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“If I had more traffic, I could sell more cars”
Sound familiar? I’ve heard this several times during my travels the last few weeks and it didn’t matter what part of the country or what franchises.
I was at a long-time Ford client last week, started working with them in September of 1997. They are coming off of another great profit year, but January had started off a little slow.
I noticed the Sales staff was a little down and in conversations the main topic was that there was very little traffic and that the Dealer needed to step up the advertising.
This Dealer has always been aggressive and innovative in his advertising and marketing to the point that it is above Benchmark in expense. It’s a smaller dealership surrounded by many formidable competitors.
When discussing the agenda with the Dealer and his General Sales Manager, I requested that I hold a Sales meeting with the staff to attempt to not only pump them up, but to give them a few ideas on “opportunities to do business”.
I pulled up our Salesperson Training Manual that was originally developed in 1995 and that has evolved over the years. One module focused on the salespersons’ responsibilities to generate their book of business.
As we started the meeting, I walked up to the easel and across the top I wrote “25%” in big bold print. I looked at the room of 10 guys and asked, “We get paid 25% of the profit when we sell a vehicle, right”?
“Right”, was the quick response followed by, “it can go up to 32% if we hit volume bonuses”.
I told them that I’ve been in the business for 36 years now, both the retail environment and then into training and consulting. I’m sure there are other occupations, but the car business offers an interesting and unique opportunity.
I asked a few questions of the staff:
- How much of an investment do we have in the inventory?
- We work in a real nice facility with a nice desk. Do we pay any rent?
- Telephone Expense? Business cards?
- How much do we pay for advertising?
- OK, what out-of-pocket expenses do we have to work at ABC Ford?
Everyone was now very attentive and I think my point was made; they had no financial investment, but participated (received) 25% of the profit when they sold a vehicle.
Our Salesperson Training Manual suggests (just my opinion) that 50% of your business will have to come from other than walk-in traffic. I stated this back in 1995, pre-Internet, and it’s even more relevant today. I told them that I personally believe that a salesperson has an obligation to prospect and follow up in return for the opportunity that the Dealer has given us.
In our manual, we listed 101 Sources of Prospects back in 1995. Instead of handing that out, even with the updates over the years, I walked back to the easel and asked a few more questions.
Let’s make a list of businesses and people that we do business with and have a relationship with.
Several salespeople shouted out some suggestions:
11. And more ………….
Let’s talk about small local businesses (fleetail) that need vehicles:
Now we were on a good roll!
What would happen if we were to get on the phone and start reaching out to our friends and associates to let them know that this is a great time to buy a vehicle and share the incentives with them?
How much money would it cost us to make 10 calls a day? How much time would it take?
At this point the Dealer made the comment, “You’ll still have time to read the newspaper, play fantasy football, update your Facebook and download music”.
I then offered to sit with them, one-on-one, and help make the calls. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a 30 – 45 second script.
“Hello, this is Jay Prassel at ABC Ford, I just wanted to let you know that we have some great deals and incentives right now. 0% financing for 72 months, rebates of $9,000 and end of the year discounts. We also have over 50 quality pre-owned vehicles priced for immediate sale. If you or anyone you know needs a vehicle, give me a call. Mr. Customer, if you could do me one favor? Text everyone you know and tell them that I have great deals at ABC Ford!”
One last question to the group:
“Who has a Facebook page that Mr. Dealer sarcastically referred to earlier?”
Most everyone raised their hand.
Would it make good business sense to post the information from our phone scripts on our Facebook page every other week or so?
A hand goes up in the back of the room…… “And you know what, Jay? It doesn’t cost me anything!”
As we walked out, 3 or 4 salespeople asked me to sit with them to make the first few calls. That is what makes my day!
A few closing thoughts and ideas:
The Management team now needs to hold the Sales staff accountable. My recommendation is to review with each salesperson their daily activity list and do this 30 to 60 minutes before they leave each day.
Make it fun, not a beat them up session. Maybe a contest for the first vehicle sold off their call list?
OK, I know none of this is revolutionary, proprietary or is going to change the car business as we know it, but is it better than waiting for the door to swing open or throwing money at a sale event?