Tag Archive | "sales techniques"

In Just 21 Days You Can Turn On Success!

I want to share a technique I’ve learned that can change and improve anything in your life you want to change.

If you’re unhappy with your sales, your attitude, your skills, your work habits, your weight or anything else you can think of, you can change it in just three short weeks. Successful people in every walk of life have learned to use this technique to achieve positive changes in their personal lives and their careers.

If you think about it, don’t we do almost everything out of habit?

Don’t we dry off after a shower the same way each time, shave in the same routine, comb our hair the same way, always brush our teeth the same way, get dressed the same way, eat the same meal for breakfast and drive to work the same route each time – simply because that’s what we always do? Aren’t our lives pretty much a summary of all the habits we’ve picked up through the years?

Problem: Some of our habits aren’t good for us though, like eating a pound of bacon for breakfast every day, adding a little coffee to our cup of sugar or waiting for something to happen in sales.

We all do things we know we shouldn’t do, and we all do things we wish we did better. So let’s understand what causes us to do the same things over and over again, even when our old habits cost us sales.


It’s the last day of the month and you need two more units to hit your next bonus level. You’ve been doing things right, staying off price, following the Basics.

Now when you’re under pressure, you fall back to your old habits of rushing, pre-qualifying, skipping steps and trying to close on price, hoping to hit those other two sales.

Is that a good strategy or a bad one? If you said it’s a bad strategy, you’re right. It’s going to cost you big time. You’re five times more likely to make those two sales by following the basics than by trying those shortcuts!

That means you’ll be lucky to hit even one of them, much less both for the bonus. Speed kills sales!

Breaking a Habit

The easiest way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one.

You see ex-smokers chewing gum instead of smoking, and dieters switching to bottled water instead of 90-ounce sodas (flavored liquid sugar – with free refills).

Want to develop better sales habits? It’s easy, just start by making a list of the things you do now that you know you could be doing better. Then set a goal to improve.

Do you have poor closing skills?

Are you not asking enough closing questions?

Simple – just change your habit.

You know that 80% of the sales are closed after the fifth attempt, so carry at least five pennies in your right pocket and move them one at a time to your left pocket each time you ask a closing question.

By focusing on the pennies, you’ll ask for the sale more times. Move more pennies – make more sales. Do this for 30 days and you’ll also develop the habit of asking five times or more with every prospect.

Tracking is Critical to Changing Habits!

Most salespeople don’t really know how many prospects they talk to each month, how many incoming calls they get, how many presentations, demos or write ups they do, much less how many times they try to close the sale, how many unsold prospects they call, or how many of them come back in.

You have a lot of habits that can easily be improved – which means more sales and income. But without tracking every opportunity, activity and result, you won’t know what you need to work on to improve, so the first critical habit to develop is tracking every opportunity, every activity and every result.

Not sure where to start? At a minimum, every day track the number of ups you talk to, the number of demos, write-ups and sales for the day. Develop this most important habit of tracking everything you do and all of the other habits and changes you need to make to improve will become obvious.

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Why Straightforward Salespeople Close More Deals

Like any good salesperson, about once a year I take time to survey and interview my customers (and their customers). Common statements about what makes a good salesman include following up and good customer service. But what seems to be mentioned the most is, “I want a straight shooter, a rep who puts it all on the table with no surprises and no BS.”

Simply put, tell it like it is, and you’ll reap the benefits. (Better communication, stronger relationships, trust, dependability and an overall comfort level with the partnership.) Here are some insights on how to know if you’re telling it like it is.

Are you trying to please everyone? 
Let me share a bit of wisdom from Bill Cosby. He said there are many ways to succeed, but “the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” And if you think you can please everyone, see Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman. Realistically, there are some people we just can’t please. Maybe what we’re selling does not fit into their needs at the time, the account is not qualified as a true prospect, or they just don’t like you. Great salespeople know when to move on and do not change their values or beliefs for someone just to please them or close the sale. They don’t take it personally, either, because there are so many reasons involved in why someone selects you over the competition.

We like reps who have confidence in what they do, what they sell and the value they bring to the sale. We like the ones who have the confidence to share information that others think might jeopardize or cost them the sale (and sometimes it does). But the way you build a strong relationship with a qualified individual is to be straightforward with your advice. I like to be sold that way, and I’m sure you do, also.

Do you tell people what you sell? 
Have you ever been pitched (in person or over the phone) by someone, and it takes you several questions to finally figure out what they are selling? It’s frustrating and starts the relationship off on the wrong foot.

Sometimes we try to use fancy words because we don’t want a response like, “We have one already,” or “We don’t need any widgets here.”

Your pitch should be right to the point and easy to understand. No gimmicks, fancy words or vague statements. Here’s an example:

“Hi Steve, I was wondering if you can help me out. I’m with XYZ Company and we sell/market _____.”(Tell them exactly what you sell.) “I am trying to reach the person who handles this; who would that be?”

Keep it simple and short. We sell “x” and we’ve helped companies like yours with (insert your key benefit). They know your name, your company name and what product you sell. Your goal on this initial call is to sell the appointment, not your product.

Do you know when to walk away? 
”Lisa, thanks for giving me the time for our meeting today. Based on your budget and requirements I don’t think our services would best meet your needs. I’d like to recommend another vendor who would be a terrific fit for what you’re looking for.”

There is nothing that builds more trust in a relationship then telling your prospect or customer that what you sell is not the best solution for their current situation. Maybe you recommend the competition or another business that carries a better long-term solution. That customer will not only appreciate your candid response but will never again question your advice in the future. In these situations, often they will refer you to some of their contacts, and there is nothing more valuable than that kind of introduction. No one likes losing an opportunity for business. But when that opportunity is a bad fit and you press forward anyway, you risk losing repeat business and something much more valuable, your reputation. I’d much rather lose one battle and win the war.

Do you seek out the superstars? 
Every company, every industry has someone who performs at the top of the field. Find out who these people are and try to connect with them; get their advice and emulate their selling style. Their experience will give you valuable lessons on how they “tell it like it is” with their clients (and believe me, they do). I’ve made it a habit to speak with the top reps in each company I do business with and have always found that they have a style that is bone honest and upfront with their contacts. When you start surrounding yourself with successful people, their strategies and approaches rub off on you.

Being straightforward in your sales approach is a breath of fresh air for most customers. They see you as someone they can trust and always know where you stand. If you want to be great in sales, establish your character first.

This article was written by Barry Farber and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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10 More Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products!

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

There are three types of F&I managers: those who make good, those who make trouble, and those who make excuses. When asked, most F&I managers can provide you with a laundry list of excuses why they’re not doing better. In reality, excuses are the tools of the lazy that are used to build a monument to mediocrity.

For many F&I managers, a good excuse is actually better than good performance. Because no matter how great their performance is this month, it leaves them having to prove themselves again next month, and the month after that. Whereas, one good excuse can last for years.

In a previous article, we discussed 13.3 Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products. Here are 10 more ways you can help your dealers and F&I managers turn obstacles and excuses into more product sales.

1. Don’t Buy In
As an agent, you hear lots of excuses. You have to listen. You need to show empathy. But you can’t buy in. Any agent who accepts an F&I manager’s excuses is investing in, and guaranteeing, poor performance. Top performers don’t make excuses, they make it happen. The fact is, performance only improves when the pressure to get it done exceeds the pain of actually doing it. As an independent agent, your focus must be on removing obstacles and eliminating excuses for your F&I managers. Your agency must be perceived by your dealers as having the resources, expertise, and commitment necessary to help them improvise, adapt, and overcome those countless excuses and endless obstacles in order to maximize F&I income, month in and month out.

2. Remember, Happiness Is A Good Deal
Utilize odd prices for every F&I product… $2,832 for that service contract, not $2,795. Odd prices add credibility and legitimacy to F&I product pricing, and reduce the customer’s perception that they need to negotiate the price of those products. Help your F&I managers establish a set price for each product, and then encourage them to stick to it. Any reduction in price must always require reciprocity- a reduction in coverage. The first time they ask a customer “If I could, would you…” their credibility goes in the toilet. They might as well go to work at the carnival. The same holds true for interest rates. Whenever possible, use odd interest rates– 5.41%, not 5.25%. Everyone needs to feel like they got a good deal!

3. What’s Old Is New
Obtain an old Owner’s Manual from the late 80’s or early 90’s for the brand of vehicle the dealership sells, and have the F&I manager keep it on the customer’s side of the desk. Chances are they have a box of old Owner’s Manuals in their storeroom, or get one on eBay for $10-$15. If it’s a Ford dealer, get one from a Ford Galaxie or an F150. If it’s a Nissan dealer, get one from a Datsun B210. Back then, the entire manual was maybe 3/8” of an inch thick. Today, with the radio and navigation system, they’re 4 inches thick, and printed on tissue paper. Keeping one on the F&I desk is a great way to engage the customer, and clearly illustrates in a very tangible way how much more technology there is in today’s vehicles, and why a vehicle service contract is more important than ever.

4. Reorganize Their Desk
In many dealerships today, there is a trend toward having the sales desk assume a number of the duties that historically have been the responsibility of the F&I department. Taking credit applications, pulling credit bureaus, submitting deals to lenders, and quoting payments and interest rates are often done before the F&I department is even involved in the sale. Every dealership, and every department in that dealership, needs a check and balance system.

It is absolutely essential that an F&I manager interview the customer prior to submitting the deal to a lender. He or she has to confirm the information is correct, as well as learn the details and circumstances surrounding any adverse information, to provide a paper buyer with sufficient reasons to justify an approval. Properly used in the customer interview, the credit application and credit bureau report can significantly increase the chance of obtaining an approval. More importantly, it provides the foundation for a needs-based product presentation in the F&I office.

5. Get Real!
Recording and reviewing actual F&I presentations is one of the best ways to see what’s really happening behind closed doors. Want to see an immediate improvement in F&I performance, profits and product sales at one of your dealerships? Start recording actual F&I transactions.

The camera doesn’t lie. How many needs discovery questions did the F&I manager ask? How many visual aids did she use? Did he use the information he learned about the customer as the reason they needed the product? Did she engage the customer in the process? How many times did he ask the customer to buy before giving up? If you want performance to improve, you have to hold your F&I managers accountable to following a proven process, and then use actual game film to help them improve their skills.

6. Discover, Recognize And Share!
Every F&I manager at every one of your dealerships has come up with a better way to do something. Whether it’s a visual aid, a way to engage the customer, or a new response to a problematic objection, the best ideas come from the people in the trenches. You have to discover, recognize and share those creative solutions to problems, with all your other F&I managers.

Successful agents are continuously on the lookout for new ideas, processes, and sales techniques. They also recognize the efforts of their F&I managers, and make them feel important. Whether it’s a simple weekly email, a monthly or quarterly newsletter, or $100 for the “Best Idea of the Month,” you have to continuously seek to discover new ideas and processes, recognize and reward those individuals who have come up with better ways to do something, and then share it with your other dealers.

7. Become Indispensable
I can always tell when an agent is indispensable. People are constantly wanting their input and expertise, because their primary goal in every interaction is to help the other person, not just themselves. As an agent, the more people you’re able to help on a daily basis, the more indispensable you become!

Obviously, you increase your value when you help your dealers make more money. But you become indispensable when you are perceived as a true partner in their success, not just a product provider. You have to become your dealers’ “go to” guy. One way to do that is to always get a prompt answer to their question, provide them with accurate information, and do the research they don’t have time to do. You become indispensable when you help your dealers find the right product provider, the right personnel, the best training, and help protect them by being AFIP Certified so you’re familiar with the laws and regulations their people have to comply with on a daily basis.

8. Practice Reality F&I
Not only do you need to ensure your managers set goals each month, you need to get them to show you how they’re going to achieve that goal. It’s easy to set a goal of $1200 per retail unit, but it’s virtually impossible to get there when you’re only averaging $500 profit per service contract and 25 percent penetration. You can’t possibly reach $1200PRU when you’re only averaging $125PRU in service contract income. It’s amazing how many F&I managers don’t establish written goals each month. And those that do set goals have no game plan of how they’re going to achieve their goals each month. As an agent, you have to help your F&I managers set realistic goals, help them see what it will take to achieve them, and monitor their performance vs. their objective.

9. If You Build It, They Will Come
Whether you call it “MultiShield,” “Titanium Protection,” or the “Pot Metal Plan,” grouping individual F&I products into a package, and then offering a discounted package price, increases the sale of all F&I products. There is nothing illegal, immoral or deceptive about incentivizing customers to buy multiple products. Package pricing makes it easier for a customer to decide on a group of products as opposed to evaluating each product separately. Too many choices, requires too many decisions, which results in too many “No’s.” You can’t possibly sell one customer seven products, but a customer can buy seven products, if they’re grouped properly, and you give them an incentive to buy a package.

10. Let’s Party!
As an agent, you have to continuously motivate F&I managers to sell your products. On a regular basis, you should have a contest, bring in a guest speaker, or have an annual golf outing for your F&I people. You need to build a team of F&I professionals who feel part of something bigger than themselves. If you create loyalty to you and your agency, those F&I managers will strive to sell more of your products. At least once a year, have an event that gets your F&I people out of the dealership to build camaraderie, allows them to interact with their peers, and recognizes them for their hard work. A guest speaker in the morning, followed by a golf outing in the afternoon, is a great way to combine business with pleasure. Or have a contest where the winner gets an all-expense paid trip for two to the F&I Conference in Las Vegas. They’ll have a good time, get some great training, and sell more of your products!

As an agent, you can’t buy-in to your F&I managers’ excuses. You have to help them get real, become indispensable to your dealers, and train and equip your F&I people for success. And more importantly, you have to continuously motivate them to succeed. Only by helping your dealers and F&I managers sell more products, will your agency sell more products.

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Addendums, Are They Good or Bad

I was in a meeting with a group of GMs recently and the question, “Should we, or shouldn’t we have an addendum on our vehicles?” came up.

Answer: it depends on a lot of things.

Which of the following items do you agree with regarding addendums…

  • Having an addendum can add gross profit to the deal if there are value added features or accessories.
  • Having an addendum can help hold the gross profit built into MSRP by giving you a higher overall price to negotiate from.
  • Having an addendum can upset customers and cost you sales and gross if it does not have value added features or accessories, and if it is not presented properly.

Sure, all three are correct. That means you can use addendums to help you increase overall gross profit, and to help you hold more of the profit built into MSRP – but of course you don’t want to use them if they upset customers.

Let’s look at each item and see how you can make addendums work for you…

1. Value added features or accessories.

These are either seen as a positive or negative, and that almost always depends on the pricing and presentation.

Features on an addendum are extra cost options, and that means they still have to be sold, just like the features already on the vehicle. Most salespeople just blow off the features with, “Oh, we add things to all of our cars,” instead of selling everything on the addendum.

An alarm system is valuable, but not if the only presentation they get from a salesperson on it is, “It’s $795.” What does it do for the customer, why is that important, and what is the benefit?

And of course, if the customer doesn’t want an item, they’ll still say, “I don’t want those.” But if the price is reasonable, that’s OK to hear because people are used to paying for things they don’t want on cars. They may not want the sound system either, but it’s already on the car and already in the price.

If the added price is unreasonable though, whether they want that feature or not, the dealership and your salesperson will lose their credibility. For instance, pinstripes at $89 versus pinstripes at $789. So rule number one to making addendums a benefit for your dealership; only use reasonable pricing for items.

2. Hold more MSRP gross by having a higher starting price on the vehicle.

Having a higher starting price definitely helps hold more gross, as long as it meets the conditions in #1. Even when people don’t want the feature, a higher pricing gives you some extra cushioning in most negotiations.

As a salesperson I loved having a reasonable addendum, and having one always helped me hold more gross. I did not talk about price, rebates, payments, etc., on the lot. I did what we teach and built value in the key features, and on the added features on the addendum.

When a strong price objection would come up about the addendum, I switched tactics and used that objection to help me hold MSRP.

Example: “I’m not paying the extra $789 for the protection package, and that appearance package – …”

I let them finish their objection, and in general responded with…

(Defend) Bob, the items on here are our most requested add-ons so we put them on every vehicle to save time.

“I don’t care – I’m not doing it – … !!!”

(Bypass) Bob, that’s OK and we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. First we need to find the right vehicle for you guys. Betty, you said you’ll be driving part of the time, how will you be using it; for work or just hauling kids and stuff?

After we’ve driven, closed and are sitting in the office to finish the paperwork, Bob will definitely bring up the addendum again.

“Like I said, I’m not paying the extra $789 for all that…”

That’s also OK and to be expected. But there’s a difference now; I did my job, they like me, they like the dealership and I sold the value to them of owning the vehicle. That means more flexibility overall in pricing, and it meant I could usually split the pricing on the addendum and still end up $400 over MSRP. 🙂

3. No upset customers.

Whether the pricing is reasonable or absurd, the result always comes down to the presentation.

You can have valuable features, priced in line with what they could pay at the parts store down the street (where they buy everything you don’t sell them), but if the salesperson fumbles or just says, “Don’t worry about that. You won’t have to pay it.” you’re dead in the water.

In Summary

  • Use addendums correctly and your gross profit will go up, without question.
  • Get your managers trained on how to sell to today’s customers.
  • Next, add addendums with valuable features and reasonable pricing with a great presentation by a well-trained salesperson.
  • Then, get your managers trained on a desking process so they know how to work every deal consistently for more deliveries and maximum gross.

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How Many Managers Really Do a Good Job?

Based on the 80/20 rule, 20 percent of managers are great and the other 80 percent are either average or below-average. What’s the difference? The great ones learn how to deliver extra sales each month to help their salespeople and their dealership grow and become more successful, year after year.

Before you can define a successful sales manager, first we need to define success in sales management.

I don’t refer to a successful sales manager as someone who had a great first year at the dealership. It’s easy to have a big bang when you start, just by taking out some of the garbage. I also don’t define ‘good’ as someone who can clearly explain why sales are down. Anybody can make a list – the good ones fix the problems on the list.

When I talk about a successful manager, I’m referring to someone who makes a significant and measurable increase in sales, gross, CSI, CS and customer retention year after year, not just the year they were hired or promoted.

A successful manager has stopped turnover in sales and is constantly improving the quality of the selling process for the dealership, the customer and the salespeople.

Successful sales managers do their absolute best to win the game today, this month, this year. They continually set goals and write plans to win again, and they produce and hold themselves accountable for results.

It’s just a fact: most managers fail at consistent success. It’s also a fact that most sales managers were never trained on how to hire, train or manage their people. We learned to appraise trades, order cars, desk deals, write ads, handle heat and work deals from watching someone else – but serious training on managing people? Nope!

What Are the Qualities of a Successful Sales Manager?

A successful sales manager…

  • has clear, written policies and procedures of exactly what they expect from their sales team.
  • hires only good people or people they will commit to make good.
  • initially trains all new hires on the procedures, the skills and the work habits required to succeed in sales.
  • measures (tracks) every opportunity, activity and result, so they’ll know exactly what training and coaching each person needs to improve and grow.
  • provides continuing education every day to every salesperson, so they can continue to grow in sales.
  • motivates each person through training, praise and money, and by removing the demotivating events that negatively affect the team.
  • sets clear goals for the team and each individual, based on effective projections; writes clear plans and follows through with the exact training and one-on-one coaching to make sure each person hits their goal.
  • leads the team to more success, month after month, year after year.
  • never blames the team and always looks at how he/she can improve themselves to make the team better.
  • holds everyone accountable and never keeps a player who’s bad for the team.

The successful sales manager also…

  • is aware of everything happening in sales, with each salesperson and about each prospect and customer.
  • has confidence in their people because of the effective training, management and coaching they’ve given each person.
  • is a possibility thinker and develops a plan to overcome and improve in any market condition or any situation.
  • understands ‘sales management’ is two words and continually learns all they can about “selling” and “management” and works on continually improving themselves first.
  • understands how valuable each person on the selling team really is, and understands a significant improvement from even one salesperson can generate more net profit per year than doubling the advertising budget next quarter.
  • understands the 80/20 rule applies not only to the competition, but to their sales team, too, and knows that without supervision, what they see now, is all they’ll get, or less.
  • understands that monthly sales production and annual growth are the responsibilities of management, not of the market or of their salespeople.
  • manages each individual on the sales force daily to guide every person on the team to more success.

The success of your dealership, both short- and long-term, is up to good management – not up to a good market.

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

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