AutoUSA Ask The Expert November 2012

Marsh BuiceMarsh Buice of Mark Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Louisiana answers this month’s ques­tion for AutoUSA read­ers

Occa­sion­al­ly we have sales team mem­bers who get off track and per­form poor­ly.  Any sug­ges­tions on how to give them a prover­bial push to get focused on their job?

As a Sales Man­ag­er I have come across a broad spec­trum of sales peo­ple over the years.  Main­tain­ing a pos­i­tive out­look is the hall­mark of good pro­fes­sion­als but when their out­look and expec­ta­tions start to fal­ter they lose their focus. From this point let me speak right to your sales team and share with them my ten rea­sons why I think sales peo­ple lose their edge.

 1) You have no sense of urgency.

Hint: If tomor­rows always come, what use is today? There are no tomor­rows in the car busi­ness. Once your cus­tomers leave, you must believe they will nev­er come back. You have one shot to earn their busi­ness; your cus­tomers may have seen oth­er shows, but they haven’t seen yours. Give them a mem­o­rable show capped with a “fear of loss,” sus­pense­ful end­ing. If they don’t feel they’ll miss out, they will move on.

2) You aren’t catch­ing enough Ups.

Hint: Not catch­ing enough Ups leaves you with no mar­gin for error in your month; to reach your month­ly goal of deliv­ered cus­tomers, you will need at least 3x as many Ups.  P.S. when this plan doesn’t work, grab even more Ups—sounds crazy, but the num­bers will always turn back in your favor, if you faint not.

3) You are the Dear Abby.

Hint: You are an expert in giv­ing advice yet heed none of it. The best advice you can give anoth­er sales­per­son is to lead by exam­ple. Sweep around your own front door before you sweep around mine.

4) You are edu­cat­ing and not moti­vat­ing.

Hint: Your cus­tomers are not inter­est­ed in your expert opin­ion of why there is no chance of their ide­al­is­tic plan of buy­ing a vehi­cle work­ing. Instead, dis­cov­er your customer’s trans­porta­tion dilem­ma and then moti­vate them by show­ing how your prod­uct will solve their prob­lem. Your cus­tomers have plen­ty ofWhy Not’s-give them a rea­son Why.

5) Your cus­tomers don’t like you.

Hint: There are no kiosks out on the black­top; if stats and facts sold cars, you and I would be stock­ing shelves some­where. Become inter­est­ing by being inter­est­ed [in your cus­tomers.] Get your cus­tomers to open up by learn­ing how to L.O.V.E. them.  Dis­cov­er your customer’s Likes, Occu­pa­tion, Val­ues (i.e. civic groups), and Endorse­ments (their friends who are your sold cus­tomers are killer 3rd par­ty endorse­ments.) Cus­tomers don’t have to like your pro­fes­sion, but they’ve got to love you. Cus­tomers buy you as much as they buy the prod­uct you rep­re­sent.

6) No Demo, No Show.

Hint: No wheel, no deal. Your cus­tomers must dri­ve your vehi­cle. Even if they switch col­ors, or their friend has one, or they came by last week, they must dri­ve again. You’ve got to get your cus­tomers emo­tion­al­ly engaged-val­ue dri­ven, in order to max­i­mize your gross prof­it. If they don’t feel the road, they won’t pay the dough.

7) You are scared of los­ing a deal.

Hint: You can’t lose what you don’t have. When a cus­tomer is at your deal­er­ship, dri­ving your vehi­cle, they have some sort of inkling what you do for a liv­ing. It’s ok to ask for their busi­ness, it’s not okay not to. You’ll always get what you nev­er ask for. When you have qual­i­fied and pre­sent­ed your prod­uct, demon­strat­ed and writ­ten your cus­tomers up, you have earned the right to ask for their busi­ness. Ask your­self, what’s the worst that can hap­pen when you ask your cus­tomers for their busi­ness?

8) You can’t get your cus­tomers inside and writ­ten up.

Hint: Unless your customer’s name is Mil­ton Bradley, they don’t want to play games. If you find you can­not get your cus­tomers inside, it’s prob­a­bly because they either don’t like what you feel they should dri­ve (because you lec­tured them on why this is the only car in the city that will get them to $250/month) or you’ve done a poor job in sell­ing your­self. Stud­ies indi­cate that a major­i­ty of the rea­sons why cus­tomers don’t buy from a deal­er­ship is not because of price (shock­ing I know), but it’s because of the sales­per­son. Select­ing the right vehi­cle, mar­ket­ing your like­abil­i­ty and then bring­ing your cus­tomers inside and writ­ing them up will give you the lever­age need­ed in over­com­ing your customer’s true objec­tions. If the objec­tion only comes up once, it’s most like­ly just a stalling smoke­screen.

9) You are look­ing at the prob­lem, not the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Hint: There is a 100% chance your fel­low sales­peo­ple are not buy­ing from you, so why are you insis­tent on fin­ish­ing your sports recap on what you would’ve done on 3rd and long instead of grab­bing the cus­tomer that just pulled up. Great sales­peo­ple start mov­ing toward an Up before they can give their mind a chance to talk them out of it.  The best sales­peo­ple are blind; they don’t care what their cus­tomers’ look like, what they drove up in, or where they want to be on a month­ly pay­ment. If you haven’t fig­ured it out yet, you don’t know who can or who can’t buy; cov­er­alls can pay cash, some doc­tors can’t get financed. Stop look­ing for what is wrong with your Up-you’re not per­fect either, and instead focus on the oppor­tu­ni­ty that stands before you. Oppor­tu­ni­ties are usu­al­ly dis­guised as prob­lems.

 10) You are buy­ing and sell­ing.

Hint: Don’t buy it, just sell it; it’s your cus­tomers’ deci­sion whether or not to buy your vehi­cle. You report, they decide. Give your cus­tomers the best pos­si­ble options so they can make an informed deci­sion. Don’t want to present an $1150 month­ly pay­ment? Kind of queasy of telling your cus­tomer what their 6-month-old trade that they bought from you is worth?  Not up to ask­ing for a $5000 down pay­ment when they swore to you a dozen times they wouldn’t put any mon­ey down? Elect to take the path of most resis­tance; where oth­er sales­peo­ple are tak­ing the low ground-telling the cus­tomers they have to make some phone calls in an effort to break the bad news via tele­phone instead of face to face, instead be the sales per­son who is bold enough to present your find­ings rein­forced with options. Cus­tomers become agi­tat­ed because few sales­peo­ple are will­ing to take the time and explain why they are in their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. They may not like what they hear, but they will respect you in the long run for your pro­fes­sion­al expla­na­tion.

There are many rea­sons why you aren’t sell­ing as well as you should, but only one rea­son why you can’t. The one rea­son why you can’t is YOU. Decide, act, and get out of your own way.


Marsh Buice is the Sales Man­ag­er at Mark Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Lake Charles, LA  He is also a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to the net­work.