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Fear of What?

Don't tell me that you aren't afraid of anything, because you and I know that isn't the truth. 

The question is "Fear of What"? 

That's a very interesting question - Let's take look at 3 different people in 3 different positions to get the answer to this question in each of their specific situations.

  1. Sales Consultant:  This sales consultant is suffering in his career.  He knows what to do.  So why doesn't he increase his activity so that he produces more and earns more?
  2. Sales Manager:  The sales manager hires a new sales consultant and he wants this hire to be different than the last few, because they all left soon after getting started.  He knew the reason they left so soon was that he basically said, "here is the website to learn the product and then shadow Fred and you are ready to go."  So why doesn't he spend more time with this new sales consultant and train him thoroughly?
  3. General Manager:  He knows that the dealership is underachieving and that in order to reach the company's potential he must change the culture of the dealership.    He sees the untrained salespeople, he is very aware that the marketing has been in place for a long time and is now ineffective, he hears of the bad attitudes caused by management's style of motivation by intimidation, he gets feedback that the sales process is still dealership focused and not customer focused,  and it drives him crazy that the sales consultants still just sit and wait on prospects.  So why doesn't he lead his team and take action to change?

I believe with all certainty that the reason for "why doesn't he?" in each situation is FEAR -  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of what others will think, fear driven by a lack of belief in their individual ability to change and execute, fear driven by a lack of belief in the value of the product and service provided.

These are 3 individuals in familiar positions in a car dealership.  They represent 3 situations that are very common and therefore you can rightfully surmise that this fear is pervasive throughout this and many other dealerships.  And even more critical than the fear itself is the lack of dealing with it.  In fact, the biggest obstacle to the change we need in the car business is the unwillingness to acknowledge this fear and deal with it.

Suggesting to that sales consultant that the reason for his/her lack of activity is a fear of rejection or a fear of not being able to produce, will bring about a very defensive response and they will take that as an attack on them personally.

Asking the Sales Manager for the reason he doesn't follow through on his plans to change how he on boards a new sales consultant and then bringing up the idea that it might be the fear of not being effective in training and ultimately feeling responsible when the sales consultant fails, will bring a defensive and possible hostile response.

If you share with that GM that it appears that the only reason he wouldn't carry through on making the changes that so need to be made for his dealership to reach it's potential, is a fear of not being able to execute on so many changes and be successful.  You will surely be met with disagreement. 

So what is the solution to the problem?  Is it really fear?  And if so, if the expected response to someone being accused of being fearful is denial, then what can be done?  The solutions is very simple but far from easy to accomplish.  Here are the simple facts:  The opposite of Fear is Faith.  Faith is based upon Belief.  Belief is fed by knowledge, skill and confidence.  So let's look at these 3 examples above - what are they missing?

1. The Sales Consultant knows that in order to produce more and earn more, something has got to change.  So, he determines that what he needs to do to produce or sell more and that is going to require him to talk to more people.  In very simple terms he must increase his activity.  Now, he stresses about it, worries about it, but he doesn't change anything and heads make out to the point to take as many ups as he can today, just as he has done everyday for as long as he can remember.  He even talks to the BDC manager about getting some orphan customers to start calling and he will schedule some appointments.  The BDC manager says great, lets get started right now.  The sales consultant resists that because he didn't have that in his daily plan, so he decides to start tomorrow.  He then he stresses and worries about it and he doesn't start tomorrow and it just doesn't happen.  Why?  Fear creeps in, the what-ifs are eating him up.  Here comes the justification for the fear and doubt:

  • What if I make all those calls and get nothing and while I'm doing that someone catches that up and sells them?
  • Of course, yesterday that car drove up and the "what if" was - What if they have bad credit and or is severely upside down? So instead of taking that customer he quickly excused himself to go make a call.
  • What if that customer is qualified in every way, but wants to think about it?

 Is he dealing with something different than any other sales professional has or does?  Is this a unique challenge?  Absolutely not.  In fact, it drives good people from a career in professional sales everyday.  This consultant needs to be led and coached through this.  The problem with that is his sales manager came through the same organization and was never trained, taught and led to recognize when this career threatening situation is going on.  

2.The Sales Manager that has just hired a brand new sales consultant with no sales experience, but he sees something in him that he liked and he hired him.  And he has great plans to change how he brings him on-board.  He is going to do it right.  1.  Orientation to the dealership 2.  Broad overview of the product line-up  3.  Introduce him to the Sales Process and why each step is important and briefly explains how exactly it works.  4.  Talk about the CRM and business development and what is expected.  5.  Go over all log-in credentials and websites they need to be familiar.  Also, phone apps they need to download.    

This is a really new thing for him.  As the time approaches he stresses and worries about it.  Why?  He is fearful?  He has a lot of experience with hiring new sales consultants.  But, he doesn't have faith in his ability to perform.  Ultimately, this new person has to produce to support this family. So, fear and doubt creeps in and the what-ifs eat him up.  What he needs is leadership from someone who recognizes this situation and leads and assists him in handling it. Unfortunately, the GM brought him into the business and he doesn't recognize the fear that is dominating himself.

3. The General Manager knows down deep that the culture must change for growth to happen and for the  dealership to reach it's potential.  He has identified the moves that need to be made now. 

  1. Implement a training program for sales consultants and then inspect regularly to make sure that the managers are carrying through and making sure the program is being completed. 
  2. Marketing dollars have got to be reviewed consistently for effectiveness.  Changing from conventional to digital and being sure to analyze and review to make sure the dollars are invested in the right places. 
  3. Stop the culture of making people do things and constantly threatening.  Learn what moves each individual on the team to take action. Then motivate each team member personally to reach their own goals. 
  4. The antiquated sales process has got to be changed.  It must become flexible to account for the different types of consumers that the sales consultants deal with everyday.  The key to this is to be training this process and what is flexible and what is not.  This training must be done everyday and someone needs to be held accountable for that.
  5. The work ethic in the sales department must change.  Sales Consultants allowed to sit around and wait hour after hour, day after day, month after month is not a work ethic that will win.  Business Development and effective prospecting activity comes in many different ways and requires moment to moment coaching from sales managers.  This GM must establish some KPIs that are non-negotiables and then hold the sales managers accountable for getting them done.  

All of these are keys to success, so why doesn't the GM execute?  The worry and stress sets in because this is different and the fear coming from doubt and a lack of faith leads to the desire to just go back to what is comfortable and just do it the same old way.

This fear, from no faith, lack of belief and low confidence runs through the organization without anyone having the skills to overcome it.  So let's face it, one of the problems is that many of the people in management positions in car dealerships don't study leadership and make learning a priority.  If they are even spending time studying their business, this study usually consists of manufacturer related subjects or learning the new marketing landscape. Both of those are important, but do they even matter until the Fear,  that is organization wide, gets eradicated? Remember, that the opposite of fear is faith.  In order to overcome this fear that is stopping these changes from being made by these 3 people is being caused by a lack of belief in themselves and their skills and abilities. 

That is enough time spent on the challenges, let's solve them.  Here is the proven and guaranteed solution.  Here are the 3 steps to defeating this fear that is crippling any sales organization specifically today's car dealership.

  1. Identify the processes that need to be changed ASAP.  This can be done on a individual basis by a sales consultant or for an entire department.  Is it the sales process put in place to take care of a customer when they come to the dealership or is it the individual process of getting appointments by a sales consultant?  You are looking for a process that is critical to success and growth.  Is it ineffective and not bringing the results necessary?  Is it because the process needs to be changed or does training just need to be done and then people held accountable to follow it?  Maybe you are spending money on a lead source that is not working, what is the process for working that lead source? Spend whatever time is necessary to find what needs to be changed.  If it makes you uncomfortable thinking about it, you really need to consider it.  
  2. What skills are necessary to build confidence that the change can be accomplished?  You need to be taking steps to become an expert in your area of responsibility.  How can these skills be acquired? 
    • There is so much free training on almost every subject and skill on YouTube.  If you haven't searched YouTube for successful people doing and teaching how to accomplish specific goals, you must do that now!  I don't care if you are a Sales Consultant wanting to learn better presentation skills or a Sales Manager or Business Manager wanting to become more effective, or a General Manager wanting a new and powerful perspective on leadership. Find someone you trust and look at and obsessively watch their YouTube content.  It will be life changing for you.  Some skills may take a little more research. 
    • There is an enormous amount of information available from experts in each area of operation and for every position in the dealership.  Be obsessive in seeking out the experts, reading their articles, subscribing to their newsletters and asking them questions.  If you are wanting to revamp your entire sales process, study to bring your skills to an expertise level as soon as you can.  Approach it as an urgent issue and get it done now. Spend time early and late to get it done.  If you are trying to learn enough about digital marketing to at least have an intelligent conversation with your ad agency, then you can get that done.  But, again you have got to approach it with the attitude that you are going to become an expert in as short a period of time as possible.  

This expertise brings confidence and drives belief in your competence.  That confidence in yourself and your process brings faith and that is the opposite of fear.  Both cannot exist together.  Drive the fear out with faith and then watch the productivity explode.

  3.  Continue to learn and lead.  Continue to study to become expert in all areas         of your business specific to your position. Then this cycle of fear and doubt         gets broken.  You will be aware of the fear problem and will be able to see it         in your colleagues and those that you lead.  You will be able to lead and                 teach how to overcome.  You will be able to teach how to identify the areas           of concern quickly and then lead on how and where to go to develop the               skills to build the confidence and become an expert.  That expert                             competency then builds the belief in potential which creates faith and                   defeats fear.

The Fear that stops action is 99% caused by a lack of knowledge and expertise.  It doesn't matter what your field is, it certainly is not limited to the car business.  It is a challenge in medicine, engineering, law, professional sports, etc.  If you are finding fear is stopping you from taking action, it comes from a lack of faith stemming from a lack of belief in yourself and your product or service.  

The GOOD NEWS is conquering this fear is totally in your control.  

Expect to Win!

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