Tag Archive | "Planning"

A Winning Strategy for Closing More Business


Let’s face reality. Every day, dealers are overwhelmed by salespeople pitching everything from car washes to dealer management systems. Agents selling F&I products are everywhere, in towns of all sizes, pounding on doors and offering products, training and even free money to do business with them. What sets you apart? Why should they speak with you? This could be a two-day class, but I only have 1,000 words, so let’s get right to it.

In my view, the first decision each of us in this business has to make is this: Are we providing products or solutions? It is a simple question, and most of us would say the latter. However, in many cases, when we get in front of someone, we pull out a pitch book and begin launching into features and benefits and — even more deadly — price comparisons to our competitors. We have no idea what the dealer needs or how we could help, yet we get into a pitch as though we are taking surveys at the mall. So what differentiates you from the many who fail? Here are two things you can do today:

  1. Have a plan to get the full picture of what is happening at the dealership. You should have done pre-planning and homework, maybe even a referral, and met with lower-level managers to understand what’s happening at the store, what’s working and what can improve. Where are they doing well and where are the gaps? Then your goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to do an analysis of the dealership and lay out a plan for increasing production and profitability.
  2. Training has to be a part of any real plan for change. Entire articles are written on how difficult change is (check out John Kotter material) and how hard habits are to break (just check your New Year’s resolution list). You need to be a difference-maker for your customers and create lasting, positive change that produces tangible results.

Here’s my process for accomplishing the goal of closing more dealers and increasing sales.

Pre-Call Planning

As a former sales, F&I and leadership trainer, I know that it takes hours of preparation for every hour of presentation. That’s the only way to be the best and deliver the best product to your audience. The same goes for the one to two minutes you may get in front of a dealer that will determine if you get an audience to go more in-depth. Do your homework. Start with their website, look for what type of inventory selection they have, how long they have been in business, what charities they support and so on. Google the dealer and look at the Web and news results for insight.

The measurement is this: If you stand in front of a mirror and give your two-minute elevator pitch tailored to this dealer, would you want to meet with you? And you must be ready for the reflex objections you’ll get, such as “I’m happy with my current provider.” Have at least three word-tracks prepared to deal specifically with that objection and show the dealer you’re worthy of his or her time.

Income Analysis Tool

Many providers have a tool for you to measure the productivity of a dealership and report back on the gaps and next steps for creating additional revenue by filling those gaps. Whether you call it a “profit gap analysis,” “dealership needs analysis” or something else equally witty, your first goal should be to get the dealer’s permission to meet with his team and identify the opportunities.

There will always be gaps. Why? Because no business is perfect and we all lose focus at times. So the dealer knows you’ll find areas her team should improve on. The real question is, do you have implementable answers for her store and the skills to make them happen? If not, she’ll say thanks and then take your presentation to their current provider to implement the changes needed.

Targeted Presentation

The next step is to schedule a meeting with the dealer and present your findings. This should be a presentation that leads to the two or three key findings from your analysis and your recommendations for how to fix them resulting in additional bottom-line profit to the dealer.

It’s important that the dealer sees you as a credible professional who understands and can address their needs. This comes across not only in your story but how you present your findings and by relating examples of where you have successfully implemented similar processes before. Don’t just present, ask questions, engage your audience and go deep with the dealer to gain agreement and refine your recommendations.

Close and Kickoff

Arguably, the most critical step is to kick off the new account properly. Spend the time necessary in the store so that, after the kick-off, everyone in the dealership knows you and sees you as a member of their team. Invite yourself to sales meetings, save-a-deal meetings and management meetings. Bring in some pizza after the shop closes and hold a fixed ops meeting. From service to used cars and the general office to the F&I office, you are an added value that makes all of them more effective by the skills you bring to the store.

Bringing It Home

Years ago, I was taught that there is a big difference between problems and needs: Needs require action; problems do not. There is an essential skill to transitioning a problem to a need in a dealer’s mind. For example, a problem might be slow used-car inventory turn and the cause could be the wrong or un-prepped inventory, sales staff skills, or maybe the used-car manager has a bias for sports cars in a truck market.

You must show the dealer the financial impact of where they are today, where they could be and, in many cases, what looked like a minor issue can become a need that requires action. These points may not relate directly to your product, but they can still add to your personal value proposition.

Does this approach take longer than just making a pitch? Yes and no. But I guarantee that, the better you are at presenting your unique value proposition and establishing yourself as a credible consultant, the more business you’ll close with dealers who become long-term clients.

So good selling!

 

 

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6 Secrets to Being More Productive Each Day


When you own or run a business, it’s crucial you maximize every second of every day. Unfortunately, most owners and CEOs already work non-stop, so adding time isn’t an option. Instead, leaders have to learn how to make better use of their time spent, reports Entrepreneur.

When I plunged into the startup scene four years ago, I brought an extremely strong work ethic and a lot of audacity to the CEO role, but I lacked the necessary experience and discipline to be highly productive.  Today, while I’m nowhere near perfect, I have learned a few tricks that can help new entrepreneurs get the most out of their workday:

1. Write down your goals — both big and small.

It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many people overlook the importance of writing down their goals. Using a journal to organize everything makes it easy to look back and see where you’ve been, what milestones have been hit and what’s still ahead. And don’t forget that while the big milestones are important, short-term goals are equally as significant.  The small goals not only provide valuable chances to learn and grow, but they are perfect practice for helping to accomplishing the larger ones. Remember that as your business grows so will your goals, so be sure to revise, readjust and rewrite often.

2. Leverage technology.

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a sucker for any tech tool that claims to simplify my life, whether it’s for personal development or professional expansion. While I wouldn’t recommend using every single app that you come across, there are definitely a few that make sense for entrepreneurs.

Regain precious hours and keep employees on track with tools likeDropbox and Google Docs allowing team members immediate access to shared and organized documents. For teams collaborating on multiple to-do lists Trello makes project management a breeze through real-time boards designed for simultaneous task completion. Even getting in touch with one another is easier through the use of products like HipChat and Skype.

3. Delegate tasks.

If you’re anything like me you’re going to what to have a finger in everything, from business development to customer service (it is your baby after all).  However, doing it all makes it very difficult to accomplish your actual responsibilities.  You’ve spent time building the perfect teamso make sure you are using them.  Delegate responsibilities and trust that your team is going to get things done. Don’t micromanage.

4. Take breaks.

It may seem like working non-stop throughout the day is the best way to grow your business, however it can actually be counterproductive.  Research shows that taking short breaks at regular intervals throughout the day not only keeps you healthier, but it also helps you refocus on the job at hand.  Take the office dog for a quick walk, do some mindful yoga or go on a lunchtime run. Whatever it is that helps you recharge, fit it into your daily schedule.

5. Acknowledge success. 

One of the easiest ways to lose productivity is when you’re feeling like your hard work is going unnoticed ––even as the leader of the team.  When a goal is met or someone has put in extra time to close a high-level deal, take the time to celebrate.  It doesn’t have to be cupcakes and balloons every time, but finding a special way to acknowledge the milestones will keep everyone motivated and excited to hit the next one.

6. Plan your day the previous evening.

If you plan your day in the morning you’re too late.  This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned on my journey. At the end of each day sit down and take a moment to reflect.  Did you meet your daily goal? Are you on track for the week? What changes can you make? Reflecting at the end of the day allows you to see what needs to be accomplished tomorrow.  When you make those plans in advance you can hit the ground running, instead of spending your morning trying to figure out what needs to be done.

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How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done


As co-founder of Hotwire.com and CEO of Zillow for the last seven years, 39-year-old Spencer Rascoff fits most people’s definition of success, reports Inc. As a father of three young children, Spencer is a busy guy at home and at work.

What’s the one thing that Spencer refuses to do on the weekend? Work–at least, in the traditional sense. Rascoff says:

“I never go into the office on weekends, but I do check email at night. My weekends are an important time to unplug from the day-to-day and get a chance to think more deeply about my company and my industry. Weekends are a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues.”

new study from Stanford shows that Rascoff is on to something.

The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. Like Spencer, they use their weekends to create a better week ahead.

This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following list contains 10 things that successful people do to find balance on the weekend and to come into work at 110 percent on Monday morning.

1. They Disconnect

Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work.

Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire weekend off from handling work emails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking emails and responding to voice mails. For example, check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are getting a haircut and on Sunday evenings after dinner. Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.

2. They Minimize Chores

Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect. What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day workweek. To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, move on and finish them the following weekend.

3. They Reflect

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busywork, you should be able to see things in a whole new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work.

4. They Exercise

No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity.

I know that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m surfing. While you’re out on the ocean, the combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity. Whether you’re running, cycling, or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fueled introspection. The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.

5. They Pursue a Passion

You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends. Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting, or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends over the coming week.

6. They Spend Quality Time With Family

Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Family time on the weekend is so important to Spencer Rascoff that he flies home for the weekend, no matter how far away he is, even if he has to be in the same city the following week. Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends. Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favorite restaurant, and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

7. They Schedule Micro-Adventures

Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown. Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before, or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun come Saturday, it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

8. They Wake Up at the Same Time

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready). When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday, because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.

9. They Designate Mornings as Me Time

It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family. Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays. Your mind achieves peak performance two-to-four hours after you wake up, so get up early to do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while your mind is at its peak.

10. They Prepare for the Upcoming Week

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan, because all you have to focus on is execution.

Bringing it All Together

What do you do to make your weekends great? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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