Article

Choose Success: Sales Are As Strong As You Make Them

December 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Michael Rees - Also by this author

You have probably heard plenty of times that success is a choice. Are you and your people really choosing success?

There seems to be an underlying theme in dealerships at the moment; salespeople are complaining about the lack of business due to a recession. The media is doing a great job of convincing the general public that the country is in a recession. If we are in a recession, how is it that some dealerships are continuing to do even better than last year?

Read the title of this article again: choose success. Are you and your team using the fact that so many people are saying business is bad to tell yourselves: “It’s okay that we’re not doing any better. We can’t help it; it’s just the economy”? I especially love this one: “We just have to sit it out; business will pick up again as soon as the economy comes back.”

Don’t allow anyone to use the state of the economy as an excuse for poor performance! So how can you and your team choose success if the economy is down? How are pockets of dealerships managing to prosper during these times when so many are suffering?

It’s called attitude and a willingness to work harder and smarter than ever before. You have a choice to make, either go with the flow and accept poor results or act. Do something about it. Make something happen.

Easier said than done. Anything easier done than said isn’t normally worth doing. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be well worth the effort if you choose success.

Successful people do what unsuccessful won’t do. What makes a successful salesperson? In most cases, that person is prepared to work harder and smarter at making sales than his fellow salespeople. For example, I was in a dealership last week and all the salespeople were sitting huddled together in the showroom watching it snow, complaining that no-one in their right mind is going to come and buy a car in this weather. However, there was one person who was as busy as ever. He was making phone calls, writing letters, checking with the service department and going about his everyday business. I am sure you are not surprised to learn that this particular person was not just the salesperson of the month, but has been the salesperson of the month almost every month for the last 10 years. He was doing what other salespeople weren’t prepared to do—work!

When I was selling cars in Atlanta, I made a conscious decision to be the best, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to reach that goal. I was the salesperson who showed up to work at 7:15 each morning to work the service drive. This seems to be a lost practice nowadays. I bought coffee for the service advisors and service manager, and I would hang out with them until the doors opened at 7:30. I greeted most of the service customers and just chatted with them until one of the advisors became free to help them. I made sure they received one of my cards, of course. I also sent them all a hand written thank-you card that same day.

By the time all the other salespeople rolled in, I had already had a great day in making new friends and meeting potential customers. The relationships I built with our service people were strong, so strong that whenever any of them had a customer who also wanted to speak with a salesperson, I was only salesperson they ever introduced the customers to. This one habit of working the service drive got me enough business that I was not only salesperson of the month; I made it 11 months straight until I was promoted to sales manager.

So, is anyone working your service drive each day like that? If not, you are missing a lot of potential business. You and your dealership need to be different so your “rough” patches are still pretty good.

What kind of outside prospecting is going on with your sales team? I would venture to say very little. It is common for many dealerships to have lazy salespeople. You need to change that, but unless you have the attitude of choosing success, you won’t be able to. Get your team working for a living instead of just taking orders. Send them out each day from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. to call on businesses to introduce themselves and your dealership. You should require them to bring back business cards from the places they visited, so they can follow up and you can hold them accountable for their time out of the dealership. If they do this on a regular basis, you will be surprised how much business will come. When our trainers take salespeople out prospecting to show them what to do, they invariably come back with business.

Are your managers holding your salespeople accountable to the sales process? So many times when your dealership experiences less floor traffic than normal, it’s because managers allow salespeople to take shortcuts. This leads to fewer deals and lower profits. It seems as if we have to take shorter deals in these times, just to put a deal together. So with that attitude, managers will allow salespeople to get right to negotiating a deal in order to sell something. That is not selling. Selling is getting the customer to fall in love with you, the dealership and the product. This isn’t done by dropping the price. All you do is lower the value when you drop the price: customers want to buy value.

Don’t allow your sales process to be compromised; it will cost you sales and profit. Have the attitude that your dealership is not going to accept poor performance, no matter what is going on around you. Don’t use the excuse “but customers ‘round here are different.” I hear that everywhere I go. Make the decision to rise above and act on it. Be prepared to do things that unsuccessful people won’t do. If you and your team get busy doing things differently, you will be surprised just how much business is out there.

You owe it to yourself and to your employees to choose success. I don’t like the alternative, do you?

Vol 5, Issue 3

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