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Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part 13)

This article is part of a multi-part series titled “Building a High Performance Culture” by Up To Speed Guest Expert, Dave Anderson, of LearnToLead®. thumbs up

Words that Work: Passion

In this thirteenth post on building a high performance culture I want to put in the “words that work” column a word that is found within high achievers in any endeavor: passion.

More about passion in a moment, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, please review the following words that work from past posts; these must consistently be woven into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. These two categories are designed to build an evolving portrait of what a high performance culture looks like so you can evaluate your own, and strive towards the ideal.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Passion is defined as: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

The following are five thoughts on passion:

1. High performing cultures have passionate people, driven to excel by a meaningful mission, compelling vision and the desire to make a difference.

2. Passion is different than both drive and energy. One can have both these essential traits, but without an enthusiasm for the work at hand, see their drive and energy go largely wasted. The quality of the culture plays a big part in drawing passion out.

3. Passionate people aren’t necessarily loud or giddy; their enthusiasm is more likely to show up in their attitude, work ethic, team play and results.

4. Passionate people are normally lower maintenance employees as they don’t require the coddling or continual pep talks the indifferent demand just to get moving. This reduces distractions within your culture, and helps preserve morale.

5. Customers feel an employee’s passion, and it greatly elevates the customer’s experience and earns their loyalty.

6. A poor leader can temper or extinguish a passionate person’s zeal with micromanagement, by surrounding him or her with laggards, or by failing to give the recognition one has earned and deserves. This demonstrates again the importance of a leader taking his or her role as chief architect and primary influencer of the culture very seriously.


See Dave Anderson’s presentation at the Best Training Day Ever. Click here for details.

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Alan Ram

To be or not to BDC? That is the question.


Here’s a question for you:
Is your BDC the result of a failure in training?

That should have your attention.  If I’ve ever written an article that will be misconstrued, this will be the one! Let’s get this straight; your people don’t suck on the phones because you don’t have a BDC! They suck because you haven’t properly trained them! As I’ve talked to dealers over the years, I’ve seen many BDC’s spring up out of knee-jerk frustration. While there are obviously exceptions to the rule, this is something I’ve seen repeated in the industry over the past several years.  A dealer says, “We tried training our salespeople, but they’re still terrible at handling phones, so we’ve hired three people and all they’re going to do now is handle our inbound sales calls, as well as Internet leads.” I have a number of different problems with this thought process, and I’m happy to tell you about them:

1) So you’re telling me that the people that you’ve hired to sell Lexus in Chicago are capable of talking to a customer that walks into the dealership, but for some reason, it blows their flipping minds to talk to that same customer on the telephone or communicate via email? I’m not willing to accept that.

2) I have trained tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of salespeople and BDC reps over the years. In that period of time, I have found that it takes every minute as long to PROPERLY train a BDC rep as it does a salesperson. The operative word in the previous sentence is “properly.” As a matter of fact, it takes longer to train a BDC rep. Why? Because while the sales staff already knows the product, the BDC staff is starting from scratch. I’ve asked BDC reps specific product questions before, and you may as well be asking some of them the gross domestic product of Bolivia. So while you think you’re solving one problem, you’re really creating another. Most of the calls I listen to that are made into BDC’s do not represent an improvement over the sales staff. At most, it’s the “get the customer’s name and number” department while trying to set up an appointment without giving the customer an actual reason to come in. I’m not trying to be harsh here. This is fact. We are creating an unnecessary level of specialization at many dealerships.

3) In this day and age, where the number one thing I hear when I do dealer 20 group meetings is “expense, expense, expense!”, shouldn’t the number one expense be hiring a second group of people to do the job the first group should have been doing? We’re talking about communicating with customers on the telephone and Internet here! This stuff isn’t quantum physics. It amazes me that the same dealers who throw up in a trash can when they get a $1000 invoice for training have absolutely no problem adding as much as 20-40k of expense per month in creating a BDC.

4) With that model, no one will want to work for you! Your dealership will compound one of the biggest challenges we already have in this industry, which is the struggle to find good salespeople.  Put yourself in the position of a good sales-person looking for a place to work. You walk into a dealership to interview; it’s a beautiful facility and a great brand. Then the person interviewing you drops the bomb, “by the way, our BDC takes all sales calls as well as handles our Internet leads”. At that point, I would imagine you would stand up, thank the interviewer for their time, and walk out the door to the dealership that lets you handle phone-ups and Internet leads. Do not kid yourself! That is a huge challenge that many dealers hadn’t considered but are now facing. Good salespeople avoid working at those dealerships that severely restrict their opportunities, and those dealerships tend to become a culture of telemarketers and greeters.

Here’s the solution:
Train your people to do the jobs you hired them to do.

If I’m hired to sell cars at your dealership, I should be capable of communicating with customers in person, on the telephone, and online. That would be part of being a well-rounded salesperson. Unfortunately, salespeople don’t necessarily arrive on your doorstep well-rounded. It’s your job to train them. The sad fact is that much of what dealers have bought over the years in the name of training, hasn’t been anything close to training at all. Going to the Marriott and listening to myself or anyone else talk for eight hours is as much training as going to a baseball game is training for baseball. You might get educated, but you’re not necessarily going to get trained. For something to be considered training, three elements need to be present: 1) Education 2) Simulation 3) Accountability. If any of those three elements is missing, whatever you’re trying to accomplish probably isn’t going to happen.

Now I’m not trying to convince anyone to dismantle their BDC. What I’m telling you to do is make sure that you’re not replacing one group of people that you didn’t train properly, with another layer of expense that you’re not training properly either.

BDC’s ARE GREAT and provide a wonderful return on investment when you have them doing the right things the right way. For example, following up unsold customers. 39% of people surveyed say that the reason they would not come back to a dealership is because they didn’t like the salesperson for whatever reason. Too tall, too short, reminded them of their ex-brother-in-law or smelled like smoke. What this is saying is that your sales staff does not have a shot with 39% of what you think are their be-back opportunities. When the customer doesn’t like the salesperson they won’t tell him or her “we didn’t like you”. What will they say? “We’ve decided to hold off” or “We’re not going to do anything right now.” They won’t tell the salesperson, but they will tell someone else. That’s why it is critical that every dealership have someone in ADDITION to salespeople following up on each and every customer that visits the store. That is a great function for your BDC.

Another thing you can do is shift their focus to your service department. I have worked with many dealerships that have amazing success in having BDC representatives schedule both repair as well as recommended maintenance. They can actively be following up on recall notices and generating service revenue.  This is a huge opportunity.  Your service advisors are on the drive talking to customers. They’re in the shop checking on vehicles. Call your dealership. Try to get a hold of the service advisor sometime and see how often you get voicemail or get put on hold for a period of time.

So again, I’m not telling you to dismantle your BDC. Business Development Centers are great when they are actually developing business. Let’s just make sure you have yours focused on the proper opportunities.


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Wayne George

Five Tips to Build Your Most Successful Forecast Ever

Take Notes

There are many dealerships every year that embark on forecasting exercises. There are many that do not because their past experience has not been that productive. Let’s explore some techniques and tips that can help you come up with numbers for 2015 that will make your goals much more achievable.

Tip #1: Start with the end in mind.

By working backwards when building a forecast, you will be forced to address some issues that normally are overlooked. If we start with the desired Net Profit for the store, we can work backwards from there. If 2014 will result in net profits of $1.5 million dollars, the first approach to forecasting 2015 will be to dissect how we got to $1.5 million. Here are some questions that will need to be answered very honestly and candidly:

What percent of the gross produced did we retain? Were we a 30% net to gross store or did the $1.5 million come to the bottom line after we spent 85% of the gross (15% net to gross)?

Is any sub-par retention of gross an expense control issue or is it a result of sales and service volumes and lagging gross production?  (Hint – we all know it is usually a little of both).

If you are already netting out at 35 – 40% net-to-gross, then how much more can be produced? Small increases in sales and service volumes will produce huge increases in net dollars.

Did your management team have any input in setting the 2014 goals? Were all of the goals reasonable or was there some “fantasy” in the numbers?

Tip #2: Determine the total store net profit that should be produced before all “other Income” is accounted for. This becomes the objective for all departments in total.

Once you have decided on a reasonable Departmental (Operational) Net Profit number, assign each department their share of profit they will be responsible for generating. Now it’s time for the hard work. Each department head should be tasked with an exercise that has them identify any expenses that can be eliminated or reduced from this year’s operations. This will create your operating budget for 2015.  Now that you have that expense budget, you can start forecasting for sales and gross numbers. Then, run a test and see if the sales and budget will reach the desired net.

This is now the critical stage. Be very suspect of any increases in sales volumes, sales grosses, service volumes and gross, etc. If those numbers were that easy to do, why would you not already  be hitting them? Be relentless in your questions. Make the team develop action plans with timelines that will support their numbers. If the 2015 market is similar to this year, we know we can’t get better by just continuing to do the things we are currently doing; some things will need to change.

Tip #3: Give the forecast enough time.

Start this process well before December 31st. Be prepared to meet with your team over a few weeks. Break it up in steps that can be digested and allow time for buy-in. Defensive postures will diminish with time. Be sure their action plans are reasonable and measurable.

Tip #4: Set some stretch goals.

The forecast should not be the destination, but just a stop along the way. Ask your team for some stretch goals after the forecast is done. Don’t mention this until the last meeting when the numbers are finalized (this will help prevent sandbagging). Then reward them for achieving both sets of numbers.

Tip #5:  Review and adjust accordingly.

Once every three months there needs to be a formal “Forecast Meeting” where all of the agreed to objectives are reviewed. Adjustments are OK if warranted by a sudden shift in the market. But, if it is due to poor execution of their plan, it will require a separate conversation.

Make the numbers crystal clear, create the plans to reach them, execute the plan, and then hold everyone accountable.

Good selling.

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Jonathan Dawson

5 Unique Questions to Ask on the Phone to Get Appointments

Office Phone

When you take a phone call from a potential customer, how confident are you that you can turn the conversation into an appointment? Many sales people do not treat incoming calls as excellent opportunities for prospects. Some even think, “If they were serious about buying, they’d come in instead.”

I believe the reason many incoming calls do not turn into great appointments is because sales people ask poor questions! I want to teach you five unique questions to ask on the phone in order to build rapport and get better appointments. Here is the list, in no particular order.

Unique Question #1:

Are you familiar with this vehicle because you own something similar?

This question does two positive things for you. The first result is that it will open up the comparison between what they’re driving now and what they’re looking for. Knowing what they drive now will give you valuable information, such as an idea of their financial status and what type of vehicle they’re familiar with.

Another benefit of asking this question is learning about the type of research the customer has done on the vehicle they’re considering. Did they read about it? Do they know a friend driving it who loves it? Have they been looking for this specific vehicle for a long time? Knowing these facts will allow you to add information value, which will motivate the customer to continue the conversation in person.

Unique Question #2:

If I had similar vehicles to also show you, what is most important to you in your next car?

This is a great, unique question to ask in order to test your customer’s flexibility. Are they set on the specific car they’re inquiring about or are they willing to consider similar options, especially if they could save money? The question will also help you uncover the customer’s hot buttons when they share what’s most important to them in their next vehicle. Typical themes in responses can include safety, economy, style, or space.

Unique Question #3:

Are you familiar with our dealership and how we do business?

Most likely, the customer will not be very familiar with your dealership, and it will give you an opportunity to describe your dealership’s unique selling proposition, pricing strategy, and customer service commitment. For example, you could say something like this: “As a family-owned dealership, we are committed to treating customers like family. That promise includes transparent, no hassle pricing. Our reviews and customer satisfaction ratings put us #1 in the entire state …” etc.

Unique Question #4:

Other than getting the right vehicle and a great deal, what else is important to you when you’re car shopping?

This question affirms your primary goal of finding the right car and offering a fair deal. It also invites the customer to share questions or concerns about the car buying experience and to possibly share any negative experiences they may have had.

Unique Question #5:

In order to make this the best car buying experience you’ve ever had, what do I need to know?

This question stresses the importance of customer service and your commitment to providing an excellent buying experience. In many cases, the customer will tell you what will make them comfortable and all you have to do as a sales person is to provide it.

I believe customers call in because they’re serious buyers. It is up to you as a professional sales person to respect and engage them effectively. Start asking these five unique questions today to build rapport and to get better appointments!

FO Roadshow 4

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Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part 12)

This article is part of a multi-part series titled “Building a High Performance Culture” by Up To Speed Guest Expert, Dave Anderson, of LearnToLead®.


Words that Hurt: Complacent

In this twelfth post on building a high performance culture, I want to put in the “words that hurt” column a word that destroys not only organizations, but lives. The word is complacent.

More about complacent in a moment, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, please review the following words from past posts that work and consistently weave them, and their ensuing mindsets, into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. These two categories are designed to build an evolving portrait of what a high performance culture looks like, so you can evaluate your own,and strive towards the ideal.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent is an often misunderstood word.

Many assume it means “lazy”, but that is not the case. Complacent is defined as calmly content, smugly self-satisfied; quite different than being lazy as you’ll see in point #2 below. Here are five thoughts concerning this word that hurts cultures and inhibits personal potential:

  1. No one ever thinks they’re complacent until they understand the true definition. However, they are often prone to point out perceived complacency in other people, departments, and competitors. In other words, they spot it in others but don’t recognize it in themselves.
  2. Once you grasp the true definition, it’s far easier to spot in yourself. For starters, you’ll realize that complacency isn’t so much about the hours you put in on the job, but about what you put into the hours while you’re on the job. You can work eighty hours per week, yet still be so calmly content with your results that you’ve stopped training, recruiting, holding people accountable and more.
  3. Successful people and organizations are the most vulnerable targets for complacency. After all, if a business is drowning and gasping for air, it’s safe to say they’re not smugly self-satisfied at the moment. On the other hand, when business is great, and all the seas appear calm, it’s easy to become calmly content and abandon many of the vital disciplines that made you successful in the first place.
  4. Complacency is a threat that never goes away, and as imperfect human beings we can expect to fall off track in various areas of our life from time to time and become complacent. However, as our awareness of complacency improves, we should aspire to get off track less often; and when we do become complacent, to recognize it faster, and make faster course corrections. These two actions will help us shape a culture that greatly outperforms the clueless souls who don’t even know what the word complacent means, and believe it is someone else’s problem.
  5. Since our biggest vulnerabilities are those we’re unaware of, by increasing your own and your team’s awareness of what complacency is, you can protect your culture and improve results both personally and as an organization.

See Dave Anderson’s presentation at the Best Training Day Ever. Click here for details.

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Kathryn Carlson

The Impact of Employee Well-Being on Dealer Success


Not only is a balanced and healthy lifestyle good for your employees, it’s also beneficial for dealership productivity and profit. Unhealthy employees are more likely to be late to work, take more sick days, be less productive, and have a greater intention to quit. By promoting a healthy lifestyle through wellness programs at your dealership, you are able to positively affect your employees’ health as well as their quality of work.

Slight shifts in well-being have been proven to have a large bearing on overall health. When using a well-being calculator to rate individual health, a mere 5 point decrease can indicate the following (

  • 18.6% higher risk of sleep disorders
  • 15% higher risk of anxiety or depression
  • 14.6% higher risk of diabetes
  • 5.9% higher risk of hypertension
  • 6.3% higher risk of obesity
  • 0.6 unhealthy days in the past 30 days

A primary step to encouraging well-being at your dealership is to select an insurance policy with a wellness program. Insurance wellness programs are intended to promote and improve health and fitness by incentivizing participation through premium discounts, cash rewards, and gym memberships. Wellness programs often include programs to help stop smoking, illness management programs, weight loss programs, and preventative health screenings.

While insurance wellness programs can get well-being started for your employees, there are other steps to keep them engaged and continue to improve their health. To increase productivity, and thereby profit at your dealership, begin by getting buy-in from executive-level employees and managers. Executive-level buy-in raises awareness of the well-being program and demonstrates a commitment to employee health. The demonstration of commitment to a well-being program can create a cascade effect, from executive well-being to employee well-being. Additionally, executives have many tools at their disposal: corporate-wide correspondence, group meetings, corporate social media, and their overall leadership, which can help to further engage employees. Research shows that engaged employees are 21% more likely to take part in available well-being programs. As a whole, engaged employees often eat healthier, exercise more, and consume more fruits and vegetables.

Employee resources are necessary for a successful well-being plan. As a dealership, you can offer health risk assessments and screenings, allowing employees to know their current health status and what they can improve upon. Once they know what they need to change, make sure that any vending or cafeteria options provided for employees are healthy. Map out any nearby walking and running trails, focusing on distance, difficulty, and safety. If possible, bring fitness equipment and opportunities on-site or organize off-site exercise activities.

Unfortunately, many company policies can detract from employee well-being. This often happens when managers are attempting to increase productivity or insurance benefits change, creating coverage holes and employee stress. While these things may seem to positively affect the bottom line, they tend to decrease employee well-being, which can decrease profitability and productivity. A firmly implemented well-being program can help avoid these situations. To learn more about creating benefit plans and well-being plans that will positively affect your dealership, view the KPA webinar on How to Create Benefit Programs That Benefit Your Dealership or contact KPA at

KPA is a business services provider for more than 5,100 automotive, truck and equipment dealerships, and service companies. KPA provides Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Human Resource (HR) Management software and consulting services. KPA’s solutions have been embraced by leading auto dealers, including eight of the 10 largest dealer groups in the United States, and endorsed by 26 dealer associations from around the country. KPA joined the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in 2012. To learn more, visit or call 866.356.1735.


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Robin Cunningham

Are You Managing the Asset of Time?


There are many assets available in the dealership, but the one that doesn’t really show up on your Financial Statement or 20 Group Composite is the asset of time. This can be a very a tricky asset to manage. We know the quantity of time most of our employees spend at the dealership, but what we typically don’t have the same grasp of is the quality of time being spent.

It’s very easy for anyone to abuse this asset, but vehicle salespeople might be the biggest misusers of time in the whole dealership. This has always been the case – and most of us do not do enough about it on a consistent basis. Remember, our good friend Dave Anderson always says that our biggest challenge is “chronic inconsistency.”

I can get away with saying this myself, because I was guilty of this at times in my career. I was an above-average salesperson; so I sold a lot of cars, made good money and my sales managers (for the most part) let me spend most of my time waiting for the next customer. It’s not like we didn’t follow up for be-backs, of course, but anything like consistent prospecting and business development didn’t really happen. Then when I became a Sales Manager, I didn’t know any better than to basically help my team with the customers that came in from dealership-generated leads and remind them to follow up with the ones that didn’t buy from a day or two ago. No one really followed up beyond that, other than the rare, true professionals. The psychology of a salesperson is that if you did not buy from me the first time and I cannot convert you into a be-back, then you must not have been a serious buyer.

But after I became a General Manager I grew more aware of just how high the stakes were; and how a “come to work to wait” culture was a real liability. The dealerships that truly have an appointment-setting culture are the ones that are the most consistently productive and profitable. This of course means that the more attention going into setting appointments today, the more known customers we’ll have coming in tomorrow… for both sales and service.

But in truth, I was hot and cold in my consistency and there was always just enough traffic. And if there wasn’t, there would be a new model on the horizon so traffic would be picking up soon. And with multiple brands, I was able to rationalize that we were much more on top of things than we actually were. Sound familiar?

To put it plainly, the asset of time is being abused in most dealerships.

At the NCM Institute, we spend at least three hours in our General Sales Management course dedicated to the sources of salesperson-generated leads. We highlight the statistics that this lead source closes at approximately 50% (because we already have a relationship with these clients).

Dealerships have CRM tools that are designed to manage and help close these leads. But I have yet to work with a GM or GSM who says they are at least a 6 on a scale of 1-10 on holding their people accountable for using this tool the way it was designed. In all fairness, they tell me that there are parts of the tool they use better than others. But when I ask them if they print off Daily Worksheets for each salesperson in order to help hold them accountable for their activities, most say they do not. When I ask if they have a ten-minute sit down meetings will each salesperson either before they go home each day or at the beginning of each shift, most say that they do not.

These are not meant to be “Gotcha!” sessions. The primary function of any NCM Institute class is to uncover opportunities for more productivity and profitability. And we believe that the almost cultural mismanagement of time in the vehicle sales department is the primary reason for high turnover and low productivity for probably 70% of most sales forces in every dealership.

In order to have the Total Gross Profit necessary for our variable operations to be consistently profitable, we need to have the right amount of salespeople doing the right amount of activities per day. And tools exist to help us along the way.

When it comes to personnel productivity, this lack of maximizing the time each salesperson spends per day really shows up, primarily in below average (or even just average) amount of vehicle sales per month, per salesperson. That average never really changes because most salespeople (and sales managers) are focused on dealership-generated leads rather than salesperson-generated leads.

So when we are discussing metrics with our clients and they are woefully short of Benchmark or Key Performance Indicators, it’s very likely that the asset of time is being under-utilized. In closing, I certainly hope that the time you have invested in reading this will help you maximize your asset of time more efficiently.

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Tom Hopkins

Closing is the Name of the Game

Shaking hands

In the selling profession, closing is the winning score, the bottom line, the name of the game, the cutting edge, the point of it all. We all know plenty of techniques for prospecting, meeting new people, building rapport, qualifying, demonstrating our vehicles and services, and overcoming objections.

But, if you can’t close, you’re like a football team that can’t sustain a drive long enough to score. It does you no good to play your whole game in your own territory and never get across the other team’s goal line. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love the closing process enough to master it now, start falling in love with it because, this is where the money is.

True professionals are closing most of the time.

They close for names and contact information. They close for appointments. They close for opportunities to demonstrate vehicles. They are constantly trying test closes, and they can kick into their final closing sequence anytime they smell success.

Average salespeople get so wrapped up in their presentation sequence that if the buyer decides to invest before they’re through, they won’t let them have the vehicle. They just keep going in their set pattern of telling, telling, telling – instead of selling. When you’re new, doing that is understandable because you lack experience. After you’ve had the opportunity to work directly with potential buyers, you need to become flexible enough to alter your presentation according to their needs.

Some clients get sold quickly. If you keep talking instead of getting the final agreement, you might unsell them just as fast. More talk triggers more objections. Pay close attention. When the prospect is ready, stop talking and start filling out those forms.

I’m going to give you the eight most important words in the art of closing. These are the most powerful words spoken on the complex, demanding, and well-paid art of closing. If you’re just skimming this article and haven’t marked anything yet, get your highlighter out now. Here they are:

Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up!

The important words are “shut up.” That is why the late J. Douglas Edwards used to shout them at his audiences. I was sitting in the front row the first time I heard these words. I was already jumpy from the excitement of the seminar, and when Doug shouted “SHUT UP!”, I dove for cover. That memory is carved into my mind, along with those words. They explain the single most important element in turning my disastrous sales experience at that time, into the record-breaking success it soon became.

Ask your closing question then – keep quiet! It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Believe me, it isn’t. I had a real challenge in this area and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing wrong until I heard J. Douglas Edwards say those words.

The first time I tried to ask a closing question and then keep quiet, I was prepared for the prospect’s reaction. I expected them to keep silent. What I hadn’t prepared for was the intensity of my own reaction: The silence felt like wet sand being piled on my chest. My insides were churning, I had to bite the inside of my lip, and I was acutely aware of every nerve ending in my body. It was a gargantuan struggle not to fidget. Finally, the prospects did decide they would invest and I never again dreaded that awful silence after asking a closing question.

Why is it so important to keep quiet?

Say the prospect hesitates for a few moments, wondering when they should take delivery. You become uncomfortable and assume they are questioning the investment so you blurt out that you’ll see if your manager will let you reduce the investment, when that wasn’t even the issue. You can’t know what they’re thinking when they’re quiet so don’t try to guess. Just sit and wait.

The average salesperson can’t wait more than ten seconds after asking a closing question. If “Mrs. Jones” hasn’t answered by then, they’ll say something like, “Well, we can talk about that later,” and go on talking, unaware that they have just destroyed the closing momentum. And it’s probably not just the one close that is destroyed. “Mrs. Jones” can certainly keep quiet for a few moments—almost all undecided buyers can. If you’re true Champion material, you can sit there quietly all afternoon, if you have to. It takes concentration, but the actual silence after asking for the sale rarely lasts longer than 30-40 seconds.

Having the skill, courage, and concentration to sit still and be silent for at least half a minute is the single, most vital, skill there is in selling. Practice this until you get a feel for how long 30 seconds is, and then it won’t be so nerve-wracking when money is riding on how calm and quiet you remain in a real closing situation.

FO Roadshow 4

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Lycia Jedlicki

What has a Better Return on Your Investment: Training or Advertising?


If you ask a dealer how much their monthly advertising budget is, they usually can tell you that number right off the top of their head, along with approximately how much they spend with each vendor.  However, when asked how much they spend on training each month, you will probably get an “I don’t know” or “not enough” answer.

Truthfully, most dealers do not have a monthly training budget. Dealers for the most part don’t like training; they just expect their people to know what they are supposed to do and to know what it expected. Training just isn’t as exciting as advertising. But let me ask a question: If your advertising brings in a lot of show floor traffic and vehicles through the service department, and your people just do a “so-so” job with them, is it a good investment? Wouldn’t we be better off transferring some of our advertising budget to training? After all, don’t we want to make sure all of our customers get treated properly?

We as dealers spend thousands of dollars monthly to bring people into our show rooms and service departments, yet when we mystery shop ourselves, most of us cringe at the results. So again, I ask you this question:

Are your people properly trained, and if not, why not?

I have two dealers in different 20 Groups that  took money out of their advertising budget and moved it to training. What were the results? A Volkswagen dealer from Chicago, Illinois is going to have his best net profit year, while Volkswagen is having a very tough year. A BMW dealer from Florida also invested some of his advertising budget in training and his net profit is up 51%.

These dealers did not just invest in automotive training. They did leadership seminars through local colleges and the BMW dealer brought Toast Master’s into their dealership so he could make sure his people knew how to communicate with their customers.  These dealers decided to invest in their people, and it has paid off handsomely.  As the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida says, “Happy employees make happy customers.”

Challenge yourself with this question when doing your advertising budget this year, “Are my employees going to handle my customers the way I would like them to all of the time?” If not, maybe it’s time to rethink how you are spending your money so you can get the best return or your investment.

FO Roadshow 4

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Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part 11)

This article is part of a multi-part series titled “Building a High Performance Culture” by Up To Speed Guest Expert, Dave Anderson, of LearnToLead®.


Words that Work: Loyal

In this eleventh post on building a high performance culture I want to discuss a word that works well for organizations, buy only when people are measured by its true definition and not bestowed its designation recklessly. The word is loyal.

More about loyal momentarily, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, peruse the following words from past posts that work and consistently weave them, and their ensuing mindsets, into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. A quick review will give you a clear picture of a rare and robust culture, well worth the effort to build.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

To use in a sentence: ”It’s not my fault I had a bad month.” In other words, “I’m a victim.”

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

The word loyal is defined as “faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.”

Notice there is nothing in the definition relating to how long someone has been with a company. While years put in may signify seniority or tenure, it does not automatically mean the long-term employee has been loyal unless he is currently faithful to his duties and obligations. Consider these thoughts on the true concept of loyalty, and assess your team members to determine if those you’ve been calling loyal because they’ve been with you for many years still qualify for this designation when assessed by the word’s proper meaning:

  • Loyalty is more about what someone puts into the time, than the actual time someone puts into an organization; quality over quantity.
  • At the end of the day, loyalty is performance; it’s possible for a long-term employee to have stopped performing years ago, but wrongly be considered as “loyal” because of a faulty understanding of what being loyal really means. Frankly, there’s little more disloyal than failing to perform for the people signing your paychecks.
  • Tenure can become a license for laziness, and oftentimes long-time employees take their jobs for granted and think they should be able to borrow credibility from past performance or yesteryear and substitute them for results today.
  • If years of service are your prime criteria for labeling one as loyal then the brand new, highly performing employee couldn’t be considered as loyal since he hasn’t been with you very long; an absolute unfair characterization of that person.
  • If someone has been with you a long time and still is faithful to their duties or obligations, that person is your “A” player; it just doesn’t get much better than that. This person should be a priority and deserves your utmost appreciation and respect.
  • If you have to choose between performance and old-time’s sake and sentimentalism you owe it to the rest of the team to opt for performance and insist on a standard where everyone comes to work to prove themselves over again each day, regardless of position, past accomplishments or years of service.

High performance cultures understand the true definition of loyalty, establish that standard and consistently hold others accountable for delivering the performance that makes them worthy of being called loyal teammates and employees.


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