Archive for March, 2010

The Power of Action

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I was recently invited to be a guest lecturer for an entrepreneur class at the University of Cincinnati. In the question-and-answer portion of the program, the professor asked me to sum up what I felt was the most important message I could stress to the class. My reply was one word – ACTION.

At a sales seminar I was giving, I was going over low- to no-cost marketing strategies designed to increase leads for sales people. At the first break after the marketing section, one of the sales people in attendance who had fl own across the country to attend, got on the phone and called a list vendor I had suggested during the class. Before the break was over, he purchased a large list for a small cost, created an outline and had begun to write the letter based upon proven copy writing techniques and marketing strategies. Afterward he was able to express the value of the campaign to the dealership management and they agreed to cover his costs of his campaign.

At the end of the day, I was having a conversation with the promoter of my seminar and I asked him how many people would take action on that one idea. His answer was few, if any, other than the one sales person. He asked me why I thought that was the case, and my answer was simple and scary – I didn’t know.

From my days as a general manager and leader of people in dealerships to my now many years of training, consulting and sharing with people in dealerships all over the world, I have constantly been stumped by the lack of action by the masses. The truth is indisputable that a small minority will move through their fears and excuses and begin to take action on the necessary steps for success.

In the last few years, I have begun to unlock and share some of the secrets to taking action and achieving success. Unfortunately, even when I share these ideas and suggest simple steps that can guarantee massive self-improvement and eventual success, I know that most people are comfortable being comfortable. Even when that means being comfortable with below-average results. Is my statement negative or just recognition of reality?

Successful people create their own reality. Most people who would take the time to read articles like this are part of the minority of action-takers. For your action takers, let me share just a few ideas on action, the reasons for a lack of it and some corrective measures.

1. Write down the first 20 ideas and teachings that you learned about money. Did you hear these typical messages? “What do you think we are, rich?” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “We can’t afford that.” “Money is the root of all evil.” You are more influenced by early learning than you might believe. Many ideas and messages you hear from TV, teachers and even parents are negative and rooted in scarcity. The root of the word scarcity is scare. When was the last time you saw a movie or TV program in which the rich guy was the good guy?

2. Are you clear in your goal of what you desire? Have you written it down? Less than 5 percent of people will ever write their goals and begin to focus on their desires and action plans to get there. Clarity of thought creates questions that bring answers.

3. When you write a goal, you are making a conscious choice. Your actions, however, are often directed by your subconscious messages. Often the goals you have chosen with your conscious thought and the actions you take directed by your subconscious are in direct conflict and opposition. This is why at times you can feel such an enormous state of struggle. The only way to get past the struggle and create positive action is to remove the negative and opposing messages and images in your subconscious. When you write your goals, what are the limiting thoughts and feelings that pop up that are implanted in your subconscious? Once you have identified them, rewrite them to erase the limits and negatives. Create a conscious and subconscious that acts in unison.

4. Write down your top five largest fears. Fear can be described as false evidence appearing real. We can escalate fears or goals to reality. Both are simply a choice. What are your most dominant thoughts? Do your thoughts lean toward action, achievement, success and abundance or toward lack, scarcity and fear?

Only through action can you make the necessary mistakes that will lead to success, rewards and happiness. Nobody has ever sat and watched their way to success.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Have you made the commitment that automotive sales is your career choice? Unless you commit, it’s impossible that you will take the necessary steps to create the business you desire. Long-term thinking in addition to short-term goals are keys to continued success.

When you first enter into a sales position, 80 percent of your time is spent acquiring customers and 20 percent of your time is spent maintaining those customers. Eventually, with the right efforts, that model should be reversed. Eighty percent of your time should be spent maintaining your customers and 20 percent to acquire new customers.

You face a paradox of time management in building your business. The paradox is that you must work in the business and also work on the business. When you are face-to-face with customers you are working in the business but no matter how busy you are, you must find time each day to work on the business, as well. Working on the business includes marketing, prospecting, follow-up, networking, delegating, automating etc.

Insurance sales people, real estate sales people and sales people from many industries continually think and act on building their business. However, in the auto industry the majority of sales people seem addicted walk-in traffic. Eliminating this addiction is the key to long-term success.

Lead Generation = Dollar Creation. Begin to build multiple streams of leads by building a marketing web. List every way you presently acquire leads such as walk-ins, phone prospects, be-backs, referrals, repeat customers. Then begin to list new ways you could begin to acquire leads and how you can strengthen or add to your existing methods of generating leads.

Do you presently have a software program for following and managing your leads? Not the dealerships program, your program? Don’t trust anybody or anything to manage your most important resource – your customers.

Secondly, do you have a set follow up strategy? How often will you follow up? How will you follow up. What rewards will you give, and what special offers will you provide to bring them in for service? That creates the Law of Familiarity and Obligation leading to repeats and referrals.

E-mail follow-up and marketing is essential. Automate your follow-up using technology. E-mail, Autoresponder e-mail and Sequential Autoresponder e-mail are all ways to follow-up and add value that can be done while you sleep or on vacation. Video e-mail and personalization are keys to making a connection, removing the impersonal nature of e-mail and adding the wow factor.

All sales people need their own personal Web site. The site should include sign-up forms that collect e-mail addresses. The site should be personalized with your picture, family picture, your own personal story, rewards for visiting the site and helpful information for the customer. Your Web site should include an audio introduction link.

Do your business cards look like 99 percent of others sales people’s business cards? Don’t use a picture of a car, use your picture or caricature. Business cards also need the sales person’s Web site, e-mail address and slogan. Put a call to action on your cards for the customer to come see you, call you or visit your Web site.

Maximize traffic by creating a be-back CD. Create a CD that you give each customer who does not buy and invite them to play it on the way home. The CD should include information about you, your dealership and product that would benefit the customer. Include testimonials and a reward for the customer if they come see you.

Create coupon swaps with businesses around you. Visit a local restaurant and offer to build their business on their worst traffic day of the week for free. You can build their business by creating a coupon with an offer they approve and then pass these coupons out at work from the cashier, receptionist, and all departments to every customer who enters your dealership. In return ask that the restaurant pass out coupons from you approved by the dealership with a special offer to come see you.

Once you start the marketing web it will grow and take on a life of its own. Building a business first requires long-term thinking and a commitment to the industry as a career. When you commit, you have already created a business, only its shape is unfinished.

Phone Dynamics

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

To increase sales and profits, spend time preparing and monitoring the phone opportunities as you would walk-in traffic. A typical retail business has as many phone sales opportunities as it has walk-in traffic.

An effective system has the following:

• Training for the receptionist
• Training for the sales people and management
• A uniform and cohesive way to handle incoming phone opportunities
• A log that treats phone opportunities as serious as walk-ins
• A phone prompt card or other device that gives direction to the sales person during an incoming phone call
• A management review system of all incoming phone opportunities
• A formal call-back system

When you’re not scheduled on the floor, make some calls, and mystery-shop other retail businesses in the surrounding area and listen to your competitors. What you’ll hear in those phone calls is so poor, that you will be shocked. Shocked not only by what you hear, but also by the fact that you may be just as poor in your phone skills.

There are basically eight different types of incoming calls:

• Information
• Finance, Lease and Terms
• Trade In Information
• Bad credit
• Advertisement
• Price
• Best price

Find a partner and role play each one of the seven types of incoming calls. Do a typical sales call involving any of the seven types of phone calls as you would normally handle. Personally mystery-shop your own business and listen to what the receptionist, other sales people and managers are saying and doing.

The Internet has increased phone opportunities. Effective Internet sales people know that to increase sales from the Internet you must move the customer from the Internet and e-mail to the phone and then an appointment.

Here are some simple phone tips that can increase your phone effectiveness immediately.

1. Respect the phone customer. The first step to increasing your phone effectiveness is to decide to treat your phone opportunities with the same respect as your walk-in opportunities. Phone customers tend to be even better prospects. When someone has had dialogue with you and begins a sales process that creates trust, your chances of closing the sale and making a higher commission go up.

2. Stand up while taking or making a phone call, because you increase your ability to breathe and to use your legs and upper body to create body language. Why does body language matter if they can’t see you? When people can’t see you and they lose one of the most effective forms of communicating, they need to be able to see you in their mind’s eyes. When you stand up, you will gesture more, use more voice inflection and voice tone and be a much better communicator than if you sit.

3. Smile before you dial or pick up the phone. Allow the customer to hear and see you through the phone. Give them the excitement that will allow you to stand apart from other sales people. Who do you think they will choose to see?

4. Think like a customer. Share an attitude of servitude with your customer. The origin of the word sell is to serve.

5. Ninety percent of sales opportunities are lost in the first 10 seconds because the sales person has not created a direction for the call by immediately asking questions. Ask questions about the vehicle he or she is buying and about the vehicle he or she is driving now. Use the answers you get to create dialogue and rapport with the customer.

6. Get the customer’s number, name and set an appointment. Do these next three things and you will accomplish what the majority of sales people never do. Ask the customer if he or she is calling from home or work and get that number. Ask the customer to spell his or her first and last name. Ask the customer if he or she will be available to come in and look at the vehicle and get some figures this afternoon or evening. Give the customer an assumptive, alternative choice.

The opportunity exists for you to increase your sales immediately through better phone techniques. E-mail me at the address below with the word phone in the subject line and I will send you five ways to handle the question of best price over the phone.

Find Your Hidden Wealth

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

What is hidden wealth? Hidden wealth is an unused, dormant or under utilized part of your business that contains great value. All businesses have at least one hidden wealth. Even the best businesses in the world contain hidden wealth. The key is to determine your hidden wealth and begin to mine the potential gold that lies therein. All businesses are different. Each business should require their leaders to conduct a concerted effort of introspection and egoless honesty to determine what their hidden wealth may be. One way to begin is to ask deeper and better questions about your business than you ever have before. What is the story of your dealership? How is that unique and more importantly, how does that benefit the customer?

Begin a journey to determine what your business does best. What does your business do better than anyone else? Then ask yourself these questions about that one thing, “How”, “Why” and how can I prove it to my customers in a way that benefits and motivates them? Once you determine the one thing that you do better than anyone else, then ask your customers why they think you do it best? See if what you feel and they feel are the same. If your business does something great but your customers don’t know, it won’t matter. If you customers don’t hold the same value in what you think you do great, it won’t matter. Better questions lead to better answers and better businesses. Ask yourself, what do you have that others don’t have? What do you have that is better than what others may have? Is your sales staff better? Is your service better? Is your location better? Is your inventory better? Is your pricing structure better? Is your process quicker? Is your facility better? When you determine what you have that’s better, you must ask yourself, why is that true?

You must also ask yourself, how can I explain what we do and how it’s better in very specific terms that the customer cares about? You can’t say you have a large inventory. It doesn’t mean anything. But you can say you have 500 vehicles worth ten million dollars in inventory and that no one comes close to your selection and because of that it takes the hassle out of shopping. What ever you decide is your strong point, ask yourself this question, “Who cares?” If you can’t tell your customer in a way that benefits them, they won’t care.

Some dealerships have a large database of untapped business. Some dealerships have a great location with many possible synergies with other local businesses that could be explored. Many dealerships have community relationships that could be utilized. Many dealerships have talented but untrained people. Many dealerships are either sending the wrong or mixed message to the market or sending a good message to the wrong market or utilizing either the wrong medium or not enough mediums to reach their market.

Each dealership has assets that contain vast riches if they can be explored and tapped.

Fake It Till You Make It

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

You are who you decide to be at any given moment. It does not take money, a degree, a certain age, a certain appearance, tons of experience, knowing the right people, past success or any other qualifying factor that you may be currently using as a subconscious roadblock to your desired success. Your belief system creates your results both past and present. If your current belief system is not what it should be to support your success, you must fake it, till you make it.

If you currently don’t appear to be on the path that will create the level of success in the form you desire, you must begin to identify the mental programming that is limiting your success before you can change your resulting limiting actions.

You must pay close attention to your inner dialogue when you write goals or have thoughts about anything you desire. When thinking of your goals, if you repeatedly think of the specific reasons of how and why your goal may be hard to obtain, you are creating the “When-Then Syndrome.” Your subconscious identifies your current programming that tells you that for X to occur you must first have Y. If that is the case, your current mental programming is limited and will not allow you to break through your current barriers to further success.

Write down the first twenty mental images or messages you heard or were taught about money. When closely examined, most of the images and messages remembered will be limited, negative, and fear based. Those negative messages and images have taken a life of their own and have been accepted in your subconscious as absolute truths. To increase money, you must identify your current limiting messages and rewrite the messages to create accepted new truths.

Every person you come into contact with tries to define you based upon his/her own thoughts and beliefs. Your workplace is full of people with their own limiting mental programming that want to define you in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. People will create images such as “you are just lucky” or “the favorite of the boss” or “a weak sales person”. So often you act in your work environment in a role based upon the images and messages accepted by your subconscious. Unfortunately, your subconscious accepts all images and messages without filtering. However, you can overwhelm the negative messages with your own positive messages. Your conscious mind will choose and react to the strongest messages being given to it. Don’t allow others to create your destiny based upon their own limited beliefs.

Your subconscious can act as an automatic responder in a positive form just as it can negatively. You must bombard your mind with positive and repetitive images for your conscious mind to react with positive messages. Read and listen to the material that will support you in creating the images you desire, while reducing and eliminating the negative influences you encounter from relatives, co-workers, and the news. You create your own reality. It’s your responsibility to choose the right sources of information to saturate your brain.

To start manifesting your desires, you must become clear on your goals. Write what you want in present tense using vivid details of your emotions and thoughts at the time of obtaining those goals. The repetitive conditioning of your subconscious with the imagery you have created will begin to grow just as your muscles grow by the repetitive action of lifting weights. Soon your positive imagery will be so strong that your belief system will accept this as reality before it has ever transpired as reality. There will be no difference between your chosen reality and your current state. Your belief system will accept each step and each day as a part of your path to success. Dare today to choose what you desire and the actions that support those desires.