Some salespeople are constantly looking for new opportunities, prospecting and never letting the pipeline run dry.
These are showroom staffers who consistently have business to work on, who never have to deal with the peaks and valleys.
Some dealership salespeople work on the wish or hope system (“I hope something will happen.”)
Seeing that sales are strong and realizing automakers are offering generous incentives, they stop looking for opportunities. They go through the prospects they have in front of them until they realize only a few are left, or they’ve completely run out.
Look for opportunities. Don’t wait for something to happen. Which do you want to do: work smarter or harder?
When everything is rosy, sales should be booming and the showrooms should be busy. So, it might seem odd to say that now is the time to look for new opportunities.
The truth is, salespeople should always be looking for opportunities – prospecting – even in good times. Proactive salespeople always look for leads so they never run dry. Reactive salespeople wait for something to happen.
Looking when it’s too late is hard to pull off. Looking now for opportunities through prospecting is a lost art. Many people don’t understand its purpose or how to do it.
Prospecting is about building a pipeline of opportunities and referrals that flows continuously. It increases traffic without increasing expenses. Mastering it builds a client base and steady referrals that typically come with high closing ratios.
Prospecting might not always lead to immediate sales. But if salespeople are persistent, the long-term payoff will be huge.
Why don’t salespeople prospect more? One reason is its long-term nature. It lacks instant gratification. Or perhaps it’s the belief that it is the manufacturer’s job to not only have the best product, but also incentives that draw people to the dealership.
Some of us fear rejection, but a real salesperson is not afraid to talk to anyone. You really don’t know how well your prospecting is working until a requested first-time customer comes in asking for you. Then the realization hits.
Prospecting has three primary results:
An appointment for an immediate sale.
Referrals to new prospects actively looking to buy.
- Creating future prospects.
Successful prospectors know there are many approaches, but the best methods are to do it in-person, by telephone and through written communication.
Many salespeople don’t have the first idea about how to prospect successfully. This is where managers, as the coaches and leaders, come in.
Focus the team on the overall goal. Change mindsets. Develop a game plan. Create opportunities for the team to practice, play and win. As Vince Lombardi said: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
A football team practices for hours to play a single game. The winning team is not always the biggest, fastest or best. It’s the one that goes in with a well-rehearsed game plan and then executes it.
As part of changing the mindset, make sure the team views everyone who enters the showroom as a customer with the ability and intent to purchase. Every customer who comes to the dealership has the power to increase paycheck amounts and dealership gross.
Create a mindset so that customers are viewed as clients. A client is somebody who buys all their products and services from you and sends referrals. Would you rather have a client or a one-time buyer?
We have seen over and over that when sales managers make the commitment, the pay back is tangible and exponential. The bottom line is what I call ABL: Always be looking.
Richard F. Libin is the author of the book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” (www.whostoppedthesale.com) and president of Automotive Profit Builders, a firm with nearly 50 years of experience in achieving customer satisfaction and maximizing gross profits through personnel development and technology. He is at [email protected] or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.