My Blog: The Six-Inch Space©

What Jelly Donuts Can Teach Us About People…

Jelly Donut

Everybody knows that a perfectly made jelly donut with the sweet jelly just peeking out looks too delicious to pass up. Especially if they are fresh out of the fryer and you can smell them from a mile away! These donuts entice, they make our mouth water with anticipation and when we finally take that first bite, the reward of that explosion of flavor makes all those calories worth it…Those donuts are easy to spot and their visual appeal is matched by their savory satisfaction.

Now, not all donuts are created equal, nor do they all look perfectly made or the same. Many years ago, one of my early mentors and a significant influence in my life, Ed Abbruzzese, taught our Sales Team an essential lesson about prejudice and pre-qualification of a prospect. It made an indelible impression on me and I have borrowed this little gem multiple times over the years to convey the message of treating 100% of your prospects with respect, attention and care.

It was a typical Saturday morning, and we all filed into the meeting room to prepare for the day. As usual, there were two boxes of donuts on the table with the usual assortment from Rienhold’s Bakery. A local joint with outstanding quality baked goods, so this was always a welcome treat. However, it always seemed that at the close of the day, after the meeting room had been cleaned up, one donut always remained uneaten…the poor jelly donut. I can’t tell you why, but this poor donut was orphaned and discarded every single time.

This presented Ed with an opportunity to create a teaching moment that we wouldn’t miss the point of and stay with many of us interminably. One particular Saturday, like all of the others, Ed decided to discuss the perils of pre-qualifying. At the opening of the meeting, Ed offered the jelly donut to anyone in the room…As usual, there were no “takers”, so Ed proceeded to place the orphaned sweet treat on a plate in the middle of the table. It sat there all meeting long, as we all listened intently and Ed shared thoughts about the prospects who entered our showroom and looked, sounded and acted like a person who really didn’t intend to or couldn’t “afford” to buy a car. He espoused the dangers of missing an opportunity to impress and “wow” a prospect, as it could cost us profit, or even worse, cost us the chance to deliver a car altogether. His meeting hit the mark with me, as I reflected back on the times I allowed myself to listen to the little voice in my head tell me that someone was “wasting my time” and “just kicking the tires” as we say in this business when we failed to close a prospect and “spot the car”. As he closed out the meeting, he asked us all to stay a minute longer. He proceeded to turn around and open the drawer behind him to his right. He reached in and pulled out a large sharp knife. Reaching across the table for the paper plate upon which sat the poor jelly donut most likely destined for another trip into the garbage pail in the corner of the room. As he pulled the plate toward him, he drew the blade of the knife to the donut and gently cut into it. As he pulled apart the donut, with the jelly oozing out, he wiped a neat, tightly wrapped roll of five $100 bills. The entire room let out a collective “Holy $h*t!” and immediately understood the value of Ed’s message.

T and the JD

From that day forward, I have always looked for the good in people, and assume the reasons that I can, and should, always work at not pre-judging people or opportunities presented to me. You never know what opportunity or a great customer will present themselves to you or in what form they will first appear. Treat everyone and every opportunity like they are one-in-a-million, not one-of-a-million!

Enjoy smart tips, winning strategies and entertaining stories of turning temporary failure into explosive success every week from Sandy by subscribing to his weekly blog The Six-Inch Space©!

Serendipity & The Salisbury Six…What Will Their Story Be 25 Years From Today?

The Salisbury Six Nov 15, 2018
The Serendipitous Salisbury Six…Katelyn Banaszewski, Seth Williams, Jason Smith, Nicholas Tuttle, Kyana Shelton and Kate Davis

The Salisbury Six, as I have uniquely dubbed this enthusiastic and exceptional collection of young talent and hope for our future. They will live, win, lose, try, fail, succeed, suffer and prosper as is the human condition, but when they reflect on this day 25 years from now…What will their story be?

This is the most wonderful, powerful of questions for us to ponder as young professionals kick off their careers. Now, these six courageous college students, whom I had the fortuitous opportunity to meet, chat with for a bit and observe sharing a unique moment of respite after competing in a National Sales Challenge hosted by William Paterson University this past Thursday, epitomize this reflection. They were polished as well as engaging and refreshing. Today’s culture that tends to misunderstand and misrepresent the ultimate art form that the profession of selling can be when practiced at its highest levels. However, when we see the promise of an inspired, new generation of Selling Professionals who wholly identify at an instinctual level so early in the process, it makes me enthusiastic for the rebirth of the human element of the practice of selling. We need great people with the right moral compass and effective collection of skills to help to continue to grow our businesses. In my experience working with my clients, when we invest in growing our people, growth in the scope of our revenue and the ensuing improvement in profitability is unavoidable!

In this era where technology, apps and artificial intelligence can often dominate resource investment decisions in many organizations large and small, it appears that universities like Salisbury, William Paterson and more than 30 others realize that this is a people-based profession. People are essential, not expendable in the selling/purchasing experience. While data dominates, the human element of stories still sells more effectively than any data point can, and most likely will, for the foreseeable future.

People still matter…a lot. I see too many organizations fall in love with the empirical nature of data, but miss the fact that culture and development inspire people, people power process, and ultimately, that process drives production and productivity. How many times are decision-makers swayed and convinced myopically by information? Technology is certainly a critical element, but it is more often, a human being sharing, explaining and helping a potential customer or client make a better-informed and most often, smarter purchase decision employing that technology and information. That leads me back to the start of this blog post…The value proposition for smarter companies is to invest in people earlier, not later, allow them to try and fail, try and fail, and then ultimately try and succeed! The Salisbury Six embody this spirit of commitment to developing our people. I wish for them a lifetime of learning, amazing experiences and success through trial and error, persistence (Chapter 9 of TAGR!) and perseverance. They deserve the best this profession has to offer, as long as they are willing to pay the price of hard work on themselves, a commitment to being better each day and focusing on solving customer problems with empathy and objectivity.

So…Congrats to all of the universities, as well as the organizations that supported the event and especially the students bold and daring enough to compete…Can’t win if you don’t, at the very least, compete. As for the Salisbury Six…I anxiously await the tales of your lifetime adventures in selling, so please remember to believe…the best in this life is reserved for true believers, treat others with humble respect and be memorable!

And yes, please keep us posted and make yours a One-In-A-Million story.

 

Your Image Paints A Thousand Words…What Words Are You Painting?

“A picture paints a thousand words.”

There’s a lot of truth to that old saying…In fact, it’s a mouthful to digest.

This was actually derived from an original Chinese proverb, “Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once.” And there is wisdom, truth and guidance for us all in this idiom. In my experience assisting thousands of personal clients with career planning and corporate clients with recruiting and talent acquisition, I have seen everything from the ridiculous to the sublime in terms of online profiles, head shots and professional attire. Let’s highlight a few things from both sides of this equation that require some introspection and attention.

  1. Online Profiles – Employers are looking!

In today’s hyper-aware, social media environment, there are challenges everywhere. I am not an apologist for being tough, genuine and honest. I am not a proponent of over-thought political correctness or raising the specter of soft-minded stands on destroying cultural norms. That said, in our quest for a career opportunity, we should be aware of the content we generate and the very public nature of our profiles. Stand for what and who you believe in. I am asking you to take a hard, honest look at ALL of your online profiles. In short, if you speak up, check-up, clean up and then chances are much better that you’ll go up.

  1. Head Shots – Invest a little, because you will be seen a lot!

SPC Professional Head Shot

When reviewing a candidate’s online profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I am dismayed, and at times alarmed, at some of the photos published. This is a critical piece of Personal Branding and a small investment of a professional head shot photo goes a long way and can be used in multiple ways. Finding a quality local photographer to handle this for you is easy, so invest a small amount for a bigger presence! Show you best self in terms of a fresh, market-appropriate haircut or styling, keep any make-up in balance, and wear simpler colors without busy patterns. Clean lines and colors with a contrasting, professional background always “pops” off the photo more effectively. There are volumes of online information on prepping for your head shot, so search and you will find!

  1. “My father always said, people will believe anything…if you’re properly dressed!” – Charles Dickens from the film The Man Who Invented Christmas

Man in Business Suit

Two very personal examples of presenting professionally in the marketplace are my dad and grandfather, both were crisp, sharp dressers. Each was known for it, but even more impactful to me is that they were both remembered for that distinct quality! Still to this day, when I run into someone who either knew them well or only met them once, the first comment is about how well they dressed. First impressions, both good and bad, can be eternal. It speaks volumes about your self-perception and your perceived standing in the business world. This rule of market is equally applicable to both men and women in business. Take the time to research, learn and understand the basics of business casual and business formal, what’s acceptable, where and when. Show the marketplace your very best self in terms of appearance when it matters most. That character trait will always serve you well.

Lady Black Skirt Suit

Now, regarding your investment in a business wardrobe, I will quote the indomitable George Zimmer of MensWearhouse, “You don’t need to spend a million dollars to look like a million dollars!” You can find outstanding apparel, shoes and accessories to pull a smart, business appropriate wardrobe together by being diligent about your search. Initially, it is OK to blend some lower quality pieces into your mix to get you to a wardrobe that can carry you through a full week of work. However, once you have accomplished this early goal, it is time to focus on quality over quantity. You can achieve this by considering high-end retailer outlets, consignment shops and annual and semi-annual sale events that most of the cheekier retailers tend to run. This gives you access to top quality apparel and shoes without paying full price! You can buy quality at bargain prices whenever possible. The proper clothing and shoes will very often be two things…timeless in appeal and style, as well as higher quality and longer-lasting. Below are both front-line retail and discount, outlet websites and resources to help you get started or to turn your current closet into a powerhouse of style!

NOTE: These references are for your benefit, and I have received no compensation in advance for sharing these sites.

https://www.menswearhouse.com/

https://www.josabank.com

https://www.nordstrom.com

https://www.nordstromrack.com/

https://www.anntaylor.com/

https://www.loft.com/

There are many more sites and resources to help you plan your wardrobe, so have some fun, don’t break the bank and feel free to reach out or send me an email with any questions you may have at sandy@sandycerami.com, and I will gladly reply!

In the meantime, remember that paying attention to your appearance can be easy to do, but just as easy to ignore. When you head into the marketplace…Don’t settle for being one of a million, but rather look to stand out like One-in-a-Million!©

7 SUSTAINABLE MOMENTUM KICK STARTERS…HOW TO TURN THE TIDE IN YOUR FAVOR!

TOR with Team

Believe it or not…in my travels, I still find dealerships across the country that have either unconsciously abandoned critical basics that drive sales momentum or haven’t yet discovered some of the immense value of more technology driven tools like equity mining. When performance seems to be on a negative trend in your organization, the first place to look is inward, not outward.

In reality, technology exists to facilitate and enhance our ability to produce, but we need to remain focused on the actual effort and execution of our teams…EVERY DAY! Technology alone is not the panacea that most providers would lead you to believe. This is when genuine Leadership drives your team’s performance. Mastering the mundane and braving it through the basics in order to drive sustainable success over the long haul is not only a piece of the process, but moreover IT IS THE FUEL! The organizations that see the most success tend to stop wishing for technology to solve the challenge of increasing results and they start doing the little things consistently.

In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson…DO THE THING AND YOU’LL HAVE THE POWER!

Culturally, when I see organizations that instinctively ask themselves, “Are we doing all of the most productive little things to the very best of our ability?”, I know that it won’t be long before they identify what’s missing, correct it and turn the tide. Below is an outline of our 7 Smarter Momentum Kick Starters…For more information on how to best execute on any of these, call or email me today!

  1. Mine Your Dealership Database
  2. Mine Your Service Drive
  3. Mine Your Own Staff & Vendors For “Found Business”
    1. Bird Dog throughout your ENTIRE Employee & Vendor base with a written “Friends & Family” Platform
  4. Mine Private Sellers Online & Classifieds
    1. Craigslist
    2. Ebay
    3. Facebook Marketplace
    4. AutoTrader
    5. com
    6. CarGurus
    7. Classifieds
  5. Mine Local Relationships – Start a Documented & Marketable Structured Preferred/VIP Platform
    1. Corp Plan
    2. Affinity Plan
    3. Charitable Plan
    4. Civic Plan
    5. Local High Schools, Colleges & Professional
  6. Year-Round “Top Dollar Paid For Your Car” Campaign
    1. Digital
    2. POS Merchandising
    3. Billboards
    4. Print
    5. Direct Mail
  7. Cross Promote Through Local Businesses
    1. Restaurants
    2. Gyms
    3. Wine Shops
    4. Specialized Local Sporting Goods
    5. Local Fashion Boutiques
    6. Driving Schools
    7. Car Washes
    8. Insurance Agencies
    9. Realtors

Many of these actions are easy to execute on, but just as easy not to execute! So remember…Amateurs settle for being one of a million, professionals strive to be One-In-A-Million!©

TRADE-INS: Lose the Crystal Ball & Employ Third Party ACV Validation!

Crystal Ball

CONFLICT: When the customer’s perceived value of their current vehicle exceeds the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of that vehicle in the marketplace.

DESIRED OUTCOME: To effectively align our prospect’s perceived value of their trade vehicle with the Actual Cash Value (ACV) based on real marketplace value.

This scenario occurs literally thousands of times every day in our business. Our ability to effectively discuss and negotiate the fair value of trade vehicles can very often be the difference between making and breaking a deal. If you begin this step with the desired outcome in mind, you can immediately increase your chances of successfully helping your prospect to make a smarter decision and deliver the vehicle! The outcome we seek is to simply align the prospect’s perceived value of their current vehicle with the ACV based on condition, seasonal adjustments, marketplace trends and other influence factors.

Let’s look at this conceptually…When a prospect considers buying or leasing a vehicle from us, they take the time to inspect and demonstrate our vehicles for condition and other deciding factors. Well, we are doing the same when considering the acquisition of their current vehicle through the process of trading in. The power of taking the time to simply perform an active trade vehicle walkaround evaluation on their current vehicle with our prospect will help to educate them on what we look at during the actual appraisal and valuation process that our manager performs.

When presented with a trade vehicle (Or more sometimes more appropriately stated, when we discover a trade vehicle will be involved!), gathering quality information about the vehicle is critical to helping us to not only properly value the trade vehicle, but moreover to help us to properly pre-frame the overall negotiation. One of the most effective actions we should take is to engage our prospects in the process of evaluating the trade vehicle condition by having them join us in performing the walkaround. This is not done to embarrass the prospect or malign the trade vehicle; however, we should take the time to complete a detailed Condition Report, noting everything from dings and dents to upholstery, previous maintenance, liens, and other important pieces of information. This simply applies facts and reality to the valuation process for the trade vehicle, so that in the end, we can have a more educated discussion regarding the true value of the vehicle being traded in to you. Remember, we are in essence, writing a check for the acquisition of the trade vehicle, so every time we successfully avoid “stretching” to make the deal, we maintain the integrity of our pre-owned vehicle inventory and make it even more affordable for the next owner!

We can also employ credible third-party websites and resources to validate our dealership valuation of the trade vehicle. All too often, the subjective nature of the transaction leads to frustration and hard feelings during the negotiation. This is not only unnecessary, but moreover it is avoidable. Take the time to walk your prospect through the third-party information that backs up the ACV that your manager has placed on the vehicle. In the event that you run into a significant objection to the figures, seek a manager introduction (TO), so that they can, as a third-party, address the process behind the valuation. In the end, when we transfer the valuation process from us as a Sales Professional, to the market, we are better able to create a collaborative experience with our prospects.

Another Professional Selling Skill that is easy to do, but even easier not to do. So, remember…Amateurs settle for being one of a million, professionals strive to be One-In-A-Million!©

Baby, You Can Drive My Car…

Road

Everybody knows that some prospects are NEVER, EVER, EVER going to agree to a Demo Drive in their new vehicle prior to owning regardless of what you do or say…PERIOD! However, in traveling throughout the country teaching The System©, which drives higher production and performance with simplified, effective skills and techniques, I am surprised at how many Sales Professionals have a tough time getting their prospects behind the wheel for a Demo Drive. Make this note now: There are some people who simply will not Demo Drive their new vehicle, and in order to maintain our sanity, we have to come to this realization. The reasons are manifold, but suffice to say that if you stay true to The System©, you will convert 95% +/- of your prospects to Demo Drives, so don’t waste valuable time attempting to “sell the Demo Drive” just stick to The System© for your best results. See Illustration #1 of the 80/10/10 Model of statistical distribution below.

Illustration #1: 80/10/10

80-10-10

MOST PEOPLE…

Most people will Demo Drive the vehicle when we employ smart, consistent and assumptive language and technique. Not manipulation, but instead we give prospects real, relevant choices that deliver desired results. In other words, we use the words and techniques that help people to fluidly move through our selling process toward a smarter, better educated buying decision. Sounds easier…because it is.

An example of how we do this is to always work towards concluding Step 4 of The System©, The Million Dollar Vehicle Presentation©, by inviting the prospect to sit in the driver seat, buckle them in and shut the door to continue the presentation on the cockpit area. Once in the “driver seat” of the interaction with your prospect, you can now ask the right question regarding the Demo Drive.

WHAT IS THE QUESTION, YOU ASK?

Let’s first talk about the structure of the question. The concept is to lead your prospect to a smarter decision with a professional word track. Most prospects prefer to have choices that make sense and provides them a feeling of control and direction. So, providing them multiple options that make it easier to say yes is the essence of “guided discovery” and helps to improve your ratio of successful Demo Drives. Below is the most successful way to ask the Demo Drive question:

“It feels like we found the perfect vehicle for you, doesn’t it? Let’s take a quick spin…Would you prefer to drive on the main roads, the back roads or would you like to drive on both?”

Keeping it simple, but relevant is the secret. Assume the response will be positive, but if it isn’t, don’t worry. You still have the option of doing the actual driving yourself initially and inviting the prospect once again during the ride by pulling into an area that isn’t heavily trafficked (Try the back-lot area of your dealership or even a local mall) and switch seats. If the answer is still no, then move forward and keep momentum progressing toward the next step.

Either way, be a professional, because…Amateurs settle for being one of a million, professionals strive to be One-In-A-Million!©

Energy, Enthusiasm & Engagement…It’s SHOWTIME!

Show Time

It became crystal clear to me almost 25 years ago…

I was half-way through one of those “no time for lunch or anything else” busy Saturdays in our Pontiac-GMC-Isuzu store and I was completing a spot delivery in the F&I office. As I finished up with packaging the deal docs, I overheard the presentation being given by one of our more productive Sales Professionals. The prospect was at one end of a minivan and the Sales Professional was at the other. There was absolutely zero connection between the two. I was taken back by the lack of control and disappointed in the lack of effort to provide a dynamic and engaging experience for the prospect. It was flat, one-dimensional and delivered no passion or excitement. Picture in your mind that non-descript salesperson who is simply going through the motions and not proceeding as if the sale and the commission will be reflective of their level of performance. It spoke to me loudly and at an instinctual level. Instantly, I recognized that we had failed our prospects, customers and ourselves. The importance of the continual inspiration and motivation of our Sales Managers and Sales Professionals to always deliver our very best was a critical factor in sustainable success…Our prospect customers, managers and dealers deserved better, but perhaps most importantly, we deserved better as selling professionals.

If we want to see higher closing ratios and bigger income, then we need to polish up our act! At some point, all Sales Professionals are putting on an act…Well to put it more accurately, we are performing. Never more so than when we are conducting a feature-rich, prospect engaging 360° Million Dollar Presentation aka “The Walkaround”. Up to this point, our star status should be dulled in order to allow our prospect to be centerstage. Now, we get to use all of our style, guile and showmanship to highlight the features that align with what we’ve learned about our prospect’s needs, wants and desires. That said, this is a process driven step in the IMAPCT Selling Process© that deserves consistency and leadership on your part. Now I’ll share some tips for making this an incredible experience for you and your prospects!

TEN (10) MILLION $$$ TIPS:

  1. Be energetic and passionate, not a circus clown!
  2. Always create the “invitation” to explore the vehicle with you by opening the vehicle up completely, meaning the hood, all doors and the trunk or rear gate/door(s). This signals to your prospect that they’re about to experience something special and unique!
  3. Always begin from the same position on the car. I recommend beginning at the driver side rear wheel. You can feature multiple aspects of the vehicle from this position and it allows you to circumnavigate the vehicle all 360 degrees!
  4. Use micro-story scenarios to demonstrate features and their associated benefits.
    1. Example: “Have you ever been faced with a situation where you’ve had to apply your brakes during an unexpected hard stop? Well, your new Jeep Grand Cherokee employs over 70 advanced Safety and Security features including Anti-lock Braking System to help you avoid potential collisions in hard-braking situations. This matters when it matters most to you! Your new Grand Cherokee provides you and your family with the highest level of safety out of any vehicle in its class!”
  5. Kick it off with an attention-grabbing superlative statement of fact about their new vehicle!
    1. Example: “Picture the first long drive in your all-new Lexus LS500…You’ll enjoy the incredible benefit of up 30mpg, as well as your best in class, whisper-quiet interior!”
  6. Always use the information learned from your fact finding to highlight the features that are important to your prospect.
  7. Lead the experience for your prospect and invite them to touch, sit and feel many of the physical benefits for the vehicle for themselves.
  8. When discussing features, avoid hyper-technical terms unless your prospect has the interest level and understanding, as too often, we lose a prospect’s interest this way. As an alternative, keep it simple and paint easy to understand pictures for them with your words using situations where and when a feature will be most appreciated.
  9. Sprinkle “Trial Closes” into your presentation, 3-4 maximum so that you don’t appear to be to assumptive.
    1. Example: “Who do you plan to show your new A6 to first, family member or a neighbor?”
    2. Example: “How did you plan to register your new Altima, in your name or a business name?”
    3. Example: “Feels like we found the perfect vehicle for you. Just out of curiosity, will you park your new Accord in a garage or do you leave it in the driveway?”
  10. Always conclude at the same position on the car. I recommend landing the prospect in the driver seat, explain the instrument panel, driver info center, multi-function center stack, etc. (SPECIAL NOTE: THIS ALSO SETS UP THE NEXT STEP IN THE PROCESS, THE DEMO DRIVE!)

The reality is that too many times salespeople miss this opportunity to deliver loads of value to the prospect experience. If you use this time to set yourself apart from the competition out in the marketplace, and this can be easily accomplished, the benefits will be highly conspicous in both your improved closing ratios and your higher commission checks. Our prospects crave professionalism and a great experience, and it is simple to deliver consistently when we have the winning mindset that compels us to develop our skills through genuine preparation. Another Sales Professional skill that is easy to do, but even easier not to do.

So, remember…Amateurs settle for being one of a million, professionals strive to be One-In-A-Million!©

Possibly the Single Biggest Cause of Wasted Time…The Subtle Art of Product Selection

Time Wasting

In my experience working with newer Sales Professionals, the biggest challenge they face is the time they need to get through the selling process with a prospect. This happens for a variety of reasons, but one early mistake made is selecting the wrong vehicle for a prospect. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the three most prevalent are:

  1. Poorly Fact Finding/Needs Analysis
  2. Emotion vs Logic
  3. Fear or Pride

In our last post, we discussed the value of Step 2 (Building Rapport & Fact Finding/Needs Analysis) in as much as we seek to know the answers to the test of Vehicle Selection in advance of that choice. Let’s briefly examine all three reasons for mistakes made in selecting a vehicle.

Poorly Executed Fact Finding/Needs Analysis

Most newer Sales Professionals are nervous about prospect engagement. This is completely normal and to be expected, so if you feel inadequate or uncomfortable. Congratulations…You’re now in officially in the profession of selling, and the good news is that it gets easier. We tend to want to speed through the process of building rapport and fact finding, so that we can get to next step or we invest way too much time “making friends” with our prospect. Remember to simply be friendly, not always looking to make a new friend. When you feel like you’re losing control a bit, just slow it down with a smart, relevant question (See our last post!), listen to your prospect’s response and take great notes. The key to calming yourself down is to recognize when you’re getting off track or moving too fast, and then you can take the simple step of asking a smart, relevant question to regain your footing. This action will provide you a much needed “tap on the brakes”, but it will also reinforce with your prospect that they come first and are the one guiding the decision-making process.

Emotion vs Logic

Every experienced Sales Professionals can fondly recall their first few months in the business with a wry smile hinting at their own trials and tribulations. Another common mistake is wanting the excitement alone to carry the sale. Yes, we want everyone involved to be excited, and as Sales Professionals, we are tasked with helping to create that excitement. However, we must guard ourselves and our prospects against what Alan Greenspan referred to as “irrational exuberance”. In other words, we use some level of logic regarding the of cost-to-budget ratio based on what we learn during our Fact Finding.

Fear or Pride

These can be real killers if allowed to persist, because they are false indicators of “reality” in the theater of your mind. Fear can be paralyzing, and it often prevents us from asking for help when we can most use it. My suggestion is to slay fear by realizing that it is never productive or useful in selling. If you are unsure about Vehicle Selection, I suggest going to your Team Leader or Sales Manager for assistance. If they are an effective leader, they can guide you and get you on track. Pride can be even more difficult to conquer, because it tends to feed ego and my credo is, “Ego is expensive!”. Don’t permit your ego to stop you from asking for help once in a while when you need it. It is a sign of intelligence, not stupidity or weakness.

In most circumstances, this step should only take a few minutes to execute when we have effectively built rapport and gained insight during Step 2 of the IMPACT Selling Process™. So, take the time to do it right and remember…Amateurs settle for being one of a million, but professionals always strive to be One-In-A-Million! ©

 

Getting The Answers Before You Take The Test Isn’t Cheating…It’s SMART!

Cheating on a test

Most people believe that getting the answers prior to taking a test would normally be considered cheating. However, I believe that if you don’t seek the answers in advance and make a “cheat sheet”, you’re missing a huge opportunity to serve your customers most effectively. When conducting IMPACT™ Selling Workshops over the last 10 years, I am often shocked by the number of salespeople who do not carry a working pad to take notes about customer comments, needs and desires regarding their next vehicle.

The truth is that prospects want us to understand their needs, wants and desires, so when we employ a smart, relevant line of inquiry and take great notes, they actually appreciate it! What stops most inexperienced, under-developed talent in the business of selling cars? See the equation below:

Lack of Training & Development

    Lack of Preparation

    Lack of Selling Process

+ Lack of Confidence                                               

   Lack of Prospect Rapport/Effective Fact Finding

The objective is not to make a new “friend”, but to be friendly and work with your prospect through a process of “guided discovery” to help you help them select the right vehicle. Keep it simple, provide smart, relevant options with simple questions that always give your prospect multiple options to engage and advance the process. Below is a sampling of 10 simple, but effective fact-finding questions designed to make your prospects feel at ease and give you the answers you seek:

  • MILLION $$ TIP…Use Example #1 in place of “Can I help you?”
  1. Are you looking for a car, truck or crossover option today?
  2. What 2 or 3 features or characteristics are most important to you in your next vehicle, safety, fuel efficiency, styling, etc?
  3. What did you enjoy most about your current vehicle?
  4. What would you change about your current vehicle?
  5. Do you prefer a vehicle with or without navigation?
  6. Are considering leasing, financing or just paying cash?
  7. How did you plan to handle your initial investment on your lease…the normal 15-20% down or were you considering more?
  8. Are you leaning toward a lighter or darker color?
  9. Cloth or Leather interior?
  10. Did you want to choose a vehicle with or without a sunroof?

Conceptually, we are seeking the answers to the test of selecting the right vehicle and already setting the stage for future negotiation. It is enjoyable when you’ve prepared by practicing your relevant line of questioning skills, drilled with role playing and then create your own questions. The idea is to accomplish the dual task of being friendly, positive and gaining the inside information your prospect knows that you don’t, so that you can help them make a smarter decision. Think about it from your prospect’s perspective, they came to make a purchase decision, they only do this once or twice every 3-4 years on average, so they want, and react positively to, a Sales Professional who is prepared. Take the time to get really good at this skill, have fun with this and watch your closing percentage soar! And remember…

Amateurs settle for being one of a million, but professionals always strive to be One-In-A-Million!©

You Never Get A Second Chance…

Everybody knows, as the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In speaking with some of today’s highest producing and highest earning Sales Professionals, the topic of a high-quality customer introduction is often cited as the single most effective ways to initiate a great customer relationship. When you are meeting a new prospect or warm referral for the first time, you are being judged consciously and subconsciously. Our ability to positively kick off the experience is critical, because a well-executed opener helps you gain confidence with a prospective customer and begin the pertinent dialogue necessary to lead to a successful experience. It’s simple to execute, but is also easy, if not easier, to take for granted…and all too often it is. So, why do the very best performers invest quality time employing a professional, consistent ‘Meet & Greet’? One of the more prolific producers I’ve met while working with dealership clients, Carter Nies, a consistent 30-plus unit per month performer, says this about a quality introduction, “It sets the tone for prospects immediately that I respect their time and want to hear more about why they came in to see me. Prospects gain immediate confidence when we make them feel like they are dealing with someone who treats this like a true profession.”

We get the chance to begin anew every time we meet a prospect for the first time. It provides a great way to leverage the first step in our ASD Impact Selling Process™, the “World Class Million Dollar Meet & Greet™” introduction. Making that great first impression is pivotal in establishing the experience that a prospective new client or customer is about to enjoy is far different from any that they’ve had prior to meeting you. And it also begins the process of leaving, and perhaps more importantly, a lasting impression, which can deliver residual business and lots of referrals!

Customers tend to form instant opinions about us, and this impacts how much time they’ll devote to us and our pitch, product or process. Very often this is based on elements such as our personal hygiene, wardrobe, body language, voice inflection and facial expressions, our words, and our overall demeanor. Below are a few simple, yet very effective recommendations to help us achieve a confident and professional initial impression:

TIP: Make sure you are dressed in a neat, clean and professional manner. (Pressed or ironed clothing, without potentially offensive jewelry or apparel)

TIP: Make sure your personal hygiene is above average, as people want to have confidence in those that are serving them. (Professional hair styling, fresh breath clean hands)

TIP: Make consistent eye contact (Try focusing on just one eye for better eye contact…it’s easier!) This one action does more to instill trust than most any other!

TIP: Offer a genuine smile…Every time. In my experience, 11 out of 10 prospects smile back at me!

TIP: Open with a professional, engaging greeting, such as:

  • ‘Hi! Welcome to ABC Automotive, my name is YOUR NAME, and you are? So great to meet you, and how do I spell your last name?’

TIP: Offer your business card immediately after exchanging names. Too often, I witness an unwitting Sales Professional offer their card at the “moment of dismissal” when they’ve determined that they aren’t going to complete a transaction at that time. This sends the wrong signals to a prospect.

These simple, yet impactful suggestions may seem trivial when examined individually, but compounded over the entire purchase/selling experience, they deliver real, improved results. Start to work on these actions today and begin the journey always remembering…

Amateurs settle for being one of a million, but professionals always strive to be One-In-A-Million!©