To see the review and Part 1 of this interview, please click here or search my blog. This is a continuation of aforementioned interview.
Brandin’s Brief Bio: Brandin Wilkinson is one of North America’s leading automotive professionals under the age of 40, as recognized by the #1 North American automotive business website, Automotive News. He went from being an accidental Sales Professional to General Manager of a 55+ team in 6 short years. From there, an opportunity opened up to Partner in with a Chrysler Franchise, where he increased the new sales volume 61% in 3 years. Now, Brandin’s main focus is on his new venture, ReThinkU Performance Coaching (ICF Certified), where he is maximizing the professional careers of Managers, C-Suite Executives, and Business Owners through personal performance.
You reference the importance of who to look toward for learning, such as a mentor, successful people, people who want to be successful and/or continue to learn, etc. What value can people who aren’t successful, who fail, who don’t try, offer, if any?
Great question. If you’re intelligently observant, you’ll potentially learn more from people on what not to do versus learning what to do from mentors. Mentors are great because they show you what they’ve done to become successful so you can model it. But it’s just as important in my opinion to look for what not to do from people who are underperforming. We must look for good and bad habits from everyone. From there, we extract the right ones that we would like to exemplify and begin to incorporate them into our life.
How can a reader ensure they don’t get stuck in the trap of planning without executing? How does a reader ensure they execute their plan?
Discipline is the short answer. If we depend on our own devices, we will likely fail at execution. This is why developing good habits is so crucial. We have to create an environment for ourselves that sets us up for success.
For example, if you struggle with a morning routine, or getting exercise first thing in the morning, start by laying out your gym clothes right beside your bed so they’re ready to go and turn off your snooze button! When you wake up, count backwards from 5 like a rocket taking off: 5-4-3-2-1 and jump out of bed into your gym clothes. Get the body moving, splash some cold water on your face, and get ready to attack the day. When you do this, it puts you into a proactive state which makes execution easier. This is where discipline comes in. The majority of people can do this for the first few days, but few can actually create a habit out of it and make it a part of their lifestyle.
You cite a lot of good sources for continued education on a variety of topics near the end of your book (as well as throughout it). Any new sources you’ve discovered since publishing the book that you’d like to add to that list?
Love this. Yes, for sure: Robin Sharma, Jason Silva, Shawn Stevenson, and Jairek Robbins. An app that I’ve been using lately for getting the day started is Insight Timer.
In 2004, you reference that you had hit pretty much hit rock bottom. From there you made some deliberate decisions to be successful. Why do you think so many times it is the people who hit rock bottom that become some of the most motivated to not only achieve success in their industry but go beyond—like write a book?
In my experience, hitting rock bottom was the stimulus I needed to wake up to life. I knew there was more value that I had to add to the world but somehow lost my way. The reason why hitting rock bottom is a blessing in disguise is because it scares you into success. You have two choices, either stay there and be comfortable or use it as leverage to start the life you were meant to live.
You had a pretty draining schedule when you first started in sales. Would better sales training helped to alleviate that while increasing early successes?
This is a tough one. I’m an advocate now for working hard and smart. In the early stages of sales, I was all about working hard and powering through everything no matter what it took. I’m a believer that in the early stages (especially in the first 3 years) of any business - which is what a commissioned salesperson essentially is - it requires an insane amount of work to grow it effectively. The tradeoff is that after year #3 you’re able to work fewer hours but reap higher rewards. I have yet to see a salesperson work the standard 40 hours per week for their first 3 years and not take any ups because they’re too busy with their own repeat/ referral clientele.
As you note in the book, the skills to lead are vastly different than the skills to sell. Why do dealerships struggle with grasping this?
To start with I think our industry is saturated with Managers and lacking Leaders. Management is easy. Leadership is difficult. We lack training in both areas but even more so in Leadership. Yet there is no shortage of Sales Trainers to teach the sales skills that we need to sell vehicles. We need to shift our focus on the development, coaching, and training of Management and Ownership if we want to get the most productivity out of our dealerships. Having the right leadership will lead to an incredibly healthy culture which will lower expenses and increase profit. We’re starting to see this but it’s coming slowly.
You reference the importance of role playing with peers. Do you use structured role plays? If so, how do recommend structuring them for best results?
I think it’s important to role play and quietly observe the top salespeople from a distance when they’re communicating with their clients to pick up on anything that you could incorporate into your sales process. I have yet to see or perfect the ideal role play situation. What I do prefer though is to do it one on one with another salesperson. Having Managers involved increases pressure and removes the fun of it. I like the idea of going outside, away from distractions and letting loose. No scripts. Approach it as if you’re a real client. It’s a good idea to review some of the top objections we commonly face and hear how each salesperson responds to them. But I find as much, or more, value in paying attention to what the top salespeople do and how they do it. Watch their body language, tone of voice, and pace of conversation. Success leaves clues, it’s smart to watch and learn from the top producers.
You reference the “Golden Circle” and leading with your “Why.” In my experience, this can often be misinterpreted to make the sale about yourself—i.e. you talk about your why, becoming prone to pitching. How do you suggest one learns the customer’s “Why,” which is what motivates the customer to buy, not your “Why?”
Yes, good point. To find your Why you need to know what your Purpose, Cause, and Beliefs are. In order to have success with learning your clients Why you must understand what their Purpose (reasons for coming into your dealership and haven’t bought elsewhere yet), Cause (meaning as to why they are in the market for a vehicle), and Beliefs (why they believe they need a specific vehicle) are. This all stems from knowing and asking high-quality discovery questions. SPIN Selling is the best resource I’ve found for determining the right questions to ask.
Why is workforce planning so lacking in our industry?
I think because we are a short-minded industry versus thinking about the long-game. We can’t seem to think past the current month and we definitely can’t see past the current year. This makes planning outside of 30 days difficult. It’s not the fault of the dealer owners in my opinion though. I believe that it stems from the pressures and incentive programs we get from the OEM’s on a monthly basis.
When it comes to dealership sales training, where do you think the OEM’s responsibility rests, if at all?
It would be nice to see more involvement from the OEM’s in terms of training and development. Especially when it comes, once again, to Management and Leadership. Discussing the OEM’s contribution to dealerships in numerous areas could be a whole separate interview!
If you could go back and add three items to the book, what would they be, if any?
I honestly wouldn’t add any. I have definitely expanded my knowledge since writing the book but at the time that I wrote it, I gave everything I had. However, I am currently working on new content for my new website which will be launching in the first quarter of 2019. This could very well lead to a new book.
What’s the website?
Anything we haven’t discussed you’d like to discuss?
No man you asked a lot of high-quality questions. Thank you! I’m looking forward to reversing roles and learning more from you.
I want to thank you, Brandin, again for participating in an interview and for writing your book, which may find here. I enjoyed getting to know you better and learning more!