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I've decided that I want to share my thoughts on here because no one will read them anyway. Consider this a sort of diary tucked under my mattress if you will.
I have been in the car business for over 6 years now. I have worked for the more progressive, forward thinking managers and of course, the managers we almost all have worked with-- the 1970's/1980's style manager—The angry, loud, aggressive manager who belittles the sales staff in hopes that it will ultimately motivate them, the manager who asks how you could ever sell a car using a computer and keyboard, the manager who pulls out his 1982 edition of "Control" for training new salesmen, the manager who trains from a “memorize these” out dated word tracks mind set. Sound familiar?
I am tired of these managers who expect the sales staff to memorize word tracks like "Cash is King" and the Stucker phone script verbatim. Now let me stop you right there. I am sure some of you are beginning to think I hate old school and that we can't learn a thing from these scripts and word tracks. I'll be the first to admit that these word tracks and scripts still have a place in TODAY'S dealerships. What I am advocating is application, not memorization!
Webster defines the word train as "to cause (someone or something) to develop an ability or skill." In this instance it means having a practical application of the word track or script. If I have a word track memorized and can recite it better than all of my peers, but have no idea what I'm really saying, have I really developed an ability or skill? So many managers train sales consultants to be mindless robots who recite these scripts and word tracks over and over, yet they don’t ask them to understand what they are reciting. Then these same managers expect these automated machines to think on their feet when they are with customers. There has to be a better way!
In the past month, I’ve heard so much about culture and how vital it is to any organization. If we really want to be better than our competition, we have to start with by having a different culture than our competition—a better culture than our competition. I believe part of our culture should be how and when we train our staff. So many stores train a staff when they first arrive and then after a few months, those consultants should sink or swim. Training should be a continual process that always challenges your staff. Just as a professional chef always sharpens his or her knife prior to using it, shouldn't we as professional sales consultants always sharpen our sales skills? And just as the same chef knows which knife to choose for the food they are preparing, shouldn’t we know how to handle specific customer objections? In Sell or Be Sold, Grant Cardone says, “I was able to predict objections and handle them before they even surfaced.” Grant may be a phenomenal salesman, but he wasn’t just born able to predict and handle these objections—he developed a skill. He trained.
As I mentioned before, I used to work for a manager who was pretty forward thinking. Let's call him DJ. In morning meetings DJ would pose an objection or question that a lot of consultants actually faced. Then he would open the floor to whoever wanted to "tackle" the objection. It encouraged critical thinking, creativity, and individuality. The greatest lesson that I took away from this is that none of us think or act alike. So why should we train our staff to be walking, talking, cookie-cutter robots as memorizing a set script would suggest?
This training method was also useful in identifying why a particular consultant may struggle with a certain step of the sales process. This open forum training not only put people on the spot in front of their managers and peers which simulated being with a customer, but it allowed us all to grow not only as individuals but as a team as well. My high school football coach always told us, “We are only as strong as our weakest link. We go as you go.” Team training made us a stronger team. We trained on relevant issues that allowed us to be true professionals. It allowed us to further sharpen our skills. We helped each other grow by hearing how others handled situations. On a side note, I loved how it occasionally afforded the managers time to praise a salesman. If a particular salesman was closing our aftermarket protection package at a high percentage, or they closed their own deal while holding large gross, the manager would ask them to do a demo for the rest of the staff. It allowed us to hear their “pitches” and take some pointers.
So where does all of this leave me? I have started to talk to the new salesmen in our store after they've started to train with our "training" manager. The thing I always stress is that learning the word tracks and scripts may be important to him, but what should be important to them is to understand what those scripts mean. If you can understand what they mean, you can say it how you would say it. You don't have to recite these to a customer verbatim to move the sale in the right direction. Just do what I did, learn the message not the words.