The 10 Commandments of Prospecting for a Successful Agency – Part 3

By: John Vecchioni

The 10 Commandments of Prospecting for a Successful Agency – Part 3

This month, we’re wrapping up our look at the top 10 commandments every agent should keep in mind when it comes to prospecting. Commandments seven through ten focus on knowing where your prospects do their business, maintaining open communication with your peers, listening and talking effectively and, finally, making sure you have the right partners.

Commandment VII: Thou Shalt Discover Where They Are Doing Business
Where are you getting your vehicles maintained? Where are you shopping for your vehicles? Obviously, you want to patronize the dealerships you do business with, but don’t discount that a service as simple as an oil change can create opportunity. It can be difficult to personally get to a decision maker. The owner, at times, is involved in several aspects of running his or her business. Sometimes, we make an assumption that our finance or service products are the most important elements to the dealership. They would have some agreement with that idea; however, there are many components that drive a successful dealership. Getting service on your vehicle offers you an opportunity to meet the service manager and, ultimately, ask to speak to the owner about your satisfaction with his or her service department. Conversation leads to rapport, and that leads to opportunity. Where else can you play a role in the prospect’s business and create a favorable circumstance for yourself?

Don’t dismiss your professional network as a workable resource for you, either. You know franchise and independent dealers who are looking for used vehicles, services, parts and more. Can you facilitate an introduction that can provide a service to your dealer prospect? If you show someone how to profit – either through your patronage or your referral – you begin to present yourself as a credible individual. You have essentially earned the right to at least meet the owner and have a friendly conversation.

Get your existing dealer resources involved in your success. Ask for the referral, or for a telephone call endorsement to the targeted prospect. Your dealers can play a role assisting with making an appointment.

Commandment VIII: Thou Shalt Maintain Communication with Your Peers
Communicating your prospecting activity with others in your organization is not only essential, but it can also be very beneficial. If you intend to market with two or more individuals, then everyone should be talking to different people and different departments each visit. If you are able to put a strategic plan together, consider the advantages: you instill the impression of a large agency of resources and ideas. You establish a justification that your agency possesses expertise in a variety of areas. By visiting with different departments and individuals, you get the agency and your name exposed all over the dealership.

Your agency and your people can assist in all areas of compliance, sales, fixed operations and other areas where your expertise can create efficiency and profit. If you are prospecting without the knowledge of who or when others in your agency are prospecting the same business, you run the risk of the opposite impression occurring. Make your prospecting visits valuable stops and make sure people are excited to see you each time you go back. It is the information you deliver that makes that happen.

If you host training at a neutral site, take the time to invite your prospects to the event. Let everyone in your office know about the training, and encourage them to invite their prospects as well. A full room is always impressive, and sets a tone for special meetings. There are many opportunities to utilize everyone in the agency in pursuit of effective prospecting and, ultimately, agency growth.

Commandment IX: Thou Shalt Listen Intensely and Talk Effectively
Have you ever heard of the salesman who talked his way right out of the sale? It can happen, and it does far too often. Keep in mind when prospecting that you are there to capture “Intel” that allows you to put together information pertinent to what you have heard. If you take precious time – which is a commodity – talking, then you jeopardize your ability for a conversation. Too often sales people attempt to impress their prospects with their knowledge. This is good but it has to come after you hear from them about what is important to them. What is it about the products or education they are currently doing that they like? What would they do differently? What are some of their ideas?

You have to ask questions and listen. Remember: He who asks the questions controls where the conversation is going. Be prepared with the questions you want to ask, and know who you want to ask questions of. Not everybody will give the same response to your questions. The service department might look at a vehicle service contract differently than the finance office. Although it may be the same product, it carries a different set of opinions from each department, and each department has to utilize the product differently. That information is important when you get your opportunity to present your solutions to their already existing headaches.

Every product and every bit of training you can offer to your prospect is valuable and important. You wouldn’t be excited to talk about it if you didn’t believe that. But keep this one bit of advice in mind: everyone wants to be asked their opinion. Not everybody gets to voice his or her opinion about the business, but everybody has one, and because of that you have to listen, because they will tell you everything you want to know and things you don’t want to know.

Commandment X: Thou Shalt Choose Product Partners Who Support Their Agency Growth
When prospecting, don’t be surprised by some of the ideas or requests you begin to hear. In fact, some of those suggestions may be offered up by individuals who had good experiences with specific companies in the past. Every product company you represent in your market should be involved in your success. Committed to your success is even better. It is not always specifically the product that impresses people. You obviously want companies that are capable of providing service for your agency and performance for your customer.

When choosing partnerships keep in mind the some of the following advice that enabled successful partnerships to exist: Administrators will prosper if you prosper. What are they willing to do to help you succeed? How will they assist you in battling the competition? What kind of response time is necessary when considering alternative features to their product? These can be beneficial to your agency when they perform, but they can be devastating when they don’t.

If you find yourself negotiating more with your product providers then your prospective dealers, you might have a problem. There are many providers that assist agencies thrive in their markets by assisting in prospecting, product development, training and liberal back-end opportunities for your dealers. When provides don’t assist in your success, you run the risk of disappointing your dealers and putting stress on the business relationship.

Whatever you need to grow your business should be shared with providers when choosing products for your market. The old expression of “a high tide lifts all boats” is certainly true when you have the right provider in your portfolio.

This article was written by:

- has written 13 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

John Vecchioni has written 13 posts on Agent Entrepreneur. John is an F&I Trainer for American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc. F&I University. John provides real-world F&I training experience and solutions to dealer partners across the country. Contact the author.

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The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Agent Entrepreneur or any employee thereof.

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