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Dave Erickson

Dave Erickson Internet Sales Director

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I’m late to work already and I’d rather sit here and drink coffee and perhaps go to the beach today and I can’t imagine anyone else waking up differently. So I’m at the end of my desk right now between two different types of days. The one I’m supposed to have going to work and the one I want to have so instead of either one I’ll write this.

I met someone the other day who said his internet department was going to have a 12-step process. As I was getting ready this morning I couldn’t help but wonder about this process and what happens on step 5 or 8 and especially 10 or 12 and why not shorten the steps to get right to those magical things on step 3 or 4?

And I thought if you’re going to go for a 12 stepper why wuss out at 12. Why not go for 32 or really man up and go for a whole 102 step sales process. Then I thought about my measly little 5-step process and started to wonder if it was sufficient and if I shouldn’t have a 12 stepper or 39 stepper instead.

But then I thought my 5 step process works for me and I’ve proven myself over and over again with it. And then I thought that guys 12-step process probably works for him too. Surely he didn’t get to be a newly promoted big time internet director unless he had delivered the goods some day.

So then I thought that what makes these processes good. What made or makes him good and other people is not some super industry or company wide master process but one that enables a person to complete the job process that utilized his/her strengths. They will in turn believe in this process and have hard evidence to back up its effectiveness but maybe what wasn’t effective was the process itself but that it was the person who designed it naturally designed it around their own strengths and it successfully leveraged those strengths.

I wondered if this person I met with a 12-step process was going to have success as he was hiring a team of internet people and planned on introducing this to them. I remember one time I worked in a dealership that had consultants who had sold and implemented and monitored a 4-step process to the dealership. The only sales people who sold cars were the ones that seemed to not follow it and they were not enforcing the process on these 1-2 individuals as they had sold a significant amount of cars. They in effect had their own process.

I just got a text now from my customer that they are on their way so I must go as it looks like I’ll be a salesman again today but if I were the big boss I wouldn’t implement my 5-step process or implement my super improved 7-step process. These sorts or processes seem to be more for managers and directors than sales people and maybe in large organizations it’s better to forego having sales superstars for a predictable and enforceable sales process and its predictable result but such a processes isn’t for sales people and if it isn’t for sales people then then it isn’t for sales and you should call it something else. Process 12 v.1 Department perhaps.

Bart Wilson
There is a great debate to be pulled from this post. Do we have steps because they make our salespeople more successful or are they needed because our salespeople aren't capable of selling without them?
Bryant Gibby
What are the steps to your process? I agree that a sales process should be more concise. There is no need to make things more complicated than they need to be. What extra steps does he have in his process that you don't have in yours? just curious
David Greene
Dave this is a great post on many different levels. In sales in general and in retail automotive sales in particular the word "process" seems to be the most over-used and least understood concept in existence. At its worst the term gives sales managers a false sense of security that they actually have an effective and sustainable methodology for ensuring their dealership will convery the highest percentage of sales opportunity into actual sales. This is amplified by having some sort of signage in the lunch/training room that in fact lists the "steps to the sale" which as you point out can be anywhere from 5 to 100 depending on the time and ambition of the process poster. In a best case scenario, "the process" is in fact an effective methodology that consistenly presents every sales opportunity with a value building experience that culminates in a sale. My observation is that this is the less frequent translation of the term but it creates enough success for the dealership that employs it to inspire other dealerships to replicate that success with their own process. Except that maybe it even has more steps which I suppose gives the process creator a sense of process dominance if not actual sales results. In defense of sales process I think its important to step back and agree on a common definition of exactly what a "process" is. And to the dismay of many sales managers I've worked with I don't think it's the sign in the training room that has a list of steps from one through whatever that starts with "Meet & Greet" and ends with "Delivery". The most basic definition of "process" is simply "input" or what enters the process, "transformation" which is what happens to the input and as you may have guessed by now "output" which is what exits the process. You get sales leads - your input - and they result in a sale or a no sale - your output and what happened in between was your process. Depending on the dealership this can also be referred to as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Where the moment of truth occurs of course is in the transformation. If your acknowledgement email transforms the prospects impression of you from "car salesman" to "the nice man I contacted at the Honda dealership" and it does it consistenly with prospects who might otherwise have remained cynical online vehicle shoppers... Congratulations you've got a great process for converting shopper inquiries (suspects) into an engaged dialogue (prospects). If you have another way of then communicating with that prospect that accomodates both a short and long term buying cycle and also gets consistently positive results (transformations) and then another method for setting in store appointments that also gets consistenly good results etc. Then weather its 5 steps or 100 you've probaly got a pretty darn good process. The fact of the matter is Dave, you are probably a top producer and like a lot of top producers you have a process that works for you because you have the unique talent and ability to create customer value at all of those moments of truth where transformation is supposed to occur. Unfortunately a sales team of 20 will usually only have 2 or 3 consistent top producers and the rst of the team is trying to figure out how the heck you do it. This is where a well defined, managed and coached sales process can make a big difference. I think the same is true if you're a one person Internet department managed by someone who perhaps might not have you natural talent for the position. If they follow a well designed process that takes an ordinary sales activity and makes it a transformative one they will sell more vehicles. Your dealer needs to simply learn how to recruit, hire, compensate and retain more people like you. But that's "leadership" which would be the topic of another post sometime.

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