lasting. Everyone has a tremendous amount of negative programming that you have acquired from parents, teachers, bosses, newspapers and books.
When you are programmed over and over with those messages, you begin to buy into those messages and accept them as universally true. Over a period of time this leads to negative cycles occurring repeatedly and you don’t know how to change them. So what do you do? You revert back to your programming. You work harder. You work more hours. You put your nose to the grindstone. You pay your dues. You climb the ladder of success.
I have a little saying, “Stop the train.” If you aren’t getting to your destination, you have to change something. The most critical thing to change is your thoughts. Thoughts create action and action creates habits and habits create results and results create your destiny. It’s that simple.
In Robert Ringer’s book, “Winning through Intimidation,” he talks of the “Leapfrog Theory.” His idea is that you can leapfrog your way to success. You don’t have to climb the ladder rung by rung. He is absolutely correct. However, if your subconscious has been bombarded by messages your whole life that teach you that you must pay your dues and you have to work harder, you will either disregard the message or sabotage your actions. Everyone either has at one time or knows someone who when they were experiencing success began to take actions that lead to the demise of that success.
Most people chalk those experiences up to fate or bad luck. That belief will forever keep you in a cycle of frustration and repeated failures. Sheer luck by itself is a rare thing. Success and failure are almost always created in your mind first. Any other belief is simply allowing you to be lead by other’s beliefs. When this happens you are now in bondage and slavery. Slavery of the brain and spirit is the worst possible fate.
There is a saying, “Pray, but move your feet.” You can pray and you can move your feet and get going, but if you control and guide your thoughts you will learn to attract more success than you ever would have before dreamed. The amusing thing is that much of the success you attract will seem to come effortlessly and the phrase “Hard Work” will not even be a part of your thoughts.
One idea to improve sales that most people don’t want to talk about is the ability to recharge your batteries. Salespeople who run on low batteries don’t perform as well as when they are charged up. Recently, I went with my family on a cruise and had a fantastic trip. We went scuba diving in Grand Turks and, during the dive, had three dolphins come up to us and play with us for most of the dive. The dive masters on the trip said it was a once in a lifetime experience to not only see the dolphins but to have them play with us for so long.
What if we had decided not to take the trip? What if our fears had kept us from becoming certified divers years ago? I have never left a vacation saying I should take less vacations. I have forgone vacations before because of business or other concerns. I think that’s shortsighted thinking. Vacations allow you to have those great experiences and recharge your batteries. You seem to have a different perspective after a vacation.
Have you ever skipped taking time off because of a lack of money or time? Consider the mindset that creates a perception of a lack of time or money. To replace a mindset of scarcity and lack, you must first take the time to step back, evaluate your thoughts and actions that have caused the scarcity and begin to change those thoughts and actions. Often, I think we all get so caught up in day to day actions and challenges that we lose our best perspective.
Proper rest is one of the key ingredients to good health. Proper rest includes the mind as well as the body. A few years ago, I made the choice to get one more hour of sleep a night. The difference in my vitality of mind and body was remarkable. Waking up with a clear mind and body can change your appearance and first perception of you by a customer. When you recharge your batteries, you allow your mind to give and receive answers it cannot do when you are tired.
So often our culture promotes the theory of hard work. I believe you don’t have to associate work with being hard. The connection that links up in your mind about work being hard and a grind can be counterproductive. Every salesperson will say there are times when they are on a roll and in the flow and everything they touch turns to gold. I don’t believe those times are accidental. I believe those periods of seemingly easy success are attributable to previous thought and actions. Those successful thoughts and actions are easier to achieve when you are rested and clear of anything blocking your mind or body.
Our culture tends to lend a great amount of macho to the theory of hard work. The theory of resting, thinking and recharging your batteries is looked at as weakness by many. In the last several years I have found the quality of work is more important than the endurance. Bad thoughts and actions done over a longer period of time can never be as productive as good thoughts and actions over a short period of time.
Parkinson’s Law theorizes that work fills up to the time allotted. The more time you allow, the more you find to do. The question is what are you really doing?
I would invite you today to analyze your time in one hour time slots and observe your most dominant thoughts and actions. Secondly, I would advise you to be very careful to look out for time wasters. Time wasters can be people, processes and normal activities you may not be paying attention to.
How much time do you spend answering cell phones, checking e-mail and doing redundant tasks? You might be amazed at what you find. Create a plan to eliminate the things from your life that are not productive and add to your stress. Never forget to recharge your batteries. Maybe even go swimming with the dolphins.
Customer service is false propaganda.
Before you think I am nuts, let me explain. The factory gives customer service surveys and dealerships give customer surveys. Everyone seems to talk about Customer Satisfaction Indexes. Measuring your success and failure is obviously important. However, is customer service really about numbers? In customer service, the most important customers are the one’s who hate you the most and the one’s who do business with you the most.
People like to have nice things said about them. Every business owner and their employees would like to feel like they give good customer service. We all love the customer testimonial letters that praise us. How much time do you spend with the customers who don’t like you? How much time do you spend trying to cultivate ongoing relationships and purchases from your best customers?
The customers who don’t like you have a story to tell that can’t be told in numbers. If you want to really find out what your marketplace feels about you, ask the people who work at the gas station, local hotels and anyone who does not know where you work. One hour in a local eatery or tavern may give you more solid information about your dealership than all the surveys ever concocted in history.
When you find people in your marketplace that don’t like you or have a negative perception of your business, you must dig deeper to find out why. Remember that perception is reality to your marketplace. Discussions with your people in your marketplace can lead to simple changes that can lead to massive improvements — “Small holes cause big fl at tires.”
On the other hand, the old phrase that the customer is always right is bunch of baloney. The customer is not always right. Some things that make people upset with you may not only be acceptable for you but part of a purposeful plan. You cannot and should not try to be all things to all people. Define who your marketplace target is and begin to work towards them. Speak directly to them and treat them in a way they want to be treated. There are riches in niches. Targeting your primary audience and your best customers will pay you handsomely.
Your marketplace should be divided into five categories: 1) Active customers 2) Inactive customers 3) Customers of your competitors that own your brand 4) Customers of similar brands 5) General audience.
Write down three ways you currently contact and reward your current customers in an ongoing and even automated manner (and, by the way, three ways is not nearly enough). There is rarely a saturation point to customer contacts and rewards. Do you have a VIP Program for your best customers? Ten to 20 percent of your customers will reward you more than the other 80 percent combined. Your goal should be to take customers that do business with you — let’s call these customers supporters — and convert them to Advocates, who continually buy and service with you and refer you to your marketplace.
Do you have a written, automated campaign to convert inactive customers — ones who buy from you but don’t service with you? Do you have a three-stage letter campaign planned for inactive customers? Do you have an automated campaign involving e-mail, postcards, regular letters, dimensional mail, voice broadcast, phone calls, appreciation dinners/gatherings, special inducements, etc.?
Any dealership can have an intensive and automated process that involves all the necessary media, volume and correct copywriting that utilizes emotional direct response marketing methods that are necessary to retain their customers, reward their best customers and learn from their lost customers.
You must make a commitment to spending resources on the most important thing of all — your most important customers.
What business are you in? “The car business” would probably be your normal answer. I would invite you look deeper into that question. Rarely, is your first answer to that question your most accurate answer. The majority of businesses fail, or fail to reach their potential, because the owner and managers haven’t figured out the most important and most basic question: “What business are we in?”
Saying you are in the car business seems logical. However, that answer does not stir emotions in you, your team or your customers. It’s kind of like saying Disneyland is in the “theme park” business. The general answer is that you are in the “problem solving and emotional relationship” business.
People don’t sell or buy cars. They solve problems. Those problems may be wants or needs based problems or perceived or real problems, but they are problems nonetheless. If a customer gets the itch for a new car and, even though they may not need the new car, the emotion of the desire creates an incredible pull that becomes a problem for the customer until it is solved. Therefore, you are always in the emotions and problems business and the vehicle just becomes a part of the answer. Stop selling cars and start creating relationships based upon solving problems and matching answers to your customer’s emotional desires.
Your product knowledge, sales skills nor any other skill will help you accomplish solving the customer’s problem more than people skills. The old adage that “People buy form people” is true. People buy you first, before they buy the car. In order for the customer to buy you, you must make a memorable impression. In most cases, you have about 15 seconds to two minutes to create a connection that creates trust and respect. However, most sales people treat the meet and greet as if it’s no big deal.
Try the following meet and greet, “Hi folks, welcome to our dealership. Are you out beginning to look and shop around a little bit?” This question is a universal truth statement. It’s a universal truth that people are looking and shopping. If you don’t believe it, just greet them the way you normally do and see how they reply 99 percent of the time.
If you know how the customer usually replies to your standard greeting and you know that all customers share certain unexpressed fears, all you have to do is proactively remove those fears and you have at least a 70 percent greater chance of the customer buying from you than someone else.
Most all customers are afraid of getting the wrong vehicle, wrong price, wrong information or the wrong sales person. Somewhere in the beginning of the sales process, I invite you to make a Job Mission Statement that proactively addresses the customer’s fears and concerns. This Job Mission statement will position you as a person, not a sales person. Try the following Job Mission Statement, “Mr. Customer, I try to help every customer of mine find the right vehicle at the right budget and give them all the right information and just make it an easy, fun and painless experience, fair enough?”
Addressing the customer’s fears up front creates trust and allows you to create cognitive dissonance. That’s just a fancy term for saying you have in the customers mind mentally distanced yourself from the other sales people they have experienced, or even their perceptions of sales people in general.
Don’t get caught up in the “best price wins” trap. It’s a loser’s game played by people losing in the sales game. Everyday people are buying goods and services and paying premiums for them because of their perceptions created about the product, service or lifestyle change. If all things are equal, then price becomes the final decision. Your mission is to make everything that you offer and the way you offer it so unique that you completely change the decision game.
Selling is a game of positioning. You must create leverage for yourself with the customer. If there is no leverage, then you are doomed to play the best price game. In other words, without a strong position and leverage, you are begging for the sale.
The 80/20 rule applies to sales people. Eighty percent of sales are made by 20 percent of the sales people. The reason the top 20 percent of sales people thrive is because they have figured out what business they are in, and it’s not the “car” business.
There is a startling way for most dealers to double their business – fire their advertising agencies. Dealerships spend an enormous amount of money on advertising for new customers. Unfortunately, often that money is wasted. The money is wasted because the agencies are strictly placing ad dollars in media and doing production. Often, the ad dollars are spent without any knowledge and use of direct response marketing, and the game plan that will be used towards keeping those customers.
Before you spend one dime on getting new customers, try putting a fence around the ones you’ve got. First define who your active and inactive customers are. Your active customers bought from you and service with you. Nationwide, these active customers only account for an average of 19 percent of your total customer base.
Next, identify who your inactive customers are and begin a campaign to make them active. You may send a cycle of three letters with the same theme. Maybe the first letter is something to the effect of “We Miss You,” the second might be “You Must Have Not Gotten Our First Letter,” the third would be “We Are Sending Out a Search Party.”
Each letter would contain a significant reward and bonus if they become your customer again. It’s not enough to sell them every four or six years; we have to create a continual relationship with contact that encourages and creates servicing and purchasing other goods and services.
Don’t spend one more penny toward new customer acquisition until you have designed an ongoing continuity program to keep them active by rewarding them. You can keep those customers by actively designing an ongoing automated contact and reward system. Don’t buy a Business Development System or a Customer Relationship Manager System and expect this to be a magic button to do this for you.
You must first decide what results you want and work backwards to design the steps to accomplish it. Let’s say that you want to reward your customers and create an ongoing personal relationship. Design a whole year’s worth of contacts based upon a theme or several themes, offers and added value.
Use multiple media to deliver the message, such as postcards, letters, dimensional mail, e-mail, e-mail newsletters, voice broadcast, free recorded messages, special reports, coupons and others. All the media should have what my colleague Nido Quebin calls “Intentional Congruence.” Each choice of media should feed the other and connect the dots between each other. Each department should intentionally feed the other.
Many dealerships contain four or five different businesses within a business, such as new vehicle sales, used vehicle sales, F&I, service, parts, and body shop. Each department in your dealership should have its own marketing messages, tailored to fit its unique services. Try breaking your database down into active, inactive, different departments, different make buyers, different model buyers, different year purchases and more. Segment your database and talk to them differently.
It costs seven times the amount of money to acquire new customers as it does to keep the ones you have. It is also the surest and best way to grow your business exponentially while also insulating your company from so-called bad economies, mistakes from manufacturers and new buyer behaviors and patterns.
When you have designed a system that touches your customer base a minimum of 48 times a year, you can now begin to work on your mass merchandising. Mass merchandising for new customer acquisition is also vital to the health of your company.
I would invite you to think first in ways that cost a lot less dollars. Try creating coupon swaps with other businesses such as dry cleaners, coffee shops, restaurants, car washes, etc. Try creating alliances with other companies where you can do a mailing to each other’s businesses that introduces each other as a trusted source and offers a large inducement to take action.
Think lead generation in your mass media advertising at first. Create a “Free Special Report: Seven Things Everyone Should Know Before They Buy a Vehicle.” Create an e-mail, fax or toll-free telephone line auto-responder system to deliver this report to people who request this from your ads. This will create a two-stage lead generation source that asks potential customers to raise their hand and show interest instead of asking them to make an instant buying decision.
If you use an advertising agency and they are not talking to you about your overall marketing plan that contains elements for your existing customers, lead generation and how to create continuity programs, you should fi re them and get someone who has the correct knowledge of marketing. They should create a plan that creates a healthy and wealthy business for you now and in the future.
After returning home form a speaking engagement in New York, I wanted to relax a little and flipped channels on the TV until I came to a movie called “Beyond the Sea.” My intention was to just watch and enjoy the movie and just release all the tensions of work and travel. It was time to veg-out and not think. Then – boom – it happened. A line from the movie hit me like a thunder bolt: “People hear what they see.”
“Beyond the Sea” is a movie about the life of Bobby Darin. Darin was a singer and actor from the 50s and 60s. Darin was part of the so-called crooner-style singers such as Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra. He had a very successful career that included many hit songs, two Grammy Awards and a nomination for an Oscar Award for one of his movie performances.
Even with his success, Darin, like many of the crooner-style singers of that era, became obsolete overnight. The British invasion and the Beatles came to America and rock music and folk music swept the culture. The Vietnam War was in full swing and the protest movement, along with “Peace, Love and Drugs,” was the common theme. Music was being played in large concert halls and not the nightclubs that had made Darin popular. He was suddenly old news at a young age.
In a scene from the movie, Darin discussed his frustration with his career with his wife, movie star Sandra Dee. Then, Sandra Dee delivered the line that woke me from being drowsy: “People see what they hear.”
Darin had been trying to suddenly play war-protest songs while playing the guitar to now-younger audiences in traditional clubs like the Copacabana. Although still young, Darin was playing to younger audiences that distrusted anyone older, and because he was rapidly balding, he appeared that much more out of date to the audience. He had changed his song delivery to sitting on a stool while singing intense war protest and political songs. His message, which mirror-imaged the message of many popular singers of the times, was falling on deaf ears.
Because of the observation of his wife, Darin switched gears and moved his act to Las Vegas. Vegas audiences were used to big shows and lots of production. He incorporated his new songs into his act but delivered them in a different manner. He gave them something to see while they listened. The changes in Darin’s act changed the perspective and the acceptance of the audience. He became popular again but in a certain niche delivered in a different method.
What exactly was the “aha” moment or “writer-downer” thought that hit me when I watched this movie? Two things. First of all, think about the line “People hear what they see.” How do your customers see you and how does that influence what they hear from you? How are the fi rst impressions of you and your dealership influencing your customer’s trust in you, belief in you and the establishment of a buying relationship with you? Visual impact can be huge in delivering your desired message.
Second, how are you delivering your desired message in your dealership and your marketing/advertising? Are you delivering a message that is not matching your market anymore? Is your message worn out? Is the delivery mechanism or media choice for your message successful?
Careers, businesses and everything and everybody face constant change. The question is what are you doing to understand that change and adapt to it? Traditional advertising is dead. Traditional sales techniques are outdated. Are you making the necessary changes, or are you waiting for the market to change back to the old times?
TLC – Think like a Customer. Listen to and observe your customers and marketplace. Read as many various types of magazines as you can. Go the mall, sit down and just watch people and their shopping habits. Dinosaurs do things the way they have always done them. One day, they wind up extinct.
Go over the 3 M’s of your sales and marketing with a fine tooth comb – Message, Marketplace and Media. Don’t hold any existing knowledge or so-called truths to be universally true. Adapt, niche and be bold in doing so. Look and listen intently for keys to success everywhere. You never know when a lightening bolt will hit you and someone will say something such as, “People hear what they see.”
Cars, dealerships and sales people can be commodities. As a sales person, your job is to move everything you do and everything you have towards being a non-commoditized item or service. You must sell your difference.
When making a decision, customers look for deciding factors. Being able to know what the differences are and then helping the customer know what they look like, sound like and feel like is your job. Customers don’t spend an hour with you and say, “This is exactly the vehicle I’ve found everywhere, the dealership is exactly the same as every other one I have seen, your presentation was the same as every sales person gave me and the information you have given me is identical to everything else I have received, so I want to do business with you.”
People make buying decisions by matching up what they know or think they know to what you give them and then by finding what they did not know or understand. The first step is to match up with their thoughts and belief systems. If they don’t connect with who you are and what you give them, they won’t buy from you. Although that’s a big part of selling, it’s only the first half. The deal maker is making sure you stand out with your positive difference.
Go back to the 3Ms – Money, Me and Machine. What makes your vehicle unique? If nothing, what makes your dealership unique and the better choice? If you still say nothing, you better go on a mission to find something. When you have the answer, always ask yourself deeper questions about your answer, such as “How?” and “Why is that so?” Be concise and specific and be emphatic with your statements. Conviction creates confidence and confidence sells cars. If you are confident, it will be evident.
The last of the 3Ms is ME. Me means YOU. What about you personally will make you the unique and better choice among sales people? Nobody on earth is the same; we all have our unique experiences, talents, abilities, personalities and thoughts. Utilize that to not only connect with people, but to sell your difference. Relate to customers in a personal way that shows why they should do business with you.
If you are new, sell the difference of how they benefit from that. Show your eagerness to please and go beyond what most veterans would do. If you are a veteran sales person, sell your knowledge and experience in how that will make their life better. Let me say that again – “Make their life better.” That’s your job – to make their life better. People don’t buy a car from you because they thought you were going to take them out of their car, put them in a worse car, with more mileage, and worse terms and give them less knowledge, service or experience. TLC – Think Like a Customer, not a sales person.
Ask lots of questions. Find out what they liked while they shopped and bought before. Find out what they have not liked about shopping and buying a vehicle. Don’t assume that your uniqueness is enough. Package your uniqueness in a way that is appealing to the customer. People buy products every day because of the packaging. How do you present your package? How do you dress? What kind of questions do you ask? How do you present? If your customer shops five dealerships, will they have absolutely no choice but to choose you if the sales person truly makes the difference?
Write down every criterion a customer consciously and subconsciously considers about you and any other sales person when they buy. Rate yourself honestly from 1-10 on each. Then have someone else rate you on each from 1-10 on each. Once you have an accurate assessment of your position you can now create a game plan to improve on each one. Break your plan into small chunks. Make your growth and improvement plan gradual and consistent. Consistent = Persistent. When you see the improvement in you, your customers will too. You make the ultimate difference in everything.
Many sales people tend to always be chasing the next customer and worrying about the next paycheck. The good news is that this is unnecessary and can be fixed forever in two years or less. Sales people can eliminate future sales and income anxiety once and for all.
What’s the key to creating freedom? It’s marketing. If you are a sales person who is waiting for your business to provide an endless funnel of prospects and buyers, you are living in a fantasy land. Even with a ton of leads and traffic provided to you, you must have a marketing plan to utilize the traffic, leads and power of your customer base.
Write down everything you are doing to market yourself. Your goal should be to add to this list every month and strengthen or add dimensions to everything you already are doing. Eventually, you will begin to integrate your message from all your sources of marketing and the power of your marketing plan will begin to grow tremendously. You will appear to be everywhere at once. Your goal is to appear bigger, better and even more successful than you already are. Perception becomes reality.
All sales people should have direct mail in their marketing plan. The direct mail campaign should contain marketing letters that are geared towards multiple approaches, including: holidays, special events, news, new residents, existing customers, inactive customers, residents that surround existing customers, inactive customers, potential customers already using your service, newsletters and lead generation letters to potential customers offering a free report or service.
In your letters, utilize a consistent theme. You should, over time, make yourself a quasi-celebrity with your marketing. Always have a photo or caricature of you, or your family or staff in the marketing pieces. Make your likeness, theme and messages take on a status of recognition. Your marketing should grow legs and take on a life of its own that is enduring. Market share of mind creates greater market share.
Talk to people in your marketing in a personal and conversational tone. A great advertising person once said, “You must enter into the conversation they are already having in their head.” Don’t be afraid to be unique and controversial in your marketing. The worst mistake you can ever make in marketing is to be boring. There are way too many advertising messages today for you to put out just another look alike, same-old marketing piece that gets lost in the shuffle. Unique, bold, consistent and personal get rewarded today.
Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the excuse trap of saying, “I tried that once and it didn’t work.” You may not have done it right the first time; most don’t. That’s not a reason to quit.
Always think of the 3Ms – Message, Market and Media. What is your message? What is your marketplace you are delivering the message to, and does it match? What media will you use to reach the market?
The more you can target your message to a targeted audience, the better your results. There are list companies that can provide demographic, socio-graphic or just about any other filter you desire to qualify your potential and desired market. The old saying is that the best way to have a successful restaurant is to find a hungry crowd. You must also find your hungry crowd. Once you find them, you must bring them to you, gain them as customers, build a fence around them and never let them go.
The best way to create a sellable marketing approach in your message is to study copywriting and the masters of the craft. Writing copy for ads, letters, marketing pieces and newsletters that get people to take action is a learnable skill that will make you more money than robbing a bank. Study, practice and test your copywriting skills everyday. Nothing will teach you as much about sales, marketing and business as copywriting skills.
Learning to write copy, plan marketing sequences, doing the grunt work or hiring someone to do it certainly isn’t sexy. It won’t cure your traffic, lead or sales woes over night. But in the long run, they will be the things that make you successful, wealthy and free.
What's the common image of a salesperson? The big bad wolf.
The big bad wolf seeks and destroys. It's a predator who pounces on its prey, eats the weak and leaves a bloody mess behind. This image makes the job of salespeople a lot harder than it should be. The good news is that this creates an opportunity to kill the wolf and turn the negative into a positive.
If you were to ask 10 customers what they hate about salespeople and the buying experience, you'd get an earful. Take each of those answers and list when it occurs in the sequence of your normal sales process. Begin to review the list and sequence with a TLC Mindset (Think Like a Customer).
Picture your customer, or even yourself as a customer, in the buying process and the negative experience. Remember, perception is reality: Selling is nothing more than helping customers solve problems in a manner they feel positive about. The key word is "feel." Emotions are key to everything in life, including sales and the buying experience.
In marketing and sales, you must constantly remove the barriers of entry for a customer. Picture a road with potholes, detours and obstacles and the emotions they create when encountered. This is exactly what a customer feels every time they encounter a barrier in your buying process.
Begin to think in terms of proactively eliminating each barrier. Now take this a step further and begin to promote the differences in a manner that separates you from the competition in a manner that is positive but not arrogant. Create a funnel process that allows the customer to move effortlessly and positively through the process.
Old school training methods that are based upon closing deals rather than opening relationships are dead. Consumers are too educated, have too many choices and demand a better experience today. Don't continue your current sales process just because that's the way you have always done it or because of the worst philosophy ever spoken - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Create a selling philosophy and process that becomes a part of your brand, your defining message and your culture. I guarantee it's easier to recruit, hire and train winning salespeople with this philosophy and process.
Begin by analyzing everything from the initial contact on a phone call, a visit to your Web site or when they pull into your business. I can think of at least five negative things that occur in a traditional meet and greet and 10 absolute deal killers that occur at least 50 percent of the time or more when you are profiling and interviewing customers.
For a list of these deal killers, along with 10 suggestions to improve your process, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are 24 hours and a total of 1,440 in every day. Successful people just seem to get a lot more done in a day than unsuccessful people. The main reason is successful people keep the main thing the main thing. Success is not an accident.
First, you must be honest about your strengths and your weaknesses. Spend your time in what you are strong at and delegate what you are not. A sales person reading this article may immediately think they don’t have anyone to delegate to. This is limited thinking. Find someone who is good at what you are not and make an alliance with them. Either pay them for their services, or offer them your services in exchange. If you go through your client list, you will come up with many people who can assist you in getting what you want. Keep this order: Be, Do, Have. The type of person you want to be, should determine what you want to do and have.
Before you begin to do anything, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do I want to do?
2. Why do I want to do it?
3. How can I do it?
When the “why” gets strong, the “how” gets easy. A good exercise before you start a task is the Payoff Matrix Exercise. Draw four quadrants – The bottom left quadrant is titled “Quick Win,” The bottom right quadrant is titled “Waste of Time,” the top left quadrant is “Business Opportunity,” the top right quadrant is “Special Effort.” To the left of the quadrants put the word “Payoff.” At the bottom of the quadrants put the word “Effort.” When considering a task, measure the amount of effort you think it will take and then go from left to right until you think you have reached the correct measurement of effort and stop. Next, think of the amount of payoff you could expect from the task and measure it going upwards. When you stop, you will have an axis of measurement that will land in one of the four quadrants. This will tell you what the estimated bang for buck is for the task.
Successful people simply get tasks done that reward them greater. When something comes your way use the 4Ds of time management: Do it, Delegate it, Dump it, or Defer it. Make quick but educated decisions on what is the correct action based upon the reward potential.
Unsuccessful people think backwards. They get caught up in the “When-Then” Syndrome. “When I get to here, then I will do that.” The problem is they never get there. Always start with the end in mind. Everything else is a mind game. Unsuccessful people work for wages to pay bills. Successful people work for profits and opportunities.
Successful people educate and motivate by reading, learning and practicing personal development; unsuccessful people watch TV. Successful people think big and live large; unsuccessful people think small and live little. Unsuccessful people hate change; successful people embrace change and create it.
Successful people play to win; unsuccessful people play not to lose. The root of scarcity is scared, success and money does not follow scared. Unsuccessful people believe in luck and lotteries; successful people make their luck and lottery everyday.
Unsuccessful people wish for success; successful people create it. Unsuccessful people quit easy; successful people never quit. Unsuccessful people fear failure; successful people know it’s a part of the process. Unsuccessful people talk about things and people; successful people talk about ideas and possibilities. Unsuccessful people think about today; successful people think about the future and live today.
Success or failure, it’s your choice. If you would like the Payoff Matrix, e-mail me at email@example.com and put “Payoff Matrix” in the subject line.
As a sales professional, it can be an eye-opening experience when you go shopping for yourself. Weaknesses in other’s presentations can teach us lessons about how to strengthen our own. One common theme you might notice is that many people don’t seem to recognize that people don’t buy products or services. People buy from people.
People buy solutions to perceived or real problems. Good sales people assist buyers in solving their problems through emotions, visual imagery, and proper logic and people skills. The one component of sales that makes everything come together is people skills. You may be great at product knowledge, presentation, demonstrations or closing skills, but none of those things will matter if you don’t create a relationship with your customer.
A catalyst is an agent of change. There’s not a better way to describe sales people. When your customer begins to shop, they are beginning a process of change. If you are the sales person who makes the sale, it will usually be because you were better at assisting the customer to make that change. Let’s look at some ways to make those changes happen in a positive way that allows your customer to buy. Take notice of the phrase “allows your customer to buy,” rather than “you selling the customer.”
Imagine, for example, going to shop for a hot tub. You go to a nationally known store that has obviously conducted sales training for their sales representatives. The sales person has a very specific sales presentation. He also has considerable knowledge about his product and the competing products. The sales person is enthusiastic and energetic. In other words, he has a lot of good things going for him.
However, the sales person has a fatal flaw in his approach that probably costs him lots of business. The sales person tries very hard to be a sales person but he misses being just a person by a mile. What’s the difference?
The sales person begins to immediately show you the hot tubs and begins his process without taking the time to ask any questions and build a rapport that creates trust. When someone starts off a sales process in this manner, they are beginning what could be called the “Spray and Pray Method of Selling.” They spray out a presentation and pray that the customer gets excited about something in their verbal barrage about the product. They have no idea what that something might be.
This method lacks specifics, empathy, warmth, personalization, communication and listening skills, just to name a few problems. Imagine a different approach. A sales approach where the salesperson would have asked the some of the following questions:
• “Who will be primarily using the hot tub?”
• “How many people will usually use it at a time?”
• “Will it be used for recreational purposes, therapeutic or both?”
• “Will kids be using the hot tub?”
• “Do you currently have or have you had a hot tub in the past?”
• ”If so, what did you like and dislike?”
• “Where will the hot tub be located?”
• “What kind of foundation will it be on?”
• “Will the area that the hot tub will be located at be enclosed or open?”
• “What is the most important thing to you about a hot tub?”
• “How long have you been shopping for a hot tub?”
• “During this shopping process, what has been the No. 1 thing about a hot tub or any features that has excited you the most?”
• “During your shopping process, has there been anything you may have wanted that you have not seen or anything in particular that has disappointed you?”
You can think of a ton of questions that would allow specific answers and enable the customer to experience the change they are looking for. You can use the keywords and answers the customer supplies you to laser in on what they want to accomplish, using specific examples that involve active and present-tense ownership imagery.
When you are doing these things, you are relating to your customer in an empathic and personal way that separates you from all the other sales people. Never forget that you were a person before you became a sales person, and that people buy from people.
This is a great article I first read a few months ago about how LinkedIn is the best tool used by top sales reps to gain great leads.
I recently interviewed 54 top salespeople about how they use LinkedIn to research accounts, prospect for leads, and generate sales. All of the study participants sell technology-based products to the IT departments of mid to large size companies.
The study included three types of salespeople: 33% were inside salespeople who sell exclusively over the phone, 41% were outside field reps responsible for acquiring new accounts, and 26% were outside field reps who managed existing client account.
The results suggest there are four basic LinkedIn user classifications:
Enthusiasts: Twenty-five percent of the study participants would be classified as “Enthusiast” LinkedIn users. Enthusiasts have fully developed LinkedIn accounts and use LinkedIn continuously during the day. They believe it is an important tool for generating product interest and promoting their company to potential customers. Enthusiasts were more likely to be outside salespeople responsible for acquiring new accounts. The average Enthusiast has around 700 contacts, and one had over 1200. Half of Enthusiasts have paid for an upgraded LinkedIn subscription at their own expense.
Casual: Forty percent of participants would be classified as “Casual” LinkedIn users who access their account on a regular basis. They consider LinkedIn a useful tool to research and learn more about prospective clients. Casual users have about 250 contacts on average, and all use a free LinkedIn subscription.
Personal: Fifteen percent of participants would be classified as “Personal” LinkedIn users. Their LinkedIn accounts have ample information about their job history and past accomplishments. Their main purpose for having a LinkedIn account is for job-related networking and they rarely, if ever, use LinkedIn for work-related purposes. Personal users averaged around 300 contacts.
Non-Participants: Twenty percent of the salespeople were “Non-Participants.” Non-Participants don’t have a LinkedIn account or their profile contains very little personal information and fewer than 20 contacts. They don’t consider LinkedIn a priority and seldom log-in to their account. These people were more likely to be older than Enthusiasts, and the majority worked in the same position or at the same company for many years.
Here’s how data from the first two groups breaks down:
The composition of contacts varied greatly between Enthusiasts and Casuals. About 30% of Enthusiasts’ contacts were with existing clients, compared to only 5% for Casuals. Over 85% of Enthusiasts indicated they use their LinkedIn account to engage prospective customers during the sales process, while only 20% of Casuals did. Twenty percent of Enthusiasts contacts were prospective customers, on average, whereas it was less than 4% for Casuals. Partners (resellers, consultants, industry influencers, etc.) who affect customer purchasing decisions account for about 28% of contacts for Enthusiasts and roughly 17% of Casuals.
Every Enthusiast and nearly half of Casuals use LinkedIn to find out who they should contact in order to secure customer meetings. Over 90% of Enthusiasts and 65% of Casuals use LinkedIn prior to customer meetings to find out more about the people they will meet. Specifically, they are interested in where they have worked in the past and who they might know in common. Both groups also use LinkedIn extensively to verify a person’s title. About 55% of Enthusiasts and 10% of Casuals use LinkedIn to research their competition. In addition, Enthusiasts mentioned they will monitor a prospective customer’s connections to find out which competitors and salespeople are working on the account. Overall, LinkedIn was rated as a research tool (on a scale of one to five with five being highest) by Enthusiasts at 4.1 and 2.5 by Casuals.
Less than 15% of Enthusiasts and none of the Casuals ever reported making an unsolicited initial customer contact directly through a LinkedIn invitation. Nearly all salespeople commented they were fearful this would be perceived negatively by the prospective client. Instead, over 85% of Enthusiasts and 50% of Casuals indicated they would use LinkedIn to ensure they were contacting the right person but make first contact via email. The majority of both Enthusiasts and Casuals indicated their companies supplied better prospecting tools than LinkedIn. Overall, LinkedIn was rated as a prospecting tool by Enthusiasts at 3.8 and 2.1 by Casuals.
Use of Groups
On average, Enthusiasts belong to 12 groups and Casuals to four. Both Enthusiasts and Casuals indicated their main purposes for joining groups was to keep in touch with colleagues they worked with in the past, follow companies of interest, and to improve industry related knowledge or sales-skills. About 40% of Enthusiasts and less than 20% of Casuals responded that they belonged to groups that their prospective customers were part of. No one indicated they had generated an initial customer meeting based upon a group membership.
Existing Client Communication
Seventy percent of Enthusiasts and 18% of Casuals reported they had used LinkedIn to keep existing customers informed about their company’s offerings. Those who did used LinkedIn to send short messages that contained links to press releases, white papers, analyst reports, product announcements, and company produced videos. However, both groups overwhelmingly preferred to use e-mail to stay in touch with existing clients. LinkedIn was rated as an existing client communication by Enthusiasts at 2.1 and 1.5 by Casuals.
LinkedIn Generated Revenue
Over 40 percent of Enthusiasts indicated they have successfully generated revenue based upon LinkedIn-related efforts. Conversely, less than 20 percent of Casuals successfully generated revenue directly attribute to LinkedIn.
Overall, 18% of all survey respondents indicated they have generated additional sales as a direct result of their LinkedIn activities. However, this number is deceiving. In order to truly measure LinkedIn’s effectiveness you must take into account how many salespeople are Enthusiasts, Casuals, Personals, or Non-Participants.
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If you want to Sell MORE Cars…
Remember “Macro” Versus “Micro”
The goal is to sell more cars, more often and more profitable. The question is how can we do this? How can we stack the deck in our favor to ensure consistent success? The answer is to sell on a Macro level versus a micro level. First, let me explain the difference between the two. “Micro” selling is the way the typical sales consultant sells… one deal at a time, working off of “Ups” or referrals. “Macro” selling is when you are able to sell multiple units at a time or sell to multiple people at a time. For example “Fleet” sales is a form of macro selling, if you have a company that wants to buy several units in one deal. Sometimes this might be better than selling one unit at a time and sometimes it’s not. You might be thinking how can you even say something like that Sean…? Simple, with a lot of “Fleet” deals, there might be multiple units getting delivered however; they are discounted or heavily discounted because the client is buying multiple units in one transaction. So, is it better to sell one unit at a $2,200 (total) gross or sell four units in one fleet transaction for a TOTAL gross of $4,000? That is a good argument. On one hand you are making $4,000 on the other hand you are obviously NOT maximizing on gross. Before I give you my opinion, I want to share with you some statistics that might BLOW YOUR MIND!
- You have a six percent closing ratio off of OEM leads (Leads from your manufacturer)
- You have an eight percent closing ratio from 3rd party leads… but remember that over 70+ percent of the leads you get from 3rd parties originates from search engine optimization and or search engine marketing
- You have a 14-16 percent closing ratio from leads you generate through SEO and SEM initiatives and or from leads from your dealership website.
*** (Here is the MIND BLOWING PART)
- On average you have a 27 percent closing ratio from membership buying services like:
- Sam’s Club
- As a matter of fact Costco had a 35 percent closing ratio!
People believe that if they are in a “Membership Buying Program” they will get a better deal. Numbers do not lie. Most dealerships and most sales people sell the hardest way “One at a time”. There is a better way… “Macro Selling”.
What you need to do is start a “Membership Buying Program” for your dealership. Here is a very serious example of how I did this myself when I was a manager at a dealership in New Jersey. I created a membership buying program through my dealership for law enforcement. I worked with a company called www.njcops.comit is both a FREE newspaper as well as a website. It goes to EVERY law enforcement division in the state of New Jersey. For example:
- Every Police Department in NJ
- Every Sheriff Department in NJ
- Every Correctional Facility in NJ
- Every State Trooper Barrack in NJ
- Every Federal Agency located in NJ
- EVEN Law Enforcement from outside NJ like NY, Maryland etc… views this publication.
I created a full page ad in the free publication as well as full digital marketing and branding on their website www.njcops.com . I came up with a complete value package proposition (An AWESOME, “Why Buy From Us”). Basically the ad said “Show me your badge and we will…” But it wasn’t JUST for the officers… it was for EVERYONE at the police department including dispatch etc… And their spouses and their kids and… Do you get it? It was for EVERYONE. Sound familiar…?? There is ALWAYS a sale going on EVERYDAY at your dealership at EVERY dealership. Same concept, Perception is REALITY! We wanted EVERY single person reading NJ COPs Magazine and website to think and know that if they or ANYONE they knew wanted or needed ANYTHING automotive… Sales, Service, Parts, Finance, Special Finance, Body Shop, Aftermarket. There was NO OTHER PLACE OTHER than Sean V. Bradley and my Dealership!
We literally signed up 22 different Police Departments in 1 week! And we sold a ton of cars! Let me explain further, when I say that we signed up 22 police departments in 1 week. That means that 22 different police departments as well as every one of their officers, employees, family and friends. Anytime anyone needed anything automotive they came to me and my dealership. We were our own Costco, BJs, Sam’s Club, AAA. We eventually moved beyond just law enforcement. We created a membership buying program for the military, teachers, firefighters and more.
What you need to do to start selling on a macro level versus a micro level is:
- Understand the difference
- Identify which “Macro” audience you want to target first. It might not be law enforcement or military. For example if you are highline and you are in Clear Lake Texas (Right next to NASA), you might want to target NASA…
- Create a POWERFUL “Value Package Proposition” for your targeted Macro Audience.
- Create a POWERFUL Marketing Campaign to fully engage your new audience
- Get ready to sell a lot more cars!
If you have ANY questions about this article or if you would like me to help you identify what “Macro” opportunities you have in your area, please feel free to email or call me
3 Best Practices For Turning More Leads Into Shows - By Josh Vajda of AutoUsa
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