Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year!

So you have a Don’t you want something NEW and Better? Of course you do. Okay, so what’s next?

To make more money

The first thing you have to do is decide on what you want this year. Brainstorm with yourself and your loved ones to understand what better looks like. Then put these goals in writing. You are just kidding yourself if you don’t. Your goals should include designing a lifestyle that is worth living. Just earning a living sucks! Design YOUR life! 

  Write a work plan to make it happen. Set goals for both income and outgo. That’s right. Make plans that 
  are bigger, better, and more fun than last year—better than ever! 

Don’t live with regret. Plan your business vehicle sales and income to meet your opportunities for a better personal life. Do it now. Don’t procrastinate again like last year. Get up, dust yourself off (from the broken promises and dreams of last year)  and start dreaming the lifestyle you want. What are the things that would motivate you to higher sales and more fun?

New boat – Caribbean vacation – new piano – buy vehicle - hot tub – new kitchen – pay off debt – college fund – help out a family member – support a child starving in your community,city,state,America or the World – build a new home, put money on a course that works for you as an investment.

There is no business like the automotive business to increase your income. There are no income limits but those you place upon yourself. So take the blinders off. Leave past sales and lifestyles in the past and look at your life again.

What is missing? What would you like to do or have that only a little more money would buy? What places in this world have you not been to yet? Put them on the list and make the trip. You get the idea. Think big, better, exciting more FUN!

Do the math.
Take last year’s income and increase it by whatever it takes to achieve the lifestyle you want for your family and yourself. 

Let’s say the increase you desire is $10,000 more than last year.
You divide $10,000 by your average commission last year plus $30.00.
You divide that by 12 for the monthly sales target required.
You divide that by 4.3 for the weekly sales target required.

Guess what? The extra sales to increase your income this year is well under an extra sale a week. Probably only about ½ a sale a week. You can make that happen. Of course you can. 

Make your action plan right now. 

You already know what it takes to make what you did last year, so write down what you have to do better this year to make an additional half of a sale extra a week.
The keys to success for 2011.
·         Demo more, talk less.
·         Drive first during the presentation drive and sell the vehicle with more excitement
·         Meet and greet your customers more quickly than the other guys and gals.
·         Be more prepared to handle aggressive customers. They are ready. And they buy quickly
·         Increase your sales skills. Brush off the old training notes from my training classes or my weekly newsletters
·         Follow-up walk-outs better. Get their cell, work and home phone numbers in that order.
·         Ask for the business more often, even when you don’t think they are buying.
·         Increase your negotiation skills because you are not as good as you should be.
·         Work your Contact Management System to the maximum every day.
·         Get your sales manager’s involved early in the sales process – don’t (lot drop) or (burn through up’s)
·         Buy coffee for your sales manager more to get house deals. (Just kidding.)

 Get writing your Action Plan. Review it with your sales manager  to get feedback and ideas and support for your efforts. He or she will encourage you and help you keep on track for your personal goals.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Positive Approach to Negative People

I recently read an article telling managers that they should "get rid of" people whose negative attitudes are adversely affecting productivity and morale within their organizations.

I agree that is a manager's ultimate responsibility, but emphasize the word "ultimate." In far too many cases, managers go from looking the other way to swinging the axe, with the excuse that you can't make people change their attitudes.

"Getting rid of" someone should be a last resort, taken if and only if efforts to induce a more positive workplace environment and the corresponding attitudes of individuals who work there are not successful.

In that spirit, I share some of the most important lessons I've learned about taking a positive approach to negative people in my years with coaching managers and owners. These principles apply not only to management - replace the words "organization"
and "manager" with "family" and "parent" and you can take them home with you.

One: Recognize that toxic emotional negativity is always an outward projection of some inner pain (anxiety, envy, low self-esteem, etc.), and that helping people be more positive at work often means helping them achieve a higher level of self-mastery in their personal lives. To say that's not your responsibility is to sell short your organization, your employees, and the people you serve.

Two: Toxic emotional negativity is like the big smelly elephant in the middle of the living room. Everyone knows it's there, but no one wants to talk about it. Expectations regarding how attitudes are reflected in behaviors should be clear in orientation, performance appraisals, staff meetings, informal coaching, and every other possible venue.
Instead of complaining about someone's negative attitude, managers should have the courage to confront it in a constructive way.

Three: Attitudes are not genetic qualities; they are habits that are directly influenced by organizational culture, the behaviors of peers, and expectations of managers. As with all efforts to change inappropriate or self-destructive habits, fostering a more positive workplace is best achieved with gentle pressure relentlessly applied.

Four: Be clear and specific about the link between values and behaviors. For example, I do not know of an organization or an individual that does not claim to hold Integrity as an important value. Yet I do not know of an organization that does not have a rumor mill, and I know very few individuals who do not at least on occasion participate.

Always remember that, gossip always violates integrity; seen in that light, managers have a higher obligation to eliminate it from the workplace.

Five: Teach people practical skills for confronting toxic emotional negativity. A good example would be for your next meeting with your team(s), break out into small groups and ask people to create skits demonstrating how they would confront inappropriate attitudes.

Most people are very uncomfortable with it, and not very good at it. These are important management skills, and should be taught, role-played, and critiqued (books like Crucial Confrontations, Fierce Conversations and The Coward's Guide to Conflict can help). Likewise, there are very effective techniques for confronting gossip and other inappropriate behaviors.

Six: Give people tools to depersonalize the confrontation.
One of the most powerful tools in the quest for a smoke-free world was the simple No Smoking sign. Instead of confronting someone lighting a cigarette, we were able to point to the sign and achieve the desired result with minimal risk of conflict. When I trained and coached managers at Minolta Corporation. We used the Pickle Challenge that our Spark Plug groups (Top Leading Managers) use to foster a more positive workplace includes cute signs, pickle jars, and The Pickle Pledge as visual prompts to reinforce positive attitudes.

Seven: Be a positive example. It's remarkable how frequently we hear managers whine and complain about how tired they are of hearing their people whine and complain. This is an easy trap to fall into. As a manager (or as a parent), you must assume that you are always on stage, and set an example of a positive and optimistic attitude for those who look to you for direction.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”.
Dwight D. Eisenhower


Friday, January 7, 2011

Did You Make Your Appointment?

   It was about lunch time today when this question popped into my head.  I was having lunch with a really good friend of mine whom is a veteran of the car business of about 17 years.  It has been a while since we have had the opportunity to catch up and as I was  listening to him tell me about his recent frustrations with his GM, my mind started wandering.  Now I know exactly what you are thinking, what kind of friend doesn't listen to what a "really good friend" of many years is saying?  First and foremost, he was rambling on and on about something negative that neither he nor I can control or change.  Not to mention that whenever ANYONE around me starts exhibiting NTTB (Negative Trash Talking Behavior), I quickly tune everything out.  I wouldn't want the NTTB infection to set in.  Secondly, I had bit into something that had messed up a temporary crown and I remembered (HEY, Why Didn't I Make That Appointment At The Dentist Office?)

     Then of course my mind immediately went to a topic that I want to discuss on my blog and here we are.

Why don't more professionals set appointments every single day?

Why do so called professionals choose to exhibit NTTB instead of working on ANYTHING that pertains to the delivery of a new or pre-owned automobile?

  Let's do the math together and figure out why "professionals" choose to sit around the coffee pot and watch the time fade away versus doing the right thing by setting appointments.  If a professional makes enough Follow-Up calls everyday and are totally focused on setting appointments, that particular salesperson can and will make at least 1 appointment each and every single day.  Let's take a 5 day work week (I know that some of you HORSES out there actually work more...but humor me on this), In a 4 week period (1 month), you will set 5 appointments each and every week.  With the closing ratio on appointments being much higher than a traditional "Walk-in", you will have a better chance of having a deal by working your clients this way.  For example, if the closing ratio on true set appointments is between 60% and 80% (Depends on which statistic you utilize), you will sell 12-16 units per month just by setting 1 appointment every single day that you are at work.  Most unit bonuses that I have seen over the years start at 10 unit sales per month and by utilizing this simple formula of 1 appointment every single day, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor quickly.

     There are many different ways to set appointments and we will talk about the most effective way to set an appointment in a blog coming soon.  Until then remember, An Appointment A Day Equals a Pretty Nice Pay Day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Can't Believe I Just Heard That!

     As I was in this dealership today doing some consulting services, I heard an employee say something that really made me think.  I would like to add that this statement from the employee did not make me think in a positive way either.  In fact, what this person said really made me wonder... why is that person even here at work. 

     Now before I get to carried away let me just tell you EXACTLY how this statement went down and I will let you be the judge.  I was at a dealership today doing my rounds and I walked up to this employee and asked him how he was doing.  He said, "I'm ready to go home."  I proceeded with "Why is That?" and he says, "You know actually, I wanted to go home from work before I even came in today." 

     What do you think?  How would you respond? Do YOU ever think this attitude and instead of saying these completely ridiculous and absurd words to someone, you behave in a way that is as insane as this?  The fact is folks that when you go to work You FEEL better when you are doing something productive.  You FEEL better when you are thinking the right thoughts.  You PERFORM better when you are following your process and doing what you went to work today to do.  You PERFORM better when you think great thoughts.  You SELL MORE when you have the right attitude and because you have the right mindset and right attitude...YOU MAKE MORE MONEY.

     This is No Secret At All!  This stuff has been out for ages and the same basic principles work every single day if applied.  Let's face it, every day something is going to happen that may affect your attitude or cause you to think in a negative way.  It's not if something is going to happen, it is when.  How you react to the controversies of life and how you keep your thoughts in check will determine how successful you are and how successful you will become.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why Do Customers Have Such a Negative Opinion of Car Salespeople?

My Guess: Training(or a lack thereof)
            I was sitting with strangers in my girlfriend's parents' house over the holidays and running out of casual observations about the Christmas lights, forecasted snow, people's travel plans etc... and just as the slight feeling of awkwardness crept over the ever silent room, one of my new found friends fell back on an old reliable line to break the silence, "So, What do you do for a living?"

Snapped back into the moment, I replied "Me? I train automotive salespeople."

My new friend's plan had worked.  The room erupted with conversation and questions about exactly what and how our company helps salespeople, leading to further discussion about the automotive business in general.  The older, veteran men in the group recounted old war stories from battles on car lots where they were up against the last commanders of old school sales tactics.  You know the stuff; sawdust in the transmission, rolling back the odometer, no truth in lending acts and more...

And despite the passing time, and the group's own acknowledgment that "that sort of thing happened along time ago", the scars haven't healed. 

The group goes on to tell me more about how much they dislike the car buying process, car salesmen, and other less than positive experiences they've had buying cars.  But when I would get my chance to reply,  and ask what specifically the salesperson did wrong, or why the purchase was so bad(purely for my own curiosity and training's sake), they actually had very few legitimate concerns. (I'm going to save the best reason they gave me for another topic entirely because it's a very interesting argument.)  But the final question and answer went something like this:

Me "So if I hear you guys right, you've had some bad experiences along time ago, and while all of you don't know exactly what rubbed you the wrong way and all the reasons why, you all dislike the car buying process?"

And the Chorus of "Yes".

I had closed them on the idea, but I didn't even have to, they all came in that night with a negative opinion of the automotive buying process.  Why?

Anyone reading will probably agree that customer's have a bad impression because they have to deal with a typical salesperson at the typical dealership.  I assume the reason they couldn't tell me everything specifically that had gone wrong with their experience was because they stopped counting.  And the sad thing is, most all of the salespeople that messed up, are good people stuck in mediocrity, or worse, because they haven't been empowered with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to be professional.   
They haven't been properly trained and supported.
So even though most of the old tricks are gone, and the last of the sawdust has long cleared from the air of the automotive industry, our reputation has barely improved, if at all.  It's because the salespeople still aren't GREAT and it's due to a lack of training. If you're running a store, managing or selling, I want you to be conscious of this and use this to your advantage.  I didn't write this just to bash the automotive industry, and there's a few tips in here for you salespeople to use....

Use your bad reputation amongst many to show that you're nothing like the rest.

 I could write a long list, but I'm just going to give you 5 things I do, to be conscious of, and set myself apart from the majority of others.

1.  Ask The Customer Why (not every time, but let them know you're genuinely interested in helping them make the right choice to fit their specific needs.  Don't just give yeah, uh-huh, ok, responses during your investigation(you do one right))

2.  Keep Them Posted (never disappear or make the customer wait without notice)

3.  Don't Ever Lie (so many salespeople blow deals with customers because they fake the facts. Most customers don't like confrontation and don't say anything, they just don't buy from you either.  People have done research and often come in trying to see if you are dishonest or not, and like to do a little fact checking.)

4.  Watch Your Mouth (a dealership showroom mirrors the acoustics of a small concert venue, sound echoes, and customers hear things you wouldn't want them to.  Don't be rude and blow your or someone's deal. Be professional at work.  Whatever you do, don't talk anything observational about customer's while they are there.  They can hear you!)

5.  Crash The Party (nothing looks worse than a bunch of car guys standing around, joking it up, eating, smoking etc... while the customer is there trying to complete one of the biggest and most serious purchases of their life. Have the courtesy to break the huddle and go try to make your own play while other salespeople are with customers.  

These things may seem incredibly simple, but do them on a routine basis and watch the results.