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Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins

Author's details

Name: Tom Hopkins
Date registered: May 7, 2014
URL: http://www.tomhopkins.com

Biography

Your business and your career only grow as fast as you do. Tom Hopkins' Sales Academy is designed to give you the tools you need to do a better job of finding new business, presenting your products in a more engaging manner and closing more sales.

Latest posts

  1. Characteristics of a Pro — August 18, 2015
  2. How to Handle an Angry Client — August 11, 2015
  3. The Greatest Destroyer of Business: Fear — July 7, 2015
  4. Dedicate Yourself to Educate Yourself — May 12, 2015
  5. Success Begins in Your Mind — April 28, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. Success Begins in Your Mind — 2 comments
  2. Diagnosing Your Clients’ Needs — 2 comments
  3. The Top Ten Sales Killers — 1 comment
  4. Arouse Emotions, Don’t Sell Logic — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Tom Hopkins

Characteristics of a Pro

discipline

There are many traits or attributes common to those who can be called professionals in the field of automotive sales. A particular quality that separates the average from the great can be expressed by one simple word: discipline.

Years ago, I used to teach that one of the top qualities separating the average from the great was desire. However, I have since met and observed many students who had the overwhelming desire to succeed, but lacked the discipline required to lay out the specifics of their paths to success, stay on track, and ultimately fulfill their potentials. So, now I teach that your desire to achieve must be tempered with your ability to discipline yourself to do what’s necessary at all times.

Most of the great ones in business and in life have an overwhelming desire to prove something to someone. They know they can be the best in their fields and are out to prove it to the world, or maybe just to themselves and their families. This desire burns so strongly within them that it keeps them moving in the right direction. It keeps them positive on days when things don’t go just right. It keeps them cheerful to their clients and fellow salespeople. It makes them more efficient and professional in their day-to-day activities. It’s the fuel that keeps their personal engines running in top condition.

The desire they have to succeed is not wholly selfish. In their quest for success, they sincerely want to find those people looking for dependable new vehicles and fulfill their needs in owning them. Their success is brought about by delivering happiness to those people they come in contact with and serve.

I can’t tell how much desire you have to make it in this field. Only you know that. The answer comes in knowing how much stress, anxiety, and pain you can tolerate before you call it quits. Are two rejections and three No’s enough to send you looking for another profession? If so, you have a low threshold of desire and a high one for rejection. Think about what you’re willing to give or do to achieve what you really want.

Desire without discipline leads to disappointment, disillusionment and despair. Don’t let yourself be disappointed. Develop the discipline you need to succeed.

Professionals pay close attention to details.

They ask questions that help them get a better understanding of exactly what their clients are looking for in a vehicle. They have their paperwork in order — properly filled out, recorded, and filed. They return phone calls promptly — even if it’s just to leave a quick message that they’ll be in touch later. They keep their promises and have answers ready when questions are asked. They never say, “I don’t know.” When they don’t know the answer to a question, they say, “I’ll find out for you.”

They are highly goal-oriented.

They are striving for a certain number of vehicles sold each month, a certain income, a trophy or an award. They know exactly what they’re working for and have a plan detailing when and how they’ll achieve it.

Do you have your goals in writing? If not, you are a wisher, an undisciplined dreamer. You haven’t really committed yourself to achieving anything. You’re like those average people in your office who say, “Sure, I want to make more money, but after the day I had yesterday, I’m not calling anyone today!”

You see, the successful ones, the true professionals begin where the failures stop. They do what the failures are afraid or too lazy to do.

The great ones understand that they must strive daily to improve their skills.

They have jumped in with both feet and are willing to pay the price of learning what they have to know to be successful in this business. They’ve committed to the automotive industry as their career path. They are constantly striving to improve themselves by attending training, listening and reading auto industry material and staying abreast of new technology that will assist them in serving their clients more efficiently.

They live by this motto: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”

Those twelve simple words literally changed my life and my sales career over 40 years ago. Whenever I felt doubt about what I was doing, I would glance at these words hung by my desk, get re-focused, and do the next most important thing.

I hope you’re not one of those people who is “just giving sales a try.” People with that attitude have a plan of action for when they fail. You’ve heard it, I’m sure. “If I don’t make it in this, I can always …” They have a plan for failure. They’re anticipating it, and will probably get it. Planning to succeed is so much more exciting than planning to fail.

Another characteristic of the top people in sales is that they deliver excellent service.

They know they are paid in direct proportion to the amount of service they give to their clients. They understand that they are in the people business. They don’t sell cars and trucks. They get people happily involved in owning vehicles that satisfy their needs.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/7869/

Tom Hopkins

How to Handle an Angry Client

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Too many people, when faced with clients who range from dissatisfied to downright angry, choose the loser’s path by postponing handling the situation. Worse yet, they handle it inappropriately.

Postponement doesn’t make the problem go away. It results in one of two things happening:

  1. The angry client decides the problem isn’t worth the aggravation and cools down.
  2. The client gets so angry that the next time you hear from him or her is through some sort of official (and possibly legal) manner. Worse still, you’ll see your company named on the local news channel in one of those consumer protection segments.

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

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

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

1. Acknowledge the other person’s anger quickly.

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

2. Make it clear that you’re concerned.

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

3. Don’t hurry them.

Be patient. Let them get it all out. Never try to interrupt or shut them up. In many cases, the best move is to simply listen. They’ll wind themselves down eventually. In some cases, they’ll realize they blew the situation out of proportion and feel foolish for it. They are then likely to accept nearly any solution you offer.

4. Keep calm.

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

5. Ask questions.

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

6. Get them talking about solutions.

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

7. Agree on a solution.

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

8. Agree on a schedule.

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

9. Meet your schedule.

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

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

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/08/how-to-handle-an-angry-client/

Tom Hopkins

The Greatest Destroyer of Business: Fear

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Fear is the greatest enemy you’ll ever encounter as an automotive professional. Fears appear on both sides of most sales situations so you really need to understand them and master how to overcome them.

Hopefully, you’ll learn to recognize and conquer your own inner fears. Those common fears most salespeople have of not getting enough business, making mistakes, or losing face will be conquered with knowledge and experience. Being educated and well-prepared to perform in this industry brings about self-confidence.

Fear is also what builds that wall of resistance you so often run into. The toughest job you’ll encounter in sales is when you have to help others admit to and overcome their fears so you can earn the right to serve their needs.

There are skills you must master in order to climb over or break through that wall. But, first, you must understand what the fears are.

What are the most common fears you’ll have to overcome with buyers?

Your prospective client is initially afraid of you. You are a salesperson. I think you’ll agree with me that salespeople are not generally accepted with open arms—even by other salespeople. Even if you are going to help someone you already know — a friend or acquaintance or even a relative — when you enter their lives in the role of a sales person, certain fears will arise. It’s bound to happen in 99 percent of your presentations. (I’ll give you a one percent non-fear situation with your parents or grandparents, simply because in most cases they’ll believe in you and trust you no matter what role you play with them.)

What you need to do to conquer the “salesperson fear” is to master the skill of putting people at ease. Learn to use a relaxed manner and tone of voice. Use rapport-setting comments and questions that show them you are interested in them, not just in the transaction. You need to come across as warm, friendly, and inviting. If you truly believe in your products and the quality of service you and your dealership can deliver, it should show.

Smile. Give the client a sincere compliment. Thank them for the opportunity to serve their needs. In other words, treat them as you would a guest you are honored to have in your home.

The next fear you’ll encounter is their fear of making a mistake. Hey, we all have that one, don’t we? We’ve all made decisions we’ve later regretted. Since you’re working with one of the larger investments average people ever make, you must take the time to talk them through every aspect of the transaction very carefully.

You are the expert. You know this business. You may have knowledge about aspects of it that they hadn’t thought of, and if they had, their decision may have been different.

You must go into every demonstration with a very curious interest in the who, what, when, where, and why of the transaction. When you’ve satisfied yourself that it is in their best interest to proceed, then it’s your obligation as an expert to convince them that this decision is truly good for them.

The next fear is a fear of owing money. People may make irrational statements or ask questions that seem out of place. They may even mistrust what you have to say. They may want to negotiate.

Please realize that it’s simply a symptom of the fear they are feeling about the transaction. When you notice something along these lines, pause in your presentation. You might want to do a brief summary of what’s been discussed thus far to be certain they understand everything you’ve covered.

This challenge may appear in many variations, depending upon the negotiating skills of your clients.

They may stall making any decision to go ahead and you’ll have to draw them out.

They may be point blank about it and you’ll have to sell them on the value of the vehicle and the service your dealership provides.

A good way to handle most fears is to confront them head on, but gently. You might simply say, “John and Mary, I feel you have some hesitation about going ahead with this purchase. Would you mind sharing with me what it is?” Then, be quiet and wait for their reply. It could be that they’ve had a bad past experience and are sitting there fearful of having another. They’re waiting and watching you for signs that you’re not like that other salesperson.

Get them talking about their fears so you can determine something concrete to work with. Help them to see how different you and your dealership are. People won’t do business with you if they don’t like you, trust you and want to listen to you. Learn how to get fear out of the way.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/the-greatest-destroyer-of-business-fear/

Tom Hopkins

Dedicate Yourself to Educate Yourself

skills

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is that no one else is going to look out for you as well as you will look out for yourself. To become and remain a professional in the automotive industry, you must recognize that you are in charge of your own education and act on that fact. Build on your strengths and correct your weaknesses. If you aren’t sure of what to work on first, there is certainly someone in your life who will gladly assist you like your manager, your loved ones, or a trusted friend.

There are some common, basic skills that apply to the business world. They all impact how well we relate to the needs of others to feel important when they’re around us; to accept the education we provide about our vehicles and the industry; and to help them own a vehicle that’s truly a good choice for them.

Here are five skill areas that I strongly recommend you consider developing or strengthening as they have made all the difference for many of my students:

Memory

Having a good memory is critical to anyone, but especially to those of us who meet many new people every week. I have learned to make a game of it in my career. I challenge myself to remember as many people and their stories as I can. There are some great courses and books written on this subject. Even if you learn and use only one small strategy, I guarantee you’ll see the benefit of having done so. One little strategy that I learned and have used for years is to repeat each person’s name to myself four times when I first hear it. Then, to use their names (as they give them) as soon as possible in conversation.

A Second Language

Consider the part of the country in which you live and those people you do business with. As our country continually redefines itself by its people, be aware of the advantages of being able to communicate with others in their native tongues. Today’s projections show that both Hispanic and Asian portions of the population are on the increase. To be able to work with more people, you must learn more about them, their languages, and their cultures.

Voice

Since your clients choose to get involved with you based on what you say, doesn’t it make sense that you train your voice to give the highest level of professional presentation? If you’ve never considered voice training before, record yourself giving a portion of your presentation, then listen to it. Most of us hate the sound of our own voices. Just imagine how our clients feel when listening to us. Your goal is to project your message with clarity and power.

Math

Don’t cringe on me here. I know many people hate math. However, in business, you need to know some basic math skills really well. Invariably, you’ll have potential clients who will have champagne tastes and beer budgets. Understand what they can truly afford before trying to find them the car of their dreams.

Know the current interest rates on vehicles and play with the math on a range of vehicle investments. Learn how to quickly determine what a monthly investment might be on a vehicle prior to persuading the client that it’s right for them.

I know the favorite computation of every salesperson who works on a fee basis is to determine their percentage of every sale. Don’t stop there. Play the numbers game often and you’ll get better at winning.

Negotiation

Do you consider yourself a trained negotiator? Trained negotiators can quickly and effectively analyze the details of situations and determine the best route to resolution. If that brief description doesn’t fit you, make an effort to find a book, audio, or seminar on the subject. Then, schedule the time to learn from it.

Choose just one of these five areas and dedicate yourself to improving in it this month. Then, next month, choose another. Once you get started on this journey of self-education, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and how simple things can have a powerful impact on your overall success in life.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/05/dedicate-yourself-to-educate-yourself/

Tom Hopkins

Success Begins in Your Mind

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Most people who fail in business fail because they don’t know how to keep their attitudes positive on a daily basis. They start their careers learning and practicing the basics, applying those ideas and end up making some money. Then, they go into a slump. They will stay in their slump until they go back to the fundamentals. Until then, they return to doing what they get paid for and accept failure and rejection without letting it stop them.

The key to success is in how you handle failure. Handling failure does not come naturally to most people. It is an acquired skill.

Some of your emotions tell you to sulk and avoid any situations in the future that are likely to put you in line to feel the pain of rejection again. Other emotions tell you to get more out of life for yourself and your loved ones. Concentrate on what you have to gain, and learn how to change your attitude toward rejection.

I am going to present five sayings that have helped me move forward in all areas of my life. Memorize them and recall them when you’re rejected or have failed to achieve what you wanted.

I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.

Every sale that doesn’t go through is a learning experience; every challenge you have is a learning experience. Learn from your failures. Thomas Edison, who conducted more than ten thousand experiments on filaments before he produced a practical light bulb, was once asked, “How did you keep going after you failed more than ten thousand times?” Edison replied, “I did not fail ten thousand times; I learned ten thousand ways that didn’t work.” Like Edison, try to look at failure and rejection in a different light as a learning experience.

I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need to change course in my direction.

Outside a restaurant with a lively bar, I once saw a gentleman who had too much to drink to try to unlock his car with the wrong key. No matter how many times he tried, the wrong key still didn’t work. After I’d talked to him into taking a taxi home, it occurred to me that sometimes we all keep using techniques that don’t work in our selling endeavors. We keep applying the wrong solution to the problem long after we’ve tried it and failed.

I never see failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to develop my sense of humor.

Have you ever had a traumatic experience involving a sales presentation? Three weeks later, you finally tell someone about it and suddenly that same event is hilarious. The longer you wait to laugh, the more that failure will hold you back. Make a determined effort to laugh sooner, and learn the trick of telling a good story on yourself.

I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance.

Every time you present your service to others and they don’t buy, at least they gave you a chance to practice. Many people don’t realize the importance of this. Learn to appreciate the opportunity to improve.

I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win.

Selling is a game. Life is a game. Both have their rules. Over the years, I’ve discovered that a single rule dominates every situation: Those who risk failure by working with more people earn more money. Those who risk less failure earn less. If you risk failure, sometimes you will fail. But every time you fail, you’re that much closer to success. Success demands its percentage of failure.

Work with these five attitudes toward rejection. What counts isn’t how many transactions fall out, how many doors slam, how many things don’t work out, how many people go back on their word. What counts is how many times you pick yourself up, shrug off failure, and keep on trying to make things come together.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/04/success-begins-in-your-mind/

Tom Hopkins

6 Steps to Getting Referrals

referrals

The easiest lead to close is a referred lead. Unfortunately, not many automotive salespeople have mastered the art form. I’ve developed a simple, six-step process for obtaining referrals that will give you so much more success in developing your referral business that you will make it an automatic part of every selling situation.

Start with a goal of just one referral every time, and work your way up to where you know the steps so well and they flow so naturally that you’ll get at least three referrals from every client. Then, memorize these six steps to getting referrals. The better you know them, the better you’ll mine the rich lode of referrals that’s just waiting for you in your current client base.

Let’s review the steps in detail so you’ll see how to work with each one most effectively.

Step #1: Help your clients think of specific people they know

When you ask for referrals, you have to give your client a group of faces to focus on. Never say, “Who else do you know that’s looking for a car?” Instead, help them focus on a particular group of people they know.

Salesperson: Bill and Jane, you’re excited with your new vehicle, aren’t you?

Client: Oh, it’s wonderful. We can’t wait to get on the road with it!

Salesperson: So tell me, who will be the first people you tell about your new car?

Client: Well, our relatives, of course. Then, our neighbors because they’ll see it in the driveway.

Salesperson: That’s great. Are there any of your relatives or friends who might also be in the market for a new car?

By mentioning family and friends, the client focuses in on those people he is closest to and with whom he’ll be in contact that very week while his excitement over his car is still fresh.

Step #2: Write the referrals’ names down

When your clients come up with a few people who might be in the market for a vehicle, take out a small notepad and write down the names of those referrals. (Be sure to ask how to spell the names.) Keep your notes out so you can jot down the information they give you. Plus, you’ll need those notes to qualify the referrals when you contact them.

Step #3: Ask qualifying questions

Here’s some information you may want to know when you contact the referrals:

  • Where do they live?
  • Would they be adding a vehicle to the family or replacing one?
  • What did they say when you told them you were looking for a new car?

When you get in touch with the referrals, you’ll be able to begin conversations with them based on Bill and Jane’s answers to your questions.

Step #4: Ask for contact information

Asking for the addresses and phone numbers of the referrals is more difficult because your client may not know this information offhand. But don’t let that deter you. You can’t just settle for the name, because there may be several people with the same name in the area. And knowing how to contact the referral is critical.

Step #5: Ask your customer to call the referral and set up the appointment

This step is where most novice salespeople balk. They won’t even try it. But those clients who will make the call will help you comply with the Do Not Call Registry. If the referral’s name is on that list, you can’t call them without their permission. Your existing client can, at the very least, get that permission for you.

Also, keep in mind that this question is simply setting the stage for the final step in the referral-getting process. Those clients who are uncomfortable calling for you will be so relieved that you offer them Step #6 that they’ll jump on it. If you had gone directly from Step #4 to Step #6, you may not have gotten the same response.

There is a method to my madness here. Here’s how it works.

Salesperson: Thanks so much for the referrals, Bill and Jane. You know, since I won’t get to see your excitement when you show off your new car, would you mind calling Don and Mary now and sharing your good news with them? Then I can work on arranging a time to talk with them.

If your clients are fine with that, then great! Start dialing. But if they hesitate and act uncomfortable, take the pressure off immediately by moving on to the next step.

Step #6: Ask to use the client’s name when you make contact with the referral

Your clients may not know the referral all that well, or they may feel uncomfortable making the call. If this is the case, let them know you understand their hesitation, but ask if you could bother them for one more favor. Ask for permission to use their names when you contact the people they referred you to. They’ll be so relieved to be let off the hot-seat, they’ll be more than happy to give you permission to use their names.

It may take you a few tries to get this pattern down to where it flows naturally. However, you’ll make it a natural part of every contact once you see the phenomenal results it generates. Many of my students have gone from getting one or two referrals to getting five referrals from every client. Don’t you think it’s worth a try?

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/04/6-steps-to-getting-referrals/

Tom Hopkins

Winning Demonstrations

Car selling or auto buying

When it comes time to demonstrate a vehicle, you need to be very well prepared. Too many automotive salespeople invest most of their preparation time in vehicle knowledge, which is very important, but spend little time thinking about how to actually demonstrate vehicles so their clients quickly envision themselves as owners. There are very specific things you can do to accelerate their acceptance of a vehicle thus leading to more closed sales.

Before getting to the point of demonstrating, you have to use your other selling skills well. Let’s say you did just that. You used some of your excellent prospecting strategies to find a couple who need a new vehicle. You made a competent original contact and warmed them up nicely. They seem very comfortable with you. You qualified them as to their needs, by asking the right questions, and are confident you have a vehicle that will truly be good for them.

Now, it’s time for the show to begin, and you are the master of ceremonies. Are you properly prepared for this step in the sales process?

It’s important you note here that the vehicle is the star of your demonstration, you are not.

View yourself as a sort of matchmaker. The two parties you believe are a perfect match for one another are your product and this prospective client. It’s your job to introduce them and give them an opportunity to get to know each other.

Many salespeople falter and lose sales because they try to make themselves the stars of the demonstration. They want to show how well they know the vehicle. They spout off technical information about engine size, fuel economy, and handling that may be of little or no interest to the client. In fact, the client may not even understand what they’re saying.

Learn this now: Get yourself out of the picture. Let the vehicle shine! The people you are demonstrating to should be up close and personal with the vehicle. If they ask a question about the navigation system, tell them which buttons to push to make it work. Don’t do it for them!

The same goes for any buttons, dials or displays in the vehicle. You are the tour guide, not the chauffeur! If you’re not getting them directly and personally involved with the vehicle, you’re not selling. You’re showing. You need to get yourself off stage and be the one directing the performance instead.

When it comes to discussing service or warranties, be sure to have brochures and other items you can hand to the decision-makers that provide the details you will deliver verbally. Hand them your calculator to run the numbers for any questions that come up. Show testimonial letters from other satisfied clients. This creates both physical and emotional involvement.  The more involvement you get during the presentation, the more comfortable they’ll be with long term involvement with your product.

At the very least, have the stories about other clients who purchased this type of vehicle in mind, and how happy they are with it. Perhaps the experience of others might be just what’s needed to help this new client off the fence and into the driver’s seat.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/02/winning-demonstrations/

Tom Hopkins

Setting Realistic Sales Goals

Success conceptAchieving sales volume goals is one of the biggest challenges any automotive salesperson faces. This is a pretty straight forward industry. If you’re not making the cut, you can quickly find yourself cut from the team.

There are so many factors that can affect that final number, that you have to stay on top of every aspect of your sales activities and keep making client contacts.

Hopefully, you are dedicated, professional, and motivated to achieve your auto sales career goals. If you are not, read no further. Instead, start looking for another product to market, something that lights a fire in your belly, something you truly believe in.

If you aren’t truly excited about the product you are offering, it will show in your demeanor or in some little thing you say or do while with potential clients. They’ll sense it, and little doubts and fears will arise in them about purchasing your vehicle. So, first and foremost, in order to achieve anything in this business, you have to believe in your line of vehicles, in the company you represent, and in your own ability to excite others about them.

Let’s assume for now, though, that you do have the knowledge, the belief and the right attitude in place. How do you set and achieve the sales goals? Start, by setting a financial goal for yourself for the year. Break it down into quarters and months. Is the monthly goal realistic? If not, you either need to downsize your goal or super-size your skills. You decide.

Next, consider the average amount you earn on a typical automobile sale. Divide that into your monthly earning goal to see how many vehicles you need to move this month. Consider your gut reaction and first thoughts when you see that number. Is it one of “Hey, I can do that”? Or, is it, “Wow! How am I going to do that?”

If it seems easy, consider increasing your sales goal. If it seems like it will be a challenge, good. Your goal should be something that both excites you and makes you stretch a bit each month.

When you’re in stretch-mode:

  • You’ll be open to learning new ways of connecting with people.
  • You’ll look forward to making follow up calls and contacting those who are referred to you.
  • You’ll get out of bed in the morning with excitement to face the day and accomplish something positive.

This next step in achieving your goals is critical: Multiply your sales ratio by the number of vehicles determined above to learn how many people you need to connect with this month. Do you typically sell every fourth client you meet at your dealership? If so, your ratio is 1:4. If you need to get people happily involved in 10 vehicles to achieve your earnings goal, you’ll need to meet 40 of them in order to do so. That’s when you’re working with the law of averages.

Is it realistic for you to meet 40 people this month? If not, again, you either downsize your goals or learn new and better ways to meet people, put them at ease, and get them to like you, trust you, and want to listen to you.

That’s the bottom line of what selling is all about. People buy from people they like.

  • If you’re not like-able, you’re out of luck.
  • If you’re not knowledgeable, they won’t trust you.
  • If you want people to listen to you and take your advice about vehicle ownership, you have to learn to listen to them.
  • If you ask questions and get them talking, they’ll tell you exactly what they want to own…not just the make and model of the vehicle, but the features, the economy, the cool color, whatever it is that will make them say, “Yes, that’s the car for me.”

So, in getting back to these 40 people you need to meet this month, where are you going to connect with them? Hopefully, you’re not one of those salespeople who waits in the lot, hoping the company advertising campaign will bring ‘em in droves. To achieve your automotive selling goals, you have to invest time in reaching out to people all on your own.

Call your past clients to see if they’re still happy with their vehicles. These calls shouldn’t take more than two minutes each. It’s just a way of touching base, making them feel important and giving them an opportunity to tell you once again how happy they are. If they’re happy, you have the right to ask them for referral business. If they’re not, you need to know about it because their unhappiness can cost you a lot of future business.

Knowing your target for meeting people is the way to achieve the sales goals you’re reaching for.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/02/setting-realistic-sales-goals/

Tom Hopkins

Diagnosing Your Clients’ Needs

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When people think about making a vehicle purchase, they aren’t likely to compare talking with you to going to the doctor, but you should make that comparison when preparing to talk with clients. People trust doctors. They usually accept the diagnosis and prescription for wellness with few questions asked. That’s because they recognize doctors as experts in their fields. Your goal is to have your clients see you the same way. When they have an ache or pain related to their mode of transportation, they should immediately think of calling you. That’s because they’ll be confident you have the right prescription for their ailment.

To earn this level of respect and trust, you need to start every relationship with the right skills. These skills include a caring manner, a confident air, and your diagnostic tools. The tools you use in diagnosing the automotive needs of your clients may be as simple as a pad of paper and your product knowledge. They may include your past client experiences, personal experiences, or memories.

The most powerful diagnostic tools used by all people in sales are questions. Like a doctor, your use of questions begins with general areas of need. Then, based on the answers you are given, you narrow your questions down to where you can readily determine the right cure or solution for the clients’ needs.

Average car salespeople have this fantasy in which they think they should be able to simply present the wonderful features of their vehicles and the customer, seeing the value, says, “I’ll take it.” If customers made buying decisions based on features alone, that might work, but it’s a rare occasion when that happens.

The reality of it is that most buying decisions are based on past experiences, the experiences of others the client trusts, advertising, gut feelings, and hundreds of other factors that you can’t do much about. So, you have to start with questions to get them talking about their needs, wants, and perceptions of your product or service. The answers to these questions will help you put yourself in their shoes. Once you’re there, you’ll see what steps you need to take in order to help them make a sound buying decision.

Be sure to ask, “What past experience do you have with this type of vehicle?” It could be that they’re very well-versed on the features of an SUV or luxury sedan, even owned one in the past, and are seeking a new one of the same type. If they know little or nothing about the vehicle they’ve come to see, you’ll have to invest a bit more time in educating them as to the features and what they can expect.

Ask very specifically what they hope to accomplish with an investment in this particular type of vehicle. It could be that one of your vehicle’s key benefits is sought after by most clients. However, that feature does nothing for this particular client. You won’t want to turn them off by talking about something that doesn’t matter to them.

I like to use the analogy of a torpedo when talking about this subject. A torpedo leaves a ship in the general direction of its intended target. It bounces a signal off in the target direction. If the signal doesn’t come back, it corrects its direction to get back on course and sends another signal seeking feedback.

That’s what questioning does for you. You take off in a general direction with your questions. The answers you receive either tell you that you’re on target or that you need to take another track. Rarely will you take a direct course from initial contact to the vehicle sale. More often than not, you’ll find yourself zig-zagging but all the while heading in the general direction of the sale until you find just the right answer for each and every client.

Take a moment to think about the quality of the questions you are asking. How quickly and accurately are they bringing you back the information you need to move forward with a sale? If you continually get hung up in one aspect of your presentation, invest some non-client time writing out the questions you’re using now. Then, think about how you could rephrase them to get better feedback. An even better strategy is to make a list of all the information you need to have before asking for a decision. Then, work backwards, writing out the questions that will provide those answers. Either way, you’ll soon find yourself with better questions to ask, and a shorter, more efficient sales process.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/01/diagnosing-your-clients-needs/

Tom Hopkins

Arouse Emotions, Don’t Sell Logic

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What is the emotional process that leads to the purchase of a new vehicle? It begins with a new development in the buyer’s self-image. That is, the buyers see themselves in a new way — as the owners of that new car, truck, van, or SUV and all the status it affords them.

If the projected vehicle purchase is small in relation to the buyer’s income, the self-image change need only be small. But if the purchase is a large one, the change in self-image that makes the purchase possible will be large. Such a change can come about very quickly. It can take place within a few minutes, or even within a few seconds.

Champion automotive salespeople are adept at spotting these changes in self-image as they occur during sales presentations. They are quick to reinforce the buyers’ realization that they can have, enjoy, deserve, need, and are worthy of the marvelous new vehicle they like. Do that, and they won’t just like it; they’ll want it, need it, and realize they can’t get along without it — then, they’ll buy it.

To begin with, you must be genuinely interested in doing your best for them. Once they see that you’re on their side — wanting them to have what they want and to feel great about it — they’ll begin to like you and trust you. Then, they will tell you what they’re seeking to accomplish.

It’s critical to your success that you first go beyond the limitations of your own tastes and preferences. Recognize that what’s right for you isn’t right for everyone, and make an intense effort to see the world through your buyer’s eyes. Stop saying, “What I like about this vehicle…” They don’t care what you like. They want to hear what they’ll like about it.

Second, use your expertise to guide your buyers to the best solution your inventory provides them.

Third, wait for positive stimulus from your buyers. If you believe they’ve found something that helps them satisfy their needs, reinforce their image about that purchase. Avoid worn out phrases they’ve heard a thousand times. Stay away from the words clients stopped believing years ago.

The key is to be disciplined to wait for positive input. Unless you do that, you’ll find yourself going on and on about something they don’t like, and before you know it, you’re caught in a web of obvious insincerity. Stick to the facts.

The mere fact that you’re a salesperson will arouse their negative emotions and they’ll want to emotionally fight you. You need to get their emotions focused on their own needs and desires in relation to the vehicle they’re interested in. Then, you’ll build their emotions to where they will have convinced themselves of the decision to own.

Logic in sales is a gun without a trigger. You can twirl it all you care to, but you can’t fire it. Emotion is the trigger. You can hit the target with it. Every time you generate another positive emotion, you’re pulling the trigger on another accurate shot at closing the sale.

No skill that you can acquire in sales will enhance your earning power more than learning how to arouse emotions in your buyers in ways that are positive to the sale. The exact words that you use will depend on your offering, personality, buyers, and market conditions.

Some clients will see a new feature such as the self-parking option and find no reason to have it other than the fact that suddenly they want it. It’s the latest and greatest. None of their friends have it. They start to feel excited, important, and “rich” in thinking that they’ll be ahead of the crowd by being the first in their group of friends to own it. Or, they might be feeling the pull to get it because their friends already have it and can’t stop talking about how cool it is.

As you work at developing the skills to evoke emotions in your buyers, always keep that concept in mind. You can destroy sales as rapidly as you can create them through the clumsy use of, or the lack of control over, the emotional setting. Also remember that your actions, manners, words (how you say them), grooming, and clothes are all things that trigger emotions in your future clients — whether you want them to or not.

There’s no way around it. People will react emotionally to you. It is important not to have them react with fear, anger, or apathy. To see some salespeople approach clients as though they had just fallen off the garbage truck, you’d swear that they don’t realize that future clients have feelings, too. Clients suffer the effects of fear when a salesperson comes on too strong; clients get angry when a salesperson patronizes them; clients feel apathy when a salesperson is non-professional. Play the odds. Always be professional and keep their emotions in mind. Do that and you’ll close more sales.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/11/arouse-emotions-dont-sell-logic/

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