Tag Archive | "sales tips"

Do You Honestly Want to Improve?

Most salespeople will depend on the “hope plan” going into 2014 as usual, instead of planning and controlling their sales. You know the words … I hope it’s a good year. I hope we get some floor traffic. I hope the ad works this weekend. I hope I can get a commitment with these people. I hope we can make the numbers work. I hope I make some money.

If you’re serious about improving and if you want to actually control sales, don’t just hope, start here and make it happen.

1. Track Everything!
Stop fighting it, and start counting what you’re doing each day so you can actually improve. You need to know your rolling 90-day averages (current average) of everything you do in sales in each category.

  • Unit Sales
  • Income
  • Closing Ratio
  • Demos
  • Write Ups
  • Incoming Calls
  • Internet Leads
  • Appointments
  • Shows / Sales
  • Outgoing Follow Up Calls
  • Prospecting Calls / Emails / etc.
  • Customer Breakdown by ‘Type’

If you don’t track, and the dealership doesn’t track anything either, then start using a tracking tool today, so that 90 days from now you can set a good goal. If you don’t know your averages, goal setting is a crapshoot, and 90% of the time it’s a huge highball. That’s why so many people never grow. They guess, highball themselves, then explain why it wasn’t their fault. Soon, most salespeople excel in the habit of failing.

With accurate tracking though, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing now (sales activities & results). That means you’ll know exactly what activities to focus on each month to improve results, and which skills you’ll need to do it. If you don’t know all of your averages, start with results: Your units and income. Look back three months to find your average number of units, and then also find your average total income for those months.

2. Now that you have a base, set an improvement goal for the next three months.
The key words in goal setting are realistic, achievable, specific, written and review. If you sold 30 units in the last three months, what’s a realistic goal the next three months; 33, 36, 48, 60? Doubling may be a piece of cake for some salespeople because they’re willing to do what it takes. For others, 10% may be a struggle because they just don’t want to go the extra distance, they may not have the skills or they may not believe they actually can improve next year.

3. Activities = Results!
After you’ve set realistic goals, focus on increasing your activity averages to reach your unit and income goals. Because deliveries are direct results of demonstrations and write ups, if you set a unit goal of 36 (2 more per month), you’ll focus on improving your average number of demos and write ups, as your daily activity action plan to reach that goal.

For example: Through tracking you know your dealer’s salespeople talk to 60 people per month, give 45 a demo (75%), write 15 (33% of 45) and deliver 10 (66% of write ups). Now that you have the averages, you can easily increase their unit sales and income. From those stats; their demo ratio is great, their closing ratio to write ups is great, the problem: they aren’t ‘closing correctly’ to get more write ups. If those are their stats, I’d guess with such a high closing ratio to write ups, they are prequalifying everyone, talking price and working deals on the lot before the manager ever sees it.

So if the sales goal is to hit 12 units per month, the activity goal would be to get 18 write ups (66% of 18 = 11.9). To improve the number of write ups, you have to have the salespeople stop talking price and stop working deals on the lot, and just sell the car instead. Treat everyone like a buyer, follow the steps and they will just keep improving the stats, and you and the dealer will improve the sales and income.

4. Goals need to be clear and written.
Your goals have to be written and they need to be specific. Then you have to clearly state what your activity action plan will be to reach those goals. J. Douglas Edwards said your goal has to include, “The service you’ll render to achieve that goal.” (aka: What are you willing to do to achieve your goal?) You can’t just do what you’ve done and hit higher levels. There’s a trade off, and that’s what you’ll change and improve about your selling style, skills or activities so you can reach your goal.

5. Goals have to be reviewed.
How often should you review your goals? That depends on how serious you are about reaching your goals. If you set one, but don’t write it down, you can’t review it, and there’s a 94% chance you will not hit your goal. Set it, write it and review it, and just flip the odds to a 94% chance you will reach it. Write your immediate goals on 3×5 cards. Carry one with you, put one on the mirror, one on the refrigerator and read them several times each day and you’ll be amazed at what this year will bring you in sales, income, customer satisfaction or even in getting that new house your family wants.

You can do anything, so just go for it. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish when you apply yourself.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)

Don’t Let Complacency & Apathy Stunt Your Sales Potential

“Strike while the iron is hot.” This statement was first recorded in 1566 and refers to the blacksmith – he heated the metal so he could hammer it out and form it. Once it’s hot though, if he waits too long to shape the iron, the metal cools and hardens – and the opportunity is lost.

In a lot of ways, we’re in that same position in our industry. First, let’s go back six or seven years in the car business to when times were great and business was booming. Credit was free-flowing, anybody could get a loan and the great appreciation in real estate created those home equity lines that made buyers actually think they were paying cash for their cars.

Bad credit, negative equity, no money down – nothing really mattered because if you were breathing and had some sort of income, you could buy. And the best part was those 110-120% loans made enough extra money available to make a nice profit on every vehicle – even if customers were upside down.

Complacency & Apathy

Complacency: Self-satisfaction to the point of unawareness of actual dangers.
Apathy: A state of indifference.

In great times, when making really good money in sales is easy, do you develop good habits, or do you tend to take the easy way and develop some really bad habits? How about the reverse – when times get tough, do most people buckle down, put the pedal to the metal and develop good habits or bad habits?

After years and years of a great economy and easy credit, people became extremely complacent to the point of apathy. It was that, “I’m doing great, why bother working harder or smarter,” attitude. And then things changed. Most people had been riding the success roller coaster that had been heading up so for long, they’d never considered it might go down at some point. So what happened next?

Almost no one was financially or mentally prepared for a quick meltdown. Complacency and apathy disappeared overnight, and were replaced with fear, survival and urgency. Most people in sales hadn’t bothered to develop their skills – why bother, when they could sell cars in spite of themselves – so they weren’t able to make a fast turnaround. The ones who did make it through had a slow and painful recovery.

Most salespeople had been living month to month, knowing there would be more coming in again next month. That meant even more pain come rent time, grocery shopping and planning for Santa with the down turn.

Why am I telling you this? Do I see gloom and doom around the corner? Not at all. But I’ve watched dealers, managers and salespeople in our business go from complacency in sales just seven years ago, to fear and survival, then back to success through hard work. Now I’m seeing and hearing the same signs of complacency that I warned people about before the recession hit.

You have unlimited potential, especially now. Business is great, credit is flowing and there is a pent up demand for vehicles. Four of the next five people you talk to will be buying a car, and the average person reading this is letting three of those buyers walk away to buy down the street.

Don’t waste your opportunities. Strike now, while the iron is hot. Once it cools off, it’s a whole different ball game.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)

Persistence Eliminates Resistance

J. Douglas Edwards was a master in sales. You may not have heard of him, though, because he’s one of those old sales trainers from a long time ago. He started below the bottom and then learned how to sell his way past the top. He’s one of the greatest salespeople ever and he and a few others helped refine the techniques used by professionals in sales everywhere today.

Edwards pointed out that real pros have one quality most salespeople just don’t have … guts. A lot of salespeople are nice, and their customers love talking to them, they just don’t sell much. And a lot of salespeople have a tremendous amount of product knowledge and don’t sell much, either. But most salespeople just don’t have the guts to ask for the order. Edwards said they’re so afraid of hearing a “No” they won’t let themselves ask for a “Yes”.

Plus, most salespeople who do try to close, don’t follow the basics, don’t build enough value and don’t know how to close the sale or overcome the objections they’re sure to get. And even though they’ve heard it again and again, most salespeople still just don’t understand this phrase: “Persistence Eliminates Resistance.” That isn’t just a cute saying, it’s a proven fact in sales, and without persistence, you’ll be stuck at average.

Fact: 78 of the next 100 people you talk to will buy, but 80% won’t buy until after the 5th time you’ve tried to close the sale and heard ‘No’. Why do people say “No” if they really want to say “Yes”? The short answer is two reasons:
1. Reflex. The same reason we all say, “Just looking,” when someone asks, “Can I help you?” Plus, you’ll usually hear ‘No’ if you ask a Yes / No closing question.

2. Fear. Sales psychologists found that when real buyers who liked the product were asked a Yes / No closing question, their reactions were similar to a mini heart attack, so almost all said ‘No’. When they were asked either/or closing questions, however, there was no problem.

That means, “Will you buy it today if we can work it out?” will get you a ‘No’ or ‘I’ll think it over’ almost every time. If you’ve done a good job, ask this question instead: “Bob, it sounds like we found the perfect car – are we going to register it to the company or put it in your name?” They’ll answer the question more often than not and either answer is fine, because both equal ‘OK’.

Don’t take it so hard when you hear ‘No’. Don’t drop price, just regroup and close again. When you hear ‘No’, don’t assume it’s ‘No, I don’t like you.’ They’re just saying, “Based on what you’ve told me so far, I can’t say ‘yes’ yet, tell me more and ask me again a little later.”

Tip: To make you aware of how many times you try to close, keep a handful of pennies in one pocket. Each time you ask for the order, casually move one penny to your other pocket. This reminds you to ask at least 6 times, and when you do, you’ll make more sales.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)

Straight Talk: 3 Tips From Agents to Dealers

What do people want when they go visit a dealership or its Web site? What makes them choose one make of vehicle over another? The specific answer to those questions can only come from those who are already satisfied clients or repeat clients. However, I can address the general answers to help you get started on helping your dealers attract more customers.

We all want the same things when doing business: quality products and good service at a low investment. That’s the bottom line. Is that what your dealers provide? If so, make sure they are shouting it from the rooftops! However, few companies can provide all three. Your job is to help them address whichever of the three they aren’t currently providing.

If they provide quality and service, but not at the lowest investment, that quality and service had better be exceptional. There is a perceived value for excellent quality, and people actually don’t mind spending a little more money for it. They’ll also go the extra mile for something if they feel the service is great. If you aren’t sure about that point, think about the last time you left a tip at a restaurant.

With all that in mind, here are three tips you can try on your next visit.

1. Say It Like You Mean It.
For a dealer to be more successful in this industry, they have to learn how to ooze quality and service. This begins with the first impression the dealership makes, whether it’s in person, over the telephone or online. Everything should be first class and easy to navigate. If you aren’t certain exactly what this means, contact a few other dealerships and compare how they handle calls versus how your clients handle calls.

Help them develop a business “voice.” How they say things is critically important. Rather than answering the phone with “ABC Auto, this is Dan,” they should try “Thank you for calling ABC Auto. This is Dan. How may I help you?” Or, “Thank you for contacting the service department. This is Bob. How may I help you?” It may not seem like a big deal, but the person hearing it will feel the difference.

2. Keep It Clean.
Your client’s dealerships should be clean and clear of clutter. Everyone’s job description should include picking up or wiping down, especially in areas where they might be walking with or sending clients. A dealership should be easy to navigate. Why risk frustrating potential buyers by having them walk farther than necessary, or walk through an obstacle course of signs and chairs? I know the idea is to slow them down and force them to see what you want them to see, but, in the buyers’ eyes, there’s a fine line between marketing and frustration with marketing.

3. Be Courteous and Engaging.
When a customer is made to feel important, they are more likely to pay attention to what the salespeople have to say. How do they achieve that? With eye contact, or a welcoming smile. Even if the dealership meets potential clients over the phone, make sure they are smiling and using a warm and friendly tone of voice. Believe it or not, people can tell if you’re smiling, distracted, bored or unhappy whether they can see your face or not. They can tell simply by the tone of your voice.

Good old-fashioned courtesy goes a long way. If the business involves getting to know people by name — and it should, no matter the type of business — always call them by “Mr.” or “Ms.” if they give their last name. Remind the dealer not to get too friendly too soon by calling customers by their first names. That can put people off, which is the last thing they want to do. If they only give their first names, then use it, but not so often that they wonder if you are memory-challenged.

Rather than jumping right in to tell people about the dealership, products, or services, make sure your dealers are asking what made them contact the business in the first place. What was it that made them call just then? Be careful not to ask, “What are you looking for?” That’s too abrupt. “What brought you to Acme Auto Center today?” Or, “What was it that prompted your call today?” are better options dealers should use. They want to get inside the customer’s head to find out what they really want, what they really need before trying to sell them anything.

Once the dealer knows the general direction of the customer’s needs, they can then ask additional questions about their likes and dislikes to help narrow their focus from everything they have to offer, to the one particular vehicle that will best suit their needs. And from there, the dealer is far more likely to have success selling them the F&I products that will be the best fit for each customer — increasing everyone’s bottom line.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)

In Sales, You Need Friends, And You Only Have Minutes to Make Them

We always talk about how to make a good first impression, which is one of the most important steps in a sale, and how to greet customers properly with the word “welcome”, asking a question and taking another step forward in the sale. Now the next step is to find the common ground with your customers by building rapport. Why? Because these two opposing stats clearly prove that liking you is almost more important than anything else except a demo:

  • 71% said they bought because they liked their salesperson.
  • 71% who didn’t buy, said they even found a vehicle in inventory they were interested in, but didn’t buy because they didn’t like their salesperson, the process or management.

We could argue about the stats and bring up exceptions who loved us and didn’t buy, or who hated us but did buy. But what’s the point? Why not go with the most logical solution to selling more and just learn how to be friendly, and learn how to make friends quickly when you meet someone?

No, we’re not hoping for an invitation to dinner, just developing a friendly business relationship.

How do you make friends away from work? Don’t you get into a conversation, and then by asking questions and listening, find things you have in common with the other person?

Step back to the other side of the curb for just a minute and remember that buying a new car is tough for anyone. It’s like being the stranger at a party for a charity you aren’t that familiar with, and knowing the host is going to hit you up for $30,000 before you leave. You’re interested in charitable giving or you wouldn’t have gone to the party at all. But you’ll have to learn more about the charity, and you’ll definitely have to like and trust the person, before you’ll just hand over your money.

So how’s that much different than buying a car? They want a car, that isn’t in question, the stats are clear; eight out of 10 who look at a car, take one home, and seven of the eight do that within a week. And we know 85% of those buyers walk out their front door to go buy a car, not to just look at or think about buying one.

They really do have the same problem as at the charity party. There are tons of charities to give to, so their decision to donate will almost always be based on the trust of the people and organization.

We break the selling process into eight steps, but when you take that course, you realize that each of those steps have mini-steps in them, too. But of everything about selling, two areas stand out heads above the crowd; getting a demo is number one. Why? Because 99% will not buy until they’ve driven the vehicle.

The other is using your time in the wander around to not only investigate who the car is for, how they’ll use it and what’s important to them to select the best vehicle — but to really listen to their answers so you can find that common ground so they can like and trust you.

How Do You Build Rapport?
The easy answer: be genuinely interested in the people you talk to about a new car. Stop trying to sell, and start trying to help them solve their transportation needs. But how do you know what to talk about? You have to find out who it’s for, how they’ll use it and why they’re getting it.

  • “It’s for my son” … First car or replacement? “first car.” Reward or just helping out? “Reward.” Why? “Good grades, headed to college.” Which high school, which college, will you help him move, what’s most important with him driving back and forth, you helping him pay?
  • “Wrecked it.” Everyone OK? “Yes, but totaled.” How’d it happen? (Response.) What did you like best about your truck? “Performance.” Why? “To pull Jet Skis to the river.” Cool, where, how often, who goes, how long, where do you stay?
  • “Just a replacement.” How will you use it, work, pleasure? “Both.” What do you do? “Real estate.” How’s that going now, what area, which office, how long, what do you see with the market? (Response) How about pleasure, what? “River trips, pulling Jet Skis.” (See above).

Don’t make it tough. Your next question comes from their last answer. Just keep the conversation flowing by learning how to ask ‘open-ended’ questions. There are also clues everywhere. Bumper stickers, license-plate frames, ski racks, trailer hitches, sports equipment visible, window stickers, lapel pins, charms on bracelets, dog hairs on their clothes, kids — all are easy clues you can spot and talk about.

One caution, however: Don’t make asking questions an interrogation. Just develop an honest interest in your customers. And if you don’t sell it, you have the rapport the salesperson down the street won’t have, and that makes follow up easy. You’re making new friends and if you want to grow in sales, it sure helps to have lots of friends who use your products, and who tell their friends about you.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)

How to Handle an Angry Client

Too many people, when faced with clients who range from dissatisfied to downright angry, choose the loser’s path by postponing handling the situation. Worse yet, they handle it inappropriately. Postponement doesn’t make the problem go away. It results in one of two things happening: the angry client decides the problem isn’t worth the aggravation and cools down, or the client gets so angry that the next time you hear from him or her is through some sort of official (and possibly legal) manner. Worse yet, you’ll see your company named on the local news channel in one of those consumer protection segments.

If you’re the business owner, you may think it’s ok to lose one client who’s unhappy, but it’s not. When we have a good experience with a company, we tend to tell three other people about it; positive word-of-mouth is great for business. However, someone who is displeased with a situation tells, on average, 11 people about it. Can you see how your business could be hurt by that?

Naturally, no one wants to walk into a lion’s den and face an angry client. However, you must consider the value of this client to you, your reputation and the company. In most cases, I would guess that it will be worth your while to face that angry customer and get the situation resolved as quickly as possible. As the sales professional, it’s your reputation at stake as well as that of your company.

I’d like to give you nine steps I’ve developed for facing and dispelling another person’s anger. They work well in most situations, mainly because you’re giving the client the attention their dissatisfaction deserves.

1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger quickly. Nothing adds more fuel to a fire than having his or her anger ignored or belittled. The faster you verbally recognize their anger, the better. Sometimes all you have to say is, “I can see that you’re upset, Mr. Smith.” You’re not admitting to doing anything wrong before the situation is analyzed, just acknowledging their displeasure.

2. Make it plain that you’re concerned. Tell them you realize just how angry they are. Let them know that you are taking the situation seriously. Make notes of every possible detail they give you. Tell them you’re making notes. Get them talking! The more they speak, the more time you have to consider how to resolve the issue. The better your notes, the better documentation you have if you must take the concern to someone else to resolve. Be sure to put the date and time of conversation on your notes.

3. Don’t hurry them. Be patient. Let them get it all out. Never try to interrupt or shut them up. In many cases, the best move is to simply listen. They’ll wind themselves down eventually. In some cases, they’ll realize they blew the situation out of proportion and feel foolish for it. They are then likely to accept nearly any solution you offer.

4. Keep calm. Most angry people say things they don’t really mean. Learn to let those things pass and take them up after you’ve solved the present challenge — only if you feel it’s necessary to do so.

5. Ask questions. Your aim is to discover the specific things that you can do to correct the situation. Try to get specific information about the difficulties the issue has caused, rather than a general venting of hot air.

6. Get them talking about solutions. This is where you will learn just how reasonable this client is. By the time you get to this step, their anger should have cooled enough to discuss the challenge rationally. If it hasn’t, tell them you want to schedule a later meeting, even if it’s in an hour, to come up with some reasonable solutions. Let them do the rest of their fuming on their time.

7. Agree on a solution. After you know exactly what the challenge is, you’re in a position to look for some kind of action that will relieve the challenge. Propose something specific. Start with whatever will bring them the best and quickest relief. Don’t get into a controversy over pennies at this time.

8. Agree on a schedule. Once you’ve agreed on a solution, set up a schedule for its accomplishment. Agree to a realistic time frame that you know you can handle. The biggest mistake you can make is to agree to something that cannot be done. If you do, you’d better be ready to face another bout of this person’s anger when you don’t come through.

9. Meet your schedule. Give this schedule top priority. You’ve talked yourself into a second chance with this client, so make sure you don’t blow it.

Once you’ve satisfied the client with regard to this situation, you will have earned another opportunity to serve their needs in the future – and the needs of those they’ll tell about how well you handled it.

Posted in Sales, Training ArticlesComments (0)