Tag Archive | "Sales"

F&I Products for the High-Mileage Market


New-vehicle sales are up, leasing is accounting for an ever-increasing share and there is a potential glut of used cars on the market. The shift toward leasing that began during the tail end of the Great Recession has begun to flood the market with gently used vehicles. But off-lease units are not the only source. The latest data from R.L. Polk puts the average age of a U.S. registered vehicle at 11.4 years, a figure inflated by Recession-era thriftiness and a nearly universal improvement in quality. Simply put, consumers are holding onto and investing in older vehicles longer, putting more wear-and-tear and more mileage on them before finally opting to trade up.

In the past, many of those vehicles would have gone to auction lanes (or the scrapyard). However, many dealers are finding that there is still profit to be made through the sale of used vehicles with up to 100,000 miles — and beyond — on the odometer. Young people looking to buy their first cars, families still struggling to recover from the downturn and price-conscious drivers are all more willing than ever to consider cars and trucks with higher mileage and lower price tags.

But where does that leave F&I?

Today, there are options out there from a wide range of providers that specifically target the high-mileage vehicle market. AE talked to five of them to get their take on this segment: Jason Garner, general sales manager, AUL Corp.; Mike Melby, vice president of strategy and business development, GWC Warranty; Kelly Price, president, National Automotive Experts (NAE)/NWAN; Mike Toms, vice president of business development, The Penn Warranty Corp.; and Glen Tuscan, president, Dealer Commitment Services.

Demand and Coverage Levels

One thing all our experts agreed on was that the high-mileage market is large and growing at a fairly quick pace. AUL’s Garner believes the next few years should be exciting for this market. He believes that the combination of longer ownership cycles and a growing number of used vehicles on the market, will help bring down the price of the vehicles themselves as demand continues to rise. This, in turn, will create new opportunities for dealers to boost their F&I production.

Mike Toms agrees, noting that lender buy-in is a key factor. He says banks and finance companies are increasingly asking for warranties on high-mileage vehicle loans as a means of mitigating future losses. Specifically, he says, his company is starting to see lenders require vehicle service contract (VSC) terms that cover at least half of the finance period, as well as minimum acceptable coverage levels.

“So many challenges in the subprime and high-mileage market revolve around price,” notes Melby, explaining that high-mileage car buyers are far more price- and budget-conscious than the average consumer, so F&I professionals may feel more than the usual resistance to their presentations — particularly if they fail to adequately explain the value proposition.

Tuscan adds that there is only so much wiggle room in the loan on an affordable, high-mileage vehicle. It is a tough sell, he notes, if the cost of and markup on the service contract adds thousands of dollars to the price of the car, which could represent as much as 30% of the entire vehicle value. As an example, he explains that one of these vehicles might retail in the $8,000 to $12,000 range, which is the “sweet spot” for the segment. To make it affordable for the customer and profitable for the dealer, he says he would offer a 30-month, 30,000-mile comprehensive VSC package in the $1,800 range. In that scenario, the dealer would make $900 in profit and be more likely to sell in volume.

The Product Mix

Our experts agreed that, when it comes to the high-mileage segment, GAP and service contracts reign supreme. They are the two F&I products that will make the most sense to budget-conscious customers and the finance companies that serve them. But that doesn’t mean agents shouldn’t push for sales of appearance protection or any other product sold to new-car buyers.

Another candidate is credit life and disability coverage, which Tuscan notes is of particular value to those who are underinsured.

“Sixty-three percent of Americans right now cannot afford a catastrophic financial event over $500. If they have a refrigerator go out today, they would struggle to replace it,” he says.

Dealers may find that GAP and VSCs offer a more tangible benefit, particularly for vehicles that have passed the 75,000-mile mark. At that point, Price notes, it is inevitable that parts will begin wearing out and breaking down. She advises agents and dealers to focus on those products with great coverage for a great value, priced fairly.

Not only will strategic pricing increase penetration levels, she adds, it will also lead to fewer chargebacks and higher CSI scores. Customers should drive away feeling satisfied that they got a great deal, and if anything does go wrong, they won’t suddenly find themselves either out of pocket for repairs they can’t afford or making payments on a car they can no longer drive.

Garner points out that part of the sale is discovering what is more important to the consumer: the terms or the price. Some consumers will prefer to have a VSC that focuses only on the powertrain but that will last for 60 months. Others might prefer more comprehensive coverage and are willing to accept a shorter contract term. By having products that are flexible — or having a range of options for dealers to choose from — it helps the F&I manager and the consumer find the one that will best fit their specific needs.

“Almost every customer wants and needs the peace of mind that comes with protecting their vehicle investment,” Toms stresses. He advises agents to offer a range of products that will fit nearly any need. Some service contracts should cover a vehicle up to as many as 200,000 miles, and others should have no mileage limits and should cover the consumer for the entire term of the contract, no matter how much they drive.

Melby agrees, describing the service contract as a “must-have.” He stresses that most buyers of high-mileage vehicles simply don’t have room in their budget for repair bills — and repairs are almost inevitable on those vehicles. It is just a matter of whether it is something minor that goes wrong and can be fixed easily, or whether it’s a major issue that could take the vehicle out of action completely until repairs are made.

Underwriting and Compliance

Of course, given we are talking about a segment that is focused on used cars and trucks that have more than 75,000 miles on them — some with more than 100,000 miles — the odds of a VSC paying out for repairs is quite a bit higher than it would be on a new vehicle.

Melby says that agents choosing a VSC to offer to dealers serving the high-mileage segment should ignore their gut instinct to choose based on price alone. As critical as that element is for consumers, it is more important to partner with a company with a history of underwriting service contracts for six-figure odometers, because the knowledge base that tells them what is likely to go wrong on each make, model and year of the vehicles they cover takes years of experience and the accumulation of adequate actuarial data.

While contracts that offer lower prices and the opportunity for higher penetration rates might look great on the bottom line in the short term, poorly designed products can lead to more rejected claims down the line. That, in turn, can lead to higher rates across the board, unhappy consumers and, eventually, an exit from the market — leaving the dealer and the agent to handle the fallout.

“Loss ratios are the biggest challenge, which plays into the challenge of pre-existing conditions,” says Price, noting that it is just as important for the agents and dealers to understand what goes into pricing a VSC aimed at this market as it is for the provider to provide it at a low cost. Working with providers who have taken the time to study the market and base their contracts and pricing around the most likely parts to break — and the costs associated with those parts — will help mitigate much of that particular risk factor.

Garner points out that compliance is another key concern, noting that, as of late, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and state agencies have become increasingly more active in looking at F&I products — including those aimed at the high-mileage space — and debating whether regulators should have a say in the way they are sold and priced. He believes agents should do everything they can to stay up-to-date with new rules and legislation in order to keep their dealers informed.

Looking Ahead

Despite the risks, our experts agree that offering F&I products designed for high-mileage used vehicles can create a competitive edge. Dealers who are properly equipped to serve that market will have a competitive advantage over those who continue to send high-mileage units to wholesale. Here are a few predictions our experts offered:

  • No more “as-is”: VSCs that fit into high-mileage car buyers’ budgets and offer reasonable coverage could make “as-is” sales much less common. Why ask customers to assume all the risk of buying an aging vehicle when a service contract can keep them on the road and keep them coming back to the dealership?
  • No more “I drive too much” objections: One major objection many F&I managers face is common among consumers who don’t believe they’ll get the full value of the VSC because they will exceed the mileage allowance long before the term of the agreement is up. In some cases, they are purchasing a high-mileage vehicle precisely because they want a car or truck they can run into the ground. Having a partner that offers coverage with no mileage restrictions will help agents and dealers diversify their product portfolios and get more customers covered.
  • More affordable and flexible options: The process has already started, but as more providers gain proficiency in this space, the contracts will become much more focused, with many more options designed to suit the budget-conscious consumer. And as the ability to accurately predict how the products will perform improves, costs should come down, allowing dealers to increase their profit margins in the long term.
  • Simplification: Technology is playing a bigger role throughout the F&I process, and products for high-mileage vehicles are no exception. Providers are offering online systems that make it faster and easier to get approvals. As the process becomes easier, the time in the F&I office gets shorter, which in turn makes consumers more open to hearing about their options. When someone has waited more than an hour to see their F&I manager, they aren’t going to be all that keen on hearing about why they should add an $1,800 service contract onto their $10,000 purchase. But if they’ve only been waiting 10 minutes, they will likely be much more open to hearing about the benefits and value.

The market for F&I products that specifically target high-mileage vehicles is not going to go away any time soon. For agents and dealers who are willing to adapt, those units could prove to be moneymakers.

As Garner notes, “Customers are keeping their vehicles longer than ever. The average mileage continues to climb in the industry and average life of a vehicle continues to lengthen. This segment will continue to grow in importance and size.”

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Build Your Agency With Powersports


2016 marks the end of an uptick cycle with vehicle sales in the retail automotive market. This year, we can expect vehicle sales to slow down and plateau. Combined with increased regulatory pressure, 2016 will be a year in which many agents will need to stretch their capabilities and their market base as they prepare for potential economic challenges in the years to come.

The good news is that new opportunities are not out of reach. In fact, there is an often overlooked opportunity for agents seeking to expand their business volume, as well as increase their footprint in the marketplace, in the powersports industry.

Revving Up Product Sales

Now, it is understandable that discerning agents might be concerned with branching into a market they know little about. However, given that the powersports industry is still in the early stages of F&I development, agents might find that they know more than they give themselves credit for.

Your knowledge, particularly in the F&I space, can have immediate and dramatic impact on powersports sales and profitability. Most powersports dealers do not fully understand the F&I process, how to implement a strong F&I department or how to measure its success. Strong agents who have worked with dealers in this area have a wealth of knowledge to provide immediate benefits. This makes the agent value proposition that much larger and more tangible in the powersports space.

Beyond the potential ease of differentiating their services in the powersports market, agents with automotive industry experience may not realize that there is actually a shorter sales cycle and faster revenue opportunity in the powersports space. Think of it this way: You can spend 18 months going after one new-car dealership, all the while competing with 50 administrators. Or you can acquire several powersports dealer partners in that same time period with only seven competitors. That’s right, seven.

So what does it take to make the leap into this brave new world? When contemplating expanding into the powersports market agents need to take the following steps:

  1. Change your mindset from working in a “need to have” industry to a “want to have” industry,
  2. Do your research and
  3. Apply what you’ve learned in auto to the powersports space.

It seems simple when put on paper, but taking the time to really delve into these three steps can go a long way toward ensuring success in the powersports market.

Step 1: Mindset

One of the biggest learning curves for any agent will be operating in a space where the vehicle purchase is a “want to have” rather than a “need to have.” Most powersports owners buy motorcycles and four-wheelers for leisure activities, not for their daily commute. This means that, while powersports demand might be high, the number of people willing to invest in the purchase of a powersports vehicle tends to filter down to those who can afford both a car payment and a motorcycle payment, along with the required insurance payments.

Typically, powersports enthusiasts, who still have to put food on the table, will focus on paying off their car or truck before making a powersports purchase. This filter is the industry’s biggest challenge right now, especially with the rising price tag of new powersports vehicles.

That is not so say that powersports consumers are not heavily invested in their ride. In fact, powersports owners often show more care and concern for their motorcycle than their car. They tend to see the bike as more of an extension of their personality, whereas the car just gets them from one place to another. And as the economy grows, we can expect more powersports enthusiasts returning to dealerships to make a purchase, meaning there will be more opportunity for dealers to increase their profitability and for agents to expand their footprint in the space.

In addition, in this want vs. need space, many powersports dealers extend their thinking beyond pure profitability metrics to the brands they choose to sell. While they can be just as strategic and sophisticated as an automotive dealer, powersports dealers can often base decisions on emotion as much as logic. For example, a staunch Harley-Davidson dealer who is heavily invested in the Harley brand is much less likely to open an Indian store than a Ford dealer is to open a Honda franchise.

Beyond the fierce competition and sense of stewardship between brands, powersports dealers are highly sensitive to being compared to the automotive space. The last thing they want to hear is how they are less sophisticated or versatile than their automotive brothers. This means that while agents can provide powersports dealers with quite a bit of knowledge gleaned from the automotive space, they have to be very careful in how they broach the subject.

In essence, both consumers and dealers operate in a sense of “want to have.” A good comparison to this mindset is the luxury vehicle market. Their purchase decisions are not based on getting from Point A to Point B, but rather on how the vehicle reflects their personality.

Likewise, highline dealers take their sense of brand stewardship seriously, which is reflected in the level of customer service they provide and expect from their agent partners. They believe in the benefits of the luxury brands and shape their dealerships to further cement in customers’ minds that buying from their dealerships comes with a care and attention to detail they cannot get anywhere else.

Powersports dealers operate in the same fashion. They take pride and ownership in the brands they chose to sell and they take care to ensure excellent customer service within a tight-knit community where word spreads fast. In turn, they need the same level of service from their agent partners.

Step 2: Research

Just like in retail automotive, it is important that agents perform their due diligence by researching the dealerships they want to pursue as well as their competitive landscape. They need to perform the groundwork to investigate each dealer’s current provider. It is also a good visual aid to develop a report card, providing a comparative analysis of the current provider’s services. Find out if they provide training, rate comparisons andprocess development, for example.

Be a problem solver. Most agents are probably already used to this when maintaining their relationships with dealer partners. However, it is just as important to research areas dealers can improve upon and provide insight before active engagement, especially in the powersports space. Taking this one extra step can put a strategic agent miles ahead in winning dealer business. You will demonstrate a level of service most powersports dealers are unaccustomed to — but would take advantage of in a heartbeat.

A strong presentation should include:

  • An online and in-person mystery shop,
  • A comprehensive website and online inventory review,
  • Online reputation assessment,
  • Demographics and surrounding area overview and
  • A comparison with the target dealer’s competition.

Lastly, it is important to look at each dealer’s inventory and compare it to the coverage offered by their current provider. Often, anywhere from 40% to 50% of their inventory does not qualify for coverage from most powersports providers, which means there is ample opportunity for a strategic and forward-thinking agent to earn their business with one of the few providers that maintains expanded coverage levels.

With this research in hand, you should be well-prepared to present dealers with something interesting — or at least a new perspective on their dealership operations. The powersports dealership personnel should be more intrigued and interested in how an agent can make them more successful.

Step 3: Application

Agents already accustomed to fierce competition in retail have the potential to easily win powersports dealers by maintaining the level of service they already know how to provide. You do not need to be timid about branching into a new market as long as you trust and use the processes you have relied upon for so long to build relationships and increase a dealer’s reliance on the agent model.

In fact, agent success in the powersports space relies more on understanding F&I than on understanding the space itself. Agents positioning themselves as F&I specialists and helping dealerships implement successful and compliant F&I programs have ample opportunity to materially grow their footprint at a faster pace in this space.

Remember, just like in retail automotive, providing a constant flow of solutions that keep dealers thinking about increasing market share and profitability deepens and strengthens your overall relationship with your dealers. Agents looking to make the transition into the powersports space will also need to look to partner with a solution provider that understands and can support and help execute their powersports strategy.

Providers that already operate in the space often have a better understanding of the products and services most dealers find beneficial, as well as a strong ability to cultivate relationships and make introductions, giving agents a resource to lean on to ensure successful market expansion.

Because the powersports space has so little agent competition, you’d be surprised how much more effective agents can be. Dealers in this space are not used to someone outside the dealership being invested in their success. By building a relationship with them, understanding their objectives and hurdles and educating dealers on the intricacies of F&I, agents can provide an immediate and exponential impact on their business. Remember, this all stems from adjusting your mindset, doing the homework and research on each prospect and determining how to apply lessons learned from automotive retail.

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Jumpstart: 60% of Millennials Buy a New Vehicle Every Three Years


SAN FRANCISCO — Millennials are not only interested in purchasing cars, they’re also cycling in-market more frequently due to changing life stages. This was just one of the findings from “Today’s Auto Shoppers: How They Research and Why Trust is So Essential in Winning Them Over,” a new study conducted by Jumpstart Automotive and Ipsos Connect.

According to the study, four in 10 shoppers buy a new car every three years, while nearly six out of 10 millennials pull the trigger on a new vehicle every three years. The study also showed that 74% of Millennials now take four weeks or less when shopping for a car, with 88% of them researching online throughout the entire process.

“The results of this study illustrate that people are similar in the way that they gather information. But there are both subtle and significant differences between demographics,” said Libby Murad-Patel, vice president of strategic insights and analytics for Jumpstart. “Our hope is that brands across the entire automotive spectrum use these insights to help elevate the shopping experience for all consumers.”

Technology, the study found, is popular across all demographics. However, the ability to seamlessly integrate smartphone apps and functions into the vehicle has become more important to car buyers than a vehicle’s custom tech features.

The only exception would be women, who influence 80% of all vehicle transactions and place a greater value on practical needs such as passenger seating, comfort, and safety. And although women are primarily new-car buyers, they show more willingness than men to consider a used vehicle if it means they’re going to get more for their money, according to the study.

Additionally, women tend to rely heavily on independent research and reviews. They are also more likely to consult Consumer Reports than any other group.

The study also found that Asians and Hispanic shoppers place a greater emphasis on brands or vehicles that are more popular or recognizable, as well as vehicles with alternative fuel options. Overall purchase price is important to Asian shoppers, but they show more willingness to increase their monthly payment if they feel the value is there.

Hispanic shoppers rank purchase price higher than monthly payment, but monthly payment is a higher consideration for them than any other group.

Additionally, Asian consumers have a higher affinity for luxury vehicles, according to the study, while Hispanic shoppers tend to purchase more new vehicles than used. The latter also tends to hold onto a vehicle and pass it down to a family member instead of trading it in, making trade-in offers less relevant to this group, the study concluded.

The study also found that quality/reliability has become more important than fuel economy across the board. Part of that could stem from the current recall-heavy environment, according to the study’s authors, as well as low gas prices.

When consumers begin their research, according to the study, the Top 3 must-haves in a brand or vehicle are good value at 77%, a reputation for being strong and reliable at 68%, and a reputation for excellent quality at 65%. When it comes time to buy, quality (34%), gas mileage (29%), and price point (28%) become the Top 3 key influencers for all shoppers.

“This study paints a vivid portrait of today’s auto shopper: informed, empowered, value-oriented, and brand-focused,” said Dr. Stephen Kraus, chief insights officer for Ipsos Connect and director of the study. “The research also underscores the crucial importance of the Internet, as 80% research online throughout the purchase process, not just as the purchase becomes imminent.”

The study was conducted by Ipsos Connect between December 2015 and March 2016, with 1,014 U.S. respondents interviewed online. Study participants met the following three criteria: adults aged 18-64, at least $30,000 in annual household income, and purchased a vehicle in the past year or intended to purchase a vehicle in the next six months.

To download the study, click here.

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Mobile Phones, Online Research Shrinking Shopping Window, Study Shows


SAN FRANCISCO — From start to finish, the time it takes for consumers to pull the trigger on a new vehicle purchase is shrinking. And Millennials are the reason.

Jumpstart Automotive study, which looked at the buying habits of women, Millennials, Asians and Hispanics, found that 74% of Millennials now take four weeks or less to find a new car. Mobile technology, social media and online research are all noted as reasons for the shift toward a shorter shopping window, said Libby Murad-Patel, the firm’s lead analyst.

“This was one of the surprising elements for us as well, because, in reality, we’ve seen that the typical shopping window is four months,” Patel said. “Even though the majority still completes their research from start to finish in four months, 74% of Millennials are taking four weeks or less. They’re really doing the bulk of their process in a shorter amount of time, but also accessing more information throughout the entire process.”

However, it’s not just Millennials that are taking less time to buy a car. Every demographic observed in the study had a large percentage of respondents saying they spent four weeks or less to shop for a car. Sixty-eight percent of women, 65% of Hispanics and 62% of Asian respondents said that hey spent four weeks or less to complete their vehicle-shopping process.

Social media, Patel noted, has played a big part in reducing the shopping window because it increases consumer exposure to potential vehicles. “People are passively gathering information even when they’re not in market,” she said. “A lot of that is even more exaggerated because of social media and the fact that we’re looking at Instagram and we’re sharing on Facebook. You see what your friends are driving outside of what you see on the roads.”

And that online shopping and research doesn’t stop once consumers get to the dealership, Patel added. Looking at study results, about 40% of consumers — about 66% for Millennials — use their cell phones inside the dealership to make sure they’re getting the best deal.

“They’re doing a lot of comparison shopping. Price is definitely a factor, it could be looking at the overall price or offers in the area. It could also be comparing features, trim and packaging that they could get from a similar vehicle that they were looking at,” Patel said.

The fact that consumers are using their cell phones to verify pricing while at the dealership should ring certain bells for dealers, Patel noted. Although the study found that 76% of respondents found their dealership to be trustworthy, three aspects of the dealership experience still brewed mistrust for a majority of them: trade-in appraisals, vehicle pricing and financing.

“When you look at what your vehicle is valued at, you see what you could get privately versus trade in, consumers are always going to try to push the dealer to get the best value for their vehicle,” Patel said. “Because it is a sensitive point in the negotiation, I think the trade-in is one of those factors that they don’t always walk away feeling like they got the best value for their vehicle.”

She noted, however, that there’s not much a dealer can do when it comes to vehicle appraisals. While there’s some room for negotiation, the amount a consumer can get for his or her vehicle is ultimately tied to the true value of their vehicle. The aspects of the car-buying experience dealers should focus on are vehicle pricing and financing, Patel said.

“I think this leads very much into the common theme that we saw throughout the entire study,” Patel said. “Authenticity — whether it’s advertising or at a dealership — is what [the dealership experience should be] about. If you’re advertising pricing, don’t advertise something that has 20 different caveats to it. Be forward and be honest with the pricing that you put out there, because if the customer comes to check the advertised price and its ends up being something that is really unattainable to them, they’re going to feel like they can’t trust the dealership in what they’re saying.”

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Top Closers Avoid Industry Jargon, CDK Global Finds


HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — CDK Global has found that the words dealers use in their email interactions with customers can have a strong effect on whether a lead will turn into a sale. Industry jargon, the company found, was not high on the list of words used by top performers.

In its “Language of Closers” research, CDK analyzed the email responses from auto dealers to pinpoint the words and phrases most likely to result in car sales, according to the company.

“People tend to assume that positive words like ‘love’ and ‘amazing’ will be the most persuasive to potential car shoppers,” said Jason Kessler, data scientist at CDK. “Our research found the opposite and proved that dealers who used proactive language articulating clear next steps for action in their email were the highest closers. Car shoppers need to be guided through the process and the research supported using language to help them on their journey.”

What the study found was the importance of guiding customers through the buying process. Phrases like “give me a” and “feel free to” were more often used by low-closers. Phrases that begin with those words, according to the study, were ineffective because they put the onus back on the shopper.

The word that most high closers used was “provide.” This word was used mostly in the context of sharing information, the study found. “Vehicle descriptions, details about the buying process and quotes all help the shopper gain a better understanding so they can feel secure in taking the next step,” the study stated.

Low closers also tended to use words like “body style” and “options.” The correlation between these words and low closers seemed to indicate that jargon and industry terms are not persuasive when used to answer shopper questions, according to the study.

“This research is exciting because it is so actionable,” said Kessler. “By focusing on communication styles that shoppers prefer, dealerships can improve their effectiveness and sell more cars.”

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Five Ways To Win At Sales Even In The Worst Conditions


While we’re starting to forget the economic recession of 2008, those dark days left a lasting impression on how successful salespeople deal with a downturn, reports Forbes.

At the time, I was at CareerBuilder, heading the Pacific Northwest territory for the mid-markets division. I can clearly remember the uphill battle our team faced while calling customers and prospects to renew job postings. In order to succeed, we started learning about where our customers were failing and what they were still spending money on. We stopped having the same old sales conversations.

It turns out we had been focusing on the wrong competition all along. They still needed to hire talent, but the top or niche candidates they wanted couldn’t be found on traditional job sites. To remedy this, we pitched ourselves and our sites for the next two years on selling against recruiters instead of simply being a job site. We focused on hard-to-fill and executive openings and found customers willing to spend big budgets to solve key needs in their business.

Even with an economic downturn, we didn’t blame something that wasn’t under our control. Instead, we took a hard look at our sales strategies and found areas that would allow us to prosper even in grim situations. Here are some top tips to maintain peak performance in a downturn:

  1. Use technology and data to make yourself as efficient as possible. On average, sales representatives are only spending one-third of their time selling. They spend the other two-thirds on research, follow-up, and administrative tasks. With the current sales tech environment, this should no longer be the case. There has never been a more exciting time to be in sales, given the amount of sales and marketing technology at our disposal. It seems like every week there’s another tool that can help to automate segments of the sales process that are normally manual and cumbersome. Whether it’s automating follow-ups using Rebump or logging all sales activity in Gmail with Streak, there’s a tech tool out there that can help you be much more efficient in your day-to-day.
  2. Think and act positively. People can sense desperation through your communication and that desperation leads to a lack of credibility amongst your customers. Remaining honest yet confident under tough circumstances is key to continued sales wins. To remain confident and optimistic, remember the high of closing deal after deal and the way you felt and acted on those days. Attitudes, both good and bad, rub off on the people you’re speaking with, so always make sure you remain positive.
  3. Focus on out-of-the-box business challenges. Like the CareerBuilder example above, it’s important to think about different ways to position your product so that its use cases are positioned to solve new or bigger challenges. When the current positioning isn’t working, it’s time to change the conversation. Strive to use the “Challenger Approach” sales style, which more than 50 percent of all high-performing sales representatives rely on. Ask questions, push your customers to areas they might be familiar with but don’t label as important, and find solutions to problems they didn’t know existed. Don’t be locked into a course of action that is failing and be always be willing to adapt and find new ways to position yourself when conditions aren’t in your favor.
  4. Block out the noise from your negative peers. Most people want to be good. But being great is a burden very few take on because they aren’t willing to put in the extra work necessary to get there. There are specific traits that separate great salespeople from the good, but the biggest difference is that they look at a downturn or a rejection as a challenge that they have to overcome. Negative peers will look to a downturn as an excuse for poor performance, or worse, no performance. Block out the noise and focus on getting better and improving yourself.
  5. Learn hard, work smart. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he frequently mentions the 10,000-hour rule: it takes around that amount of time to achieve excellence and mastery in a field. It’s not rare to find people who put in long hours and grind it out to achieve sales excellence every month. They either get the job done or come pretty close consistently. But as the psychologist behind the rule, Anders Ericsson, says: “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.”
  6. The key to above-average sales performance is to do both. Work the hours needed but continuously improve your sales execution by always learning. If you put in more hours than anyone, focus on improving every day, and constantly be looking to learn, you will see the results pay off.

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