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...trying to explain it to one of my friends in Great Britain last week...she said to me, "Sounds like you're really having a time of it Jim. I believe you're living your next book."
Car sales are not automatic any more...you've actually got to have some talent and people skills. There was a time when Honda and Toyota Sales were relatively stupid-proof. A monkey with a note in his mouth could stand in the center of the lot and deliver 10 units.
As a speaker, trainer and consultant to the retail automobile business; we've had to dramatically change the way we do business with car dealers. http://www.ZieglerTV.com is one example of 'new thinking'.
In my travels, I interact with thousands of sales professionals, managers, and dealers on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is...we've forgotten how to sell cars. AND, technology isn't going to sell the cars, it's only going to hook you up with the prospects and educate them. There still has got to be an element of sales persuasion to convert the contact into the appointment that actually shows up. In other words, a techo-geek with no personality is going to waste a lot of opportunities trying to sell cars intellectually.
Down payment is still the key to profitability...and...as an industry, we've become a bunch of weak sucks when it comes to asking for the money. The average dealership posts less than two-hundred-fifty dollars real cash down per financed deal. Of course the banks were financing 170% of invoice so you had the luxury of being weak.
Leasing was so easy it created a generation of order-takers who forgot how to sell and persuade.
And the entire industry developed a 'bogue' mentality. If a real citizen with great credit showed up we were scrambling for the invoice because we no longer knew how to deal with customers with good credit.
My "prospecting' classes are overflowing because we've forgotten how to reach out in the community and generate our own business.
NOW, it appears the party's over and there are casualties strewn all over the landscape. I had two sales person seminars in Detroit in November with more than 125 in attendance at each one. More than half of the audience had been selling for more than ten years...experienced sales professionals. That never was the case in the past. How come? Because they had become so comfortable they forgot the raw basics of automobile sales and were wise enough to reinvent themselves, back to the future so-to-speak.
SO...here's the question.
What have you done during the current economic crisis and credit crunch to reinvent the way you do business. What has your dealership done differently? What's working for you...best practices? What doesn't work anymore?