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Tag Archive: Sales Management

Alan Ram

Your Sales Appointment System is Failing You

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It’s Friday morning, and a Manager is paging everyone in the sales office, reminding them to get their appointments for the day on the board.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this bad management practice is a common one. What if only half of the sales team logs their appointments that day? Now that Manager is flipping out and yelling for everyone to get on the phones and, “Call anyone we haven’t made a deal with! Any phone-ups that haven’t shown up! Call your mom, call your third-grade teacher—call everyone! We need some appointments today!” This is panic management at its finest.

Today started yesterday

Here’s the problem: Today is too late to do anything about today. Today should’ve been taken care of yesterday, the day before that … and the day before that! By worrying about today, today, you’ll just end up finding out that you’re screwed in advance.

A good Manager will ask, “How many appointments have we set up for today?” If every day your sales staff is setting up enough appointments, whether they’re appointments for today, tonight, tomorrow or the weekend, every day will end up taking care of itself.

That isn’t to say that you don’t want to know how many appointments are coming in today; of course, you want to know that! But, where you keep your foot on the gas pedal is knowing how many appointments your staff has set up today, not how they’re scrambling to fill the board.

Make every day a competition

Now, let’s talk about logging appointments on a board versus simply putting them in the CRM. At one time, a friend of mine, Dan Clara, Market Director for a huge automotive group, explained to me that when his team logs appointments in the CRM, rather than using a physical whiteboard, appointments go down.

Why is that? Because salespeople, at least the good ones, are naturally competitive. If one team member sees another salesperson writing appointment after appointment on the board, he or she will want to set up more. It’s also an in-your-face way of seeing what you’ve accomplished, as you accomplish it, throughout the day.

Simply logging appointments in the CRM tends to take the clear, visual competition out of the equation. Use the natural competitiveness of your salespeople to boost the amount of appointments your team sets each day.

Ready to get your sales team back on track? Check out General Sales Management training from the NCM Institute, including Alan Ram’s Management by Fire course.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/07/your-sales-appointment-system-is-failing-you/

Dustin Kerr

Limbo isn’t a management strategy: Is your bar for sales too low?

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I get inquiries all the time for BPHP sales training. When the call comes, I generally ask about the current training for salespeople, and what they have received in the past. And, to no one’s surprise, the answer is usually, “None.”

My next questions are, “What are your expectations for salespeople? And what do you expect to get out of the training?” This is the answer that surprises me.

Here are the top three tasks dealers want their sales staff to accomplish:

  • Get the customer in the door.
  • Record a little information.
  • Turn them over to a manager or underwriter.

Wait, that’s it?

How did our expectations deteriorate to such a point?

Our standards are astonishingly low considering the tough state of the market right now. Let’s be honest: It’s hard to attract quality customers. It’s even harder, I think, to attract good sales people.

I believe a major reason for the lack of good BHPH salespeople is the lack of good leadership and accountability management within our management team, but that’s another topic for another article.

Setting the bar right

As a moderator with NCM® Associates and former dealership operator, I have seen that people rise to the standards we give them. So, let’s expect the best from our employees. Here are some recommended guidelines for your sales staff.

Salespeople should be able to conduct a great customer interview that gathers all the pertinent information, builds rapport with the customer, finds out the wants and needs of the customer and sets the stage for product selection without it seeming like an interrogation.

Our sales staff should know how to conduct a personalized vehicle presentation based on the needs and wants discovered during the interview. This skill is critical for BHPH salespeople—most of the time we’re putting the customer in a car that may not be their first choice, so we have even more work to build value in the product than a new car salesperson. Too often this step is skipped completely.

A quality trade evaluation should be completed on every write up that has the possibility of a trade in. Sales staff should complete this trade evaluation with the customer, along with a ride and drive. And yes, this involves whoever is evaluating the trade to actually walk outside and put in some effort; a trade evaluation form also should be completed with every appraisal.

And, once the sale has happened, our staff should complete professional follow up. I feel so strongly about this, that I believe follow up isn’t an expectation, it’s a condition of employment. (If you are afraid of having your salespeople do post sale follow up because you don’t want to hear about your car breaking down, let’s acknowledge that you may have bigger problems than sales training. Call me, and we’ll work on that.)

Lastly, I fully believe our salespeople should be able to generate 50 percent of their own business. It is much easier for BHPH salespeople to generate repeat and referral business than it is for new-car salespeople.

Prepping for new sales heights

We must do a better job of training our salespeople to do the job we want them to do, not the bare minimum to survive.

My approach is to invest in good training. For example, teach your staff how to do a quality demonstration drive with a predetermined route where the salesperson drives first and then allow the customer to drive. More and more often I am seeing salespeople just slap a tag on the car and not even go on the test drive with the customer.

And, while I don’t recommend that salespeople do the closing of the loan, if you are going to leave it in their hands, you must train and drill them on the closing and make sure it is done correctly every time. No exceptions. A proper loan closing engages the customer and covers dealership policies on breakdowns, late payments and collections. A properly closed loan is half-way collected, and that is why I believe it is actually a collection activity and should be done by someone that has a vested interest in how the loan performs.

Don’t lower the bar—improve your employees

If you are having a hard time finding quality customers and growing your portfolio right now I challenge you to raise your expectations of what you expect from your sale people. Clearly define and communicate your expectations, measure the results and let everyone know the score. While you invest in improving your current staff, take the time to recruit talent when you find it … and then invest again.

And remember, a properly trained salesperson can recoup the money you spend on training several times over each and every month.

Blog originally published in the November/December 2015 issue of the BHPH Report. Be sure to check out the full issue

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/02/limbo-isnt-a-management-strategy-is-your-bar-for-sales-too-low/

Dave Anderson

Building a High Performance Culture (Part 22)

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®.

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Words That Work: Hunger

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word “hunger” to the “words that work” category. Hungry cultures are those that regularly change, risk, and stretch—even while things are going well and all the seas appear calm.

I’ll dig deeper into hunger below; but first, quickly review the strong and weak cultural words below so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

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.

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

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

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.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

Hunger is defined as an intense desire, a compelling craving. 

Note that the definition isn’t limited to merely a “desire or a craving;” intense and compelling are the keys. If something is intense and compelling it moves you, which brings up the key point to this post: you can’t have a hungry culture without hungry people at all levels moving it forward. The challenge is that while you can motivate people—stoke embers that already exist—you cannot make someone hungry by putting the embers of desire within them. Thus, your team members must bring hunger to the table; they must give you something to work with. Hungry people normally have the following traits that make them easier to identify during an interview, or to evaluate the people already within your culture:

  1. Hungry people have compelling reasons—their “why”—that drives them to excel. Their why may include a range of motivations from buying a nicer car, moving into a bigger home, sending their kids to a private school, helping a sick parent, making a difference in the lives of others, to supporting orphans. People tend to lose their way when they lose their why, and wind up going through the motions as they miss their potential by a mile.

One purpose of an interview is determine just how specific and compelling a job candidate’s why is. This will give keen insight into how self-motivated you can expect them to be.

  1. Hungry people are rarely stuck in their ways. They change before they have to, enjoy learning and sharing new things, and would rather take a mature risk than defend a safe status quo.
  1. Hungry people want new responsibilities. They want an opportunity to learn and grow and to expand their skills. They also want increased latitude and discretion to make decisions without having to always check with a higher-up.
  1. Hungry people are more prone to seek out feedback. They know they need fast, honest, specific feedback to grow.
  1. Hungry people don’t need as many pep talks. Of course like anyone they appreciate pats on the back, but aren’t dependent on them in order to stay motivated and work hard to reach their goals.

Final note: A culture is in big trouble when the leaders have let complacency nudge out their hunger and begin leading more from the rear, than from the trenches; maintaining, presiding and administering but not having a stretch impact on the team. Frankly, lethargic leaders create lethargic cultures. Hungry leaders build hungry cultures, and more naturally attract those with the like levels of internal motivation necessary to build a great organization.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/10/building-a-high-performance-culture-part-22/

Robin Cunningham

What Does a General Sales Manager Do Really?

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At the NCM Institute we conduct our Principles of General Sales Management I & II classes about every other month. They are often two of our most attended classes, so there’s lots of energy, and we are working with Variable Managers who have had some years of success in order to have claimed the title of General Sales Manager.

Often, even before introductions, I will ask the class something like: So exactly what is a General Sales Manager? Is it someone who has more experience than the other Sales Managers? Or someone who can cover for the Used Vehicle Manager or F&I Manager on their days off?

We get a lot of looks like: Is this a trick question? Or is there something else we are missing? It for sure depends on the size of the store. In some bigger stores the GSM might very well have had success at the New Vehicle, Used Vehicle, and F&I Management levels; and he or she is in a position to oversee the other Variable Managers. In smaller or medium sized stores the GSM may not have had that same breadth of experience. Or in the case of Used Vehicle Department, they may not have had much experience managing the used vehicle challenges in the Internet era, where everything has changed.

We find there is very little commonality in what a General Sales Manager is and exactly what they are responsible for. So we tell our students that the way the NCM Institute approaches this is that they are the “General Managers of Variable Operations.” That sure sounds like a cool title to have, but what exactly does that mean?

As with every class we teach we start with the discussion of Accountability Management & Leadership. This takes most of the first morning, especially since we are now talking about individuals who will be leading, coaching and managing every aspect of Variable Operations.

Within Accountability Management we refer to the Six Primary Elements of Accountability, and they are:

  1. Planning your work and working your plan
  2. Clearly defining and communicating your expectations
  3. Inspecting what you expect
  4. Measuring what you intend to manage
  5. Rewarding positive results and responding to negative results
  6. Developing and implementing a systemic structure

By this point in time, most of these managers realize they are in for a very different experience than they had anticipated. We then dive into their numbers using the NCM 20 Group Composite and Profit Trend Analysis tools. We start looking at New and Used Vehicle retail unit sales, year over year; per vehicle retail gross, year over year; total New and Used gross, year over year; net F&I income, year over year.  Then we look at several expense categories like: Advertising, Selling Expenses, and Employment Expenses, year over year. How are we trending? Do we know? What are our strategies, based on the knowledge we do have?

After the Financial Management discussion (which we often call “A Punch in the Nose”), we circle back to a full discussion of the second Element of Accountability Management: Clearly Defining and Communicating Your Expectations.

We start this discussion by asking if any of the students’ dealerships has a current organizational chart in use; written job descriptions and objectives; and are any of the processes they use, like the Road to a Sale, in writing? We get them to reflect on just what tools they really have in place to lead, coach, train and manage with. By this point they realize we have huge upside opportunity for improvement and we still haven’t actually begun to talk about what they thought they came to us to learn.

Then we move into the discussion of Opportunity Management and Prospecting. We begin breaking down the sources of all of the Opportunities to do Business. We agree there are four sources:

  1. The walk-in customer
  2. The in-bound phone call
  3. The in-bound internet lead
  4. The salesperson self-generated lead (be-backs, repeat/referral, circle of influence, etc.)

We show them how each category has its own closing ratio and per vehicle income opportunity. We spend a couple of hours showing them how they can help their people focus more on the self-generated leads, which close at 50%, so they can start weaning them off the dealership-generated leads that most salespeople (and sale managers) count on for most of their sales.

Then we get into the discussion of Recruiting and Orientation which elicits some really great conversation. Then we spend a lot of time discussing Training Disciplines and Techniques. Because most of the managers in our GSM class have had quite a bit of experience, the level of interactive discussion amongst themselves, is the most we have in any of our NCM Institute classes. And we know from the evaluations from our students that they value the content of these in-class discussions as much as everything we bring to their attention.

We then wrap up the class with the (much-needed by this point) discussion of Time Management. They are wondering how in the world they are going to be able to fit all of these new, critically important ideas and processes into their daily, weekly and monthly schedules. They come away knowing it’s all very doable, if they make the commitment to begin mastering Accountability Management. They have written a number of Guarantee of Action Plans that will be sent back to their GM or Dealer to begin the buy-in and then implementation process. They can clearly see how they and all the other Variable Operations team mates they lead, can become increasingly more productive and profitable.

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Click here for information on all NCM Institute classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/09/what-does-a-general-sales-manager-do-really/

Alan Ram

Is Your Dealership in Conflict?

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Here’s the problem at many dealerships: In our heads, we know what we want our people to be doing on a daily basis, but our actions and processes (or lack thereof) contradict what our heads are thinking, and we end up sending our staff conflicting messages. What do many of you see as you walk through your showroom? You might see five salespeople standing out on the point for three hours, waiting for one customer while discussing their upcoming fantasy football draft. As a dealer, that should make you crazy. What do you want to see? You want to see your people working the phones EFFECTIVELY and driving better quality traffic to the dealership.

Here are a couple issues I see at play at many dealerships:

First and foremost is your open floor. There is absolutely no benefit to you as a dealer in having an open floor. NONE!! All an open floor does is encourage your people to stand around and do nothing while they wait around for a floor up that was coming in anyway.

I see this happen all the time; a dealership has my training and their people are excited to work the phones. A couple salespeople, who don’t necessarily think it’s part of their job to actually follow up or generate anything, continue to stand out on the lot…and wait. Luckily for them, they don’t have to compete anymore for floor traffic with all the salespeople who are doing what you want them to do on the phones. Let’s just say that one of the salespeople standing around happens to bump into a customer that buys a car. Pretty soon the salespeople who are on the telephone, doing what you want them to do, start realizing that they’re not having a chance to even get an up. Now human nature takes over and they start the migration back to the front door. They indirectly feel that they are being punished by doing what you asked them to do. Your open floor is hurting productivity and needs to go.

Have you ever had to bribe your kids to get them to eat their candy and ice cream? “Now Billy, if you don’t eat your ice cream, you’re not going to get any candy.” I doubt that’s a conversation that happens at anyone’s house. It’s more like, “If you don’t eat your Brussels sprouts, you don’t get dessert”. You don’t need to convince them to eat their candy and ice cream. They were going to eat that anyway. To me, spiffing your salespeople for selling your floor ups is the same thing. They’re going to take your floor ups whether you spiff them or not! If a salesperson that sold 25 cars off strictly floor ups was to leave tomorrow, how many deals would you lose? Probably none. Why? Because those customers would still come in. They would just be distributed differently. What about that salesperson that sells 20 cars a month off primarily their own efforts to repeat and referral clients? If that salesperson was to leave, how many deals would you lose? I would say all of them. Therefore, a salesperson that sells repeat and referral customers is far more valuable to you than one that sells floor ups. If you’re going to have a spiff program, let’s spiff them for what you want them to do versus what they were going to do anyway! A referral spiff for example. If it really is a referral your salesperson generated through their efforts, wouldn’t it make sense to spiff them for it?

We also all want our sales staff doing a better job at working (mining) their sold customer base. What if we spiff them for selling repeat customers or for turning service customers back into sales clients. Now you have your salespeople thinking, “I make more money by selling a repeat or referral client than I do a floor up.” That’s when they’ll start focusing on those things you want them to focus on. That’s when you’re using your spiff money to change their behavior and ultimately change the culture. You will not sell one less car by eliminating a unit bonus, but you’ll sell a lot more cars by instituting a repeat and referral spiff.

The key to this coming together and getting the results you want is obviously training. Your people need to be trained on how to get results on the phone. When they’re trained it gives them confidence. When they have confidence, they’re much more likely to be successful and they gain momentum. It all starts with training and having processes in place that are consistent with, and not in conflict with, what you want to see happening on your showroom floor.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/dont-let-business-development-kill-your-business/

Robin Cunningham

Unrealized Opportunities in the Used Vehicle Department

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Forgive me for saying this, but from where I now stand, it is quite apparent to me that there is way more opportunity for improving profitability than most dealership managers are aware of. I certainly know looking back on my career (and I thought I was very pro-active) that there was so much more opportunity to be realized than I was able to completely grasp at the time.

Most people agree that there is more upside potential left on the table, they are just not aware how much there is or how to attain it. Today I’d like to share some of the upside potential that we see in relation to the used vehicle department. One of the primary opportunity areas in the used car department is in increasing the average ratio of used to new vehicle sales.

We work with a Nissan dealer, in a single city market, that three years ago was selling close to a 1:1 used to new ratio. They realized there were only so many new Nissans they could sell no matter how aggressive they got with pricing and marketing. So, they got very clear on what does and does not work in today’s used vehicle market. They made steady progress in the quality of their processes and accountability management, and today are selling a 3:1 used to new ratio.

One of their managers was in class a month or so ago made a comment during a discussion. He said that as a variable department, they “freak out if and when any used vehicle hits 21 days in stock.”  They so highly value the processes in place from each vehicle’s first day in stock, that at 21 days, they know something is going terribly wrong. That comment raised a lot of eyes in class, especially from the managers of stores with huge aging issues. To get to that 3:1 ratio took a lot of trial and error, and a high degree of trust in their processes. It was all made easier by beginning to see it adding up in more total used vehicle gross profit.

To realize that opportunity, especially if one is still struggling in the used vehicle department, a pretty systematic overhaul of everything is often needed. That would include such processes as:

  • Acquisition
  • Appraising
  • Stocking
  • Reconditioning
  • Initial Pricing
  • Internet Marketing
  • Re-pricing
  • Desking policy
  • Pay plans
  • Aging

For sure, the change in focus from the amount of gross per vehicle retail to total department gross is required. To clarify, we are not against getting as much gross per vehicle as you can; but you just need to know which market segment each vehicle you are stocking is in, so your pricing policy is not getting you into aging problems.

I have been saying of late that our initial pricing policy is our turn policy. If you are pricing above market average right out of the box, we rarely see the pricing come back in line before the vehicle has aging issues, because the above market price has kept it largely invisible to the shopping public on the Internet… where, of course, most shoppers are today.

I just referred to what “market segment” each vehicle is in. We break those segments into: A, B, C and W categories. CPO, of course, is another category and I am going to come back to that separately.

A Vehicles

An “A” vehicle is a one of a kind, mostly irreplaceable vehicle. It is generally easier to replace the customer than it is the car. These almost always come from a trade, either rare in the first place, with very low miles, or both. At most, this makes up 10% of inventory. These vehicles should have a much higher than average gross profit, so the opportunity there is for a higher PVR.

B Vehicles

The “B” car is usually our own brand and is still under factory warranty. These are the most available cars to us, through trade, auction or our service drive. This is the case for all dealers, so the day’s supply is high, relatively speaking. These cars have the highest potential for wholesale loss, largely due to over-pricing on the Internet. Because these are very nice cars with lower miles on them, it can be tempting to try to get “above market” prices for them. Without a doubt, most vehicles with aging issues come from this segment, especially the ones bought at auction.

Because this segment makes up 60+% of inventory dollars, it can have devastating effects when these dollars become aged. The strategy for this segment is to aggressively price them to market immediately, get the F&I turn and the gross profit from reconditioning, and then go get more just like it. These will have slightly less than an average gross profit per vehicle. But again, since this is where the largest dollar amount of inventory is, a faster turn will equate to more total departmental gross. Again, the focus and opportunity for total departmental gross profit has to be primary here.

C Vehicles

The next segment is the “C” car. These are cars that are out of factory warranty, though a warranty could still be sold. They have higher miles and don’t have to be in perfect condition. These are the vehicles everyone seems to be wanting and almost always come from trades. The opportunity is a gross per vehicle that can be at or slightly higher than average. The return on investment is higher because they have a lower average cost of sale. Fortunately, most dealers are keeping more of these vehicles for retail these days, because in the past many got wholesaled and were the key source of inventory for the independent dealers. I know I wholesaled a lot of those in my past, and I now realize how we were missing out on possibly the richest segment of the business.

CPO Vehicles

The other retail segment that gets uneven attention is the certified pre-owned category, or CPO as we all call it. The luxury brands are all strong in this segment, and those manufacturers play a key role in helping make sure it is viable by actively supporting the strategy. For most of the other brands we see a very spotty consistency of dealers taking full advantage of this opportunity. It truly is like a separate franchise and has to be treated that way.

I have seen dealers of almost any brand take full advantage of it and other dealers from those same brands try to play both sides off the middle. Those dealers end up not having many CPO vehicles and that likely leads to less total volume, less gross per vehicle, less reconditioning gross, less future service and parts gross — and ultimately less customer retention. The other thing I see happen with CPO vehicles is when a dealer trades or acquires vehicles other than their own brands that have a strong CPO compliance; it makes it harder for competing dealers to retail those vehicles successfully. One thing we see that can offset this are some of the third-party, certified pre-owned programs that are available in the market place, like the Motor Trend Certified Program.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the very big opportunities that often get untapped in F&I. The public groups, who are under the most scrutiny of all, are at about $1,100 per vehicle retailed net after chargebacks. Many dealers are well above that, but most are way off that number and it really seems to be a focus issue. Selling more financial products and less focus on rate has been the trend, and it really seems to be working. Many of the financial service vendors provide the training as well.

W Vehicles

The last used vehicle segment is the “W” car or wholesale. There are two levels of wholesale: The ones we decide not to keep at the time of acquisition for various reasons (too many miles,  poor mechanical condition, or too expensive to keep). This level of W vehicles is actually a profit center.

Then, there are the vehicles we got for retail and for some reason have not sold. Maybe we have kept them for too long and now believe we have to get rid of them, often at a loss. Our friend Dale Pollak says there are only two reasons that could possibly happen: We somehow could not find the right price that others were selling the same vehicle during that time frame or we were unwilling to put the vehicle on that price. Knowing this is a possible unrealized opportunity can allow you take advantage of this.

This of course was just a very brief discussion of some of the most BASIC OPPORTUNITIES available in the used vehicle department that are very often not taken advantage of.

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/unrealized-opportunities-in-the-used-vehicle-department/

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/

Rebecca Chernek

Integrating Desking and F&I to Boost Sales and Profits

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I developed my Desking and F&I Integration workshop to address the single biggest factor limiting sales and profits in dealerships today – the bottleneck that exists between the sales and F&I department. It’s caused by an entrenched “Us vs. Them” mentality that evolved during the F&I industry’s first quarter century. Because “it’s always been this way,” dealers accept it as the status quo.

The lack of integration between sales and F&I yields only negatives. It’s the reason customers like the True Car model. They’re tired of games. They want straight talk. They’re tired of being dragged through the mud. They’re tired of waiting for hours at the dealership, only to find they can’t get financed for the car they thought they’d be driving home that day.

Desking and F&I Integration takes a hard look at the problem, why it exists, and offers proven solutions. My workshop provides a system that delivers a seamless, transparent and resoundingly positive customer experience – while boosting sales and profit! Because it requires teamwork between sales management and F&I managers, I recommend that dealerships send a representative from each department to attend the workshop.

Before you can fix something, you have to recognize why it doesn’t work.

I get workshop attendees thinking about how things work at their dealership – and how they should work. We’ll talk about how important it is to have a meeting of the minds between sales managers and F&I – and the customer.

We address issues that impact the overall customer experience, from how the sales department exchanges information about the sale, to finalizing the deal with the F&I manager. When is the best time to talk payments – before or after the customer goes into the F&I office? We talk about why not having a true meeting of the minds will undermine your menu every time – and reduce profits earned.

We talk about why establishing credit criteria earlier in the sale process helps to properly land the customer on a vehicle he can afford. And why structuring the unit earlier in the process allows for more units sold – while maximizing profits and limiting liability.

I share why it’s so important to conduct what I call “The Interview,” to qualify the customer and establish value points for later menu sales. The Interview occurs during the meet-and-greet and during the transaction review process, but it’s essential to expediting the sale and maximizing profits.

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Besides contributing to the customer’s sense of a seamless process, having the F&I manager engage with the customer earlier in the buying process to learn the reason behind limited credit or slow pay history will pay off in several ways. Getting the story from the customer can result in stronger call-back decisions and fewer declined offerings. And the F&I manager can use information gathered during the meeting at the sales person’s desk to reduce customer resistance to products offered later during the menu presentation. Taking the time to meet with the customer briefly will cut delivery time in half.

How will the customer perceive the introduction to F&I? Will the customer see it as a one- or two-step process? Do old methodologies increase customer resistance? Has the sales department been concise with the buying numbers? Do we have a true meeting of the minds before the customer makes his way into the F&I office?

Why is that important? It’s all about the bottom line. With an F&I bottleneck, it takes too much time to deliver the car… is the paper work straight? Is the deal checklist complete and ready to go? What if the customer isn’t approved?

We’ll talk about why time is your worst enemy – deterring sales and reducing profits. If the dealer expects to use menu selling, how does that work if all the terms haven’t been confirmed with the customer prior to the menu presentation? Would it make sense to confirm the transaction prior to a menu presentation – and why is that so important?

The system I propose takes into account that every customer is different. I offer suggestions for managing subprime customers to enhance the customer’s experience and maximize dealer profit while limiting liability.

The workshop culminates in role-play sessions that allow attendees to practice what they’ve learned. It’s an excellent opportunity for sales managers and F&I people to work through new word tracks and hand-offs to another team member.

The “Us vs. Them” mentality is a dinosaur throwback that only drags the customer, sales manager, F&I manager, and dealership down. Customers and the marketplace have changed – it’s time to evolve and thrive in this new landscape.

Attendees will return to their dealerships ready to implement a system that will speed up delivery, putting wheels over curb in a fraction of the time compared to when your sales team and F&I staff were at loggerheads. Your F&I manager will have been able to present a menu to a trusting customer who appreciates the transparent process and the dealership team that understands his needs. Your satisfied customer will tell everyone he knows, and you’ll be delivering more units in one day than you ever thought possible.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/04/integrating-desking-and-fi-to-boost-sales-and-profits/

Tom Hopkins

6 Steps to Getting Referrals

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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/

Dustin Kerr

4 Tips to Supercharge Your Buy Here Pay Here Sales Training Program

Is your Buy Here, Pay Here (BHPH) sales training lousy? That is the cleaned up version of what I hear from most dealership owners and managers when I ask how they would rate their overall sales training program.

The good news is that this is one of the quicker and easier problems to fix in your dealership and I am going to give you the tools to implement a very successful BHPH training program.

1. Hiring the Right Person

If I were sitting down with you in your dealership and implementing a long-term strategy for consistently attracting and hiring quality salespeople, we would spend a great deal of time on this subject before moving to anything else.

However, for the sake of this article, I will boil it down to this: quit begging people come to work for you! When we hire out of a classified ad, the majority of the respondents have very little sales skills and then we, compound the problem by conducting a lousy interview.

So what’s the solution? RECRUIT!

You probably notice people every day who would be a good fit as a salesperson in your dealership. Why don’t you get those types of people to apply? The reason is because they are already employed.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for classified ads, but it should only be part of your strategy. The best people I have ever hired weren’t looking for a job.

2. Proper Job Descriptions

A lot of potentially good salespeople fail because they don’t know exactly what is expected of them every day. If you do not have extremely detailed job descriptions with your sales staff, I would stop right now and get this in place before trying to proceed with any further training.

A description should tell them exactly what their job entails on a daily basis; an objective should tell them what they are expected to produce. For example, an objective might say they are expected to sell at least 13 cars per month with an average down payment of $700.

3. Road to the Sale

Every person that has ever sold a car has been told about the road to the sale, but are your sales people following it? Are they following it every time? How do you know?

It doesn’t matter what your particular road to the sale is as long as it’s in writing and continually trained on. The road to the sale is far more important in the BHPH industry than it is in the new car franchises, yet the new car dealerships train on it every day and most BHPH lots rarely discuss it.

4. “Did it Today” Sheets

Did It Today sheets (or DIT sheets) are one of the best ways to hold your salespeople accountable and to have them show you how they won at work each day.

DIT sheets should list all of the tasks they accomplished for the day such as phone calls made, customer interviews completed, appointments set, etc.

The DIT sheets should be turned in and reviewed every day by the sales supervisor and compared to the goals set at the beginning of the month.

If you will commit today to giving your sales staff complete job descriptions and objectives, making sure they are trained daily and using your road to the sale, and having them fill out daily DIT sheets, I believe you will be very pleased with the results you will see.

In future articles, I will go into more detail on hiring the right person form the beginning, the road to the sale that I teach and believe to be most effective, how to properly use DIT sheets, and much more.

If you have any questions on how to implement any of the processes above or would like me to do sales training for your staff, please contact me anytime.

 


Want to learn more from our BHPH specialists? Click the link below for a free copy of Brent Carmichael‘s whitepaper:tablet

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/03/4-tips-to-supercharge-your-buy-here-pay-here-sales-training-program/

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