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How to Catch the Decisionmaker

How to Catch the Decisionmaker

OK, how many of you secret agents need to get into some sort of sensitivity rehab or maybe even a 12-step program because you have some unresolved problems, such as never being able to reach the decisionmaker, a.k.a. the dealer or GM? Right, you call, call, call, call and all you get is some BS answer such as “They are in a meeting” or “They told me to get your name and (like Ripley’s Believe It or Not) they will call you back”? Sure, let me hold my breath until 2018.

Or even better, they have some hourly person who finally has the ability to control something — like who gets through to the dealer. I just went through this with a dealer up in Canada. No names, but get a life, you suck. All the dude did was complain about how many sales they were missing a month. Duh! Maybe if you keep playing more hide-and-seek, it will get better. Look, your clients need you, maybe even more then you need them.

I was at a show and met the dealer. He clearly thought he was a British spy named Bond. Seriously, folks, you can’t make this stuff up. So I started to think, “OK, maybe the telephone gatekeeper has finally come of age and has mastered the skill of being the wall between you making a sale or gaining an account.”

Think about this: Statistics prove 44% of salespeople give up after making one attempt to reach the decisionmaker. And here’s another stat I know is you need to consider: You will fail 100% of the time if you give up instead of follow up. So, how do you get to them?

The Great Walleye Story

Years ago, I went fishing with two old-timers up to the great north of Ontario, and we all went to the bait shop to get bait, beer, food and so on. (Now you can tell I’m from Canada!) So I’m looking around the trading post where they still run trap lines for furs. On top of the fridges were giant fish heads that had been caught and showed off at the post.

My eyes were as big as the last full moon you saw. I was gasping, thinking, “How in the hell did they catch that?” I only had one place to look. I looked over at the counter and behind it stood one tough trapper. I was a bit intimidated. It had been a while since I was in something that looked like the Fishing Hall of Fame.

I got up the nerve, walked over and, with my whiny California voice — because that’s where I live now — I asked the guy a question: “What are they hitting on?” The guy never said one thing. He just pointed to the wall, at a small trout Rapala lure. So I bought three of them. If you have never seen a Rapala, it’s the brand known for its distinct swimming action, and each lure includes at least two or three hooks.

We got to the lake, loaded up the boat, beer, food, the old timer’s bait my friends bought and my three new lures. The other guys were mostly concerned about having a good time, which in agency terms is like making fruitless calls and thinking, “Well, I am making my calls.” I was hooking up my line with a Rapala, which might be more like using social media. Maybe the new lure is Facebook or LinkedIn.

And what I like about the new way to fish for dealers is the gatekeeper isn’t checking their personal LinkedIn profile or their personal Facebook page. So goodnight to you, gatekeeper. Keep playing your crossword puzzles. I found a way to bypass you. Plus, these dealers are looking at their social media at home, so now you are connecting with them or getting to them 24 hours a day instead of the old, “Well, I left them a voicemail.” If they don’t call back, it’s called voice jail! The Trojan Horse is in the house!

So I threw the lure out, just like you do every time you post on Facebook and LinkedIn, becoming a resource pond of information that your clients will look forward to, because of the free information you post daily. I’m not the smartest guy, but isn’t there a good book that says, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”? Maybe you’re sowing the wrong way to reach your clients. I’m just saying. Maybe you got the wrong bait on your contact rod.

So anyway, back to the story. I threw the line out. It didn’t get 100 yards out and BOOM! I got my hit. I just got in the boat, I just put the right bait on, I just got a huge hit. I told the old guys, who hated change more than running out of beer, “Slow down, I got something!” They looked at me like, “We just got out.”

I know that’s why you post, blog or place articles in the morning on the social sites, because that’s when your fish bite. They check their emails, go on Facebook, LinkedIn and other work sites. Now you might not be getting hits, because you are still using the old bait, which is something called the telephone.

OK, back to the big catch. When I landed the fish, my eyes blew up like an American silver dollar — not a Canadian one, ’cause the loonie has lost a wing or so in its value. So here it comes, and I’m screaming at the two old fools, “Get the damn net, I got a fish!” — or, for you a lead, or a response, like, or a comment. “Get the net, get the net, we can’t waste time, hurry!” The net was buried under the beer and food. WTF! (Yes, that means, “Wow, that’s funny!” Right.)

I brought in an almost 9-pound walleye. For reference, the average weight is around 4 or 5 pounds. Boom! We netted it, and for years, it hung in my house — until the boss said, “Out she goes.”

New Bait

The point here is that you can catch the dealer or the decisionmaker once you know which way to contact them. Is it the phone, email, Facebook, LinkedIn or even Twitter?

My advice is to have all of them working together. You can look at a program like Sprout, which ties most of your social media all together so you can use your time more wisely, which is getting belly-to-belly with the big fish, known as the decisionmaker.

“But, but, what about the phone?” you ask. Hook them first then bring them to the phone. You land them in the boat when you get face-to-face with the decisionmaker.

Let’s rack this. I’m running out of bait and the last time I brought a good time home for dinner, the boss said, “We can’t eat on good times. Show me the money!” Did you catch anything today? Just a simple yes or no will do for now!

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Secret Agent Locates Dealer

Secret Agent Locates Dealer

One of the biggest mysteries in this business is trying to find the decisionmaker at the dealership who can buy or use your services. If you stacked up all the agents who gave up because they couldn’t reach the decisionmaker to make an appointment, get them to take your call, get hold of them, get them to respond, call you back, meet you in person, do a presentation, or break their meeting with you and so on, the bodies would reach the moon and cast a shadow that would bring darkness to our planet.

OK, it might not be that drastic, but if you are an agent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The game is the chase!

You need to develop a steel tummy for this biz and always remember that effort doesn’t require any skill at all. Don’t let rejection or a blow-off ruin your day. You are better than that. Plus, some of the dealers in this business, are so pathetic when it comes to playing hide-and-seek. A great deal of them are experts at it. I say, some will, some won’t, so what, so move on.

They Can’t Hack It 

The problem is that most agents can’t hack the sales aspect of the job. They can’t seem to overcome the types of rejection they face in their business. My question to you is, what kind of sales training have you ever been through — not product training, but sales training? If you don’t have the skills, you probably can’t pay your bills.

Now you’re probably thinking, who the heck is this guy? It’s not a secret. I have been selling training, consulting, online sales training and other products to dealers for over 20 years. The good news is I’m still alive and so are you. I have heard every excuse or reason in the book. Check this out!

  • They are in a meeting.
  • They said to call back.
  • They are not interested.
  • We are stuck with a company we can barely stand.
  • We do our own thing here.
  • Ol’ Bob has been our agent for over 20 years.
  • We have a family member who does that for us.
  • We are too small for you.
  • See us in Q2; we might consider it then.
  • Our guys are good and we don’t need you.
  • Our dealership has been in the middle of a sale for three years or so.
  • We are very comfortable with what we are doing.
  • Let me call corporate on this.
  • [Dial tone]

I could go on, but I’m already getting bored with all of this. What about you?

So how do you make sales to a dealership? You have to be a hunter first. Your goal is to locate the decisionmaker and then find out how to break through and reach them. Easier said than done!

New Hunting Grounds

Hopefully you are an agent of change and are willing to do something different than the old conventional ways. “Cray cray” as it sounds (and is that even a word?), a lot of my recent successes have come through social media. I can normally get to a dealer within seconds. As a matter of fact, I reached out to a dealer today for a huge deal, and within 60 minutes, they responded. Now the chase turns to contact, visit, phone, FaceTime, presentation and, finally, close the sale.

As a sales trainer, I can tell you this: You have to have the same focus when you are closing the appointment to meet in person as if you were actually closing a sale! Don’t forget that! I have called this dealer, texted him, emailed him and connected on LinkedIn. I finally got him on Facebook. Who knew?

Now, of course, sometimes the old ways still work when trying to reach the decisionmaker. But if your own kids won’t answer the phone, do you think the dealer is going to answer it? Get to the receptionist and find out how the decisionmaker likes to be contacted.

For agents, the road to the sale is changing. You have to master the art of communication. Once you get them to see you, then you get to determine needs, wants, and their motivation to use your products. Always ask for the sale.

So let’s wrap it up: Pick up the phone, call, text or email them right now. Don’t wait, because your competitor is probably picking up the phone, texting or finding them on Facebook right now, because you are procrastinating. Do it now!

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