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You were the class clown, your friends' center of attention, captain of the sport team, oldest in your family, standout of sorts in various jobs and now you lead the sales ranks...and you're flat out lucky! Considering the last time you listened actively was to get an extra scoop of ice cream in eighth grade, it is hard to understand what, outside of ambition, fortune and favor, has you topping the charts. As a passive listener, you can remember that your first customer ever made a nice comment about your tie...

OK, that was a little over the top, but hopefully the message hit home.  How do you know what he said, she said, they said, if you're not listening!?!? Consider the amount of leads that are not sufficiently handled, floor ups that aren't greeted correctly (let alone qualified), prospects that aren't followed up with in a timely, contextually relevant way (sending a pre-populated eNewsletter DOESN'T qualify) and you can start to understand how broken things are for consumers.

Most dealers pay for a CRM, typically in addition to their (substandard but used for 'oversight') factory lead management system, and don't even use it. Store by store, a visit can reveal that most of the notes in a customer's file (if there are any) are easily described as archaic. Ask a salesperson to explain the notes, you'll typically hear "I don't have time to put in more detail" and "I've spoken with them so I'll know what's going on when they come in to buy the dang car". You might even hear "it's my customer, not the store's" from a more honest staffer.

Task the same salesperson with fundamental questions about the customer, family, kids, how long they've researched/shopped for the car they're buying,what their third color choice or second option package preference is and you might get a more educated look from a deer looking at the front of your car in the middle of North Dakota on a desolate highway that you're driving 95 miles per hour on at 2:38 in the morning. You know that look...

"What she said" is so dang darn important that, gosh forbid the person actually felt you cared about them, they might recommend more customers for you in the next three months than you had from all your past customers in the last 12 months. People, it starts with really listening. No, REALLY listening. Look at it this way: you were so lucky to have it the way you do. Two ears, one mouth. Like mom said, use them in the same ratio.

Try listening for a week. You'll get some interesting changes in your business., Do it for a month, you'll actually create a trend. Make it happen for six months and you'll likely never be held back like you were in the past. Take notes. Document how your business has shown you new opportunities. That might happen when you listen to your customer talk about something that they're passionate about. You'll actually pick up on it, share it with your boss before they leave in their new car...next thing you know your dealership is involved with an amazing event in your market that helps sell another 25 cars. All because you listened.

Listen, confirm, validate, document, review, share, store, leverage...and then listen again. It's the greatest tool you'll ever have, besides that whosimawhatsie you have our your desk that you've not taken the time to use once since the seminar you received it at 11 years ago!

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results

You can see more posts here on DrivingSales.com or at http://imacsweb.typepad.com

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