June 2014, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Bob Ankrom had careers in lawn care and law enforcement before he found his niche in vehicle sales. Nine years ago, he retired from the U.S. Marshals Service and joined the sales team at Buckeye Honda in Lancaster, Ohio, after a brief stint at another dealership. He explains that he chose car sales because it seemed like a great opportunity, and he made the move to Buckeye because he believes Honda builds the best vehicles. Today, he, his wife, his mother-in-law, his daughters and countless friends are loyal to the brand.
Ankrom’s sales training started with eight hours’ worth of Joe Verde videotapes and orders to “Go get started.” That initial instruction and, eventually, intensive and ongoing Honda training, has paid off. He currently averages 25 cars per month and has won Buckeye’s “Salesman of The Month” award for his dealership more than 60 times. Starting in 2011, Ankrom held that title for 34 months in a row, beating out 10 co-workers each time.
He attributes part of his success to his desire and ability to make customers feel comfortable with him. “Some customers come into the store not trusting you because you’re a car salesman. If they don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.” Ankrom tries to make sure customer aren’t blindsided when they are handed off to the finance department. Ankrom says both of the F&I managers he works with are strong sellers who know their products, so he does everything he can to tee up each customer for a successful hand-off. And his efforts don’t go unrewarded: Buckeye Honda gives salespeople a percentage of both the front- and back-end of the deal.
In addition to making customers comfortable with him as a salesman, Ankrom wants them to be comfortable with the vehicles and the dealership. “If people like you and trust you, you have a good product, and you work at a nice place, you’ll have success in the business.” He adds that Honda’s durable, reliable and safe vehicles practically sell themselves, but Buckeye’s owners go the extra mile for added curb appeal, making renovations and landscaping a priority.
Ankrom prefers face-to-face and phone conversations to social media. He says he follows up every four to six months, always carries business cards with him and offers gas cards and service department gift cards as a thank you for referrals. He tries to read showroom visitors’ body language and screen out those who don’t want to be bothered. For those customers, he will walk up, hand them a card and ask them to promise to visit him when they’re ready to talk.
When he’s not at the dealership, Ankrom makes every effort to spend time with his wife, three kids, and 3-month-old granddaughter. He knows the importance of a work/life balance, so he devotes plenty of time to yard work and takes advantage of his three weeks of vacation per year. Buckeye allows salespeople to come in on their days off and work their customer base when necessary, but Ankrom makes sure to get his work done within his scheduled hours. “When I’m at home, I’m at home,” he explains. “I don’t need to work 100 hours to be successful in this job.”