By Sean V. Bradley
What are you doing to help your dealership and sales team be successful? Do you truly believe that being an automotive sales professional is “like” owning your own business? Have you said those words to a salesperson? Or to your entire sales team? If so, what have you done to show them how to be a business owner? What have you shown them about being an entrepreneur?
Don’t feel bad; most dealerships haven’t done anything, either. It blows my mind that I walk into dealerships all over the country and I still see salespeople (not sales professionals) sitting around, horse playing, whining, complaining, smiling, oblivious to their state of mediocrity. What disturbs me even more is the fact that we have sales managers, GSMs, GMs and even dealers who allow this to continue. They make excuses for why this is acceptable.
Bottom line: It all rests on the managers and ownership of the organization – especially if you are one of those managers or owners who goes around saying how awesome the automotive industry is, how much money you can make, how if you work really hard and treat it like your own business you can sell 25 to 30 units per month and earn more than $100,000 per year. That all sounds great. Why, then, does NADA say that the average salesperson only sells 10 units per month and earns $50,000 per year?
I believe it has to do with leadership, culture, training and more training.
Let’s go back to the most overused phrase in our industry: “This is like owning your own business.” What does that really mean? I know, I know – “You can make as much money as you can earn.”
But here’s the real question: How? Seriously, how can these people – your people – magically run their own business?
Some dealerships might provide basic “road to the sale” training. Dealers will have their people go through OEM product training and that’s about it. Here is the problem: There is a lot more to being a 25, 30 or 40+ automotive sales professional than just “road to the sale” or product knowledge.
Sales professionals who want to drink the Kool-Aid of “This is like your own business” should also know and become fluent in these other areas:
• Internet Sales – You cannot rely on the OEM alone to provide information on Internet sales tactics and strategy. More than 92 percent of people go online before they ever step foot on the showroom. So, your “sales professionals” – not just your Internet or BDC – must be thoroughly training on Internet sales.
• Reputation Management – With Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT), and the fact that everyone checks and looks for reviews before they purchase, it is important for your sales professionals to understand that online reputation matters. They also need both proactive and reactive plans when it comes to their reputation, reviews and testimonials (or lack thereof).
• Social Media – Social media is the No. 1 form of communication on the planet. If you want to communicate with people – not just your current and past clients, but also to your prospects – then you need to understand, create and implement a social media strategy.
• Business Plan – The actual business model is one of the most basic and most important aspects of any business – the “who, what, where, when and why” road map with GPS guidance on how to get there. If your salesperson (not a pro) wants to sell 20, 30, 40 or 50 units per month, how will they? I bet they have no idea. They need to have an exact goal. Next, they need to know where they are getting those opportunities. They need to realize there are more ways other than fresh walk ins. There are eight ways they can sell an automobile:
• Walk ins
• Phone ups
• Prior customers
• Service conversions
They need to have a solid action plan for success!
• Time Management and Organization – This is huge, especially in a car dealership. You must be careful of distractions disguised as opportunities. Your people need to know how to “put first things first.”
There is too much to put into one article, but I assure you that there is a tremendous amount of information, strategy and skills that are involved in owning your own business.
The question is, what are you doing to provide your sales team these skills? Are you relying on the OEM or on some old-school training DVDs, or are you hoping they will just figure it out?
If you need more advanced training, there are automotive “online universities,” video on demand training, tracking, testing and certification for showroom sales, sales management, F&I, phone sales, Internet sales, BDC and more at www.automotivedigitaltraining.com.
Don’t forget 20 Groups. I love 20 Groups, and have been a speaker for more than 85 NADA, NCM and IS 20 Groups. For more information about 20 Groups, go to www.internetsales20group.com.
In this industry, there are a ton of options. The only thing not an option is not training your people.
Please contact me if you have any questions about this article or if you would like some advice on specific resources for you or your sales team.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 1-866-648-7400, or by e-mail at email@example.com.