Tag Archive | "Sales"

The Secret Trait All Successful Salespeople Share, According to Science


In 1960, toymaker Harold von Braunhut created a product he felt certain would be his biggest hit to date–a dehydrated strain of brine shrimp that could be reanimated simply by adding water, reports Inc. He named his product Instant Life and waited for the dollars to roll in.

The product flopped spectacularly.

But Harold von Braunhut was a persistent man. He decided that the problem with his sales had little to do with what he was offering and far more to do with how he was offering it. So von Braunhut completely revamped his marketing approach.

He renamed his tiny life forms Sea-Monkeys and rolled out an advertisement depicting them as a smiling family of finned beings who would “swim, play, scoot, race, and do comical tricks and stunts” in front of their underwater castle home. He ran these ads in the back pages of comic books, amidst fantastic tales of superheroes and otherworldly adventures.

Anyone who bought these Sea-Monkeys should have realized almost immediately that the primitive organisms floating in their bowl bore little resemblance to the magical creatures von Braunhut had cooked up for the ad. Yet Sea-Monkeys made Harold von Braunhut a multimillionaire many times over, and continue to sell three million units a year even today.

Why?

A Psychological Tactic All Great Salespeople Use

The phenomenon behind von Braunhut’s success is what neurologists and psychologists refer to as “cognitive priming.” In other words, human beings are wired to see what we want to see. The best salespeople and marketers are those who embrace this.

In the case of von Braunhut, everything about his approach–from the whimsical drawings to the enclosed magnifying lenses–made buyers really, really want to believe in the vision he helped them build up in their heads. He intentionally selected messaging to filter for a target audience that had proven themselves willing to enter directly into a world of imagination. Then, all he had to do was provide the fuel for their fantasies.

The reality is that when people are making a decision about whether to buy something, they follow their feelings, perceptions, and desires above all else. What the heart wants to believe, the mind will accept. Those who accept and master this central truth will never want for customers.

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Leveraging Prepaid Maintenance


2016 marks the end of an uptick cycle with vehicle sales. Starting this year, industry experts expect vehicle sales to slow down and possibly plateau with little to no growth in overall unit sales. For dealers, this means customer retention and brand enhancement will become more critical to gain market share. Agents, in turn, can expect dealers to rely more heavily on them to help drive more service customers and expand in a stagnant market.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s influence will continue to grow among lenders. As more lenders implement flat-fee models or caps on dealer markup, agents will feel pressure to help dealers reduce their reliance on finance reserves. However, adding products to the already crowded F&I menu can be tricky. Balancing CSI, the speed of the finance process, and providing products that make sense for the customer, as well as the dealership, is a difficult task.

One way to address current dealer needs is through a cutting-edge, customer-centric maintenance program designed to increase F&I profitability and service drive retention. Yes, I said maintenance programs. We have all heard statistics around prepaid maintenance driving higher customer retention rates — and it remains true. According to J.D. Power, maintenance packages help drive higher repurchase rates among owners, with 72% of those who have a complimentary or prepaid maintenance package repurchasing the same vehicle make on their next purchase.

A Powerful Tool

Even with statistics to back it up, this category of F&I products is one of the most overlooked and underutilized profit drivers for dealerships. But with the right foundation, it could be one of the greatest customer-retention tools at a dealer’s disposal. So rather than discuss the benefits of prepaid maintenance, let’s discuss how to effectively utilize it, starting with evaluating your dealership partners’ current prepaid maintenance programs.

The next time you visit your dealership partners, assess how successful each dealer is in offering prepaid maintenance on the sales floor, in the F&I office and in the service drive. Ask them the following questions:

  • What is their profit per retail unit (PRU) on maintenance contracts? How many are sold compared to the number of cars sold in a given week or month?
  • Does the dealership give away any maintenance contracts as a brand-enhancing value proposition? If so, how many?
  • Do they offer different levels of maintenance coverage? Of the contracts sold, how many are upsells?
  • Where on the F&I menu is the program positioned and how it is it sold?
  • What benchmarks does the dealership use to hold its team members accountable for selling maintenance contracts?

The answers to these questions will give you a clearer picture of whether a dealer is utilizing prepaid maintenance to meet their profit goals. Use the answers as a baseline to determine where you can plug in to help your clients achieve greater results.

Not Just Any Program Will Do

Next, evaluate the maintenance program itself. Underutilization could be due to not having the right maintenance program in place, poor handling of claims reserves, negative customer service from the administrator, lack of training within the dealership or ineffective compensation incentives.

Review the dealership’s top-selling inventory, customer demographics and surrounding geography, and ask, “Does the current maintenance program cover the required maintenance for the types of vehicles sold and the conditions in which the vehicles are driven?” If not, customers might not find it valuable, which could be another significant reason for a product’s underutilization.

Beyond looking at the product itself, it’s also important to partner with the right administrator to equip the dealership with tools to sell it.

Is the administrator backed by an A.M. Best rated underwriter/insurer? This signifies the administrator’s ability to pay claims and create products beneficial to both customers and dealerships.

How does the administrator benchmark customer service excellence? The claims process must be incredibly efficient for the service department. Is their current process automated? If not, what is their average speed to answer claims calls and average call handle time? How quickly do they pay claims?

Dealers benefit more from an administrator with strong customer service standards and happy customers in a couple of ways: First, it signifies that the products the dealer sells will be better received and seen as more valuable by customers. Second, those happy customers who bought a maintenance program from your dealer partners will be more likely to return to the selling dealership for their next vehicle because of the positive ownership experience the dealership delivered.

Does the administrator provide ongoing training and engagement to ensure the program’s success? No F&I product is successful without the right support, training and dealership buy-in. Seems obvious, but when we are all honest with ourselves, we know ongoing training is sorely lacking in many dealership environments. And as an agent, there’s only so much training you can provide without the in-depth knowledge of an administrator. With that in mind, selecting the right maintenance product for your dealership partners also comes down to the engagement model of the product administrator. Ask whether they do any or all of the following:

  • Conduct formal product installation and market launches
  • Implement quarterly account planning and performance tracking
  • Work with dealerships to develop incentivizing pay plans
  • Provide ongoing F&I development and one-on-one training

Successful prepaid maintenance programs are backed by dealerships equipped with ongoing training and development. Solid programs are priced for both effective claims management and dealership profit, and they are deemed valuable by customers.

Creating a Supportive Culture

To further ensure successful dealership utilization, work with your product administrator to focus training on the differences of selling prepaid maintenance compared to other F&I products.

While it is common practice for dealerships to maximize profit on an F&I product like a vehicle service contract, this approach is not effective when selling prepaid maintenance. When developing F&I pay plans, and in training, it’s important dealerships don’t apply the same markup rules they do for other products. In fact, it’s better to almost give the product away for little margin. This will help F&I managers demonstrate the value to the customer and how the dealership is working to save them money, making it very easy for managers to sell.

Prepaid maintenance programs are designed to be sold for a small margin upfront, for the purpose of gaining customer loyalty and attaining a larger, long-term margin on repeat business in both sales and the service drive.

Now, at this point, most dealer principals and general managers might think, “That’s well and good for my dealership, but my guys won’t sell it if they can’t make something on it too.”

This is a very valid point. In fact, the No. 1 reason most prepaid maintenance programs are underutilized is because dealership employees aren’t motivated to sell it. You can overcome this obstacle by creating a supportive culture around the program.

Cultivating this culture starts at the top. General managers, sales managers, F&I directors and service managers must buy into the idea of making prepaid maintenance central to their operations. Sales and service-drive teams must be trained on when and how to tee up the conversation about prepaid maintenance during the sales process. F&I managers need in-depth product knowledge training. Everyone needs training on asking questions to help position the program as relevant and valuable to customers. Lastly, tie the program to the dealership’s values. If they tout being family-oriented, then train team members to position the program as another way the dealership takes care of its customers like family.

Beyond training, one motivating factor in any dealership is pay plan development. Review the pay plans for your dealer partners and walk them through a retooling process for F&I, sales and the service drive, all geared specifically toward prepaid maintenance programs. Have them consider paying F&I managers on the number of programs sold versus the margin increase.

Another alternative is pay the same flat dollar amount derived directly from the markup. This ensures consistency and prevents managers from trying to mark the product up to maximize a percentage of the gross profit payout, resulting in a lack of value for the customer. Use this same approach with pay plans for sales, paying them for every handoff to F&I where they proactively informed the customer about the program during the sales cycle and when the customer bought the program prior to leaving.

On the service side, it’s important to remember that the dealership isn’t looking to make a huge profit on the individual sale of each program. This gives dealerships the opportunity to empower service managers to sell the program to their customers outside of a vehicle purchase. This further cements in the dealership’s customers’ minds the value they can receive from the dealership, as well as the dealership culture of putting customers’ needs first. To motivate service managers to sell the programs, it’s important to pay them on the number of programs sold. However, it’s even more important to make it easy for them to get paid.

If dealership team members have to verify the number of programs sold in three different ways — and work with accounting to get paid — the service drive simply won’t do it. While sales and F&I might have more time in the day to complete extra paperwork, the service drive doesn’t. The average service drive manager handles five times more transactions than anyone else in the dealership, and is working at a much faster pace. They don’t have time to jump through hoops to get paid and won’t do something that makes their job more difficult. So more important than determining what a service manager will be paid, focus on making the process to be paid easy for successful deployment in the service drive.

As dealers place higher demands on their agent partners, we will see agents become more efficient with their clients. If you’re looking for a deep and long-term relationship, consider providing a solution that keeps dealers thinking about how to increase market share and profitability, like successful implementation of prepaid maintenance.

The topic of prepaid maintenance repeatedly comes up because it has a lot of potential. While industry insiders can probably list the benefits of prepaid maintenance off the top of their heads, very few know how to actually implement it effectively. Those agents who use it to differentiate their service offering will better position themselves in a crowded market.

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RoadVantage Celebrates Fifth Year of Record Growth, Announces Executive Promotions


AUSTIN – RoadVantage, the fastest-growing provider of F&I programs for the automotive industry, marked its fifth year of record growth by announcing promotions for three executives. RoadVantage reported a 72-percent increase year-over-year in new dealers actively selling RoadVantage programs, and a 51-percent increase in new agent signups for the same period, while maintaining service levels at 97 percent of claims approved in eight minutes or less.

“I attribute our record success over these five years to our innovative focus on the customer experience,” said RoadVantage CEO Garret Lacour. “We offer a complete line of powerful F&I products, but where the rubber meets the road is in our customer service. This is what makes dealers and agents so excited to work with us.”

In May, RoadVantage won a Platinum Dealers’ Choice Award for F&I Products – its second year in a row to win an award in this category – and in April, RoadVantage introduced the market’s first GPS System bundled with a theft protection benefit.

RoadVantage also announced promotions for three key executives: Bradford Blizzard, a 30-year F&I industry veteran, was promoted to National Vice President of Sales, Michael Scotty has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations, and Melissa Anderson is now Vice President of Marketing.

“With the explosive growth we’ve experienced, this is an exciting time to be with RoadVantage,” said Blizzard. “No one else can match what we offer, from products to service, and it all starts with our company culture: everyone here is passionate about making a difference for our customers.”

Bradford Blizzard began his automotive career in 1982 at a dealership before transitioning to the consulting side of the business, after which he served as VP National Account Manager with Safe‐Guard. As National VP of Sales for RoadVantage, Blizzard oversees the regional vice presidents’ sales efforts in conjunction with driving sales at a national level. Blizzard was part of the “Profit Opportunities” panel last month at the 2016 Agent Summit.

Michael Scotty brings to RoadVantage more than 20 years in business development and operations management. At RoadVantage, Scotty oversees the internal operations of multiple departments to ensure corporate objectives are met.

Melissa Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in marketing communications and oversees the advertising, public relations, direct marketing, events, online marketing and social media for RoadVantage, working to build brand awareness and loyalty through all marketing channels.

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Easycare Appoints Rob Mirra as National Director of New Business


Norcross, Ga. – EasyCare, the leading independent provider of automotive ownership benefits and dealer services that help dealers create more passionate employees and customers, has appointed Rob Mirra as National Director of New Business Opportunities. Mr. Mirra will be leading the building of new EasyCare relationships with dealerships across the nation who are interested in creating a better experience for their employees and customers, and driving more opportunity for success in every area of the dealership that touches the customer.

“Rob has a unique way about him that truly engages people. The relationships he builds last for years and we are excited to bring his special personality and talents to the EasyCare family. People engage with Rob because of his direct and honest approach, and his intense desire to help others succeed. Rob’s a perfect fit for our culture here at EasyCare” said Larry Dorfman, CEO of EasyCare.

Mirra brings with him over ten years of automotive experience. Having worked through the ranks as a sales person, F&I Manager, General Manager and owner of dealerships, he’s gained comprehensive insight into the industry on a grand scale. Prior to joining EasyCare, he was Executive Manager and Partner at Henderson Hyundai, and before that National Sales Director at Hyundai Capital America where he was primarily responsible for insurance, commercial credit and finance.

Mirra has served the public for many years as a veteran of the US Army and as a police officer for the Newport News Police Department.

“What I’m mostly excited about working at EasyCare is that we’re introducing a completely different approach to working with dealerships. Finance and insurance doesn’t start in the F&I office anymore. It starts at the first contact with the customer. Our business is more of a partnership and we help dealers engage their customers at every touch point. It’s a lot more personal,” said Mirra. “It’s important to continuously seek out new ways to fulfill the needs of our dealers and provide the most positive experience for their employees and their customers.”

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Anderson, Horsager to Deliver Agent Summit Keynotes


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of Agent Summit have confirmed that sales and leadership experts Dave Anderson and David Horsager will serve as the keynote speakers for this year’s event, which is scheduled for May 9–11, 2016, at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

“For those who have experienced Agent Summit, you know the keynote speakers are always dynamos in their field, whether it be business expertise, motivational sales tips or the like,” said Randy Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems Inc. (UDS) and chair of the event’s advisory board. “This year is no exception, as we expect to raise the bar to new levels with Dave Anderson and David Horsager. I believe agents will leave these two sessions knowing the secret handshake that turns into cash!”

Anderson is the founder of LearntoLead and an auto retail veteran. His presentation, “Mastering the Art of Execution” on Tuesday, May 10, at 9:10 a.m., will be sponsored by EasyCare and GWC Warranty.

Horsager is the bestselling author of “The Trust Edge” and a nationally recognized leadership trainer. His keynote will begin at 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11, and is sponsored by Agent Entrepreneur.

To view the full Agent Summit agenda, which also includes pre-conference events and educational sessions dedicated to Technology, Compliance, Training, Coaching & Development, Profit Opportunities and Selling to Dealers, click here.

Registration, hotel and travel information for Agent Summit is available at the event’s website as well as by phone, fax and email.

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KBB Predicts Record Sales in April


IRVINE, Calif. — Kelley Blue Book said this week it expects new-vehicle sales to grow by 4% compared to the same-year period in 2015. The expected growth should deliver record new-vehicle sales of 1.51 million and a SAAR of 17.5 million.

Retail sales, the firm said, are expected to account for 80.3% of volume this month, down from 80.9% in April 2015.

“Following a disappointing March, we expect sales to get back on track in April with the SAAR in the mid-17 million range,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  “Increased fleet sales and rising incentive spending among automakers remain the factors to watch, but retail demand appears to be holding steady, signaling the industry’s strong run isn’t over quite yet.”

Compact SUVs/crossovers, mid-size cars, full-size trucks and mid-size SUVs / crossovers should also realize volume growth this month, according to KBB. Compact cars, however, are expected to be lone segment to show a decrease in volume compared to the same time last year.

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