Can you expect to survive the pandemic if your sales consultants are stuck with the mindsets of the past?
Last week, one of the dealerships in my home town of Trenton, NJ closed its doors and went out of business. This was an 80 year old, third generation dealership. At one time, they were very well respected, employed well over 100 people and about 20 sales consultants, and were the leaders in their market. Today their building is empty, their employees no longer employed, their owner staring at the walls of an abandoned point.
While I am not privy to all the variables that came together to bring about their demise, I expect that one of the major contributing factors was the mindset of the sales consultants — too many sales consultants, hindered by too much mental baggage, unaware of their own limitations, not knowing what to change, nor how to do so.
If the sales consultants are hindered by their mindset, they are not nearly as effective as they could be. The cost to your dealership from these unseen, invisible lapses can be so great it could topple 80 years of significant existence. I’m talking about the invisible costs to your dealership from opportunities not captured, customers not created, value not communicated, margin not gained – all the result of sales consultants burdened by mindsets of the past.
In Asbury’s Sales Seminars, we identify one such defective mindset – the idea that an automotive sales consultant is a “mobile customer service representative.” Here is how many sales consultants greet customers:
“How are you?”
“How was the weekend?”
“How’s the family?”
“What to buy this vehicle?”
“Here’s my price.”
“See you when you come back from shopping my competition.”
While that was OK a few years ago, today that type of sales engagement, and others of similar superficiality, is more and more commonly an irritant to the customer (order taker – no professionalism or value) and a cost to you. They are particularly costly in what does not happen rather than what does.
What didn’t happen…?
1. There was no attempt to identify the customer’s needs and interests at a level deeper than just “What are you looking for?” No attempt to discover real problems or objectives that the customer may be working on, no attempt to uncover any significant pain or gain on which to build a proposed solution.
2. There was no presentation of anything of value to the customer. No product information, no ideas about how to elevate the pain or do some aspect of his/her job a little differently, no discussion of Nalley’s/Asbury’s capabilities, or what we have done and continue to do for others. (Our story)
3. There was no deepening of the relationship to a discussion of more important things, no broadening of the relationship to extend to other profit centers at your dealership.
Now, I can go on and on with this litany of lapses, but you get the idea. Want to get a real good idea of the impact wrong sales mindsets can have on your business? Try to quantify the economic impact of these things:
The opportunities that should have been uncovered but were not.
The presentations that should have been made but were not.
The relationships that should have been deepened and broadened but were not.
The margin that should have been captured but was given away.
The prospects that should have been follow up on, but were not.
The numbers, as subjective as they may be, become staggering; the impact of the exercise, disquieting. It doesn’t take much to realize that the economic impact of what the sales consultant doesn’t do is one of the greatest economic factors at your dealership. It may be one of the big reasons that the 80 year old, third generation dealership closed its doors.
So, what to do?
I have spent the past three decades of my life, in part, training sales consultants to be more effective in the new economy. Over the years, I’ve made some critical observations. One of them is this: The world is full of sales trainers who teach sales techniques, with some, but limited, effectiveness. The salespersons’ mindsets will always trump the new technique. In other words, you can have anybody in to teach “sales techniques,” but that time and energy will be mostly wasted if you don’t change the mindsets of the people who are to use those techniques.
If you want to change the person’s behavior, change the person’s paradigms and mindsets – impact how they think about themselves and their role at the dealership.
Transformation, real transformation, comes from the inside out.
Create and communicate a vision of what it means to be a professional automotive sales consultant. Reinforce that vision with measurements and management practices. When you hire a new sales consultant, hire those whose mindsets are closer to the vision. Make that vision an integral part of your dealership, as specific, weighty and binding as your dealership’s mission statement.
Then you will have given your dealership a better shot at surviving and thriving in this economy.
Make It A Champion Day!
“SALES TRAINING MATTERS”