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Training Options: Online vs. Onsite

Training Options: Online vs. Onsite

Everything we do today seems to be driven by technology. We are even replacing simple “facetime,” and that is not referring to the app on our phones. There is clearly more information at our fingertips than ever before, knowledge at the push of a button.

However, we pay a price for this endless access to so many resources. Look at our society today, at lunch or dinner with friends or family, with peoples’ faces buried in their phones. We need to be connected to the latest and greatest and what’s happening in the world, as it is happening. Unfortunately, this causes a disconnect with those we are with in that moment.

On the other hand, the same technology can connect us with those that are not in our personal company, in another state, and even possibly another country. Online training is an excellent example. Many agents and dealers have embraced it. Many others continue to rely on in-person training. Let’s compare the strengths and weaknesses of both.

Instore and Classroom Training

One great advantage to training in the work environment is convenience. It makes it easy when the training is at the business location and you can still be productive. There really isn’t anything better than sharing a physical space with someone to help connect the training techniques they’re imparting.

You can also tackle other potential business needs while on location. The strengths of onsite training include convenience, cost, connection, and frequency. This also gives you the ability to jump in and demonstrate in a real-world situation.

One negative to this is distractions. When a customer calls or shows up, onsite training stops.

Moving training to a classroom setting offers employees the opportunity to get away from the distractions at work and focus on learning while role-playing techniques. The results can be great. Days at a facility focused only on learning new techniques and demonstrating them with others in their field can be extremely rewarding.

There are also great advantages for the energy that can be shared in a classroom setting. One thing students have in common is that it is hard to find the time to role-play and practice back at the workplace. While attending a training facility, you are able to focus and practice your ability to get better. Another benefit to having a few days to attend training is that it can help with techniques.

But true income development is ongoing, and training should never stop. The positive spike in performance following classroom training sometimes fades. This is why onsite follow up is very important and brings us full circle to onsite training.

The Online Experience

Online and video-based training continues to evolve with the introduction of new learning management systems, also known as LMS platforms. All the features LMS offers makes it a truly powerful training tool.

Video training started in the VCR era, graduated to CD-ROMs and DVDs, and has since evolved into an internet-based pursuit. Unlike onsite or classroom training, these types of systems allow for ongoing training. For many organizations, it is tied directly to the hiring process. Video training allows instant access to processes and systems in a consistent way for new employees.

Students are constantly saying that they wish they could have had the proper training when they first started. The newest LMS platforms have great data analytics that tell us how long users watched the videos and even offer quizzes to assure retention. However, there is certainly something to be said about that “facetime” we talked about earlier in this article.

So what is the verdict?

You and your dealers don’t have to choose one training method over the other. F&I professionals should attend a great school, then have someone to work with one-on-one, then find a fantastic online training company for continued development. So many companies provide these types of training to their business partners to help everyone succeed. Although we sometimes cannot measure the ROI in dollars, training always pays off.

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Closing with Confidence

Closing with Confidence

Wouldn’t it be nice if they made a confidence pill, not just for sales, but for anything? If a “confidence in closing” pill existed, it would be a really strong closing tool! That pill doesn’t exist to my knowledge; so unless you have the “natural” gift, then how do you close with confidence? Considering the different key elements in closing with confidence, let’s look at some obvious things first.

Preparation, now that’s one thing that is really hard to substitute. It’s the dedication to prepare that provides a boost and causes you to exude confidence when entering a negotiation. If I I begin a presentation knowing that I’m 100% prepared, my confidence is through the roof. Therefore, I feel that I am able to handle any objections and ultimately close the deal.

Looking back at those who are “naturals,” sometimes they feel their gift for sales can get them the deal. When you combine natural ability with a commitment to preparation, you can really close with confidence. I have met several people who had natural ability, but I have seen that natural ability can only take them so far. They enter a negotiation armed with objection-handling techniques like Bruce Lee in “Enter The Dragon.” The problem comes down to a failure to prepare and use the correct steps, which leaves them without the confidence needed to close the deal.

Practice your approach; if the pros practice the plays they are going to execute in the game, why shouldn’t we practice closing before sitting in front of a customer? Not only do we train on the process in finance and sales, but we also do extensive role-playing to make sure students are proficient in their techniques. You will feel more confident in closing if you practice going over closes and getting your word tracks to flow smoothly.

Recently a movie came out called “The Wolf Of Wall Street” about a real life closer, Jordan Belfort. He would often ask people to “sell me this pen.” In the movie, there is a scene where Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, asks this of a man sitting at his table. The man takes the pen and then asks Belfort to write his name down. Belfort replies that he does not have a pen. “Exactly,” the man replies, “supply and demand.”

Although the answer in the movie is not the real one, according to Belfort, before he sells a pen to anybody, he says he needs to know about that person. Belfort said, “I want to know what their needs are. What kind of pen do they use? Do they even use a pen? Do they use a pen formally or just in everyday life?”

So what was the real point Belfort was trying to make? Simple – don’t skip the steps to the sale! Whether it’s a pen or a penthouse, the needs analysis plays a major role in the needs satisfaction. Skipping steps to the sale can leave even a “natural” looking for bullets at the closing table.

One topic that always comes up in our training school is having confidence while presenting numbers. We address this confidence by building value in everything leading up to the close, such as fact-finding, the demo, the trade evaluation and trial closes. When you do the right things and don’t skip steps, you are prepared to close and you feel confident to do so.

Since we know automotive as well as all sales sectors will continue to change, we have to be more prepared. We are in such a technology-filled world; customers have more resources than ever available to them, so we have to be more transparent. A pushy sales person can turn a client away, so don’t be pushy – be confident! A powerful way to be confident is to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe that you are prepared to close and that they should buy from you. Believe in your company – what it’s about, and how long they’ve been in business. Share how the business cares about its customers and its employees. Believe in your product, its features and benefits to your clients, and that it will meet their needs, because you understand what they are looking for.

Once you identify these things and feel confident, you’re ready to negotiate and close. When closing, remember to clarify and understand what the objection is, so you can truly address the client’s objection and close with confidence. Rephrase the objection in a way that is easier for you to overcome. Isolate the objection so you can handle it without any additional concerns.

Following these simple steps will give you the ammunition you need to start closing with confidence.

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Responsibilities of a Trainer

Responsibilities of a Trainer

The responsibility of a trainer goes beyond teaching material in a classroom. A trainer who is going to be great has to look at how training makes a difference. I have spent over 15 years training, with more than ten years in formal classroom settings. As a founding member and top trainer for Lees Summit, Missouri-based Automotive Training Concepts, I am constantly looking for ways to better our training programs. I love the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a great training session and hearing the students’ thanks as they leave class. Receiving calls, texts and emails from students who have applied the techniques you taught them and have experienced success is so rewarding.

The reasons that training makes a difference extend beyond the obvious. Just look at the responsibility we have, to not only our students, but also their families. I was talking with my eight-year-old daughter, Ava, about one of my recent classes and she really made me think about this. It reinforced how training is not only good for our family, but how it helps the people I train take care of their families. Impacting the lives of your students and their families is a really big responsibility.

We have a responsibility to our profession, because almost anyone can stand in front of a room and call him or herself a trainer. The reality when you train people is this: Are you helping them become more professional representatives of our industry? The question is, do you train or are you a top trainer?

Here are a few things I believe are the responsibility of a top trainer:

Have Passion. You need to really love what you do to be successful. Play the game like you don’t need the money. If you have this passion when training, the money follows.

Connect and Communicate. Don’t just read material out of a book from a podium, get out in front of the students and infuse your knowledge.

Don’t be afraid to change. I always try to bring new ideas to every training session, and I always look for better ways to train the techniques. The same old materials sometimes don’t change as today’s customers do, so know your students’ customers. Make changes to your training material to keep your training fresh. Don’t be so set in your material that you die on the mountain!

Be a Game Changer. Create new ideas and concepts. In the classroom, ask for tough objections and look for ways to overcome them. When you visit a store ask the people you work with to write down things they can’t overcome. This way when you follow up, your training will be relevant.

Be a student of the game. Realize that there are good ideas all around you and even a trainer can learn new things. I almost always take some new concept out of every class I teach. And always listen with an open mind when, as a trainer, you attend training. Some industry summits offer really good topics that may spark a new concept in your mind.

Inspect what you expect. If you don’t role-play in the classes you teach or at the dealerships you visit, how do you know the students have the proficiency to apply what you teach? I always have sales or finance classes role-play the training techniques, and I sit and review presentations or objection techniques with the sales or finance personal when I am at their store.

Practice what you preach. The best way to stay current on your training material is to try it; go out and apply it. When you’re visiting a dealership, take a turn and apply your techniques. I have made changes to our classroom material after doing this, based simply on what worked and what didn’t.

I guess when you stop and look at the responsibilities of a trainer there are several, but I believe one of the biggest is caring about the people you train. When you are blessed with the opportunity to stand in front of a classroom or train one-on-one, next time just remember what a great responsibility it is. We as trainers have the ability to make our industry and the people we work with better. Even writing this article caused me to step back and look at what a great gift I have been given to be able to share techniques and help motivate people so they and their families can be more successful.

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Developing Effective Leadership: Training the Mid-level Manager

Developing Effective Leadership: Training the Mid-level Manager

When looking at ways to make improvements in automotive dealerships today, a couple of topics always stand out. One topic is sales training and the other is finance training. Having over ten years of experience teaching in formal classroom settings, in both sales and finance, I have seen how things are usually done and know they have changed over time. However, there is one topic that is far too often overlooked: training of the mid-level manager.

Training the mid-level manager can provide many benefits to the dealership, such as growth and consistency. I have watched over many years as managers are born off the sales floor or come from other industries without any formal training. In these cases, management training boils down to being the classic baptism by fire – let the challenge begin!

So, let’s remove the word “manager,” for this discussion, and replace it with the word “leader.” I want to identify some elements of good leadership and the value it can bring to the dealership. The strength of an effective leader is the ability to bring out the most in their team. There are certain things you can do to find the right people, help them become proficient and keep them. Here are some key areas to observe when focusing on leadership training.

The first part is recruiting and hiring people; where do you find qualified candidates and how do you hire them? Now days, there are plenty of websites you can use for hiring, but I still believe in the value of prospecting for people. Good leaders teach their sales team to prospect for customers and likewise, good leaders should also prospect to build a good sales team. Remember (ABH) “Always Be Hiring.” If you don’t have room for additions, be willing to make room for the right person.

When hiring, don’t oversell the job. Set realistic expectations and ask professional and clear questions. Set up a second interview – don’t be desperate for the hire. Be sure they really want the job and that they are not just taking any job they can find. Take your time during this step and you will build a strong foundation that will lead to better success. Build a strong team – the stronger the team and the stronger the leader, the stronger the whole dealership will be.

Training is another area that is sometimes started at the dealership but is not always continued by the managers. The reasons could be that the managers just got busy or that they lack the content needed in a good training program to continue the development of the sales team. Ongoing training, also known as income development, should be done daily – training at every opportunity available to do business. By doing ongoing training we show our people that we care and that we are committed to their success. If we can strengthen the manager’s ability to provide quality training and development, then the whole sales team and dealership will be more successful.

Training sales teams should not only be about how to meet and negotiate with customers, but should also include teaching how to prospect for new business. There are constant training opportunities that are overlooked far too often, and unfortunately, this leads to regret at the end of the month.

Another area that is vital to the success of the mid-level manager is their ability to motivate their sales people. One topic we look at with leaders is: Do they really know their people and do they understand what motivates them? If you don’t understand your sales team – who they are and what matters to them – then how can you possibly motivate them? I have often found that people following a leader don’t always care how much the leader knows, but they do want to know how much the leader actually cares.

Finally, the big one: The ability to retain good people. Over many years of helping hire and place people, I have seen a constant need for sales people. I always ask the same question when I am told someone needs salespeople – “Why?” Why did you lose the salespeople you already had? If we work so hard to find and hire salespeople, and then, each time we go through the process of training them, why would we let them get away? That is why focusing on training the mid-level manager can help in finding better people – hiring, training, motivating and retaining them. By doing these things dealerships will achieve more profitable and consistent monthly outcomes.

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