By: Jay Rose
One of the first things that anyone considering a career in Sales has to realize is that they are already in sales now. Most people think negatively about selling as a career. One of the biggest reason why is because of the negative perception that sales positions have received. The problem is most of the bad experiences by customers were because the Salesperson was never trained properly to establish the most important thing in the sales process, a "relationship." Trying to convince a complete stranger to buy anything is very difficult no matter what product or service you are selling. The Automotive Industry has seen its ups and downs and most industry experts would agree that right now is not a very easy time to be in the automotive business. But with every downside there is always potential. The Used Car business has been hit hard recently with the negative values of large trucks and SUVs. This is due to the effect of the gas prices and perception of the consumer that they need to trade their current vehicle that is getting 15 miles per gallon for one getting 25 miles per gallon. The math problem with this situation is the average person will lose 30% more by trading that large SUV in right now and pay an additional 15% premium for the smaller vehicle with better gas mileage. The math might suggest that it could take some customers 17 years to make up the difference from the loss of value of the purchase divided by the gas mileage savings. But this all goes to prove to us time and time again that this business is not logical but a highly emotional business. It is for this reason we need to focus on Relationships first and the initial step in building any strong relationship is to get the customer to like us.
Most of the different sales processes I have learned over the last 21 years all have similar steps to selling but different word tracks to bring the customer through the buying process. The unfortunate fact is the majority of salespeople never master all of these word tracks that would guarantee them success. One of the biggest reasons this happens is because only 20% of salespeople go to Professional Selling Skills training that lasts at least 2 – 5 days. This initial training is critical because without a foundation of what their job skills really are, they will learn bad habits, work long hours without financial success, quit the business and justify why it is not their fault. In truth, they are correct because everyone needs training. Not just initial, but ongoing training from their manager, professional in-dealership trainer, outside “Live” workshop, or Online Video Training that they can access 24 hours a day. Most salespeople get exposed to training content. Some take that information and turn it into knowledge. A few practice this new selling knowledge and turn it into skills. But very few salespeople have the ongoing training support needed to turn those new skills into becoming a master at selling which is needed to become a Professional in Sales.
This trap can be avoided if the dealership and its management staff are committed to hiring only the most qualified candidates and not just another warm body for floor coverage. They also have to be committed to daily one-on-one training and weekly group training. These two areas are the biggest elements that are lacking in almost every struggling dealership I visit. I know that every dealership’s management team has good intentions and wants their salespeople to succeed; it’s just that their daily activities don’t reflect that. Most managers complain about the skills of the salespeople, though many don’t realize that it’s those very same skills that are the direct reflection of the manager’s ability to develop or not develop their team. A teacher cannot blame the students for failing, just as the salespeople cannot be blamed for not training themselves. I don’t know too many Master Mechanics in service departments that were hired, thrown into the service stall for 90 days without training to see if they would work out. Every Master Mechanic I have ever met was developed through a series of live training workshops, online courses, manuals, and hands on coaching from the Service Manager, Shop Forman and other Master Mechanics that took the time to guarantee success. I know some of us think that service is different, and it’s true, but it is only different because we let it be different. It is time to accept that the only way out of a down market is not going to be through an increase in advertising, but instead through the development of your salespeople, managers, underwriters, collectors and every other person that has direct contact with your customers.
Salespeople need to build their relationships outside the dealership through effective prospecting, by follow-up with their current working prospects and sold customer base, and also by developing new relationships through new leads (Walk-in, Phone & Internet). Although salespeople need to develop skills like prospecting, follow-up, product knowledge, closing, overcoming objections, negotiating, and presentation skills, the two most important skills they need to develop is the ability to build rapport with the customer through effective “openended” questions (What, Where, Which, When, Who, How & Why) and investigate properly to find and close on the perfect car (finance program if you are BHPH) and not the price of the car. The other skill they must master is phone skills. Mastering phone skills (including the internet lead which is just a phone lead with one extra step) will allow the salesperson to grow their business within a business with incoming phone leads, referrals from phone follow-up and ongoing phone contact with their customer base.
A big shift in culture for many dealerships is their view on recruiting different sales candidates (customer service representatives) instead of always looking for a former salesperson from another dealership who didn't follow-up their customers, effectively prospect for new customers or convert incoming phone calls into sales. I would recommend looking for candidates with previous phone skills and customer service experience as a foundation for sales. Most of these candidates have the habits and good attitude when it comes to handling these calls. But you need to also consider a different compensation plan other than 100% commission to attract these great candidates. Use local employment sections, online sources including the newly launched job finder link of quality candidates from NABD's website. ( www.bhphinfo.com )
Remember that the skills you develop in your career by taking care of your customers will carry over into your personal lives. This is why I live my life with passion and live by a quote by Zig Ziglar, "You can get everything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want."
Have a great rest of the year and I look forward to working with you and your team.
Jay Rose is one of the most sought after International Trainers for Sales, Management, F&I, BDC, Used Vehicle MGMT, & Buy Here Pay Here Collections / Underwriting. Jay is President of GTS Training Solutions, GTS Call Solutions, and GTS Dealer Services. If you want to increase your business, contact Jay directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (904) 955-7666