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!
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! :)
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 :)
Recently I was speaking in a sales meeting and was pointing out how as salespeople we seem to always know how to justify to other sales people why we weren’t able to close a deal. When one sales person asks another, “what happened with your customer” we know all the ways to make it ‘ok’ that no deal was made. Things like “they are in escrow right now, but they’ll be back”… or, “they had to run because the babysitter called”…. And even the old standby “they’re jus lookin”…… Usually the other sales person nods his head and then the discussion turns to how bad things are, customers are too smart, the economy is still bad, blah, blah blah blah… My question to the group was this; why do we let each other off so easily? What if we looked at the co-worker relationship more like a personal trainer at a fitness club, you know like a spotter at the gym? Can you EVER imagine a spotter leaning over you while you are lifting the bar on the bench press saying something like, “dude, its ok if you cant make it to ten, that’s a lot of weight and I’m not even sure I could lift it ten times so if you want to stop its cool”??? Or how about, “I see your arms are shaking a bit, you should stop man. You know you look good right now so working out more isn’t really necessary, go ahead and put it back on the rack, there’s always tomorrow…” You may say that it’s a spotter job to motivate and also be there in case something goes wrong and that as co-workers its not really our individual responsibility to look out of each other, help each other improve and push each other to greater heights. I would ask, REALLY? We all know the old saying, ‘we are only as strong as our weakest link” don’t we? We know that when the company does well it benefits each of the team members as well, so why WOULDN’T we take it as our own responsibility to encourage, motivate and push each other to try harder, stick with it longer and ask for help when needed? When a salesperson walks back to ‘the circle’ with his head hanging low why not ask what happened with the intent of offering some assistance like, “I had a customer say that once, and I said this in response and it helped them make a decision to buy, maybe you should try that next time”. Maybe offer to role play a bit or even ask the group as a whole what they would have said and make it a positive discussion that gets everyone involved and as a result everyone’s head really in the game and more prepared for the next guest that walks in. As a manager it’s the same thing, review with your salesperson where the process stalled and help your staff learn from it, learn ways to keep it from stalling the next time and become a better, more prepared salesperson in the process. The reality is that there are enough car deals to go around, there really is, so there is no reason for us to not want our co-workers to be great. Watching a fellow salesperson struggle and not reaching out a hand to help does not mean more deals for you, it really means that there will be less deals for the group as a whole. When we truly consider ourselves a team, the idea of being each others ‘spotter’ makes perfect sense. Get out there and be a great spotter for your team, and until next time; Sell Something!
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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