Archive for October, 2011

Kill The Wolf

Monday, October 31st, 2011

What’s the common image of a salesperson? The big bad wolf.

The big bad wolf seeks and destroys. It’s a predator who pounces on its prey, eats the weak and leaves a bloody mess behind. This image makes the job of salespeople a lot harder than it should be. The good news is that this creates an opportunity to kill the wolf and turn the negative into a positive.

If you were to ask 10 customers what they hate about salespeople and the buying experience, you’d get an earful. Take each of those answers and list when it occurs in the sequence of your normal sales process. Begin to review the list and sequence with a TLC Mindset (Think Like a Customer).

Picture your customer, or even yourself as a customer, in the buying process and the negative experience. Remember, perception is reality: Selling is nothing more than helping customers solve problems in a manner they feel positive about. The key word is “feel.” Emotions are key to everything in life, including sales and the buying experience.

In marketing and sales, you must constantly remove the barriers of entry for a customer. Picture a road with potholes, detours and obstacles and the emotions they create when encountered. This is exactly what a customer feels every time they encounter a barrier in your buying process.

Begin to think in terms of proactively eliminating each barrier. Now take this a step further and begin to promote the differences in a manner that separates you from the competition in a manner that is positive but not arrogant. Create a funnel process that allows the customer to move effortlessly and positively through the process.

Old school training methods that are based upon closing deals rather than opening relationships are dead. Consumers are too educated, have too many choices and demand a better experience today. Don’t continue your current sales process just because that’s the way you have always done it or because of the worst philosophy ever spoken – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Create a selling philosophy and process that becomes a part of your brand, your defining message and your culture. I guarantee it’s easier to recruit, hire and train winning salespeople with this philosophy and process.

Begin by analyzing everything from the initial contact on a phone call, a visit to your Web site or when they pull into your business. I can think of at least five negative things that occur in a traditional meet and greet and 10 absolute deal killers that occur at least 50 percent of the time or more when you are profiling and interviewing customers. For a list of these deal killers, along with 10 suggestions to improve your process, feel free to e-mail me at the address below.

What Business Are You In

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

What business are you in? “The car business” would probably be your normal answer. I would invite you look deeper into that question. Rarely, is your first answer to that question your most accurate answer. The majority of businesses fail, or fail to reach their potential, because the owner and managers haven’t figured out the most important and most basic question: “What business are we in?”

Saying you are in the car business seems logical. However, that answer does not stir emotions in you, your team or your customers. It’s kind of like saying Disneyland is in the “theme park” business. The general answer is that you are in the “problem solving and emotional relationship” business.

People don’t sell or buy cars. They solve problems. Those problems may be wants or needs based problems or perceived or real problems, but they are problems nonetheless. If a customer gets the itch for a new car and, even though they may not need the new car, the emotion of the desire creates an incredible pull that becomes a problem for the customer until it is solved. Therefore, you are always in the emotions and problems business and the vehicle just becomes a part of the answer. Stop selling cars and start creating relationships based upon solving problems and matching answers to your customer’s emotional desires.

Your product knowledge, sales skills nor any other skill will help you accomplish solving the customer’s problem more than people skills. The old adage that “People buy form people” is true. People buy you first, before they buy the car. In order for the customer to buy you, you must make a memorable impression. In most cases, you have about 15 seconds to two minutes to create a connection that creates trust and respect. However, most sales people treat the meet and greet as if it’s no big deal.

Try the following meet and greet, “Hi folks, welcome to our dealership. Are you out beginning to look and shop around a little bit?” This question is a universal truth statement. It’s a universal truth that people are looking and shopping. If you don’t believe it, just greet them the way you normally do and see how they reply 99 percent of the time.

If you know how the customer usually replies to your standard greeting and you know that all customers share certain unexpressed fears, all you have to do is proactively remove those fears and you have at least a 70 percent greater chance of the customer buying from you than someone else.

Most all customers are afraid of getting the wrong vehicle, wrong price, wrong information or the wrong sales person. Somewhere in the beginning of the sales process, I invite you to make a Job Mission Statement that proactively addresses the customer’s fears and concerns. This Job Mission statement will position you as a person, not a sales person. Try the following Job Mission Statement, “Mr. Customer, I try to help every customer of mine find the right vehicle at the right budget and give them all the right information and just make it an easy, fun and painless experience, fair enough?”

Addressing the customer’s fears up front creates trust and allows you to create cognitive dissonance. That’s just a fancy term for saying you have in the customers mind mentally distanced yourself from the other sales people they have experienced, or even their perceptions of sales people in general.

Don’t get caught up in the “best price wins” trap. It’s a loser’s game played by people losing in the sales game. Everyday people are buying goods and services and paying premiums for them because of their perceptions created about the product, service or lifestyle change. If all things are equal, then price becomes the final decision. Your mission is to make everything that you offer and the way you offer it so unique that you completely change the decision game.

Selling is a game of positioning. You must create leverage for yourself with the customer. If there is no leverage, then you are doomed to play the best price game. In other words, without a strong position and leverage, you are begging for the sale.

The 80/20 rule applies to sales people. Eighty percent of sales are made by 20 percent of the sales people. The reason the top 20 percent of sales people thrive is because they have figured out what business they are in, and it’s not the “car” business.

Stop Working and Start Thinking

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

“Work harder.”

“Work more hours.”

“Put your nose to the grindstone.”

“You have to pay your dues.”

“Climb the ladder of success.”

Do all of these sayings sound familiar? These common phrases often espouse ideas that become anchored as limiting beliefs in your brain. Here’s the shocking news; these phrases often put into motion a cycle of struggle and failure. These common teachings may have kept you from having the kind of success you desire. The missing ingredient is not your work; it’s your thoughts.

Just reading that first paragraph may have made you mad. You may disagree so strongly that your emotions may cause you to disregard the possibility of truth from the message intended. If so, this is a direct reflection of those often well ingrained lessons. Dwell upon this for a minute: If these commonly held beliefs were true, why aren’t more people happy, successful and rich?

The answer to the question is those beliefs by themselves are wrong and harmful. People who dig ditches work hard. Salespeople work lots of hours. Corporate people try to climb the ladder of success. People who manage you often want you to pay your dues. How many of these people do you know that are wildly happy, successful or enjoy their success? The answer is often few, if any.

What you generate in your brain is the key. More hours and more work with misguided thoughts will only speed up your frustration and failure. The first step is to throw away and clean the slate of all the damaging sayings, lessons and beliefs that you have been taught. Start by writing down your 20 earliest thoughts about money. Do the same with work. When you are finished you may notice that most of these memories are negatively based or entrenched in scarcity based thinking.

Those memories and beliefs are exactly why when people tell you to just think positive that they are not only wrong but potentially harmful. Until you erase the negative programming that you have acquired, you will not be able to truly have positive thoughts that are believed and lasting. Everyone has a tremendous amount of negative programming that you have acquired from parents, teachers, bosses, newspapers and books.

When you are programmed over and over with those messages, you begin to buy into those messages and accept them as universally true. Over a period of time this leads to negative cycles occurring repeatedly and you don’t know how to change them. So what do you do? You revert back to your programming. You work harder. You work more hours. You put your nose to the grindstone. You pay your dues. You climb the ladder of success.

I have a little saying, “Stop the train.” If you aren’t getting to your destination, you have to change something. The most critical thing to change is your thoughts. Thoughts create action and action creates habits and habits create results and results create your destiny. It’s that simple.

In Robert Ringer’s book, “Winning through Intimidation,” he talks of the “Leapfrog Theory.” His idea is that you can leapfrog your way to success. You don’t have to climb the ladder rung by rung. He is absolutely correct. However, if your subconscious has been bombarded by messages your whole life that teach you that you must pay your dues and you have to work harder, you will either disregard the message or sabotage your actions. Everyone either has at one time or knows someone who when they were experiencing success began to take actions that lead to the demise of that success.

Most people chalk those experiences up to fate or bad luck. That belief will forever keep you in a cycle of frustration and repeated failures. Sheer luck by itself is a rare thing. Success and failure are almost always created in your mind first. Any other belief is simply allowing you to be lead by other’s beliefs. When this happens you are now in bondage and slavery. Slavery of the brain and spirit is the worst possible fate.

There is a saying, “Pray, but move your feet.” You can pray and you can move your feet and get going, but if you control and guide your thoughts you will learn to attract more success than you ever would have before dreamed. The amusing thing is that much of the success you attract will seem to come effortlessly and the phrase “Hard Work” will not even be a part of your thoughts.