Archive for the ‘tips for a bad economy’ Category

The Conundrum of Johnny Manziel and Time Tebow

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Whether you are a football fan or not, unless you have been living in a cave you have probably heard a lot about Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.  What Tebow and Manziel have in common is that both are former Heisman Trophy winning college quarterbacks.  What they both also have in common is that they are both very much hated and reviled by so many.

From the outside looking in, they are polar opposites in many ways. Tebow is publicly very religious and Manziel is not. Tebow is outwardly extremely humble and Manziel is viewed as being extremely cocky and even arrogant. Tebow apparently lives a very straight arrow life and Manziel has had his share of documented days of partying. Tebow never reacts to his detractors and Manziel seems to give the proverbial middle finger to his. Tebow quotes scripture and Manziel plays rap. Tebow appears humble while Manziel seems to flaunt his ability with a little in your face style.

Manziel and Tebow outwardly opposite in every way but yet both share in common massive doses of venom by the media, coaches, some players and large amounts of the general public. Tebow the humble, virtuous Christian is hated and Manziel the cocky, partying one man show is hated as well. Actually, I am not sure which one seems to be condemned and hated the most. Seems to be a conundrum doesn’t it.

In my opinion, the answer in this does not lie in the characteristics of either Manziel or Tebow or what they do or don’t do. The answer to this conundrum lies with people who are constantly judging others. Often these people judge them but inwardly are wishing they could be more like them.  They are not really hating on Manziel or Tebow. Instead, they are expressing their hatred of themselves and their own perceived shortcomings expressed outwardly towards Manziel and Tebow. Haters hate because that is what they do.

Don’t be a hater and stop judging others. Look at yourself and judge yourself. Work on yourself and let others be. Success and happiness is always an inside out job.

Putting An Iron Cage Around Your Customers

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Historically, auto dealers have worked hard, been extremely creative and spent vast sums on creating new customers. Looking for the new mousetrap to find customers has always been an addiction for the majority of dealers. Ask any dealer about marketing and you will hear elaborate stories and details about TV, radio, newspaper, internet, digital and other forms of media to reach and bring new customers. You will hear passionate opinions about the best media forms of advertising/marketing. However, in all my years in the business, it has been almost non-existent to hear a dealer talk in the same detail and passion about retaining customers.

Traditional thought and dialogue about keeping customers or creating repeat and referral business has centered on treating customers right. The harsh reality is that the customer experience in itself has not been enough to keep customers for at least the last two decades.

The marketplace has undergone generational, technology and free market changes. These changes have brought about different societal norms and mores in regards to customer thought, behavior and loyalty. There is an old saying “Would you rather have customer satisfaction or customer loyalty?” The factories pounded the drum for customer satisfaction and clubbed dealers over the head with programs that were inaccurate, ineffective and totally misguided. Dealers spent resources on getting new customers and lived by the “treat’em right” mantra for getting them to buy again. This has been a deadly combination for dealers.

Just imagine if someone asked you if you how your marriage was and you answered. “I’m satisfied.” What if someone asked how your kids are and you answered, “I’m satisfied.” What if an old school buddy you have not seen for a while asked you the following question, “How is everything going?” and you said, “I’m satisfied.” Get the point? How ridiculous do those answers sound? There is a new reality for all businesses to keep customers. Businesses must now be run with science that matches the art. Seat of the pants management is no longer acceptable. Hoping your customers you sold come back again because you treated them right is no longer acceptable.

The average dealership retains somewhere around 30% of his customers for a future sale. The average dealer has somewhere between 11%-19% sales to service retention. The average dealer cannot truthfully say what the sales to service conversion and retention figure is at his dealership because the average dealer does not measure that component of their business. If you are a dealer who knows how much you spend monthly on advertising/marketing but not what your repeat sales figures are or sales to service conversion and retention percentages are then you are doomed to boom or bust cycles. You will be a slave to bad manufacturer decisions and any other thing that you do not control.

The good news is you do not ever have to be a slave or a victim again. You can control and increase all of those above measurable components of your business. You can experience 100% or better service absorption. You can have both satisfied and loyal customers in a marketplace with a dominant culture that does not encourage loyalty and demands almost perfection in execution just to be satisfied.

To be successful you must plan and take massive action to prompt, promote and reward customer thoughts and behavior. “The first sale is made on the front-end and the next sale is made in the back-end.” “The sales department brings the customer in and the service department brings them back.” Do those sayings sound familiar? Both of those sayings have a lot of truth to them. Based upon those truths I invite you to stop thinking of your business in terms of front and back-end but as a fully functioning integrated business.

From now on, do not think or plan anything you do in regards to the front-end of your business without considering how you can integrate the back-end and how everything would be affected. The same goes for the back-end of the business. Eventually you will begin to think in terms of the business as a whole and it will affect the decisions and management of all your actions.

A marketing mentor of mine once said, “Often, the best business you can have is the business you find within a business.” Within all original business entities is another undiscovered, untapped business that can be created or elevated that often has more potential than the primary business.

In an auto dealership there are unlimited opportunities to look at your business in a different light than you ever have before. Begin to think of and create ways that will add so much value to your customer and their lives that your customer can’t help but do business with you. Stop copycatting all the small minded approaches of the norm and begin a journey to become a category of one.

A commodity or a commoditized industry can only be that way if you let it be that way. A vehicle is a commodity. The auto business is highly commoditized. Your customer can buy the vehicle they are selling from anywhere, anytime with a stroke of a keyboard, a phone call or a quick drive. Car dealers bastardize ideas, programs and operating methods from competitors, 20 groups and conventions. You can and should create something that defines you and your dealership value in such a way that brands you. Your brand will be driven by increases of sales, profits and retention and not by some nebulous marketing theme. Even programs and ideas used by others can become solely yours if implemented correctly. “Tell your story, tell it well and tell it often.” I promise you that 99% of your competitors do not tell their story well, often or possibly even at all. You are your only competition.

If I were instructing a new salesperson today I would tell him that there are six levels of potential customers.

Level 1 – Random prospect

Level 2 – Targeted prospect

Level 3 – Referral

Level 4 – Attempted but unsold prospect

Level 5 – A previous but inactive customer

Level 6 – A current customer

My question to you is where do you put the most emphasis in creating business? For most dealers the truthful answer would be Level 1. The correct answer would be Level 6. You start at Level 6 and move backwards to Level 1. Although, every business needs a new stream of customers, it is often overlooked and neglected that many of those customers can be created from Levels 2-6 rather than just Level 1 and high emphasis on Levels 3-6.

I often visit Panera Bread for lunch. The Panera Bread stores have good food, baked goods and coffee. So does just about everywhere else today. The first extra bonus I get at Panera Bread is when the cashier greets me. Every Panera Bread restaurant I go to has a greeter who is an absolute mega watt positive energy giver. It’s impossible to feel bad about your order when you are greeted by a person who takes your order while displaying an incredible fire of passion.

The Panera mega watt cashier always asks me for my Panera card which I gladly carry on my key chain. I smile each time they give me something for FREE and I build my points and get discounts. Does Panera influence my behavior and loyalty? Absolutely! In fact, the secret is that it is not loyalty at all. It simply is about incredible value. Really good food, service and incentives drive my repeat business.

Every week I visit my local Kroger grocery store for groceries and the convenience store for gas. Is it cheaper than Wal-Mart or some of the other discount grocers? Probably not.

I like the store, the people and love the Kroger rewards program. I love to watch my total bill drop when I enter my number or swipe my card. I love to redeem my 10 cents a gallon loyalty gas discount. Kroger influences my behavior with perceived value. I would not call it loyalty but it definitely is about strong value proposition.

I have implemented VIP Loyalty/Retention Programs with dealers all over the country and watched numbers skyrocket. I have installed Lifetime Powertrain Programs that have incredibly strong value propositions and are built in continuity programs increase every measurable component imaginable. I have assisted dealers in creating referral programs that tapped unmined resources. I have assisted dealers in creating what I call their “Specific Defining Proposition” and what I call their “Better than money back guarantee” or outrageous claim.” In each one of these things I have seen amazing short and long term ROI and just as importantly a huge cultural shift in the dealership.

There are only five ways to increase the bottom line of any business.

#1 – Sell more goods and services

#2 – Increase your profit margin per good or service

#3 – Increase your referrals

#4 – Increase repeat business

#5 – Increase the speed of your repeat business.

Most dealers tend to concentrate solely on #’s 1 and 2. I invite you to look at programs such as our VIP Program or Lifetime Powertrain Program that would increase #’s 1-5 all at the same time. If you concentrate solely on #’s 1 and 2 you can experience linear growth. If you concentrate #’s 4 and 5 you will experience exponential growth.

The keys to growth and success are always the 4P’s – People, Process, Product and Market Positioning. If you get better in all of these 4 areas, your dealership will experience increased results. When you combine communication with a strong value proposition you will experience incredible results.

As an example, I have a Honda client that experienced an over $500,000 increase in service business this year from INACTIVE customers. Most of these inactive customers had not been to the dealership for years! This is found money! Over 50% of your customers will give you another shot if you just try to reengage with them. However, if you do not communicate with your customer for 18 months it’s as if you never sold them. You have to start all over again in the reengagement process. Why waste all the time, money and effort to get a customer and then simply let them go.

Do not think that a fancy and expensive CRM by itself will accomplish your communication. It will not. If you do not see an increase in the measurable components of your business after you have installed a CRM then you are wasting your money. Everything and I mean everything must be measured and must show ROI. Communicate consistently with your customers using multiple channels. You must achieve marketplace awareness to achieve market share.

In today’s brutal and unforgiving marketplace, you do not have margin for error. You must operate on all cylinders. The good news is that the only competition you have comes from your existing belief systems, patterns and outdated operating methods. There are no excuses today for a lack of success. It is EASIER today to compete and win than ever before if you do the right things. Being small, having a bad location, bad facility, lack of operating capital, nor anything else is an acceptable excuse today for not getting all you deserve. The opportunity is there. The question is, “Do you think you deserve it?”

Playing To Win

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The San Antonio Spurs played not to win and wound up losing. The Spurs gave the power and control of the game to the Miami Heat and Miami took the power and control of their destiny and won. The Spurs will forever regret the position they took. Business lessons learned: Play to win instead of not to lose. Never give away your power or control of your destiny to the competition.

Automotive Sales – The Road to a Sale is Broken Revisited

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Many years ago, I wrote an article titled “The Road To A Sale Is Broken.” Well, it’s not only still broken, it’s fractured beyond recognition.

Attention dealers: Take the time this week to review and rethink from scratch every step in your routing procedures. Review these steps from beginning to end, and review all team members involved both on the front line and behind the scenes. Review all the technologies you have and determine what is the most effective use and integration of each one.

Do not allow status quo thinking of “We have always done it this way.” Every week in dealerships, I witness customers walking in who are several steps deep into the sales process but are then shoved back into step one. The customers get frustrated and the process becomes disjointed.

For what seems like forever, we have taught a sales process that emphasizes moving a customer through three stages:

Character Emotion Logic

The standard process emphasizes getting rapport and allowing the customer to satisfy their assessment of your character, then giving a presentation that creates strong emotion in the customer and then the customer moves into the final stage of logically deciding how to purchase the vehicle. All of these stages are still necessary; the order, however, has been inverted.

Today, an average customer has spent significant time in education and research. Obviously, by the time the customer contacts a dealership they are heavily into the “logic” stage of buying. Because of the significant time spent in advance of buying, the average customer now walks into one dealer and buys. In the past, a customer was visiting closer to five dealerships before they purchased.

Because a customer is still in a “logic” stage upon entering the dealership, what can you do to take them even deeper into that funnel before and after they arrive at the dealership? You will, in essence, be the anti-salesperson. You will be giving information and sharing logic-based criteria that will allow the customer to automatically judge your character as the person and place to do business. Now, you have allowed the customer to move effortlessly through the process in a way that they want, and not a cookie-cutter system based upon outdated models of selling. Everything should be based upon TLC: Think Like a Customer.

What technologies do you utilize in your dealership that would assist you as you use it with the customer? If you use trade-in technology, why not use it in conjunction with the customer? If you utilize CRMs, why not involve the customer in the explanation of how this will affect them? If you use other communication technologies, get customers involved to tailor everything to them.

Next, think of who at your dealership will perform which duties. The next generation of selling will provide more and more specialization, where there are less “superstar, do it all” salespeople. Think of building your staff and process in a way that does not violate human nature. Most people are good at a couple of things, but few are good at all things. Design your process around the idea of your staff doing a few tasks really well, and then holding them accountable to those things.

Your Internet sales staff will function based upon strict criteria. Your floor salespeople may become product specialists designed at giving customers an incredible “wow” factor from the meet and greet through logic and then presentation/demonstration. Your managers could become sales specialists/floor managers/facilitators who assist the product specialists from the beginning to end of the process. Think of how to move the managers up the sales channel, rather than at the end. You should try to eliminate the uncomfortable “Hello T.O.” that often occurs at the end of the sales process when the deal is either lost or near dead.

It’s way past time to bury the traditional sales process based upon what you want and not what the customer wants. It’s way past time to base your sales process upon what a customer thinks and needs before they go into a dealership. Sometimes you just have to let things go before you can allow yourself to move forward.

Don’t forget to follow me on Google

The Death of the Tradional Dealership: Part 4

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Everyone talks about change, but few people embrace it. Change is growth, and growth is positive and unavoidable. If you don’t change, the world will change without you and leave you behind. In business today, change is occurring at a rapid pace and is causing the death of traditional salespeople as we know them.

In the age-old process of selling, the emphasis has been on a linear “road to the sale” process. Step One leads to Step Two and so on. The Internet information age has made the traditional road to the sale obsolete. Your customer today may be on Step Three or Four from the beginning, instead of the traditional Step One. Traditional salespeople try to force the customer through a funnel no matter what the customer says or feels. Today, flexibility and understanding in the sales process is the key.

The traditional sales process talked about features and benefits. If you are selling just features and benefits today, you are at a strong disadvantage. It’s simply not enough. You must communicate features, benefits and value wrapped up in a story and shared through an experience. People want to be involved and, when they are, it strengthens their commitment. Traditional selling is something that is done to someone and modern selling is something that is experienced with the help of a communicator/ facilitator/problem solver.

In the traditional sales process, price is never mentioned until the feature-benefit presentation has been made. Price is avoided and evaded. In today’s market, you cannot ignore the issue of price; instead, you must address it up front to eliminate the fear and establish trust. By addressing price, you will move the customer past price apprehension and eliminate the fight caused by avoiding and evading. This does not mean you have to be a quote machine, but it does mean that you cannot be afraid to discuss the issue of price to move past it.

In the traditional road to the sale, you would address the customer’s trade-in at the time of the appraisal because it’s part of the pricing structure and, therefore, part of the negotiations and a potential objection. In the modern sales process, you recognize the trade-in as being a major comfort zone of the customer and a great tool to build rapport and find out the customers patterns of buying. You will now address the trade-in willingly up front in the process. People repeat buying behavior whether it’s in person or on the Internet. The Internet is just another medium used in the process and customers emulate offline and online behaviors and patterns.

In the traditional road to the sale, customers are asked to make a buying commitment before they are given figures. Imagine scaring your customers so much before you gave them figures that you created a fear about buying. That’s exactly what often happens in a traditional sales process. If you want to commit a customer, do so throughout the sales process in small commitments, based upon the process and the value of the product and their satisfaction. Get continual agreements about the two things all customers care about today — time and money. All people want to save time and money. Use these keywords throughout the whole sales process and get agreement about how everything you are sharing with them, everything they are experiencing and the manner in which you are doing it is creating opportunities for them to save time and money. Perception becomes reality. Frame the perceptions and thoughts and you will frame the basis of the customer’s decision all without making them commit to a buying decision too early in the sale process when they don’t have enough information. This old school form of commitment is just “If I could would you…” run amok.

Utilize as many modalities of learning as possible with your customer. Allow people to see, hear, feel and experience. Old school selling was dominated by telling things to customers and making verbally dominated presentations. The problem is that many of your customers are not auditory learners. The popular method of selling in the past has not matched the way a customer tends to learn and absorb information in a comfortable way. Through proper questioning, you can easily define a person’s dominant mode of learning and weave in the other modalities to put the customers buying experience on steroids. Utilize video, audio and experiential steps in the buying process and your customers will begin to feel what I call the “Disneyland Effect.” Create sensory amazement with your customer.

Your customer should never be able to walk away from the buying experience they have with you and compare it to any other salesperson. The traditional salesperson tried to find the right car, information and price for the customer and hoped he got the sale. Today, the customer can get those things anywhere and never leave the house to get it. Your marketplace demands more. Start to reevaluate your sales process by thinking of the following questions:

• What are other salespeople not doing?

• What would be the opposite of what other salespeople do?

• What do customers want, and in what way do they want it?

• What would make you stand out from anyone else?

• What parts of traditional selling should be tweaked, changed or removed altogether to create an easier, better buying experience?

• What is the customer’s biggest fear and how do I remove it?

• What do I have the most fear about eliminating or changing in my sales process and why?

Usually the biggest rewards are in attacking the areas we fear the most. The things we tend to hold as the strongest foundations and that would absolutely be unthinkable to change are the very things that tend to lead to the biggest breakthroughs. Traditional selling is dead and that is a good thing. Ten years from now, the breakthroughs of today will be obsolete. The question for you is, will you be obsolete?

Change More Than The Calendar

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

The last quarter of the year rolls around and you begin to hear some common refrains:

· “We are waiting until the first of the year”

· “Starting in January I am going to…”

· “We have to wait until spring when business picks up”

· “The first of the year I am really going to get into it.”

Here’s the reality for most people who make these statements: The calendar is the only thing that changes.

If you are waiting for the calendar to change your life or your business, you are kidding yourself. My own observation is that these false start dates are nothing more than excuses and actual obstacles to not face reality and take action. No matter your intentions, I think everyone has been guilty of false statements at some time.

Words are cheap. A U.S. General once said, “Every year I pay less attention to what people say and more to what they do.” Action is always where the rubber meets the road. However, actions are preceded by proper thoughts and beliefs. Just because a person says they are going to do something does not mean that their brain buys into the idea.

When you make a statement, you are consciously choosing to do so. The problem begins when your subconscious does not match up to the conscious choice. If your subconscious does not have any evidence to support your statements, the subconscious immediately begins to sabotage your thoughts. This is precisely why traditional goal setting and New Years Eve resolutions fail.

I have heard many times that in setting goals they must be believable to work. You can hear the “believable goals” mantra and interpret this to mean you need to pick a safe goal. Safe goals rarely inspire you to action. Safe goals are easy to say but they don’t fill enough emotional needs. Behind all realized goals are strong emotions that were on fire to be realized.

First of all, you have to set inspiring goals that create emotions inside you. Otherwise all you are doing is writing out a To-Do list. When was the last time you were “geeked” by your To-Do list? Stop listening to everyone’s “10 steps” and “10 rules” to everything and the “Dummy’s Guide to Goal Setting” and start living by your rules. It’s your life, your goals, your emotions and your rewards if you reach your goals. You make the rules. Go for as large a goal as you desire.

Secondly, start giving your subconscious all the evidence it needs to start believing. You may write your goal 100 times a day. You may write your goal and put on your bathroom mirror and say the goal aloud 10 times every morning. You may find 10 people who have reached your goal and reach out to interview them on what they did. You may close your eyes and visualize yourself at the moment you reach the goal and see it in vivid colors, feel the feeling as strongly as you can feel.

No matter what goal you choose, you have to take some kind action. Take a step, no matter how small, and then set in stone your next action and action date. The next action should be soon. The next hour or the next day would be best. Don’t make the next action step too long after the first, or leave it to chance that you will take your next step.

The dirty little secret to reaching any and every goal is that most goals are made up of small, boring, mundane steps that lead to your success. We live in an instant gratification society – “8-Minute Abs,” “Lose 10 Pounds in One Week,” “Lose Six Inches in One Week,” and so on. Those ads are all brilliant marketing strategies, because they promise instant results. The headline of “Lots of sweaty exercise and eating tons of vegetables will help you lose weight this year” would not get a lot of response. The general public would say they hate hype but the truth is most people love hype. People love HOPE – the easier the better.

Don’t wait for a calendar to change your life or your business. Usually the only thing that changes is the calendar.

Getting To The Next Level: Part 2

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Last month, we took a look at programming your subconscious to be the best supercomputer you’ll ever need to achieve success. This month, let’s take a look at some other ways to survive and thrive in your situation, and find the joy in your career and life.

First, you must quantify to qualify. You have to get a handle on what you are currently doing, and be honest. I have consulted with thousands of businesses over the years. I have found few, who are currently unsuccessful, willing at first to be honest about the reasons for their lack of success. There are almost always tons of excuses and a shocking lack of self-awareness.

Have you ever watched the reality TV shows about unsuccessful restaurants, bars, hotels, etc? You will notice it’s always the same elements in their lack of success. It also does not take a genius to discover it and fix it, but it does take self-awareness and honesty.

Self-awareness and personal responsibility are cornerstones in creating success or moving to another level. Programming your autopilot with successful habits is essential to success. Be ruthless with your time, because you cannot get it back.

Another cornerstone of success and goal attainment is to utilize what I call the “Polarization Effect.” This has taken me decades to truly understand and something I must be mindful of every day to experience ultimate success. Ultimate success is not only measured by the goal attainment, but in also truly enjoying and breathing in all that you have while you go for what you want.

Let me be more specific. Pain can be a tremendous motivator. Pain in your current position can move you towards getting what you want. You may have great pain about your income, financial position, weight, relationships, etc. This pain leads you to a defining moment. To quote the line from the movie Network, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

Some people may use this pain to motivate them for the rest of their lives. However, true joy and success comes from not only using this motivation to drive you, but also taking a deep breath every day as you drive yourself and realizing the joy you are receiving from the doing.

Attainment of goals without the enjoyment of doing is hollow. In this case, nothing can be good enough and no goal, no matter how big, can fulfill you. Begin to truly enjoy the moments of what you do. Strive to find absolute amazement and wonder in excellence.

Recently, I went to a concert featuring The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Little Feat and Delbert McClinton. I have been listening to their music and watching these performers for decades. I watched in awe at the magnitude of their skill. These performers are better now than ever. Their passion was evident. I have also sat and watched a man shine shoes for 20 minutes and found myself amazed at his skill, communication and passion.

To be an expert and to be truly amazing at anything takes passion and dedication. Every day, look for examples of that passion and dedication in others and in you. Although it takes honesty about what you are doing right, it takes grace to give you and others credit for what you are doing right. Recognize and enjoy the performances.

There is a scene in the movie The Hustler with Paul Newman where Newman’s character, Fast Eddie Felson, is grousing about being a loser in life, but also talking about how he feels when he has a pool cue in his hands and his feeling of something truly amazing. His girlfriend in the movie, Piper Laurie, passionately tells him that most people go through life and never feel that kind of passion or excellence, and that he is anything but a loser.

Just remember, on the days that are not easy and the days you feel down on yourself, you are excellent and that you experience passion like few ever experience.

Go to work on seeing, doing and feeling that excellence as much as you possibly can. When you utilize the pain to motivate and the passion and feelings of excellence to saturate, then you are using my “Polarization Effect” to the fullest. You are using polar opposites in a way to maximize your skills, time, energies and enjoyment. The good news is that it does not take more effort to get to the next level. It is just a different type of effort and awareness.

What Santa Teaches You About Sales

Friday, December 21st, 2012

It’s the Christmas season and Santa Claus is everywhere you look. It’s also the time of year to reflect on the year past and look forward and plan the new year. Santa Claus is a great sales model in both cases.

First of all, Santa Claus rewards you based upon the past year. If you were a good boy or girl you get rewarded. Ask yourself if you were a good boy or girl this year. Did you put forth maximum effort in trying to grow your sales, people, marketing, and life skills? Did you work diligently in bringing value to the marketplace?

Good input leads to good output or garbage in and garbage out. My mentor, the late Jim Rohn said, “The marketplace cares about your seeds not your needs.” I hear a lot of people talking about their needs in this troubled economy. I hear people talking about their debt and need of income. Although it’s natural to do this, you are focusing solely on yourself and your needs. The marketplace does not care and your thoughts direct you towards more of the same, being needy. Begin again as a child and wish. Begin to design your life with a focus on want rather than need. If you sit on Santa Claus’s lap he does not ask you what you need, he will ask what you want.

Next, think not just of what you have or have not accomplished but what you will give. Santa Claus teaches us to give and give freely. The Law of Giving and Receiving is absolute. When you give you receive. Giving changes your mindset and it changes your heart. When you focus on others you set reciprocation in motion. Nature abhors a vacuum and fills it quickly. When you give you create a vacuum or space. Be willing to give something up and be willing to give more and more to your customers and you will be justly rewarded.

It’s a great time of year no matter your plight in life. If you are in a good position, it’s time to be thankful and plan to do more. If your plight is not as good it’s time to be thankful as well. Be thankful what for you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Be thankful for your ability to take responsibility to change. Be thankful for your ability to choose your thoughts and emotions no matter your situation. It turns out that Santa Claus is not just for kids but is a great inspiration and mentor for adults as well. Santa Claus is the ultimate salesperson.

For a free special report “10 Things Your Dealership Must Do To Be Successful” email me at with 10 Things in the subject line.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Billy Mays vs. Michael Jackson

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Michael Jackson and Billy Mays passed away in the same week. The passing of Billy Mays made the news but Michael Jackson dominated it. The underlying message sent from the media is that entertaining is good and somehow noble, but selling and marketing is bad. My question for you is the following: Do you allow this flawed thinking to keep you from being successful in your sales and marketing?

The news coverage of Michael Jackson life was largely reverential and fit for king, while the coverage of Billy May’s life always seemed to mention the loud pitchman with a carnival barker quality. Our society tends to revere athletes and entertainers, but scorns marketers and salespeople. This subliminal message bombards the brains of business people who being to believe it.

Too often, business owners and leaders let their egos and perceptions of image get in the way of successful marketing and sales. Movies, TV and news often shape our thoughts. The problem with allowing your actions to be guided by these mediums is they often create false assumptions.

The first sin of marketing is to be boring. In today’s marketplace it is harder to get noticed than ever before. You must stand out. In different fields and with different styles, both Michael Jackson and Billy Mays stood out. Both Michael Jackson and Billy Mays were shrewd marketers and salespeople. Both were personality driven, and neither Michael Jackson nor Billy Mays were boring.

Many businesses spend tons of money on boring marketing. Often the excuse given is “You have to have your name out there” or “I am building a brand.” Unless you are Pepsi or Anheiser Busch, you don’t have enough money to build a brand. Spending money to keep your name out there is an excuse to not have a plan.

People make fun of personality-driven or wacky themed advertising, but if you measure the results of these businesses, they are usually the best performers in their area. Personality-themed marketing and advertising utilizes the personality to drive home the message and the call to action. Those businesses don’t let false ego and image to get in the way of effective marketing.

You should care less about what you think customers will think and more about what they will actually do. The surest way to create a brand image is by selling tons of products through personality-driven marketing and sales that creates a quasicelebrity out of you, your family, your staff, your pets, your characters and anything else you can use. The personality has a strong supporting role in the marketing and selling without becoming the focal point. In other words, don’t be wacky just to be wacky.

I believe most business owners are somewhat ashamed of marketing and selling. The marketing of these businesses tries to show they are anything but marketers and sellers. The problem is that this tactic doesn’t work. General Motors Saturn brand didn’t approve of using the word “sale” as if it were somehow dirty. Maybe that’s why Saturn didn’t sell much.

Michael Jackson and Billy Mays were both smart marketers. Michael Jackson was loved for it and Billy Mays was laughed at. My own theory is that Billy Mays didn’t care. His bank cashed his checks the same as Michael Jackson’s. Billy Mays rose from boardwalk vendor to being a rich and famous pitchman. Billy Mays laughed all the way to the bank using personality-driven marketing.

To receive a free special report, “The Ten Deadly Sins of Marketing and Sales” e-mail me at

Five Simple Things You Can Do Right Now To Sell More Vehicles

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

“Big doors swing on small hinges.” Small things can make a big difference in your sales process. There has been a lot written recently about what I term the “Moment of Truth” in the sales process. I don’t believe that a sale usually occurs because of one “big bang moment.” Usually, a sale occurs because of a series of very small and simple things that add up to being the difference maker.

If you are looking for 50 closes to take your sales to the next level you are missing the boat. When you are talking about adding 50 closes to your sales arsenal, you are looking for the “big bang moment” and are concentrating on risk reversal rather than risk aversion. When a customer is feeling too much fear, then you have to use closes or objection handling. Although these are good things to have in your repertoire, you are better served to concentrate on the psychological and emotional road to the sale rather than the steps to the road to the sale. When you concentrate on the hearts and minds of your customers during the sale process you tend to need a lot less of the closes and objection handling techniques because you are gradually addressing all their fears as you move along in the sale process. This creates risk aversion which is much easier to do than risk reversal.

#1 – Lower your customers fear at the greeting

Whether you are greeting customers online or offline, you can lower their apprehensions from the beginning to create a different environment and set the tone for the culture of your business and the way you operate. If you are greeting customers on your lot, use the following greeting, “Hi Folks, are you out beginning to look and shop around today?” A typical response from your customers to a standard greeting is, “We are just looking and shopping around.” The above greeting removes that awkward response and tells them proactively that is okay to look and shop.

Stay in a social zone of about 3-5 feet from the customer instead of getting into their personal space too quickly. If possible, wait to exchange names and handshakes. In the typical greeting, a salesperson forgets the customer’s name immediately. Wait until you see sign of comfort from a customer such as a smile, moving closer to you, direct eye contact etc. and then offer a greeting. Use a powerful form of persuasion such as reciprocation/obligation in your greeting. When you feel the customer is comfortable say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, I didn’t get your name and I don’t think I gave you my name.” Apologize to every customer you meet in the first five minutes and you will create a sense of reciprocation/obligation and make and impression of you being a person rather than a salesperson.

If you are greeting customers online, then you must also remove barriers of fear. You can do this by being more personable and using better tools to connect and create value. Try using video email tools such as “Eye jot.” This is a free video email tool that allows a person to person online connection. Direct customers to your YouTube channel for free special reports, video walk-around presentations of vehicles and a series of customer testimonials.

#2 – Utilize commitment and consistency as a form of subtle persuasion to remove fear of risk

Ask small questions that will create small commitments to the customer’s involvement to the process. Small questions do not create fear and eventually lead to comfort in asking bigger questions. Stop asking “Deal Killer” questions such as “What payment are you looking for?” “What do you want for your trade?” “Are you looking to buy today?” These questions create fear and move the customer to their head and out of their heart. People tend to buy when emotions mix with logic. Move smartly and slowly while using the concept of “TLC – Think Like a Customer.” This process will speed up the overall sale process by smoothing and slowing it down in the beginning.

As you move forward ask questions such as “What is the most important thing to you in a new vehicle? “What do you like most about your current vehicle?” These questions will give you the customer’s keyword descriptions of what matters most and the customer previous buying patterns. When you know what motivates someone to buy and what their patterns of buying behavior have been in the past, you now have the leverage points to create the “HFG – Hope for Gain” that that the customer is seeking.

#3 – Be Contrarian – Do the opposite of what other salespeople do

Instead of selecting and then presenting and demonstrating the new vehicle first, go their present vehicle first. Home, work and vehicle are comfort zones where a customer spends most of their time. They are bringing their vehicle to you so use it up front. “Mr. Customer, I would like to walk over to your vehicle for a moment for two reasons. First, I want to jot down all the information and descriptions so that later on we will have that for the market evaluation and that will save you time. Also, as we are doing that, I would also like to ask you a couple of questions about what you like or don’t like about the vehicle and what has changed for you since you bought the vehicle to now. Usually, while we are doing this, I think of ways that can save you money. Anchor into the customer’s brain that you are saving them time and money.

When you go the customer’s trade in first, you will find their wants, needs, pleasure, pain, keywords, buying patterns, hope for gain, communication style and points of leverage. These things will allow you to make the sales process smoother, faster, targeted, personable and more effective.

#4 – Do an effective demo drive –

If you have ever rented a vehicle, you know it takes you quite a while and several miles to get comfortable. Knowing this, why are you taking one or two mile test drives? Take fifteen to twenty mile test drives. Allow the customer to get comfortable with the vehicle and truly experience the vehicle on the drive. During this elongated process, customers will get emotional and begin to combine heart with mind. They will begin to take mental and emotional ownership. Your customers will also “spill the beans.” They will tell you everything you need that will allow them to buy.

#5 – Give the customer all the ways they can purchase. Make sure to “walk the wheel” of opportunities. Give customers full disclosure of price, trade values and three options for down payments/payments. Allow the customers to decide what is most important. Most customers are budget buyers and need more than one option to make a less fearful decision. Utilize the “Power of Three.” Three choices are perfect. One is take it or leave it. Two is either or but three is true choice. More than three is confusing and scary.

If you want to sell more vehicles stop looking for “magic bullets” and just do the work. Work intelligently, be unique and TLC – Think Like A Customer.