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!
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!
Yesterday I had an eye (re)opening experience at an indoor go-kart track. I took my son and six of his buddies racing for his 11th birthday and wasn’t sure how it was going to go so I prepared for a really long, tense morning. I was convinced that the staff would probably groan with irritation when I walked in with seven overly hyped up boys that couldn’t wait for their chance behind the wheel. I could not have been more incorrect! The staff was more than incredibly polite and the amount of sincere patience they showed with the kids asking a never ending series of questions about how to drive, what to do when they crash and my favorite of the day; "can we drift?" was inspiring to a guy that has worked in retail for over 25 years now! After the first race they even complimented the kids on their on track behavior and for the second one they gave them a bit more speed on the karts! As we left after an absolutely amazing morning of fun the young man behind the counter THANKED US for being a great group, he stated that the kids were totally fun to work with and made sure to tell us to come back again soon. I came into work afterwards with a commitment burning in the back of my mind to jump online and shout about how awesome the day was on every site I could imagine and believe me when I say, I know of MANY sites! It felt really good to write out how much fun we had and how much I would recommend to EVERYONE to go to that racetrack for a day of fun at speed! I posted it along with pics of my son going full speed and I was not just happy to spread the word about them, I was OBLIGATED to.
Now, what does this have to do with selling cars????
Yesterday I was a CUSTOMER, a customer who received some really outstanding customer service. Its kind of a sad statement of the world today that great customers service is so rare that it generates such excitement but the truth is that it IS indeed very rare! The good news is, with just a little effort, a little bit of pride and a commitment to selling cars as a career and not just a job we could all provide the same type of experience with every one of our customers every day. Imagine having the numbers of customers that we do at a car dealership all online shouting, er writing, as loudly as they can how awesome we are and telling everyone to come here and buy a car!
When we take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that the customer isn’t looking for a number, they are looking for a feeling it becomes easier to focus on providing that awesome customer experience and truly earn their business AND their loyalty while at it. That’s the exact moment that we become professional Automotive Salesmen and take the step toward ultimate success!
They say when you want some thing bad enough you find a way to get it, if you don’t truly want it you will find all the excuses that make it ok not to….
You have to ask yourself; do I want it?
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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