Tag Archive | "closing"

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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Closing Requires Prospecting!

Closing new business requires that you do your homework before ever setting foot in a prospective account. It requires that you be capable of clearly and concisely communicating the numerous benefits of doing business with your agency to every prospective dealer. How will doing business with you… help them?

It also requires that you organize your time and have a game plan. But as every successful agent knows, the main requirement for closing new business… is that you call on new accounts!

One of the most important aspects of closing new business is the development of qualified leads. Prospecting is necessary to build your list of prospects and to fill your pipeline with potential business. Prospecting can take several forms, but the two most effective are referrals and telephone prospecting. As an agent, there are numerous sources you can approach for a referral, including:

Current Dealers:

This source of prospects is by all means the most effective. Obviously, the only way a dealer will take his time and place his reputation on the line for you and your agency is if you have proven your ability to increase income within his or her dealership. You have to make sure your agency is seen as partner in the success of their F&I department.

Every current dealer is also a prospect for other products your agency offers. You need to be prepared to cross sell your other products in these accounts every time you’re in the dealership.

Current Relationships:

Most agents have numerous companies and product providers they work with, as well as other agents they know through those companies. Menu software companies, DMS and product providers regularly get inquiries regarding F&I products that could mean a referral to your agency.

They also have relationships with individual dealers that are part of a larger dealer group, as well as clients that are signed up but that are not actively selling their product. Helping them improve their performance with one product creates an opportunity to talk with them about your other products, and how your agency is different from their existing product provider.

Dealer Associations:

Dealer associations and 20 Groups can be an excellent source of referrals. Most dealers belong to their state or local dealer association or an NADA 20 group that meets regularly to discuss ways to improve their dealership’s performance and profits. Being active in your state and local dealer associations, and attending their meetings, is a tremendous opportunity for you to meet dealers in a market area.

A simple introduction by one of your dealers to another dealer at one of their meetings will often turn into a conversation that results in an invitation to come by the dealership and discuss what your agency has to offer.

F&I Managers:

F&I managers frequently leave one dealership and move to another dealership. Often, based upon your relationship with the F&I manager, he or she will gladly refer you into their new dealership. This is especially true if the F&I manager was formerly at a dealership that sold your products, you helped them obtain their position, or they were initially trained by one of your product providers.

Your F&I managers are also a good source of information about other dealerships whose F&I departments may be struggling, or dealerships that may be considering making a change.

Other dealer’s F&I managers will also occasionally refer you into their dealership if they are dissatisfied with their current carrier. Always use caution when, talking to F&I managers at dealerships that are not currently clients, as often the reason for the F&I manager’s dissatisfaction with their current carrier/management company is because of their own poor performance!

F&I managers are best utilized as a source of leads, NOT as a source of referrals!

Sales & Service Managers:

Sales managers and service managers at your existing accounts can also be a good source of referrals, especially when you have developed a good rapport with them. Any person working in the auto industry knows someone else in the industry. Networking with these people is essential to develop new leads and grow your prospect base.

Credit Unions, Local Lenders And Banks:

Local lending institutions that dealers use as finance sources can be a fair source of referrals, but only if they know you! Visit the local office and meet the branch manager, their paper buyers, the people that handle collections, as well as their field representatives.

Make sure that they know they can contact you personally if there is an issue with one of your products. Check with them on a regular basis to answer questions or assist in resolving any claim problems. Often, claim/refund/cancellation problems with other carriers may even prompt them to refer you into an account.

Telephone Prospecting

Properly used, the telephone can be an effective prospecting tool, both in terms of cost and time. Without a referral into the dealership, it enables you to gather enough information about the dealership to allow you to make a creditable contact.

Always speak to the receptionist first. The receptionist can give you the name and address of the dealership and the name of the manager you want to talk to.

Next, speak to the F&I manager, sales manager, general manager, or office manager – anyone except the dealer! At this point, you are merely attempting to gather information, so there is a reason for you to talk to the dealer. Some of the information you want to find out before you attempt to meet with the dealer includes:

  • The dealer or dealers’ name and title
  • Name and number of F&I managers / time at dealership / previous F&I training
  • Names of other managers at dealership / time at dealership
  • Current franchises and volumes, and how that compares to last year
  • Years in business and other dealerships and locations (if any)
  • Current F&I product providers / menu software provider / time with each
  • Does the dealer have his own re-insurance company?

Once you have gathered enough information about the account and you feel adequately informed about the dealership and its operations, then and only then, are you ready to call on the dealer! It’s critical you know how you can help that dealer, so you have a reason to see him, before you ever walk in the door!

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Separating Your Agency from the Competition

“Don’t just think better: Think different!” – Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible

The continued growth and success of any agency depends on closing new business. Certainly, every agent entrepreneur must constantly focus on generating additional business through increased productivity and product sales within their existing accounts. However, the acquisition of new accounts through referrals, prospecting and making cold calls is the key to expanding your dealer base and increasing your agency’s bottom line.

Without the continued acquisition of new business, your dealer base and product sales volumes will eventually erode, along with your commissions.

As a professional general agent, there are five qualities and attributes you must develop to separate yourself from the competition, and ensure the continued growth of your agency.

1. Become Valuable To Your Dealers!

The key to success in any endeavor is to become valuable: the more valuable you become, the more money you make. Your ability to get dealers (and F&I managers!) to sell your products, and ultimately increase your income, is tied directly to your value to that dealer, the F&I department, the sales department, the service department, and more importantly, the dealer’s customers!

The question is, how do you become valuable? Certainly, you become valuable if you help that dealer make more money. However, dealers today need their F&I sales process to add value to the customer experience, not aggravation.

As an agent, you can greatly increase your value when you help implement an F&I sales process that also improves customer satisfaction, not just product sales and profits.

You also increase your value when you help protect the dealership by ensuring everyone is familiar with the laws and regulations regarding obtaining and using customer credit information, quoting payments and interest rates.

As an agent, not only must you be familiar with these laws and regulations, you increase your value to your dealers by continually training dealership personnel to protect the dealership from potential litigation.

Valuable agents also look at every situation from the dealer’s point of view. They are involved in helping their dealers find solutions, and they only promise what they can deliver.

Valuable agents use their influence with their product providers to solve problems and meet their clients’ needs, because they understand the privilege of doing business with any dealer must be continuously earned … never assumed.

2. Positive Attitude

Separating yourself from the competition is also dependent on a positive attitude. I have worked with scores of professional agents over the years, and those who think they will close new business, do close new business!

Agents who think they won’t close an account, don’t close the account. It’s never, “We don’t have that dealer’s business,” but rather “we don’t have his business … yet!”

A positive attitude is contagious. Your pride in the companies and products you represent, and the knowledge that your agency really does contribute to the success and profitability of every dealership you work with, must be evident in every interaction with dealership personnel. You have to be viewed as a positive force, not a negative influence, every time you set foot in a dealership. That means you never denigrate other products, or bad-mouth the competition.

A positive attitude in the face of adversity, and the ability to maintain that positive attitude despite repeated rejection, is what will separate you from the competition.

A professional keeps rejection in perspective, and never takes it personally. No matter what you’re selling, no matter how good the product or service, you will probably get more “no’s” than “yes’s”. A positive attitude is often the difference between closing an account and not closing an account. You must have a fervent belief that every dealer will benefit from doing business with you and your agency. If you don’t believe it, there is no way they will!

Enthusiasm sells; enthusiasm for our industry, enthusiasm for the products you offer, enthusiasm about the opportunity to help the dealer improve their performance and profits, and the confidence that you can do it. Your enthusiasm must be obvious and come through in your presentation. To be enthusiastic, you must first act enthusiastic!

3. Product Knowledge

Product knowledge is the foundation on which you build the sale of any product. To separate yourself from the competition, you must know the unique features of your products, your programs, their applications, and more importantly, how they differ from your competition.

Every other agency and product provider has strengths that you will need to overcome, and weaknesses that you can capitalize on to close the sale. To be successful, you must not only know your products and why they are unique, but also what the competition has to offer.

Keep in mind, your agency and the companies your represent also have strengths and weaknesses. Your ability to capitalize on your strengths, and overcome any weakness that your competition has found, is what will enable you to separate yourself from your competition.

Every sale or close is really comprised of a series of steps designed to move a dealer from uncertainty to positive action. A thorough understanding of what you have to offer, and how it will benefit that particular dealer, is the first step on the road to the sale.

4. Communication Skills

Separating yourself from the competition also requires that you become adept in the art of communication. The most important part of communication is listening! Your ability to listen and ask the right questions that uncover a dealer’s needs and hot-buttons is what will build his receptivity and allow you to review the benefits of your products and programs with him.

Selling anything to anybody requires discovering what a prospect is interested in and concerned about, and then talking in terms of his interests and concerns.

Until a dealer feels a need to make a change and wants to do business with you, he will not change from his existing provider(s).

Communication is a two way street. When you’re the one doing all the talking, you’re not communicating, you’re making a sales pitch! A dealer must “want” to hear what you have to say, because he “needs” what you have to sell!

Your willingness to listen must be established early in every conversation. From the outset, your approach must be an exchange of information, ideas and attitudes. The dealer must be urged and encouraged to talk. Unless the dealer is actively involved in the discussion, he is not going to be receptive to hearing what you have to say. Only after a dealer begins to ask questions, begins to express his concerns and reservations, and begins to elaborate on what is being discussed, will he be receptive to hearing what you have to offer.

Separating yourself from the competition requires that you become proficient at asking good questions, and listening! Anytime you interrupt another person’s comments or train of thought, you are conveying to them that you think what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. Asking a dealer open-ended questions and listening will help you avoid “jumping ahead” because you think you know where they are going.

5. Perseverance

As an independent agent entrepreneur, hard work and perseverance is the primary way you can separate yourself from the competition. And realistically, it’s also the only way you can expect to close new business. If you expect to grow your agency, you have to call on new accounts every month, not just the same ones month after month.

Perseverance requires that you continue to ask for an account’s business even after a “No,” or several “No’s,” and always have a reason to be there. Reasons to be there can include sharing an article you think might be helpful, providing product training, expediting a claim or passing along a new idea or sales technique that may prove beneficial.

Dealers have to know that you really want their business, and that you will not be here today, and gone tomorrow. They need to know you’re in it for the long haul.

Just as dogged perseverance is often required just to get in front of a dealer, it is always required to demonstrate your commitment to improving his F&I department’s performance and profitability. If you expect to earn his business and retain him as a client, a dealer has to see your perseverance, so he knows you will work harder on his behalf than any of the other agents or product providers that call on him every day.

Becoming valuable to your dealers, always having a positive attitude, knowledge of your products and your competition, honing your communication skills and continued perseverance is what will separate you, and your agency, from your competition.

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Closing Is Sweet Success

In the selling profession, closing is the winning score, the bottom line, the name of the game, the cutting edge, the point of it all. You may do everything else right up to the point of closing, but if you can’t ask for the business and wait for the client to answer, you’ll never do better than average in sales.

There are lots of techniques for prospecting, meeting new people, building referrals, qualifying, presenting or demonstrating products and services, and overcoming objections (also known as addressing concerns). But, if you can’t close the sale, you’re like a football team that can’t sustain a drive long enough to score. It does you no good to play your whole game in your own territory and never get across the other team’s goal line.

You have to fall in love with closing if you’re going to succeed at it long term. If you don’t love the closing process enough to master it now, start falling in love with it because this is where the money is.

True professionals are closing all the time. They close for names and contact information. They close for appointments. They close for opportunities to present their products or services. They are constantly trying test closes, and they can kick into their final closing sequence any time they recognize verbal or visual buying signs in their potential clients. Signs can include handling the product or asking for information they will need to know when they own it.

Many average salespeople get so wrapped up in their selling sequence that if potential clients decide to invest before they’re through, they won’t let them have the product. They feel compelled to finish their entire presentation. They just keep going in their set pattern of telling, telling, telling instead of selling.

Some clients do get sold quickly. If you keep talking instead of moving to the paperwork, you could very easily unsell them just as fast. More talk triggers more thought and has the potential to bring up more objections. Pay close attention. When you recognize that the prospect is ready, stop talking and start filling out those forms, getting that purchase order number or asking how they would like to handle the investment.

Next, I’m going to give you the eight most important words in the art of closing. These are the most powerful words I’ve ever heard spoken on the complex, demanding and well-paid art of closing. If you’re just skimming this article, PAY ATTENTION NOW.

Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up!

The important words are “shut up.” That is why the Father of Modern Selling, the late J. Douglas Edwards used to shout this at his audiences.

I was sitting in the front row at his seminar the first time I heard these words. I was already jumpy from the excitement of the program and had my head down taking notes as fast as I could, when Doug shouted “SHUT UP!”

I jumped right out of my chair and dove for cover. That memory is carved into my mind, along with those words. They explain the single most important element that turned my previously disastrous sales career into the record-breaking success it soon became.

Ask your closing question then keep quiet! The first person to speak owns the product. If you speak, the product will still sit in your car or warehouse. If the client speaks, the majority of the time, they’ll own it! They’ll either agree to make the purchase or ask a question. Either way the sale is still moving forward.

Being quiet sounds simple, doesn’t it? Believe me, it isn’t. I had a real challenge in this area and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing wrong until I heard Doug Edwards say those words. I was a talker early in my career. I thought if I just kept talking that eventually the clients would agree to something I said.

The first time I tried to ask a closing question and then keep quiet, I was prepared for the prospect’s reaction. I expected her to keep silent—thinking about her decision. What I hadn’t prepared for was the intensity of my own reaction.

The silence felt like wet sand being piled on my chest. My insides were churning, I had to bite the inside of my lip and I was acutely aware of every nerve ending in my body. It was a gargantuan struggle not to fidget. I was wiggling my toes inside my shoes so I didn’t start jiggling my leg. Finally, the prospect did decide that she would invest, my body flooded with adrenalin and I never again dreaded that awful silence after asking a closing question.

Why is it so important to keep quiet? Let’s say the prospect hesitates for a few moments, wondering when he should take delivery. You become uncomfortable and assume that he is questioning the investment, so you blurt out that you’ll give him another 5 percent off the total investment or something free, when that wasn’t even the issue.

Now, you’ve just broken the trust you worked so hard to build to the point of closing. You’ll have to work twice as hard to earn the business because now he’s wondering if you truly have his best interests at heart.

There’s no way you can possibly know what potential clients are thinking when they’re quiet so don’t try to guess. Just sit and wait them out.

The average salesperson can’t wait more than 10 seconds after asking a closing question before saying something else. If “Mrs. Jones” hasn’t answered by then, they’ll say something like, “Well, we can talk about that later,” and go on talking, unaware that they have just destroyed the closing momentum.

And it’s probably not just the one close that is destroyed. “Mrs. Jones” can certainly keep quiet for a few moments—almost all undecided buyers can. She may now start to wonder what else you’ll tell her or offer her if she keeps stalling her decision.

If you’re true champion material, you can sit there quietly all afternoon if you have to. It takes concentration, but the actual silence after asking for the sale rarely lasts longer than 30-40 seconds. Try it now. Check your watch and just sit quietly for 30 seconds so you will understand what it feels like. If you’re compulsive like some of my students, you’ll find yourself counting “one one-thousand, two one-thousand” and so on. I don’t care how you get there, just learn what it feels like. Then you won’t be so quick to move on to another subject after you’ve asked your closing questions.

Having the skill, courage and concentration to sit still and be silent for at least half a minute is the single most vital skill there is in selling. Practice this until you get a feel for how long 30 seconds is, and then it won’t be so nerve-wracking when big money is riding on how calm and quiet you remain in a real closing situation.

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