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Studies show that the average salesperson is into negotiations within 3 minutes of saying hello. Three minutes and they're talking numbers and hoping to close a deal. What's amazing is, I heard that exact statistic when I went to my first sales training seminar in 1980. So, nothing has really changed in over 30 years.
Think about it this way. Some of you have been reading this newsletter since it began. That being the case, could you send me a check for $1,000? You've received information. Maybe even a laugh or two. Perhaps even an idea to help your dealership. Okay. How about $250? $100? $50?
Let me get this straight. I've provided effort, value and even good information and I can't get $50 from any of you. Yet, dealers across the country tolerate "Charlie Average" talking about $20,000 - $30,000 - $40,000 or more after just 3 minutes with a customer. In working with our client dealers to find them quality people, I've learned one valuable lesson.
Closing deals is a result. Asking customers to spend money is a result. Negotiations are a result. The result of asking the right questions, providing the right information, and finding the right vehicle. Anyone who can do that within 3 minutes can probably walk on water.
Selling is a process. Not following the process, rushing to "The Close" never works. Most of the time, it leads to no sale, no repeat business, and no referrals. Best case. You sell the vehicle at little to no profit, get poor CSI scores and never see the customer again. Cutting corners always cuts into profits.
The process is simple but it isn't easy. That means your staff probably knows exactly what to do but for some reason, they just don't do it. Forcing them to become part of the process rather than part of the profit problem, will go a long way to increasing customer retention, increased profits and reduced turnover. All of these are worthwhile goals but I don't want to force them on anyone. (For a free list of my top five process tips, send an email with your name, dealership and email address to email@example.com and writer Process Tips in the subject line.)
Since I started in the business in the late 70's, the dumbest question you can ask a customer is, "Can I help you?" Yet, when I send new students out to shop other dealers, that question is asked the majority of the time. If that is an acceptable greeting, you've already read to far into this article and don't need my advice. But, if you want to get your people to a point where they are process driven, perhaps you should consider what I call Improvement By Addition. This is where you bring in some new people, train them in the process and let their success dictate the performance standard of others.
Every time we've provided dealers with additional new talent, they put themselves in a can't lose situation. Their "experienced staff" steps up and begins following the process or they simply leave and you replace them with more new talent with no bad habits.
Another way to instill the process in your team is to pay for the process and let the results take care of themselves. If you have spiffs and bonuses that you use regulary, add the qualifier that the process, or at least steps in the process, must be followed to be eligible to receive any bonus money.
In conclusion, dealers who are serious about reaching their maximum profit potential must understand that it is a process. If you want to sell 200 cars in a month, no matter how long you've been in business, you don't get to start at 175 delivered and go from there. Everyone starts the month tied at zero. Then we go from there. Developing a process and then demanding it be followed is the best way to achieve long-term success and higher profits. But the real benefits are that both customers and sales staff stay with you for the long haul.