When we invite new sales people into their first training session, we need to have a powerful point of departure.
We usually talk a lot about how much money they can make and all the great things they'll be able to do with that money. This isn't bad, but it's not even close to the best place to start a training regimen.
A little philosophy is in order. When you embark on any journey, you must know what you're about and where you're headed. In business terms, this means knowing what business you're in.
Are you in the automobile retail business? Well, yes and no. Yes, you're selling and servicing automobiles and related products and services. No, selling automobiles is not the deep essence of what you're about.
What is? Happiness! You're in the happiness business, the life-style facilitation business, in the dream-enabling business!
What technology is more important to people's happiness in American culture than the vehicle they drive? How do we come into this world? A vehicle takes mom to the hospital. How do we leave this world? A hearse takes us to the cemetery.
How do we get to all the different places we're going in between — to the lessons and practices, to every new grade of school, to summer camp and winter sports, to all the graduations and celebrations, jobs and vacations? More than any other form of transportation, an automobile takes us there. Make no mistake about it. We are in the business of helping people get happy!
Of course, you must know your product, your inventory and the factory programs. You must know something about human psychology, intuitively or from formal study or both. You must know the processes and policies your managers want you to follow.
Can you focus exclusively on these areas and become successful? Yes. But to achieve true mastery in automobile selling, you have to love making people happy.
A love of this endeavor will invest you with an enthusiasm that is hard for most customers to resist, even if you aren't a master of product knowledge at the moment, even if you stumble through the inventory to find them the right vehicle.
When customers feel you care and are doing your best, they'll give you the latitude to help make them happy.
A love of this endeavor will also invest you with the energy, focus and sense of humor necessary to get through hyper-busy days. This business takes a lot of energy and a lot of focus every single day. It is not for the weak of heart.
If, in your mind, work is all about you, about being the top dog, about having the highest gross of the month or the most expensive watch or winning all the contests, well, you'll do okay for a while.
But you'll never achieve true mastery.
Besides, you're likely to make a lot of enemies along the way. True, life is not a popularity contest. But it is about teamwork. It is about serving others.
The dealership franchise system came into being through the cooperative efforts of thousands of people. Without teamwork, you'd have no building and no vehicles to sell.
Teamwork, serving others, serving a greater good, helping people get happy‥ These things make our world happen. They also makes life worth living. And these things are what automotive retail selling is truly all about.
Bob Kamm is president of Kamm Consulting, a leadership development firm. He is author of two books, The Superman Syndrome and Real Fatherhood. He is at www.bobkamm.com and [email protected].