Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Sales Job And How To Succeed At It.

"The biggest mistake that you can make is to
believe that you are working for somebody else.
Job security is gone.
The driving force of a career must come from the individual.
Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!"

-- Earl Nightingale
Not only have I been in this position, but I've had the opportunity to see many hundreds of salespeople in the auto business at work. As a sales manager for over 25 years in the auto business, I've also had the opportunity to hire a lot of sales people. There's a saying in the auto business that they have a revolving door for salespeople for they are coming and going so frequently. It certainly is true in many dealerships, but certainly not all. Though there is a general trend among dealers, there are those dealers who see things very differently and are intent on building a solid, long-term sales staff, who operate with great autonomy. These are the differences between a job and a career.
I could fill one or more books on this subject, but I want to address one aspect of the sales person here: choosing to succeed, rather than hoping to succeed. That difference is everything.
This I know for certain: the auto business can be a very good career, but it can be a very lousy job. Those that come into it thinking they've found themselves a good job, will find otherwise. Those that decide to choose to succeed by making and executing a good plan will find themselves an excellent career.
So, let's pretend that someone is interested in the auto business and they claim they want to succeed at it. Here's what I would advise them to do:
  • Treat it as if you are in business for yourself. I think that until you make that decision, everything will be hard and frustrating. Once this decision is made, it becomes much easier. The reason is that the things that will frustrate the worker are many and the owner, few. It's all a matter of what you put your attention on. The really good news about treating it as if you're in business for yourself is that the dealer is putting up all the money! What a deal that is!
  • Avoid hanging out with the other sales people unless they are lifting you up with their enthusiasm and positive attitudes. That is probably unlikely, so not listening to them complain will help you immensely.
  • Study sales. Study your product. Never stop. I would advise you to read at least 2-3 books per month for the rest of your career. Get audiobooks if you prefer that way, but get the books. Learn everything you can learn about what you do and how you can do it better. Attend seminars. Listen to tapes or CD's from seminars. Study psychology, philosophy, and positive thinking. The last item will change your life!
  • Have a sales system. You can use Ace of Sales by Jeffrey Gitomer, ACT, or others. The dealership may have their they want you to use, but you still need to have your own. Don't worry. Soon enough you will have your own personal secretary to do all that for you. Plan for that person now. I'm serious. Sublet everything that keeps you away from what you do best and that will be talking to people about making a purchase.
  • Live by your system. Go the extra five miles. Don't rely on the dealership to do it all for you. Many dealerships only want to take it so far, but you are in business for yourself and you want to go all the way. That includes thank you cards, holiday cards, appreciation cards, newsletters and so on.
  • Get Internet Savvy. Develop your own blog like this one, get hooked up with facebook, twitter and other social media sites that can help you communicate with people 24/7. Upward Trend can help you with all of that, or you can do it yourself, but do it.
  •  Keep track and pay attention. How will you know when you improve? Keep some good statistics on your sales and sales efforts.
  • Join networking clubs and become an active member because you like what they do. If you just join to network, it will be obvious and won't work very well, but if you join for other reasons, it will pay off big for you. Find one or more organizations that you like. If the dealership is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, as most are, then go to the mixers and other events when you can and make yourself known. There are a lot of organizations that can help you succeed.
  • Learn to prospect. Make a deal with the dealership to let you do prospecting and when you begin succeeding at it, get them to allow you to have your own schedule without any floor time, so you can have a life and a career. If there is one thing the auto business is known which helps cause the revolving door, it is unreasonable work schedules. Make a goal to be off the floor as fast as you possibly can and never, ever look back. If there's one thing I hate about retail businesses of any kind, it is standing around waiting for someone to come in. What a waste of time for a career person. Let the job people have that job.
  • Follow up with everyone in one way or another, whether it is telephone, email, newsletter, whatever. Adopt the old time Chevrolet saying from the 1940's: "Never forget a customer and never let a customer forget you!" It is wonderful advice.
  • Do everything you can to support the dealership you serve and support yourself at the same time. If you sell Chevy's, don't go buy a Honda. That is blasphemy and it works against you. If you don't believe in your own product enough to own it yourself, you're fooling yourself trying to sell it. Love your product, or go sell the one you love.
  • Make it fun. If you're not doing it with joy, it won't last very long. Find ways to have fun with it and enjoy what you do.
  • Be grateful. The dealer is putting up millions of dollars for you to use almost free to make a great living. Become grateful for everything that comes into your life regardless of what it is. I tell you straight up, this will be the single most important thing that you do.
Here's some parting thoughts. The dealership will not be crazy enough to mess with a sales person who excels in sales. They will make concessions instead. They don't want to lose you. That is the exact partnership scenario you want. You want them to treat you like a valuable partner and you them.

This plan will put you on a sure success path in auto sales, or any other sales for that matter.

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