Toughen Up in Tough Market

The problem for many sales people is their ongoing search for magic that will make their sales dreams come true. The truth is it doesn't exist, neither in prosperous times nor recessions. Sales people that stick to the basics and practice these essential strategies will be more apt to prosper consistently, avoiding market highs and lows. Adopt the Right Attitude. A negative attitude generates negative

The problem for many sales people is their ongoing search for magic that will make their sales dreams come true. The truth is it doesn't exist, neither in prosperous times nor recessions.

Sales people that stick to the basics and practice these essential strategies will be more apt to prosper consistently, avoiding market highs and lows.

Adopt the Right Attitude. A negative attitude generates negative results. A positive attitude generates positive results. Period.

A positive attitude is essential if you want to succeed in any market, but especially a tough one.

Attitudes are highly contagious. Customers want to work with sales people who make them feel good about their purchase; professionals hey can rely on and who will be there to support them after the sale.

Stick to Basics. When things are booming sales people tend to lose their discipline and simply ride the wave of prosperity and affluence. This lack of attention causes dealerships to lack data required to identify weaknesses and stem losses (i.e. a realistic traffic count).

Sticking to basics, regardless of market ups and downs, will ensure dealerships are equipped to adapt to changes in the market quickly and successfully. There is no room for error — everyone at the dealership should be measured on their ability to do things right repeatedly.

Upgrade Skills. When the economy was strong, mistakes or ignored bad sales habits had little impact. Practice makes perfect, and practicing bad habits can perfect them as well. Today, every action or inaction, every comment, question and suggestion, has the potential to make or break a deal.

While ideally dealerships should continually train to improve sales skills, a recession brings about a “survival of the fittest” mentality.

Skills, talents, and attitudes are the real competitive edge in this market place. Dealers who take time to upgrade skills and train sales people now not only will see an immediate improvement, but will become an invincible competitor, regardless of the state of the economy.

Snap Out of It. Sales people tend to become complacent during boom times and slow down and get depressed during recessions. But prospering any time means taking action. And in our world of instant information and communication, speed is a key differentiator.

Every day is a chance to hit your competitors harder, set new goals, create renewed vision and know customer wants.

A sense of urgency is mandatory in a recession. Keeping that sense during recovery and prosperous times will give sales people a huge advantage.

Put Your Heart Into Every Opportunity. Sales people squander all sorts of opportunities as they go for easy prospects. In a tough market, sales people must leverage every opportunity. This is Sales 101. It should be done every day, anyway. Treat every person coming on the lot as a real opportunity.

Get to know the customer's needs and help them select a vehicle. Learn how to ask for a referral. Build asking for a referral into your sales process. Ask every time. Contact past clients who may need new or additional cars or accessories.

Prospect! Prospect! Prospect! The lifeblood of salespeople is prospecting, yet there is a fundamental belief that the auto dealership is responsible for bringing traffic through the door.

Given that 80% of all new sales come from referrals, would it not make more sense to prospect individually rather than rely on outside resources? No matter how good a sales person you are, prospecting is critical for success.

The more clients you call, the more chance you have of closing more sales. If traffic is off, generate more.

Every day write four letters, make four calls, give out four business cards to people you haven't met, and go to four new places to prospect. It's a winning “four-mula.”

Richard F. Libin is president of APB-Automotive Profit Builders Inc. He is at [email protected] and 508-626-9200.

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