What's the most often asked question in the car business? I'd put my money on “How many did you deliver?” Sales people have to confront the “how many” question so many times and from so many people.
So, it comes as no surprise that they are often guilty of the sales misdemeanor of failing to focus on the principles of good salesmanship, including adhering to a structured sales process. Not that they don't acknowledge these concepts as being, at least in part, responsible for their better successes.
After all, any accomplished vehicle sales professional who has put together a top-tier performance knows that the prospects don't come in with cash in hand, begging to buy the freshly cleaned, over-aged unit on the front pad with the big spiff. (Would be nice though, wouldn't it?)
Top producers always know that their professional, personal, and financial rewards will only come as the result of consistent best effort. There will be no deliveries if there aren't good product presentations or good prospect follow-up or sales and referrals from previous customers who appreciate outstanding service.
Yet almost any salesperson, being constantly confronted by the “How many?” measurement can become so overwhelmed by the “result” objective (the delivery) that they lose their focus on the “cause” objectives (their efforts).
Throughout my career as a general manager, I always fantasized about adopting a “step-down” pay plan. Every salesperson would start the month having already earned a set amount, say $10,000. From that point forward we would charge them back for every incident that represented a less than outstanding effort.
Didn't introduce yourself when you met the customer? That's $200. Didn't ask for the customer's phone number or forgot to write it down immediately? That costs you $250. Didn't ask your sold customer for referrals? That's $75. And so on. I truly believe that the end result for my sales people would be that they have earned the same amount as they did with our conventional plan. But as they eliminate their “effort errors,” they and the dealership will be vastly ahead.
I'm proposing that the “How many did you deliver?” question be banned. Replace it with some new questions. Here are some of my proposals:
- How many Internet leads did you respond to within an hour last month?
- Is every follow-up that you scheduled completed?
- How many fresh e-mails did you send to older, working prospects today?
- How many mass e-mails did you send in the last 60 days?
- How many times did you call and e-mail your last 10 prospects in the first five days?
- Did you take the time to provide range pricing to your last three new prospects?
- How many vehicles did you bring to a prospect last month?
- How many times did you offer to?
- How many times did you suggest an alternative vehicle to a prospect in the last 60 days?
- How many newsletters have you sent out in the last three months?
Here's a few more for managers and dealer principals:
- How many times did you look at your Internet lead reports last month?
- How many times did you go over an Internet inquiry with your Internet sales person?
- Did you remind someone to do a mass e-mail for the last program update?
- When was the last time you called Internet prospects and asked if they were happy with your dealership's service, and offered your assistance in making them a customer?
It may take some time, but I guarantee you that the sooner we do it, the sooner we'll have more. More deliveries, more pride, more fun, and more money.
Al Amersdorfer, is the president of Automotive Internet Technologies Inc. (www.autonettech.com)