Having visited countless dealerships over the past year, my conviction grows stronger about a sick plague that is slowly eroding the automotive industry. It is so obvious and such an easy fix, yet those that have been inflicted with this plague seem to think the road to prosperity is chasing a bean that will magically turn the sales department into a volume and gross producing machine.
From 20 groups to NADA and NIADA conventions, dealers are engrossed in discussions about how do we get the “good leads” and how do we know if it will work? If I can get a dealer to check the ego at the door and listen to real substantive talk, then I might have a chance at helping to shake this fatal plague.
Ladies and gentleman, THERE IS NO MAGIC BEAN. There is no magic laydown and 5 Car Fred has existed since the beginning of time. The 5 Car Fred mentality will always erode successful dealerships like second hand smoke.
When did we ever become so entitled to “good leads?” When I hear someone complaining about how they are getting all the bad leads, or they are getting a lot of leads but they are not buyers. I want to scream from the mountain tops, YOU’RE FIRED!
Digital advertising is one of the greatest evolutions of advertising in a long time. However, like the paradigm shift from newspaper to television, so to must we all remember one thing, the fundamentals of selling vehicles NEVER CHANGES.
Yes, digital advertising does the best job yet of tracking where a lead might or might not originate. We always knew we could do better at building rapport with customers, setting appointments, not over promising, following up, addressing concerns, overcoming objections, controlling conversations, and on and on. We just never truly knew how bad our sales staff was at these SKILLS. With better digital tracking technology we now have the evidence right in front of us and it is disgusting, ISN’T IT? Industry giants like Joe Verde, Grant Cardone, Jim Ziegler, Dave Anderson and many more have made a living off reminding us over the decades that we as an industry can do much better. We just never knew how bad we truly were at developing a sales staff capable of delivering on our advertising and marketing efforts.
You see, I had success at every desk I ever flew, every T/O I ever took, and every staff I ever managed for one very fortunate reason. Somewhere along the line (very early on) I learned and never, EVER wavered in my belief that EVERYONE IS A PROSPECTIVE BUYER. My inner voice constantly reminded me that it just takes a sales professional to convert them from shoppers. I made an excellent living at converting human beings that other stores did not follow up with, that could not overcome trade inequity, would not discuss interest rates and refused to build rapport with every single person that walked through their door, called on the phone, or sent an email.
Guess what has not changed? Our industry is still terrible at most of the fundamentals ALL THE TIME. If I were to walk back in a showroom and compete for coveted deals, then I would inevitably succeed and grow from day one. Why? Because I would become infatuated and relentless about finding a way to get the next buyer. I would never, EVER (in a million years) complain about too many leads or inquiries about my products from any one regardless of their income, credit score, or trade equity. You know why? Because I’m really, really good at SELLING anything. If I wanted to take orders I would have climbed up the corporate ladder at McDonalds. Sadly, even they do a better job at upselling on the drive than most of our service advisors, but that is a whole other topic.
Somehow this plague of seeking more laydowns has turned to many dealer showrooms into a bunch of order takers and not sales professionals. I know and have heard all the excuses: they don’t answer the phone, they don’t show up for appointments, you can’t make profit on new cars any more, trades are all worth the same, and on and on. Guess what, if you say and think these things, then you are right YOU CAN’T.
The difference between success and failure, profit and loss, selling and order taking is so simple, it is DESIRE and EFFORT. If you remember anything from this brief stream of thought, remember the world is always changing and evolving. There are still and always will be thriving dealers doing extremely well while laughing all the way to the bank. If you are not one of them, the good news is that it can be turned around overnight. Go back to basics and quit letting anyone tell you any differently. For those of you that doubt me, feel free to email or call. I literally live to prove the naysayers wrong.