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Everyone, even the most committed and successful visionary, may take a shortcut from time to time. It's in our DNA. It's hard to resist. It's a recipe for disaster. It's one of the status quos of automotive retail and it'll undoubtedly be the death of more dealers.
So why is it that we live in a world where increasing the cost of goods sold for the sake of selling is acceptable? Markets overwhelmingly determine prces and sales, and those that proactively and interactively work to grow the market will win. And retention is nearly completely determined by the retailer. If you listen to most vendor pitches, increasing your operational cost is the only way to increase your business. Look at the trends at too many dealers over the past year, as sales have increased and you'll see old patterns and habits back once again.
- Look at the opportunities that are being missed. If you are a GM or GSM and are not reviewing your store's Internet-based performances at least weekly, you are losing sales, reviews, service opportunities and more. Don't simply add leads when salespeople ask for more leads. Review and access. Don't mask performance issues with more leads, new add-ons from vendors or another salesperson until you find and fix the true issues.
Dealers increasingly seem to be struggling with their rock stars once again. The difference between the salespeople that are truly working processes, generating results and those that talk a great story and have glowing resumes they'll share with everyone at the drop of a hat appears to be growing. Well-qualified people are harder to get at the same time that the gravy train seems to be stuck at the station. rock stars are made by quality of work, sales, fans, referrals and buzz. If you are in car dealership management and your staff doesn't have all of those, you're website staff page might as well have pictures of Busey, Sheen and Murphy, Sure, your sales staff used to sell cars but are simply taking up otherwise valuable space at your expensive facility.
- If a salesperson can't close a manager, they can't close. They sold 28 a month at the (fill in the blank) store before taking your prized opening? What happened? You might be able to teach them. But how are they going to talk with and close an executive from a local company when they can't leave a proper message? While the industry talks about the "quality" of leads, we actually need to talk about the quality of people representing dealerships. Personality tests, walk-around evaluations, daily product training and more are great, but if your rock star is simply an over-egoed, tanned snake it the grass with a tattoo, that's what you and your customers are getting.
For a true professional, working harder is just as important and effective as time management. (newsflash: there is no such thing as time management, just priority or schedule management). If you are in sales and you tell management that you'll work harder, take the rest of the day off. Unpaid. Working harder is to results as Pillsbury is to making a gourmet cake. Find ways to leverage your time, use existing resources, have a cache of information ready and, most importantly, listen to your customers so you can save time rather than work harder. If you're in the work harder camp, you'll be passed by those that are in the work effectively camp and enjoy life much, much less.
- While there are a lot of things that can keep you from what you need to do on a daily basis, what needs to be done is incredibly simple. It's just not easy. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals (if you have the guts, set quarterly ones, too). Document everything. Use your electronic tools but write things down. It's amazing how many salespeople refuse to print out their queue and document notes by each contacts' name throughout the day, saying mid-day "I've hit my list" and "why do I need to print a list, it's on my screen!". Did you call each prospect three times? Are you customizing each email so it's relevant to them? Are you creating excitement, a call to action and exclusivity? And are you documenting everything?
Given the choice to build your business, what activity must you do?
1. follow up with all sold customers, asking them for referrals;
2. provide the best delivery process
3. set appointments
4. be the fastest responder of all your competitors
5. have the best brand experience of any salesperson at your store
If you've spent any time in sales, the only activity that generates business is number 3. You can everything else well, but if you're taking shortcuts, doing everything you can to work harder and bending it like a bonehead, you can't build a great business.
Remember that the best tools allow those that use them correctly with solid processes to do the best. A mediocre salesperson using great software may be able to sell some more products. A mediocre product with a great sales team, processes and software to back it up will win nearly every time.
As the automotive world we live in continues to change through new ideas, consolidation, acquisitions, production issues, lousy marketing and the link, you can only control what you do. So do what you do better. Shortcuts don't work, and definitely in the long run. Most rockstars fade or burn out. Leave working harder to the ones that don't know any better. What we're about is providing a better experience and delivering more cars. Not a flashy image. Nothing old school. Nothing that blocks or tackles.
What's the point? It's the one that things turn at. It's the one you wake up at. It's the one that you're beyond. Get the point?
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results
You can read more IM@CS posts here on DrivingSales.com or on our blog.