The Boring Stuff Essential for Automotive Sales Success
(This post is an edited excerpt from Assumptive Selling: The Complete Guide to Selling More Cars for More Money to Today’s Connected Customers.)
Either during the initial job interview or your first week in the car business, you were probably told (as I was) that selling cars is the only career that requires no college degree and no experience yet will afford you the opportunity to create your own small business. Your dealer principal will provide the capital, the marketing, the inventory and the facilities; your sales managers will provide the leadership and (some of) the training; and what you make of this opportunity is entirely up to you.
Guess what? You weren’t lied to – this is all true! There are plenty of salespeople today who “own” their book of business. Whether they stay at their current dealership or move across town, many of their customers will never buy from anyone else. Creating your own book of business, by the way, should be one of your goals – because this is the only way to ensure both job security and long-term financial success from selling cars.
If you’re new to car sales, you probably don’t know that most salespeople fit neatly into one of three basic categories: They can be superstars; they can be average; or they can be slugs. You can probably guess right away that you don’t want to be a slug.
The great news for you is that everyone can be a superstar. Regardless of what you’re selling, sales is the only profession where the players don’t fit on a bell curve. For example, if we plotted the monthly results for all the salespeople at a well-run dealership, you’d quickly see that everyone is crowding the right side of the graph. That is, they’re all superstars.
Interestingly, whatever your success selling cars – whether you’re a superstar, a slug, or somewhere in between – you are the sole cause of this. Yes, you and only you decide whether you’re going to average 30 units or 8 units. This has been the reality for decades in automotive retail, and it doesn’t matter if this is your first month in the car business or if you’ve been selling for twenty years.
Your Most Important Moneymaker: You
(I’ve written before about Moneymakers, so if you need a refresher, check out “Pull Out Your Moneymakers.”)
If a concert violinist wants to be successful, they need to take very special care of their violin. It is their only moneymaker – their most important asset – and a broken or out-of-tune moneymaker just won’t do. Like a concert violinist you need to take very special care of your most important asset: you.
If you truly want to succeed at selling cars, then you must ensure your most important instrument is always in great shape and ready to go. You are your own fine-tuned Stradivarius; and if you don’t take care of you; you will eventually stop working – just like a broken violin.
If you’re currently in your twenties or even early thirties, the advice I’m providing over the next few paragraphs may seem overly cautious – because you’re still indestructible; you’re still immortal. Your bell-to-bell lifestyle hasn’t killed you yet, so you think it will never kill you. It will. It always does.
If you want to sell 30+ units every month this year and in ten, twenty and thirty years, you need to create healthy habits that can carry your body through the next few decades without breaking down. This means adding lots of boring habits and jettisoning those fun, cool habits you might have. For example:
- Get enough sleep… each and every night. Your body repairs itself when you sleep; and trying to do it all is just not possible over the long term when you deprive your body – and especially your brain – of the sleep it needs to function. Lack of sleep increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. It also negatively impacts your brain’s ability to remember (like how to overcome an objection) and its ability to comprehend (like recognizing buying signals).
- Stop smoking. Salespeople who smoke not only stink when sitting across from a non-smoking prospect, but also become agitated more easily when a deal takes too long to complete. I’ve seen smokers blow deals with their customers because their mood changes as their need for a nicotine fix increases.
- Eat sensible meals. Any one of us can go a few weeks eating nothing but fast food and seem to function properly; the problems arise when you never eat anything other than this crap. The long-term negative impacts of a poor diet are more than just the added pounds and the loss of energy we might notice after eating mostly fast food for a month or so. For those sellers who want to always remain at the top of their game, every ounce of energy counts.
- Avoid energy drinks. Yep, I went there. Today’s energy drinks are akin to the “pep pills” some salespeople routinely took to compensate for their lack of sleep in the last century. Yes, the initial boost of energy is great, but you cannot continue to ask your body to do more for you than it was designed to do by fooling it into thinking you’ve got energy to spare. If you need more than a couple of cups of coffee in the morning to get your body and brain going, you’re likely in for an energy crash that could last for a very long time. Energy drinks are the liquid equivalent of fast food. That is, there appear to be few negative implications in the short term, though they can lead to all the same harmful health consequences when these become your staple beverage for months or years.
- Be happy. Yes, being happy is a habit you can develop. So, be happy for your coworkers, your dealer, your managers and your customers. Your happiness will become contagious and others will be happy for you. If you find you cannot be happy for someone, then just be happy for them. This means projecting happiness on the outside until your insides match your outsides. Try it; it really works.
- Avoid negative chatter and thoughts. Sitting in the smoking circle complaining about the dealership’s advertising or that lady in the finance office might feel like you’re bonding with the others, but these negative thoughts will creep into your ability to project happiness to your customers and coworkers.
- Dress up and always be well-groomed. Your customers will never complain when you’re clean, fresh and dressed nicely. This doesn’t necessarily mean suit and tie, but it does mean wearing clean clothes over a showered, clean body that smells good (use cologne or perfume sparingly).
- Oh, and wear a name tag. You want your customers to remember you throughout the buying process and well into the future. Unfortunately, the distractions of today can be so great that ten seconds after you introduce yourself, your customer has already forgotten your name. They want to call you Steve, but they fear your name might be Scott. This makes them uncomfortable and makes you easily forgettable. Help them remember your name by wearing a simple name tag.
Great habits might be boring, but they are essential for successfully selling over the long term. Moreover, great habits drive your energy levels and your energy levels dictate everything from passion to mood. The bottom line is that passionate salespeople who are in a great mood outsell everyone else.
The great news is that your customers will feed off your passion and your energy. Buying a car is an exciting time for them and no one wants to buy from a smelly, disheveled, moody prick.
Strict Sales Processes Will Make the Difference
Top sellers don’t freelance with every Up. Quite the contrary – top sellers are known for treating every prospect the same and sticking to a strict sales process every time regardless of which rabbit hole a prospect tries to take them down. They do this because they know that process outsells everything else. It always has, and it always will.
I can hear some of you now; “But, Steve; our managers don’t teach us a thing; and they don’t care whether we follow a process or not!”
This is all too common in automotive retail; but, it’s certainly not your problem and it’s definitely not a reason that’s keeping you from selling 30 or more cars every month. It doesn’t matter what your sales managers demand since your sales success is driven by you. You’re the only one who can get you to 30 units this month… and, you’re the only one to blame if you fail.
Your store’s lack of process should be looked at as an opportunity. I mean, at least you’re not being forced to follow some outdated road-to-the-sale that blows out more buyers than it closes. With no formal process in place, you are free to practice Assumptive Selling and free to create and strictly follow your own good processes. For your processes to be considered good, they must be made up of simple, repeatable steps that you precisely follow with every Up.