The river of gold is still flowing. Don’t wait until it dries up to get serious.
BY JOE VERDE
I talked to a dealer the other day about training and I got the same response we hear every day.
Dealer: Joe, we don’t need training, we’re swamped; we just need inventory.
My standard response: Wow, you’ve sold all of the vehicles – you don’t have any vehicles in inventory at all?
Dealer’s standard response: No Joe, we have a couple hundred, we’re just short on the ones people are buying.
My standard response: So they’ve bought all the hot products, and now you have to sell the rest?
Dealer’s standard response: Silence.
Most dealerships are swamped. You guys have been bustin’ buns and it’s been an awesome year. Even better news is everything points to these good times continuing into next year. Here’s the deal though: The busier you get and the more sales you make, the more casual and complacent people become.
Everybody has a comfort zone. The dealer has one, the GM has one, and the GSM and every other manger has their own unit, gross and personal income happy zone – and it’s being met in this great market we’re in right now.
Every salesperson has theirs, too. And let’s not kid each other – when the eight-car guy who was comfortable there hits 10, the urgency to spend that extra time to take that next “looker” on a demo, or to make that follow up call, or to work a little harder to avoid price on an incoming call just doesn’t happen. It’s not him, or her; it’s just human nature. In tough times people do whatever it takes to make a buck.
But in times like these, people aren’t bending over to pick up pennies, and most won’t even pick up a dollar bill lying in the street if it looks dirty. The problem is, in good times people choose easy pickings over hard work any day. We all understand why, but let’s not ignore some of the easy sales we could make and quit sending them to the competition down the street.
So let’s look at some of the easiest ways to pick up a few extra sales and some extra gross profit. These are things you can just do to increase sales and profits without much extra effort.
Manage Your People
Nope, no grind on the tough stuff we should be doing. But at least make sure salespeople are doing the key parts of the job they were hired to do. If a tech only worked on four out of 10 vehicles, nobody would be OK with that, not the customers and not the dealer. Well, managers and dealers may blow off the four out of 10 only getting demos, but customers are not OK with no demo and a poor overall presentation. They’re trying to buy a car and it’s frustrating as a buyer to have to work so hard to get a dealership to sell them a $40,000 vehicle, so they can earn a profit. Just require salespeople to do these three things to qualify for bonuses or spiffs: first, 60 percent demos; second, get more write ups (more demos make this very easy to do); and third, contact 75 percent of unsold customers
Sell More Floor Traffic
Did you know that statistically, if you have a 20-percent closing ratio, you could double sales – and then double sales again, just from the floor traffic you have now? What? How can that be correct? No rocket science here, just math on stats we all know to be true: eight out of 10 people buy, and the average dealership only sells two of the eight (20 percent closing ratio). Double would be four, and doubled again would be eight. No, you won’t sell eight out of eight, but you can definitely increase sales, and you don’t need more floor traffic. Just get your salespeople doing these things:
- Assume everyone is a buyer and follow the steps of selling 100 percent of the time. Is it really a good idea to allow below-average salespeople to decide who can and who can’t buy? Doesn’t it make more sense to require salespeople to give every customer the benefit of the doubt and give at least 75 percent of them a great presentation and demo and try to close the sale?
- Follow up with everyone who doesn’t buy. Why? Because eight out of 10 were buyers upon arrival, and eight out of 10 who leave are still buyers and will either come back to buy from you or they’ll buy from a competitor. There are no other “either/or” options. Follow up and you win – don’t and you lose.
Talk About Selling In a Meeting
The most common misconception managers have when they come to our Train The Trainer workshop is that training is all about them standing up front and talking to their salespeople for half an hour.
Training is like selling; it’s all about asking the right questions. Try this tomorrow. Just talk about demos. Go through the stats we’ve covered a jillion times so you’re familiar with them, and start asking questions:
- I know sometimes we don’t think we’re talking to a buyer, but has anybody ever guessed wrong and missed a sale? Talk about that awhile.
- Why is a demo so important? Who’s made a sale just because of the demo? When? Why? How much did you make? Keep asking demo questions.
- Forget what you log, how many demos do you really give? If that 50 percent stat is right, how many more units would you sell if you gave six or eight out of 10 a demo? Why? Do your math, how much more money would you make?
Get More Write-Ups
Ever wonder why when times are great, you don’t get too many stupid offers or too many incredibly hard-to-put-together deals? Sure, it’s because salespeople have worked the deal on the lot and are only writing up people they think can or will buy. Pay spiffs if you have to, but fix this. It’s an instant improvement in units and gross.
Close More Write-Ups
Have you ever wondered why so many deals become a slow grind and end up lost? Of course, it’s because they didn’t have any kind of real commitment, and probably didn’t even demo the vehicle. They’re just throwing stuff on the wall and hoping you can put a bad deal together so they can earn a commission. They have you pegged and know exactly what button to push to get you to take a nothing deal for them doing almost nothing to earn it. Besides, it’s much easier working you than the customer. Fix this.
Raise the Gross
A manager in class said, “We control the gross at our dealership.” At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but he was actually serious – he thought managers at the desk controlled the gross. I smiled as I reminded him that he only controls what’s left of the gross in his dealership after his salespeople have worked the entire deal on the lot.
The average first discount that salespeople offer (almost immediately) is $845 and by the time they bring in a write up they’ve already given away $2,062 to get that loosey goosey commitment they have. That’s what makes customers so crazy when you start the deal back at full price (like you should do) – it’s the first time anybody has told them they should actually pay more for it. Remember, 16 percent do pay full price and 30 percent pay what they’re asked to pay. Here’s a tip: ask everyone to pay full price before you give away the farm.
Get Out of Your Office
When you aren’t working a deal, what should you be doing to make sure you get a deal to work? Exactly – go stir the pot and keep salespeople busy doing follow-up, taking ups, talking to service customers or making prospecting calls. That just won’t happen with you sitting in your office watching them through the window. Throw away your chair and watch sales improve immediately.
Eliminate the Bad Apples
If you have 10 salespeople and one rotten apple who everyone knows is well protected, that person sets the mark on where the line is drawn in the sand on having to follow your directions. And you know that’s bad luck, don’t you? So the next time he does the wrong thing – it will be soon – hand him his final check. If you do this, the other nine will straighten up and do exactly what you say as long as they think you’ll fire them, too, for not doing their job.
Sure, there’s more you can do, but this stuff is so easy it’s painless – and you’ll deliver more units, earn more money, and be the hero. So go have fun!