WoW! Soon after the article mentioned below hit the ole Internet the folks from Car Biz today contacted me to see if I wouldn't mind speaking with them for a segment on their daily CBTNews show. Needless to say I was floored and jumped at the chance to be interviewed by the site that regularly features such powerful people in the automotive industry, and huge personal inspirations, like Mark Tewart and Renee Stuart! I was pretty stoked to get on the line with Russel Brown who co-anchors the show I watch and recommend to my staff so enthusiastically and it went great, I felt honored that the things we are doing here at Raceway Ford have got the attention of others and are looked at as 'how to do it right'. I feel like I am tooting my own horn a bit much lately so I will try to taper it off however the interview is HERE of you'd like to check it out!
A few years back I began to focus my efforts in learning about and getting involved with the mysterious digital black magic that is Social Media and how I could help my dealership not only increase its online presence but actively engage with our customers in all the areas that THEY were spending time. To that end I have created and manage pages for our store in many different online areas such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest etc... and we have built quite a nice community of friends and followers online. Being knee deep in the efforts of our dealership it was easy for me to assume that many dealerships were doing much the same thing and yet, surprisingly most aren't! A writer for the website Edmunds.com contacted me recently because she had become aware of Raceway Fords level of online activity and was impressed enough to want to write an article about us! While speaking with Laura she shared with me how our store, while not exclusive to having a great presence online, is still somewhat unique and after an interview wrote a very nice piece about the things we are doing to keep us engaged with customers in many areas to share Ford knowledge, entertain and educate as much as we can. Its a great piece and can be read HERE. For me, the recognition that we are on the right path was pretty awesome!
During my 25+ years of working for car dealerships I have been asked MANY times for advice on how to best research, negotiate for and ultimately buy a car. Quite often after I offer my opinion I hear the reply, “is that what the ‘car salesman part of you says or is that legit good advice?” The truth is, there doesn’t have to be a difference! Although some might assume that any advise I would have to offer wouldn’t necessarily be the best for the customer I will point out that there is already quite enough negative stereotyping about car salesman and yes, there is probably plenty to validate some of that negative I have always worked with the idea that if my efforts aren’t best for my customers they won’t be for my own long term success either. Each deal I make is in the spirit of it being the first in a long relationship I strive to build with my customers, something that has contributed not only to my achievements in the car business but also created quite a large following of customers that will pretty much only buy their next cars from me! I believe that a good deal is more than simply a number, yes price IS important but the experience and ease of purchase is equally important. Many sources of so called car buying expertise are free to give tips about how to find the lowest price but when it comes to actually working with a dealership and walking in to make the purchase they often fall short on real world, usable guidance. That is where I can help, I am hoping that shifting the direction of my blog to also include car buying help, tips and answers to many of the questions that arise during the car shopping experience can help people with real advice that will save them money and also time and stress when researching and buying their next car. There are many aspects to car buying that we will look at including; trading in or selling your car, now that I have an Internet price quote now what (?) and the benefits and draw backs of leasing in addition to answering any questions you may have. Keep an eye out for my future posts if you are looking to buy a car and if you have a specific question please feel free to send it in and I will answer it here. For the best research and product info check back to this site often for the latest in what’s new and what’s news in the automotive world! Until next time, I’m Mike theCarGuy and I want to help you ‘Buy Happy’!
A lot has been made of the word transparency lately, especially regarding the car business. While I'm not saying customers don't want transparency it is my belief that many of us are looking at it from the wrong point of view. Many car folks hear transparency and instantly assume the customer wants to know what invoice is and attempt to use that as some type of negotiating leverage to force dealers into yet another race to the bottom of pricing. I think that consumers do want transparency however the transparency they are after is not about pricing at all but rather the process. I believe customers are willing to negotiate to a fair deal after seeing the value presented in the product but they would like a better understanding of whats going on. For instance the old 'let me go check with my manager' has been played out. Why go into a back office where the customer cant see you to get information? Why not have the sales desk out on the showroom floor where the customer can see the 'decision maker'? Hell, why not have the sales manager introduce himself at the beginning of the paper work process so they know who is going to be working on the numbers for them? With a more straight forward explanation of the process, transparency can be achieved and in a win/win for the customer and dealership. Just my thoughts as always, please let me know yours and until next time: Sell Something!
If you take the C out of closer what you really have is loser! Closing in my opinion is in fact, for losers....
Now before you prepare your letter bomb or nasty comments for the flaming thread that is sure to follow, allow me to elaborate…. Back when I got started the prevailing wisdom went something like "the sale doesn't begin until the 5th to 7th time you hear the word no...." and I focused much of my time early on in learning as much about 'closing' as I could, reading books and listening to every sales manager I could 'close' deals. As I grew in my own sales experience I discovered that the more I invested in the initial stages of the customer interaction the less I had to rely on my closing ability. When I became a Sales Manager with my first team I focused most of our training and preparation for the ‘Meet and Greet, Show and Tell’ portion of the sale and very little on the ‘write up’ as I knew the best way to overcome objections was to not have them and the best way to ensure there were few if any was with a strong presentation and demonstration. Over the years I have seen a fundamental shift in the employees that are coming into the business and especially after the recent tough economic times folks starting off in sales have a real lack of understanding of the importance of customer service and lean more and more on the strong closing skills touted by the big name trainers like Grant. It seems like as soon as new salespeople get finished with their new hire paperwork they want to skip right to learning how to work the deal like a 'closer', and unfortunately many, MANY dealership leaders are all to willing to start showing them how to overcome objections and hard close customers. The art of the customer qualification (no, not ‘hows your credit’ either!) has become thing of the old days of selling as many salespeople assume the customers have done their research and are ready to get down to business working the numbers. My focus with new people, and even the seasoned folks who have fallen into the trap, is to re-enforce the importance of the critical wants and needs analysis portion of the initial meet and greet stage, and the effective demonstration of the product based on the information gathered. In other words: "Spend two hours on the lot and the write up will take 15 minutes, OR... spend 15 minutes on the lot and the write up negotiation) will take two hours or more and end with the salesperson begging the customer to buy at a discounted price/payment"
Closing becomes crucial when the salesperson hasn’t done his job thoroughly, it’s as simple as that. If the salesperson asks the right questions, listens effectively and then demonstrates how his product best meets the wants and needs of the customer he doesn’t have to close, the customer sees value and agrees to the purchase. That’s not to say there is no negotiation required and that all customers simply lay down for the deal, I’m simply stating that I am convinced that the more focus we put on the initial stages of the sales process when training, the less we have to train the 'close'.
Not the most popular way of thinking with the old school car dawgs I have engaged with however I have seen great results in my own staff here at my store now and at many stores I have trained at. Thoughts? Let me know your perspective in the comments, good or bad lets have some discussion!
I have been thinking a lot lately about how many way I find myself using the phrase 'Go Slow To Go Fast' around the dealership and was thinking it could be the subject of a discussion.
A few ways I use it:
In hiring new staff, by slowing down the training process to be more fully comprehensive and not simply focused on showing a new salesperson how to write up a customer we can go father toward fully maximizing their potential career in sales, ie value to themselves and the dealer.
When training new staff, skipping steps to try and 'get right to the sale' can actually make the process take longer and focus the customers attention on the wrong area.... the price. By going to fast the value may not be shown fully and the only way to make a deal is then by discounting...
When fact finding and investigating with a new customer, asking more questions than speaking can allows the customer to tell you, sometimes you even vaguely(!), how to sell them a car. By letting the customer speak it can help the closing process go faster and more smooth even though it may seem to take longer to get there...
In Contracts it can be frustrating to get all the to the end, when the customer has signed countless times and realize that the customers address doesnt show their apt #! Sure some of the forms you can hand write it on but not any of the DMV forms, now you look unprofessional by hand writing on a document AND its more time consuming to re-print forms!
There are many aspects to the phrase and it is one I find my self repeating numerous times daily!
My latest hang out with the always awesome Patrick Antrim, the Founder & CEO of CareersinAuto.com in which we talked about:
How to Start a Career in Auto Sales
What to Look for when Interviewing at Auto Dealerships
How to Ensure your Personal Success with Branding
How to Leverage your Network
Where to Discover Great Tips, Techniques, and Training
And Much Much More.
Its pretty cool to hear Patrick introduce me with the following:
"Mike Corerra is a "go to guy" and is seen as the expert in many areas. He's highly respected for his well-rounded knowledge of the auto industry, but best known for being the guy who leads, empowers and develops his people.
He has held positions as Internet Sales Director, Sales Manager, Social Media Manager,Fleet, Internet Sales, Sales Trainer, General Sales Manager for leading auto groups.
Mike has experience rebuilding an Internet Sales Department and Business Development Center
He has taken the lead on dealerships Social Media presence creating and maintaining a Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms to drive sales."
The always awesome folks at CareersInAuto.com asked me to 'Hangout' with their founder Patrick Antrim and talk about Positivity in Leadership. Hadnt had the chance to do a hangout so I jumped at the chance, as most know I do love to talk about the car biz! Went really great foir about 20 minutes until there was a power outage down at their offices in Temecula! We may just do this on a regular basis and are working out the details so stay tuned as we go big time folks! :)
I talk and write a LOT about Positivity, for me its so much more than a word or mood its actually a way of life. When I am speaking to my team about how Positivity can increase their sales it’s easy to sometimes diminish the power of Positivity by simply saying, “ok Mike, I need to be positive I get it. But how does being in a good mood make the difference?” The answer is usually more than the person asking ever bargained for as its more of a full scale lecture! The simply break down though is that Positivity in selling is more than just a ‘good mood’; it is about believing fully in yourself, your process and your product. When you do you project a confident, positive image to your customers and they feel good about working with you. A good deal is not a number; it never has been and never will be. A good deal is a feeling, as the great Joe Verde puts it; “A good deal is a car you like, bought from some one you feel like you can trust at a payment you feel is fair”. With Positivity the sale is just easier from start to finish, believe it or not. Yes, there will still be objections to overcome and yes you will even encounter the occasional alligator of a customer once in a while but those things shouldn’t sway you from staying positive.
I read a great book some time ago from a trainer named Stephan Schiffman and in it he made a great reference to the Three C’s needed in sales; Confidence, Competence and Concern. I don’t remember his exact wording but I have shared his ideas and overtime enhanced the basic concept with my own input. I review the Three C's with many sales people when training them and its always great to review with even seasoned folks. With Positivity the Three C’s come naturally, here they are with description:
Confidence. Confidence says you can do what you say you can do with a strong enough feeling behind it that your customer believes in you. When you say your product can some thing better than another, it’s believable. When you say you can deliver it’s easy for your customer to accept that you can however, its critical to separate confidence from over-confidence! Over-confidence can bury you, it says you cant really back up your commitment but you will try to cover for it by promising even more.
Competence. Doing what you say you are going to do says you have competence. If you tell your customer you are going to get him floor mats next week, get him floor mats next week or you will appear incompetent. If you talk with a customer on the lot today and tell him you will call him tomorrow you have to do just that, if you call him the day after or even worse a few days later it just seems like you found someone more important to work with and your customer will turn off. Competence is following through on your commitments AND paying attention to the details.
Concern. If you understand you customer’s needs its possible to you show him that you are putting them first. That doesn’t mean you forget who you work for, it means that you understand that the best deal is the one that is right for your customer, their needs and their budget. That doesn’t mean a small deal either. In order for you to show your customer that their needs are important you first have to KNOW their needs! A long time ago a manager told me that a customer will tell you exactly how to close them if you will just ask them. He always reminded me that we have two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that proportion; ask the right questions and really listen to your customer and you will know how to make the sale easily and with less grind.
I could go on forever but the point really is simple, with Positivity the rest is easy! Have an awesome week ahead everyone and as always; Sell Something!
When I started out on the line as a salesperson my personality and ability to work well with people helped me achieve what I felt was great success in sales numbers and I was sure making a lot more money that I had as a mechanic at the dealership! After a few months of being among the top sellers at the dealership became quite cocky and started breaking all the basic rules of sales; pre-qualifying customers, taking every short cut possible and even ‘brooming’ customer without management introduction. One of the drawbacks with my quick leap into sales was I though I had it figured out pretty well and blinded to my own shortcomings. It became more entertaining to engage in horseplay and practical joking than to spend my time working with those ‘jacks’ that always came on the lot just before the punch line of the joke I was telling! My numbers fell drastically however I refused to take any responsibility and continued to find all the wrong reasons for my sudden lack of sales. One of the Sales Managers of the dealership began to keep a close eye on me, luckily for me. The part that didn’t make any sense to me for many years was that he wasn’t even my own closer, and yet he helped me more than mine ever did. I was always told by my father that the likely hood of you doing the wrong thing depends greatly on the potential that you are being watched and sure enough it seemed like every time I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing this particular manager would be right there as I did it! Whether I was grabbing the keys to a vehicle on the lot to turn on the radio so I could listen while standing out on the point or playing some practical joke on a co-worker, once I looked around I would always see him looking at me with that same ‘tsk tsk tsk’ look on his face. He soon began calling me ‘Mikey Bad-Habits’ and it was a nick name I loathed! Each time he saw me he’d say “whats up Mikey Bad-Habits? When are you gonna get serious?” As he wasn’t my manager I would mostly blow him off and go about my day, usually ending up engaging in some time wasted antics that resulted in no car deals but kept me in the running as the lots ‘funnest guy to be around’! After an extremely disappointing check he saw me sitting in one of the booths, head in hands trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do and how I was ever going to pay my bills. In the booth he walked, sat down opposite me and asked me if I was far enough down on my ass and if I was ready? I felt pretty bad at that moment and asked him why he gave a shit about me, why wasn’t he worrying about his own team and he looked at me with a cold, hard stare that chilled me. He said, “nothing, and I mean nothing pisses me off more than wasted potential kid. You got a ton of potential but until you get over trying to be Mr Popular you wont ever reach your potential and that pisses me off.” I took a deep breath and said “ok, what can I do then, to get back in the game and sell cars again?” He told me to take out one of my cards and turn it over, on the blank back side he told me to write these words;
Am I Doing the MOST Productive Thing Possible RIGHT NOW? If Not, WHY NOT?
He then instructed me to put that card in my shirt pocket and to take it out and read it at LEAST 20 times a day. I wrote out my question of success and put it in my pocket, and at least a couple times a day he would ask to see it. At first I would look at it constantly to remind myself to stay focused and on track but soon it became a thought that constantly ran through my mind over and over as I worked through my day. That same manager lent me his own copies of many sales books and was the guy that later introduced me to the trainer that changed the whole game for me, Mark Tewart. Over the years I have told countless sales people to write out that phrase on a card and check them often as I was. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the many distractions that appear when you take your eyes off of your goals, and that in itself is the key. Keep your sights on your goal and the distractions fall to the wayside. As I write this I’m asking myself if it is the most productive thing possible and yeah, it is. Because I will look back over this one day and it will help remind me to stay focused and working hard to be the best I can be; the best manager, the best coach and the best leader. If you find yourself not being able to stay on track or getting distracted easily try it, write it down on the back of your card and look at it often. I hope it helps even just one person stay in the game and reach their goals! As always, Sell Something my friends :)
Hey there, I'm Mike theCarGuy and here are some of my thoughts about cars, the car business and sales! Take a look around, maybe you will learn something or at the very least find your self smiling, and if you do... leave me a comment so I know I at least did something right! Thanks for stoppin by...
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