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Winter 1982. I was the F&I manager for a Chrysler, Plymouth, Jaguar, Deloreon dealer. (One of my better career moves.) It was also a time that was very troubling for Chrysler. They had gotten their loan (bailout) from the government and had cut back on their field support. We got the memo that some of each dealership staff would volunteer for the New York Auto Show. Each of us would have to go to the city and spend two hours at the Chrysler booth. (And we still had to pay for our own ticket to get in.)
Our booth location wasn't the best. On display was the Plymouth Reliant "K" car. We were surrounded with Europe's best. In front was the Mercedes SL coupe. Behind us was the Jaguar VanDen Plas. To the left, Ferrari. To the right Lamborgini. We didn't even have brochures and we weren't allowed to hand out our own business cards. These two hours would drag on for what seemed like days. As memory serves, we gave some people directions, commented on the models on the other displays, and took frequent breaks to see the rest of the show.
During one of my breaks, I began comparing the cars. I'd be walking along pointing, "Good car," "Nice car," "Bad car," "Great car," "Hunk of junk car," etc. I covered every floor of the convention center and made comments on nearly every entry. Life was so much simpler then. You could rate the quality of every vehicle from horrible to fantastic. Let's face it, the domestic manufacturer left a lot to be desired when it came to quality.
Today, there are far more name badges to choose from and the quality on all of them is at the top of the market. Americans will no longer tolerate low quality just to buy American. Back then, 70,000 miles on a trade-in meant it was all used up. Today, you can get them certified or add extra service contracts to cover them. In those days, a silver car could come off the truck with four shades of color on each panel adn none of the doors or hood lined up. Today, you'd have to measure imperfections with microscopes and still have trouble finding fault.
Imagine what it took to sell those vehicles and still make a living!
This is no longer an option. Have an excellent product is required just to be able to open your doors. Quality workmanship must exist in even the most basic entry level models regardless of where they are built. THe consumer has been retrained to accept the highest quality BEFORE they even enter the showroom!
That is the challenge now facing dealers. The buyer of today has been conditioned to excellence as the beginning of the process. Sales techniques employed in the 80's and 90's and even earlier this decade, no longer apply. The custoemr now gets to say, "Tell you what I'm going to do," rather than the other way around. If sales people aren't treating their profession as a highly skilled occupation, they will never enjoy any success. Besides, this is what the customer expects right from "Hello" and not when the sales person feels like it.
Even a true professional will have to work to earn a customer's business. Today's consumer expects and is entitled to the best effort of each sales person they meet. The good news is, this isn't nuclear physics. Showing a customer your service department. Taking time to really find out which vehicle you should show the customer rather than aimlessly walking the lot. Talking in fact and with confidence rather than "winging it" because you're so experienced. Making sure that each step of the process is pre-planned and practiced regularly. These are all things that any sales professional can and should be doing.
This is the primary reason we are so successful working with new sales people. By starting them off by learning the minimum expectations of each customer and then discovering how to exceed them, is the primary reason that our "green peas" outsell their experienced co-workers by an average of 30%. Dealers ready for the increase in business, are already looking at adding to their staff. If they keep in mind that Excellence should just get someone an interview, their customers will be very satisfied and the numbers will show it.
John Fuhrman is the Senior National Trainer for Carolina Automotive Resource Services, a unit of The Dealer Resource Group. His ten books have reached 1.5 million readers and he has trained sales professionals around the world. Our Trainers are ready to work for you and develop a sales team you can be proud of. Email us by Wednesday and we're in your dealership on Monday ready to interview. When your dealership needs amazing results hiring new people, visit http://www.thedealerresourcegroup.net. ATTENTION DEALERS: VISIT OUR WEB SITE AND REGISTER TO KEEP UP ON MONTHLY TRAINING SAVING SPECIALS. Our trainers are ready to show you our "WOW!" factor. (c)2011 by John Fuhrman - Permission to reprint this post in its entirety, including contact information, is hereby granted.