Tag Archive | "sales performance"

The Myth of the ‘Natural’ Salesperson

Do I have to be a “natural” at sales to earn the big bucks? I’ve heard that question many times. Well, no matter how easy selling seems to be for you or some of the people you work with, the answer to the question is always a real big “No!”

None of us are born with any of the special skills it takes to succeed in sales.

The skills, traits and habits that help us succeed as salespeople are almost all learned skills and behaviors.

Try to remember that we all start out about the same: seven pounds with mush for brains. Every day after that, we grow and continue to develop until we stop learning.

The Naturals vs. the Regular People

Two real problems come up that affect both groups – the salespeople who think they’re just “regular” and those who think they’re one of those “naturals” or even “super-naturals.”

Too many people in sales (and in all walks of life) have convinced themselves that only the people born with charisma, or who can strike up a conversation with a tree stump, or whatever special talent they think that a “natural” might have, can make it in sales.

These individuals don’t try to improve because they don’t believe in their own potential. It’s a shame to see someone with great potential waste it and settle for just being pretty good.

But there is that side benefit for people who feel this way (or use it as an excuse): if they don’t try to succeed, there’s no risk, because they can’t possibly fail.

The opposite problem affects most of the so-called “naturals” in life, and especially in sales. Because they can charm the bark off a tree, too many people assume they’ve already arrived when you talk about success. “It’s so easy for me, I must be already as good as you can possibly be in sales.”

Because they have that perceived special advantage, or because they do have
those traits, these people could really hit the big time, but most of them don’t. They forget the real key to success, and that’s remembering this point:

Success is a journey, not a destination!

Many people are so overconfident in their abilities that they don’t develop the additional skills and habits that it takes to continually improve in sales year after year. It’s hard to watch someone with incredible potential stop growing and only develop one single skill: being able to pat themselves on the back with both hands at the same time. Remember:

A person who does not read is no better off than a person who cannot read.

Overall, the most successful people I’ve met in sales are just regular folks like you and me. They learned some, learned some more and just kept growing.

Do you remember the old story about the tortoise and the hare? If I recall it correctly, didn’t the tortoise win the race?

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An Agent’s Guide to Using Video Review

So as an agent, you are thinking of putting cameras into your stores. This may be because you have been to a recent conference and heard other agents extolling the virtues of such a program. Or your dealer just came back from a 20 group where someone said, “If you want to add $200 to you PVR, just put a camera in the F&I office!” Or maybe it’s just a decision to increase the level of service provided to your dealer clients.

I began using video in 2006. In those six years, I’ve come to believe that the camera is the most powerful training tool available to agents. However like any tool, if not used properly it will not perform or worse, may even cause more harm than good.

Here are six key steps to successfully using the camera.

1. Every Transaction Must Be Recorded. Period.

This sounds elementary, but surprisingly this may be the most difficult step. You will hear every reason imaginable for not recording. “It stopped working,” “It was a cash deal,” “They’re a previous customer who never buys anything,” “It’s a sub-prime deal”…

If you do not get the commitment or have the resolve to record every transaction, my recommendation is, do not put the cameras in at all! Why? Your time will be spent determining if the transaction should have been recorded and listening to all the reasons why a particular transaction was not captured. More importantly, your client may be put into possible class-action discrimination troubles. Anytime a dealership has one process for one set of customers, and different processes for a second set, the dealership may have lawyers examining the reasons why.

So how does an agent ensure that every transaction is recorded? By getting the dealer’s support. Plain and simple, if the dealer does not require that every transaction be captured; video review should not be an option. The dealer can support the process by providing an incentive for 100 percent of all transactions recorded. The dealer can also support the process by not paying commission on deals where the camera was not used. Either way, dealer support is needed to make sure every transaction is captured.

2. Watch the videos.

This was my biggest failure early on. I struggled getting the production out of one of our dealer groups. I recommended to the dealer that we put cameras in, at his expense. I told him that the results nationally were $200 per car, and that it would be a great investment! We put the cameras in and, after the first month, production really did not change. The only thing that did change was the dealer spent a bunch of money on hardware and software fees, upsetting many of his people in the process. Soon after, I lost the account.

One big reason the numbers usually go up after installing the camera is that the producers realize they now must follow the 300 percent rule (100 percent of the products to 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time). When they realize someone is watching, they are more likely to present every product every time.

Watch at least four transactions per Financial Services Manager per month. If this is too much for you to do personally, hire a professional reviewing service from your provider, or hire someone at your agency to review the videos. Make sure the individual has rudimentary knowledge of the Financial Services process, this will make sure there is no disconnect on behalf of the reviewer.

3. Grade them.

Develop a grading system to use when reviewing each transaction. Be sure to include everything that you want to see accomplished during the transaction. I have attached a sample review sheet. I look for 12 accomplishments, broken into two categories, sales and compliance.

Download the F&I Review Sheet Download a PDF F&I Review Sheet Here »

The grading system should follow after the training system. For example, we train the producer to establish the need for each product and then show how the product solves the need. Notice how the grading system follows what we think makes for the best presentations.

After scoring the video, we compile all the scores, keeping them in a database for tracking.

4. Give feedback.

After completing the review sheet, give it back to the producer along with any words of praise and/or recommendations to improve. We have found it to be most effective to have the producer and dealer to sign-off on the feedback sheet.

Another very effective way to give feedback is to watch a producer’s transaction together. This way the producer themselves can see the areas they are the strongest in and should continue to do, and the areas they need improvement.

5. Hold review meetings.

This is most effective with clients that have more than one producer. At least one time per month, bring all the producers of the organization together to review transactions from the previous month. These should always be “highlights!” You want to praise the producers in public, train and correct in private.

In these meetings share with the other producers what is working, right within their own organization. These meeting should be no more than an hour, reviewing specific pertinent time frames of five to six transactions.

6. Use the videos.

Use the videos. Use them in training. Use them to share new closes. Use them to share compliance initiatives.

Videos can be a powerful tool in increasing PRU and making you a more viable asset in the dealerships you serve.

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While We’re Talking About Good Managers

One of my favorite quotes on ‘Management and Leadership’…

While We’re Talking About Good Managers

‘Bear’ Bryant gave you the biggest tip you need to succeed…

“I’m just a plow hand from Arkansas, but I’ve learned to hold a team together, how to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together – a team. There’s just three things I’d ever say…

  1. If anything goes bad – I did it.
  2. If anything goes semi-good – then we did it.
  3. If anything goes real good – then they did it.

That’s all it takes for people to win football games for you.”

– ‘Bear’ Bryant, University of Alabama Football Coach

We all know you can’t win many games with a lousy team – so just about everybody agrees that 95% of your success depends on the people you hire.

On top of that, for any real chance of winning a game or succeeding in today’s market – common sense says you need skills and teamwork. Trying to succeed in this business, in this market, is no different than trying to get to the Super Bowl – without a skilled team that works together, it can’t happen.

We should all understand the 80/20 rule by now. The downside of this rule means you probably only have 20% of your salespeople working hard on their own to improve, and that means you can’t win or grow nearly as much as you’d like to.

Why? Because just like one or two football players, they’re just part of the team, and 20% of the salespeople you have are not able to put your dealership in the ‘Top 10’ by themselves.

Not even the ‘Bear’ could win many games if he relied on just two or three players who were willing to go the distance to improve on their own.

Most managers work real hard, but go home frustrated because when you look at a typical sales team in a dealership, this 80/20 rule stands firm.

Rating Avg. Units % of team
Great 20-30+ 0%
Good 15-20 5%
Above Ave. 11-14 15%
Average 10 30%
Below Ave. Under 10 50%

Unfortunately, we aren’t ‘Bear’ Bryant!

Most of us aren’t a ‘Bear’ of a coach on our teams. Since we aren’t, how could we expect to win a game, much less make it to the Super Bowl in Sales, if 80% of our team is consistently playing at an average or below average level?

Even worse, that 80/20 rule applies to dealers and managers just like it does to doctors, accountants, and our salespeople. That means there’s an 80% probability that we learned way too much about managing people from one of those 80%’ers in management – not from the best managers in the car business.

That’s why instead of following the 3 rules in Bear’s quote (above), most managers were taught by the 80%’ers in management to reverse that list.

Most manager’s versions of the ‘Bear’s Three Rules’ are just the opposite…

  1. If anything goes bad, it’s their fault (the salespeople, the market, the weather, the customers or advertisers). They did it!
  2. If anything goes semi-good, it’s because of my incredible skills on the desk that weekend (aka: in real life, we caught a lucky break).
  3. 3. If anything goes really good – please stand and give me a round applause because I pride myself on having to work with incompetent people but I was still able to pull this off completely by myself.

(I once worked for a GSM when I was a ‘30-car’ guy. He and the GM ran all of us good SP off because they honestly thought they didn’t need us. Oops! They went broke with the 6-car anchors who stayed.)

With all of the bad news in the 80/20 rule, there’s always good news. And the positive side to this is that since 80% of the people and 80% of the dealerships function at this average or lower level and justify it every day, if you’re a 20%’er, this is all good news for you.

The real good news: If you train, manage and coach to improve your team and develop more good and great players, winning is even easier because you’ll be playing against teams with no offense or defense. They’re helpless – they just can’t win on purpose, because the only strategy they have is to try to steal a cheap deal now and then, and hope they get lucky.

You are always in the best market possible if you want to grow. It isn’t about the economy or the weather, it’s always only about you vs. your competition, and they don’t even think it’s possible to grow.

If you don’t believe what I just said, call a few of your buddies across town and ask, “How’s it going?” You’ll hear their version of #1 above repeated over and over again in different ways. If your dealership goal is to grow every year instead of explaining why you can’t, think of reaching more success as a game of tag, and … Now You’re It!

Help your salespeople sell more cars with Joe Verde’s new book, “Earn Over $100,000 Selling Cars – Every Year.” Go to joeverde.com to get a free PDF or order a free soft cover book.

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Creating an Implementation Plan for Improved Performance

Do you have an image of your dealer’s potential that your dealer never seems quite able to achieve? Are you having performance issues at stores where they pay little or no attention to your recommendation? When was the last time you visited a store after discussing a specific procedure, policy or process only to find nothing has changed?

I’m sure all of your dealers and their employees hear what you’re saying, but do they actually understand and recognize the benefit? Are they able to translate your words into actions?

To significantly affect change, what may be needed is a different way to communicate your intentions and explain the benefits. A method of communication that places more emphasis on what it takes to get there, recognizes the advantages and holds people accountable to follow through.

Too often we rely on the speculation that the dealer and his employees can distinguish a positive change from a negative change. Successful implementation of certain process, procedure and performance improvements involves a steadfast plan that communicates the objective in terms of detailed actions or operations. It should state specifically what tasks need to be completed, in what order they need to be completed and the timeline in which they need to be completed. Certain individuals should be appointed to perform the tasks while providing them with the training, resources and the support to complete the objective.

Most important to sustaining the process, procedure or performance improvement is the monitoring and measuring of its progress and the impact it is having on the dealership’s proficiency.

Any time you want to implement a new program, process, procedure or enhance a store’s or individual’s performance, follow these steps and reap the rewards:

IDENTIFY: What is the program, process or procedure that needs to be implemented or reinstated? What area or level of performance needs improvement?

Be precise in identifying the objective. Don’t just say “we need 100 percent turnover at point of sale.” Instead, say “we need a proper 100 percent turnover at point of sale regardless of the circumstances. It doesn’t matter whether the customer agrees to buy over the Internet, phone or is here at the dealership.”

The key words being proper and regardless of the circumstances need to be explained by pointing out exactly what is meant by proper and what steps need to be done after each buying scenario.

DETAIL: What steps are needed to accomplish the desired results? Take a sheet of paper and write down every step that is significant to complete the objective. Write down the name of every individual who has a role in its success. Review the tasks and prioritize them as to their importance.

Now, list the tasks in a progression suitable for obtaining the desired results. For the initial task, a meeting needs to be facilitated with all the individuals listed as having a role in attendance. The meeting’s agenda must describe in detail the program, process, procedure or level of performance that needs to be implemented or improved. If the objective is related to individual performance, then a one-on-one meeting will need to take place itemizing each task pertinent to the individual’s performance improvement target.

The following steps detail how the “role-out” meeting should be conducted. When followed, these steps show a sense of urgency and emphasize the importance of implementing a plan of action.

  1. What is it that you want the meeting to accomplish? Establish specific objectives for the meeting.
  2. Prepare a topic-by-topic agenda of what is to be discussed, and note how much time will be allocated for each topic. Allow for a bit of slack time.
  3. Prepare a list of attendees. It is vital that the “captain of the ship” be present at the meeting. Be sure everyone on your list is available when you want to schedule the meeting.
  4. Send every attendee the meeting’s agenda. The agenda should include items 1-3 just discussed. Ask everyone to be prepared to take part in the meeting.
  5. Start the meeting on schedule, with a reminder that time is limited and a statement to the effect that your intention is to limit the discussion to the items on the agenda.

Your role is to be prepared and well rehearsed. At the start of the meeting politely but firmly cut off discussion by anyone who departs from the agenda. Don’t let one person with off-the-wall questions tie up the meeting. Deal with that person privately after the meeting is over. End the meeting when you said you would. Thank the attendees for their cooperation. Prepare and circulate the action plan documenting who, as a result of the meeting, is supposed to do what and by when.

WHO: Who will be responsible for its implementation? Selecting the right personnel to carry out the tasks is critical for a successful outcome. The selected individuals must have an unyielding interest in the completion of the program, process or procedure being implemented or reinstated. Assigning a champion for the objective is great way to ensure its satisfactory completion. Someone will need to be assigned the task of monitoring and reporting progress as well.

WHEN: What is the timeline for completion? Setting a timeline for each task along with a due date detailing the completion of the intended improvement, program, process or procedure will keep you on track and help avoid distractions. By tackling the tasks one by one, it allows you to move methodically to the next task and gets you closer to completion.

MEASURMENT: How will the process or performance be measure and tracked? Who will the results be reported to? As suggested earlier, the appointment of a champion who will monitor and report the results to the “Captain of the Ship” would be a great start. Before results are calculated, performance benchmarks and standard functions need to be established. The benchmarks and functions will vary depending on the objective. For instance, implementing the process of 100 percent proper turnover at the point of sale regardless of the circumstances will require a full explanation of the standard functions to follow for each scenario once a customer agrees to buy.

The benchmark may vary in the beginning depending on the magnitude of the situation. Monitoring progress on a regular basis will help to determine the increase in the benchmark as it moves along. Such monitoring will also identify potential problem areas and provide assurance that functions are meeting the objectives.

Use this information to further adjust and optimize your plan. Failure to measure, track and hold people accountable through the utilization of reports puts the objective at risk.

Whether you’re trying to establish specific procedures, increasing product proficiency or roll out a new service contract, adhering to the five essential components will significantly increase your chance of reaching the desired result.

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