What's Up With Ups?

Commissions drive auto sales people. So imagine if they viewed every customer who walked into a dealership as a customer intending to purchase, or, in essence, as a commission. The very lingo of today's automotive retail business referring to would-be buyers as thwarts this perception and reduces the odds for a potential sale. The dictionary defines the word as a higher position or level. The definition

Commissions drive auto sales people. So imagine if they viewed every customer who walked into a dealership as a customer intending to purchase, or, in essence, as a commission.

The very lingo of today's automotive retail business — referring to would-be buyers as “ups” — thwarts this perception and reduces the odds for a potential sale.

The dictionary defines the word “up” as “a higher position or level.”

The definition never refers to people, customers or an ability to buy anything. The sun is up; airplanes go up, but a customer is not an up. The word has no real relevance in the sales world. Yet the second an individual walks into a showroom, he or she is called an up.

This is counterproductive. It doesn't consciously link the salesperson's thought process or actions to a commission. It does not allow him or her to believe in the possibility that the individual intends to or is able to spend any money.

Consider this analogy. A salesperson pictures each individual who walks into the showroom with the average commission stapled to his or her forehead. All the salesperson needs to do is gently remove the staple and collect the commission.

But where is the magic staple remover when the individual is viewed as an up with no purchasing power? There isn't one. The salesperson mentally removed the ability to buy before saying hello.

Conversely, Webster's defines “customer” as “one that purchases a commodity or service.” The sales potential increases dramatically by viewing everyone entering a dealership as a customer — someone who plans to purchase a car, parts, service, accessories and the like.

This seemingly simple change in attitude can make a big difference in sales, commissions and profits.

To effectively change a mindset, the process must be driven by management and embraced by sales teams. First, focus the team on the overall goal. Next, managers must develop a game plan and create opportunities for the team to practice, play and win. Let's go through those:

  1. The importance of team

    Think of a professional football team. They practice all week for a single game. The team that wins is not always the biggest and baddest, but the one that best executes a rehearsed plan.

  2. Change the mindset

    Eliminate the word “up” from the team's vocabulary. Train the team to view each individual who enters the showroom as a customer with the ability and intent to purchase.

  3. Assign a value to each customer

    The average commission is $250-$300 per vehicle, paid upon delivery. Every potential customer has the power to put $250-$300 in a salesperson's pocket. Ups typically add nothing.

  4. Find the three who will say “yes.”

    Most sales people play the 10-7-3 game. They think that, of 10 prospective customers, seven will say, “can't,” “won't,” “don't,” and three will say “yes.” If sales people don't approach all 10 as if they will say yes, chances are they won't improve the odds or even find the three that will purchase.

  5. Convert some of the seven to “yes.”

    When teams approach each individual as a customer, the likelihood is that the 10-7-3 game will change to 10-6-4, 10-5-5, and so on, because a positive experience will lead them to a positive decision

Creating a mindset that treats every individual who comes into the showroom as a customer drives sales, increases commissions and boosts profits.

It is a mandatory step toward building clientele who become customers that turn to the dealership again and again for professional counsel, vehicles, service, parts, accessories and everything else to meet their transportation needs.

Richard F. Libin is president of Automotive Profit Builders Inc., a dealership consulting firm specializing in customer satisfaction and maximizing profits. He is at [email protected] and 508-626-9200.

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