CALL US AT 1.866.756.2620

Tag Archive: Sales

Laura Madison

A Personal Brand: Why Automotive Salespeople Should Go For It

Personal Brand

A personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool for salespeople to increase visibility with prospective clients and increase sales, so why aren’t more salespeople taking action? Perhaps because automotive salespeople do not realize how creating and maximizing a personal brand can solve two important challenges they face. Here are two problems having a strong personal brand can solve:

Challenge #1 – Leads

A common complaint among car salespeople is there are too few leads to keep them busy. A number of factors can be blamed for this complaint; slow phone traffic, a quiet season, or minimal walk-in showroom traffic.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

A personal brand is an opportunity for salespeople to come out of obscurity. Salespeople can use social media sites like Facebook and YouTube to promote themselves and their role selling cars to begin to gain local visibility. Participating on social platforms allows salespeople to connect with prospective customers and ultimately motivate them through the front door. Social media is also a phenomenal way for salespeople to build and maintain relationships with previous customers, so they’ll never forget who to refer and work with on the next purchase.

Challenge #2 – Differentiation

Differentiation may be the largest problem a salesperson faces. Whether the challenge is an inability to differentiate their Toyota store from the one down the street, or the Toyota Camry from the Honda, or differentiate themselves from other salespeople on staff, differentiation is an enormous salesman struggle.

How a personal brand can solve this challenge:

By creating and using a personal brand salespeople are building value in themselves. They are introducing themselves to prospective buyers and utilizing a platform to speak with customers genuinely, on a human-to-human level. An opportunity for an automotive salesperson to speak with prospects about what differentiates himself, his store, and the product is invaluable.

A personal brand puts a salesperson’s face in front of a prospect and begins building trust and relationship. By the time that customer comes into the dealership, he will know how to ask for and recognize his automotive professional and online connection. Creating a quick video, for example, to follow up an incoming internet lead can be an extremely powerful differentiator. If the customer submitted leads to five stores, the salesperson maximizing personal branding will likely be the only who has used something like video to communicate, and begin to build trust with, this customer. Building this type of value can not only earn a sale, but also make a customer fiercely loyal in the future.

In summary, a personal brand can help salespeople create a pipeline outside the walls of the dealership and build value in themselves, their dealership, and their product. That should be enough motivation to begin encouraging salespeople to create a strong personal brand on social media, so get to it!

UV Training

Permanent link to this article:

Tom Hopkins

The Greatest Destroyer of Business: Fear


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:

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.


Permanent link to this article:

Steve Hall

Sales Management Responsibilities of the Service Manager, Part 2


Last week at the NCM Institute, we talked about six of the “35 Responsibilities of the Service Manager”.  Today, I would like to go over five more of the sales management responsibilities on this list. These processes are not in any particular order of importance, but realize that if you want to become a world class service organization, they will all be important. Let’s get started!

Labor Pricing System

In continuation from our last six responsibilities, the next responsibility is the labor pricing system.  Ensure that a proper grid labor system or precision labor rate for non-competitive repair work is in place and followed consistently to improve the effective labor rate.  Also, verify your factory maintenance service and high visibility repair work is priced competitively.  You can sum this up by saying, have a well thought out method to your pricing, employ different target effective labor rates by category, and then make sure your employees follow it.

A.S.R Process

Responsibility number eight for sales management in the service department is the A.S.R. process. A.S.R. stands for Additional Service Request. These are the needed items found by your technicians during the multi-point inspection process.   Ensure you have a documented process for these requests, and that it is followed consistently by the technicians and advisors.  This is a crucial process to maximize sales opportunities. As with any crucial process this must be measured and inspected every day. You should track average requests per vehicle and the closing percentages on these requests as a department, along with by advisor and technician.

Extended Service Hours

The ninth responsibility is extended service hours. Always have extended service hours with early bird and night owl services, along with Saturday hours that will accommodate your customers. You don’t have to be open longer than your competitors, but you should be open the same.  When a customer needs help and you aren’t open and your competition is, you run a real risk of losing that customer.  In conjunction with providing great customer service, the incremental gross profit that can be obtained in these additional hours can have a large positive effect on your net profit. Just be aware that if you aren’t currently doing this, it will be a culture change and you must communicate well with you staff to make it succeed.

Internal Repair Orders

The tenth responsibility under sales management focuses on internal repair orders. You must ensure you are retaining 100% of all available internal work.  This should include all reconditioning, pre-loaded accessories, aftermarket items, and detailing.  You must also make sure all reconditioning work is being completed within three business days.  The quick turnaround of reconditioning helps to maximize the opportunity to turn the inventory for the pre-owned department. As a result of that, you have an increased opportunity to gain additional vehicles to recondition.  This will make both the service and pre-owned departments more money.

Fleet and Commercial Accounts

The final responsibility we have under our sales management of the service department section is fleet and commercial accounts. In an effort to achieve incremental sales and gross profit, you should pursue these volume accounts.  Guaranteed this is somewhat easier for certain brands, but if you look hard enough you can find fleet vehicles for every manufacturer in the market. Some places you might look into for this type of work include, local and state governments, rental facilities, construction companies, medical transportation companies, and the list can go on and on. That covers our 11 responsibilities that fall under the service sales management category, even though these are just the tip of the iceberg.  Again, as you work towards taking your dealership to the next level, feel free to reach out to NCM, and all of its professionals, to see how we can help. Did you miss the first six responsibilities? Watch a recap from CBT News here:

Permanent link to this article:

Steve Hall

Sales Management Responsibilities of the Service Manager (Part One)


At the NCM Institute, we have something we call the “35 Responsibilities of the Service Manager.” Today, I would like to go over six of the sales management responsibilities from this list. These processes are not in any particular order of importance, but realize that if you want to become a world class service organization, they will all be important. Let’s get started!

The Road to the Sale Process

In the sales management category, the first process the management team must “own” is the road to the sale process.

I’m sure your dealership has a fully documented road to the sale process for the sales department and that every salesperson can recite it back to you and they follow it to maximize your sales department closing percentage.  But, do you have a documented road to a sale for the service department?  In our nearly 4,000 dealerships that we process data for, the average service advisor generates more labor gross profit per month than the average new and pre-owned sales person generates selling vehicles.  Consistently, the advisors average about 20% more gross profit than the vehicle salesperson.  This disparity is much larger when you consider the vehicle salespersons’ average includes the F&I gross profit generated, yet the service advisor’s average doesn’t include the parts gross profit they generate.  With so much riding on the service advisor, shouldn’t they have a documented, trained, and followed road to the sale process to drive increased dollars per repair order and customer satisfaction?

Sales Training for the Service Staff

The second responsibility under the sales management category is sales training for the service staff. Performing consistent, let me repeat that one word, consistent, sales training for all service customer contact personnel to improve their skills in recommending services, overcoming objectives and closing the sale is a key, yet often neglected responsibility.  Unfortunately, too often service managers know how important this training is, but often don’t know how to perform it effectively, so they just don’t do it at all.   With this in mind, don’t be afraid to involve other people for this training.  Whoever performs sales training for the new and pre-owned vehicle departments could be used for a portion of this. You might also consider some outside assistance.  Your tire supplier will generally provide no cost training on tire sales and presentation.  Other suppliers offer sales training, just be sure their content and tactics match what you want.

Vehicle Walk Around Process

The third responsibility I would like to share is the service vehicle walk around process.  Do you ensure the vehicle walk around process is part of your service sales culture?  Do all of your advisors understand that performing a vehicle walk around with each client is a condition of employment?  Many times when we talk about walk arounds, we never explain the “why” to our employees.  They typically come to the conclusion that it is to look for damage on the vehicle and to “protect” the department.  Though that can be a side benefit of the vehicle walk around process, the real reason for the walk around it to build the relationship with the customer.  This is why you must have the customer present when preforming the vehicle walk around.  Take the time to train your people on the real reason to do this and they will be more likely to actually perform it.  Encourage them to use what we call the F.O.R.D. system during the walk around.  The F.O.R.D. system is just an acronym standing for Family… Occupation… Recreation…. and Dreams.  When performing the walk around, teach your advisors to look for car seats, sporting equipment, bumper stickers or other items that will give them insight into the customer’s interests and activities.  Use these to start a relationship-building conversation.  Remember, people purchase from people they like and trust. You must build that relationship and it all starts at the vehicle during the vehicle walk around.

Menu Sales Process

The fourth sales management responsibility is the menu sales process.  Do you have a menu sales process?  Is it consistently followed by all of your service advisors?  Do you track menu closing percentages versus opportunities?  Let me define what NCM considers a menu opportunity.  We consider a menu opportunity to be any vehicle that is within 1,000 miles plus or minus from its factory recommended service.  In order to maximize this opportunity, you must build your menus on a competitive basis.  You will need to price shop your competitors on this, particularly the franchised mass merchandizers and local independent repair facilities.  In addition to selling the factory scheduled maintenance, you should also use the menus to support the selling of detailing, tires, accessories and other ala cart items.

Today’s Special Board

The next responsibility I would like to cover is the ‘Today’s Special” board.  You should have a professional, daily special board to offer items you need to sell seasonally, that have little activity, or that you wish to otherwise promote.  Think of this as the gum, candy and magazines in the register line at the market.  The items displayed on the daily specials board are typically impulse items along with reminders of often forgotten items like wiper blades, detailing or tire rotations.

Tire Merchandising

Item number six is tire merchandising.  You must make sure your customers immediately see that you are actively in the tire business as soon as they enter you service write up area.  Having a great looking tire display with installed prices for show-and-tell greatly assist in the selling of tires.  Tires are a major point of defection for clients.  We must make sure they know you are in the tire business and are highly competitive.  If you do tire price matching, make sure that is displayed for the customer, and used to build value in the way that you price your tires.

As you can see, these six sales management responsibilities are very important to follow to reach success in day-to-day operations and will set your business apart from the competition.  Please join us next week as we discuss five more sales management responsibilities.  As you work towards taking your dealership to the next level, feel free to reach out to NCM, and all of its professionals, to see how we can help.

Want to learn more?

NCM OnDemand provides virtual interactive training that translates into better productivity and higher dealership profits. Take a free test drive by clicking here.

Permanent link to this article:

Jonathan Dawson

How Introducing Objections Removes Objections

mature salesman showing new car to a couple

Do you know the difference between reactive and proactive service? Understanding it will make a big impact on your sales career and your customers’ experience.

Let me use a common example of going out to dinner to illustrate it. Imagine arriving at a new restaurant in your town you’ve wanted to try with your friends. You walk inside and are immediately struck by the great design, décor, and ambiance. You get seated at your table and after a couple of minutes you notice you don’t have a menu, so you ask the waiter walking by for menus. He replies politely, “My pleasure!” and with a smile hands you and your friends some menus.

Have you noticed anything not quite right yet?

The menu offers a wonderful diverse selection: prime steaks, fresh seafood, and homemade pastas. Even the pricing is a pleasant surprise as all the options seem affordable. As you discuss the options with your friends, you reflexively reach to grab a drink of water. But there isn’t any on the table yet. You ask your friends, “Have they come by to take drink orders yet?” Your friends say no. Once again, you stop a passing waitress and ask her to bring drinks. She responds with, “I’m happy to take your drink orders. Your waiter is Mike and he’ll be right with you.” She takes your drink orders and brings them back right away.

What is missing from this experience?

Now you start to notice something about this place. Despite the amazing ambiance, superb food choices, and the staff always smiling, something is not quite right. Mike shows up, apologizes for the delay, and takes your orders. As he walks away from the table you notice your glass of ice tea is almost empty and try to get his attention, but he’s gone. You flag down a waiter walking by and ask him to have Mike bring you a refill. Mike brings out the refill and the food too. It’s piping hot and smells delicious.

The table is ready to dig in when you all notice there is no silverware on the table. By now you feel irritated. Once again, you signal for Mike and ask for silverware. He offers his apology and brings it with a smile. As the night continues, you ask for refills, desert menus, and finally the bill.

It is not just about serving the client, it’s about the type of service you provide.

In this restaurant the staff were friendly, courteous, and willing to get everything that was requested WHEN it was requested. But your experience will never be excellent if you constantly have to ask for things.

Some salespeople are just like the waiters in this restaurant. They wait for the customer to bring up a concern or to offer an objection. Then, they try to overcome them. This is providing reactive service.

Reactive service is service in response to a request. Once the request is made, the salesperson reacts to it or satisfies it. Reactive service is the most common kind of service salespeople provide.

How could you tell if you provide reactive service? If you constantly hear any of these things from a customer on the lot, it’s one of the signs that your service is reactive:

  • I’m just looking
  • This is my first stop
  • I just want your best price
  • The car is not for me
  • I don’t have much time
  • I just need a trade-in value
  • All I need to know is payments
  • Just tell me about your programs
  • You don’t have what I am looking for
  • I’m only gathering information

Do you like hearing these things and then having to overcome them? I didn’t think so! And there is a better way! The better way is to become proactive instead of being reactive.

Proactive service is offering service PRIOR to a request. Being proactive means anticipating instead of waiting for something to happen. My Sellchology Training philosophy is based on the idea of being proactive.

How would it change your experience if that restaurant paid attention to your table and brought menus, offered refills, and made sure you had everything else to enjoy your dinner BEFORE you had to ask for it? It would have transformed  your experience!

A salesperson who offers proactive service does not wait for the customer to bring up common issues or objections. He learns to anticipate them and to bring them up FIRST!

By doing this you can completely transform the entire buying experience for you and your customer. Just as every waiter should know that a customer will need menus, silverware, and refills, so should a salesperson know that customers will mention price, shopping around, or being pressed for time! Instead of waiting for the customer to bring up these concerns, you do it first!

I call it becoming a PRO, a PRO-active salesperson. Anyone can become a PRO by learning how to positively introduce common questions or objections FIRST. What can you expect to happen if you learn to do this?

Proactive salespeople see these results:

  • Objections are minimized or removed entirely
  • Customer experience is transformed
  • Salesperson no longer feels rejected

Here are a few examples of reactive vs. proactive approaches when greeting a new customer on the lot:


Reactive: Offer generic help to a customer only to hear them say, “I’m just looking.” Result: You feel rejected and there is no rapport building happening.

Proactive: When you approach the customer, say this first: “Are you doing some looking or shopping today?” The customer will probably respond with, “Yes, we are.” Result: You’ve brought up the idea of shopping around first, and it will not make sense for them to respond with “I’m just looking.” You have positively engaged the customer by saying something they were probably about to say to you.


Reactive: Offer to help a customer only to hear them respond with, “This is my first stop.” Result: You are now in a defensive position having to justify your help. This is a poor start!

Proactive solution: Be proactive in bringing up the question of whether it’s their first stop: “Do we get to be your first stop or have you been to a few dealerships already?” Result: if you phrase it that way, you turn a potential objection into a compliment – we “get” to be their first stop. And regardless of their answer, they’re responding to your question and engaging in a dialogue with you. You’ve just removed the objection of “This is my first stop.”


Reactive: Offer to help with vehicle selection but the customer says, “No, thanks, I don’t have much time now.” Result: You’ve just heard an objection you now have to overcome.

Proactive solution: Say this first, “I know your time is valuable. What would you like to accomplish with the limited time that you have and how can I help you do it?” Result: Customers cannot bring up the time constraint because you already acknowledged it! Plus, you came across as a professional who wants to offer a solution based on their needs. Nobody wants to talk to a car salesman but everybody wants to talk to someone who has solutions!

This is the simple beauty of learning how to become a proactive salesperson: Objections are removed or minimized, customer experience is transformed, and the salesperson becomes a solutions provider.

Virtually all sales situations are better handled with proactive service. Take the list of common objections you hear and start practicing the proactive approach – mention it FIRST in a positive manner.

Webcast Ad

Permanent link to this article:

Tom Hopkins

Closing is the Name of the Game

Shaking hands

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

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

True professionals are closing most of the time.

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

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

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

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

Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up!

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

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

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

Why is it so important to keep quiet?

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

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

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

FO Roadshow 4

Permanent link to this article:

Jonathan Dawson

The Five Ingredients of a Personal Brand

Personal Brand

You should know by now that you need to brand yourself. (If not, then read my last article!) For a salesperson, branding simply means doing a few things to separate yourself from all the other sales people in your field, and even at your store. But how do you start developing a personal brand? There are five basic brand elements or “ingredients” you should consider implementing:

The first ingredient is a nickname.

I know we all like to think our name is memorable, but the sad truth is that people forget names all the time. Common names, unique names, short names, long names – Your customers WILL forget your name unless you give them something else to remember.

Consider using a nickname instead of your name. My student Nate Allen goes by the nickname of the “Official Singing Salesman.” As you’ve probably guessed, he likes music and enjoys performing custom made songs for his customers at the dealership. Just think about it. If someone told you to go in and ask for the Official Singing Salesman, how likely are you to forget it?

The second ingredient is a slogan.

A salesman in Atlanta uses the slogan “You will get the royal treatment.” The slogan goes with his nickname, ”King Stinson.” Imagine customers telling their friends, “Go see King Stinson and he will give you the royal treatment!” This is unique and is not something customers will easily forget.

The third ingredient is a logo or imagery.

Creating unique business cards, key chains, bracelets, or buttons that have your brand image on them is a fantastic way to become unforgettable. My student Monti Hansard uses pigs with purple wings as her brand image. She has them on her custom business cards, her personal vehicle, and on her desk. Everyone knows to come in and ask for the lady who loves pigs.

The fourth ingredient is having your own website.

For example, check out You’ll see that Kevin uses this website to share his story, customer testimonials, and contact information. Having your own personal website means you have a central place where customers can learn about you, your brand, and your product.

The fifth ingredient is color.

Bill Stout from Wichita uses gold and black as his brand colors. He’s a fan of the Wichita State University basketball team and uses their colors for his brand. He will only wear gold and black and uses these colors for his website and business cards. He calls his desk a “shrine to WSU.”

I know it’s overwhelming to figure out what your brand should be, but the key to developing a brand is to start small. Do not add all five ingredients at the same time. Instead, start with just one idea, such as a nickname. As you get comfortable with one ingredient, start adding more over time.

Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  • Is there something interesting or unique about you that people tend to notice or comment on?
  • Which one of these five elements immediately resonated with you?
  • What would be a unique way for your customers to remember you?
  • What could you have fun with?

I believe that spending time and effort on developing a brand will produce better results than begging customers to buy from you.

Upcoming NCM Institute course: Principles of Service Management Mastery, October 28-29 in Kansas. City. Click the banner for details.


Permanent link to this article:

Tom Hopkins

Activity Breeds Productivity

Businessman in Cubicle Raising Foam Hand

What are you going to do today that will lead to more sales? If you have a list of business-building activities to complete, wonderful! If you do not, let me show you one that has worked for others for many years.

Early in my sales career, I identified activities I could do during non-client times that would eventually lead to productivity. I would try to get as many of those activities worked into each day as possible. So, even when business was slow and I didn’t have anyone to talk with that day, I had other things to do that would bring me people to talk with.

Eventually, I put these activities on a chart so I could track my efforts and be able to predict my future success. I would give each of these activities a point value and set a goal to achieve a certain number of points per day. I quickly saw the difference in my success levels when I achieved 50 points in a day versus when I achieved 100.

Here is a list of activities you could and should be doing to build your business to the success level of your dreams:

1. Identify new potential clients

Think of the various groups of people you know. In each group, there is likely to be at least one or two people who would have an interest in or need for a new vehicle.

2. Make calls to potential clients

Prepare a short message about new vehicles or services that would entice someone to want to experience them or to learn more. If you reach them in person, close for a time to get together. If you reach a voice messaging system, leave your message, but end with when and how they can best reach you. If you do not hear back from them within 48 hours, try again at a different time of the day.

3. Contact existing clients for follow up

Commit to a regularly-scheduled follow up call or email with every client. Your goals are to be certain they are still satisfied with the vehicle; to determine if they need service; and to ask who they’ve talked with about their vehicle. If they’re telling others about their positive experiences, these clients should be asked to provide you with referrals.

4. Schedule presentations or meetings

Getting commitments for demonstrations is an extremely valuable activity. Be certain to send out a confirmation of the details immediately and to reconfirm everything early on the day of the meeting.

5. Distribute product information

Carry information with you everywhere. Always be ready to leave something in the hands of someone new. Always ask for their business card or contact information and follow up immediately with a note of appreciation for their time.

6. Prepare for your next presentation

You can’t be over-prepared to give a demonstration on your vehicles. If you have nothing else to do, practice! Have a friend or associate watch you and offer suggestions for improvement—whether it’s in what you say or in your body movements.

7. Give presentations

This is the most fun part our days. We all love the opportunity to show our vehicles to new potential clients. Unfortunately, we don’t get too many opportunities to do this if we haven’t been busy with all the other activities listed above.

8. Close new clients

For this activity, you might give yourself a money value as points. As your selling skills improve, so should the amount of money you earn.

9. Referrals received

Give yourself a point for every referred lead you acquire each and every day. Referrals are like gold — but only when you do something with them.

10. Thank you notes sent

Develop a habit of sending thank you notes to everyone you meet and talk with on a daily basis. I used to set a goal for sending 10 each day. That meant I needed to get out in the world physically or on the phone and talk with 10 people each day. I would thank past clients for their patronage. I would thank potential clients for sharing their time with me. I would send thank you notes to anyone who provided me service. They appreciated it and would often tell others about me — generating interest and leads.

11. Attend business functions or sales meetings

If you are with a strong company that is dedicated to growth in your industry and your geographic area, attend every meeting you possibly can. They may all begin to sound the same after awhile, but if you listen well, you will soon find yourself with new ideas for success.

By making a game or challenge out of completing activities, I soon found myself becoming much more productive in business. If you would like to see a sample of the Daily Activity Graph I used for my own productivity, click here.

See more from Tom Hopkins on NCM OnDemand. 

Permanent link to this article:

Tom Hopkins

Questions Are The Answer


When you work with a new car prospect, don’t you agree that you should try for several minor yeses before you go for the “big yes” buying decision? It makes sense, doesn’t it? It would be helpful to learn a specific technique that would begin a string of “yes” answers, wouldn’t it? You’re probably getting tired of all these questions, aren’t you?

If you answered “yes” to these four questions, you’ve just proven the effectiveness of the “Tie-Down” questioning technique. Let me begin by defining the term “tie-down.” A tie-down is a question at the end of a sentence that calls for a positive response.

Here are some examples:

  • “A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important in making this decision, isn’t it?
  • “I can tell you are happy to hear that we have a wide range of financing options, aren’t you?
  • “You can see how our evening service hours would make your life easier, can’t you?

This technique works most effectively when you tie-down a positive statement about the benefits of your services that you know your prospect needs. The key is not to over-use them so your prospect won’t suspect you’re using a technique.

Here are 18 standard tie-downs that you’ll find useful.

Aren’t they? Don’t we? Isn’t it?
Aren’t you? Shouldn’t it? Isn’t that right?
Can’t you? Wouldn’t you? Didn’t it?
Couldn’t it? Haven’t they? Wasn’t it?
Doesn’t it? Hasn’t he? Won’t they?
Hasn’t she? Won’t you?? Don’t you agree?

You don’t want to use too many of them with any one client, just enough to get the yeses flowing. Experiment with your existing presentation until you find a comfortable number of tie-downs to use without sounding repetitive.

Another way to keep these tie-downs from sounding overused is to use them in other forms: “Inverted,” and “Internal.” I’ll use the same example as above to demonstrate them.


A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important in making this decision, isn’t it?


Isn’t a reputation for service after the sale important in making this decision?


A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important, isn’t it, in making this decision?

The inverted and internal tie-downs allow you to hide the fact that you’re using a technique while adding warmth to your statements. By utilizing all three types, you’ll have a good mixture of them to build into your presentation. Once you’ve learned them and worked with them, use of the tie-down will become a speech habit that will improve your business and your earnings.

Another form of the tie-down you might consider using is the “Tag-On Tie-Down.” It can be used in a variety of ways. The simplest is to tie-down a positive statement your prospect has just made. For example, if they say, “Having a good extended warranty is important.” You would say, “Isn’t it?” They make a positive statement and you agreed, but asked for another positive statement. The statement being the word, “yes.”

Another useful questioning technique is the “Alternate of Choice” technique.

An alternate of choice question is one that suggests two answers, either one will confirm that your prospect is going ahead. The easiest example of this is getting an appointment. The average salesperson will say to their prospect, “When can we get together?” This allows the prospect to say, “Never” or, “I’m too busy just now, I’ll call you later.” Now, that won’t get you an appointment today, will it?

In using the alternate of choice question you would say, “I have an appointment opening this afternoon at 3:00, or would 4:30 be more convenient for you?” You’ve given your prospect two choices, one of which they will most likely agree to. If they cannot make either appointment, they’ll tell you and you can counter with another alternate.

This is also a good technique to use when you try to get a delivery date from your prospect once they show signs of going ahead. “You mentioned needing to remove some things from your garage in order to park your new vehicle in there. How soon would you want to take delivery of your new truck? Now? Or, would later this afternoon be better?” Just remember to use it whenever you have two alternatives you can give to your prospect, and either one means the sale is proceeding forward.

These two simple questioning techniques are the first steps to turning your existing presentations into positive momentum builders. Please remember, a quick reading of these techniques will not do. You need to read them, study them, learn them, and practice them until they become a natural part of your speech. If you have to stop and think before using these techniques, your prospect will suspect you are using a sales technique and will try to fight you. Once they’ve become a natural part of your speech, they will flow smoothly and add warmth to your presentation. All it takes is one “yes” to turn a prospect into a satisfied client.


Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «