Posts Tagged ‘automotive sales career’

CHARLIEPLUMB

Check out the all of the episodes of The Sales Life Podcast

As told in the Team Never Quit Podcast, Capt. Charlie Plumb- a Vietnam POW for over 2100 days, spent many days hung on a meat hook and in total darkness-no radio, no TV, and no newspapers to stay in touch with what was happening in the outside world. It was so dark in fact that he couldn’t even distinguish colors. He goes on to describe that he and the other prisoners had nothing to do-all they could do was sit in solitary…but even in the horrible conditions he found himself in, he found that the solitary moments were some of his best moments because it spawned his creativity. It was in the solitary confinements that caused him to have to feed off of all of the life he’d lived thus far. And he wasn’t the only one…many of the POW’s did the same thing-one POW checked over his sailboat before mentally sailing the oceans while others played rounds of golf or recited long verses of poetry.

The solitude made them more creative…

Shrouded in darkness, cutoff from the outside world and likely assumed dead, his captors repeatedly beat him within inches of his life, but they didn’t want to kill him, they wanted to break him-they wanted to crush his spirit so that he’d kill himself. Plumb would bend often but he refused to break. His spirit never broke because instead of looking at everything that was happening to him- the thoughts of Why Me, the pricks of unfairness, the gouges of not knowing how much more he could take, he creatively turned into the deep recesses of his mind and brought into focus a life he’d lived thus far. With vivid creativity, his cell became mentally colored with cherished laughs, loves, and learned moments.

Plumb chose creativity over criticism…

Sales is art….

Life too is art…

Musicians and painters know this…every experience is a lyric; every moment is a canvas…

I’m learning not to be afraid-not to run from the solitude. We’re so busy running from here to there-so porous to the thousands of messages being hurled at us everyday…we’re so overwhelmed with agendas and obligations, that we’ve forgotten how to creatively make good art. We’ve put down our brush and instead picked up a gavel-we’re stuck-critically reminiscing the past and worried about a future that hasn’t yet arrived.

Recently, a salesperson shared with me that he’d started reading; the more he shared with me, the more excited he became. Today, as he stands in solitary waiting for the next customer, instead of listening to the negative chatter banging around in his head,  he’s now creatively folding his new knowledge into previous experiences that will in turn make him better, more confident and capable with future customers.

Today, don’t run from the solitary moments, instead embrace them. Find the creativity in the life you’ve lived so that you can better enjoy your life that is yet to come.

I’ll see you on the Blacktop.

straight outta compton

Alan Wenkus, the screenwriter for the movie Straight Outta Compton (the story of N.W.A., the group that pioneered gangsta rap) was recently interviewed on a morning talk show and asked how much of the movie was real. Wenkus thought about it for a few seconds and said, “About 80% of it was real-it’s not that the other 20% was not, but it had to be colored in order to make the movie more cinematic.” He went on to say that, yes, the rappers’ lives-growing up in South Central L.A., having to face police brutality, gangs, and witnessing homicides on a daily basis was colorful enough, but certain emotional elements had to be put into the movie so that the audience could connect more with the characters of the movie. Essentially, Wenkus took actual facts, coupled it with emotion, and beget a blockbuster hit. “Before the movie my phone hardly rang-now I can’t keep up with the phone calls and producers are throwing money at me,” said Wenkus with a laugh.

When presenting your product, how cinematic are you? Your product presentation should be like that of Wenkus’ screenplay-factually written but comes alive with an element of flare. Customers buy cars, but they pay commissions based on how well you emotionally draw them into your product. They don’t need you to be a Wikapedia of cubic inches, torque, horsepower, and departure angles-no they need to know how your vehicle will improve their lives and the only way they’ll discover that your  vehicle is their best decision, is when you add an emotional element to make your script, i.e. your knowledge about your product, leap off the pages and into the mental screens of their lives. When they can imagine how they will look and feel driving their new vehicle, they’ll buy a ticket to your movie.
Great salespeople are great storytellers. Remember, your customer may have seen many shows, but they haven’t seen your show.  Take what you know and make it come emotionally alive with a hit show.
I’ll see you next time on the Blacktop. 

alone on deck

Showing up today matters.
It matters that you show up on time for work.
It matters-even if it’s 2 words or 2 sentences- that you find something worth writing down today that will help shape you into becoming better than you  were before you captured it.
It matters how quick and how many customers you are willing to get in front of today.
It matters that you are brave enough to pick up the phone and risk hearing a customer reject you instead of hiding behind a text message.
It matters that you ask your customer optimistic building questions instead of pessimistic, narrowing ones.
It matters that your customers demo the vehicle.
It matters that you write your customers up.
It matters that you persistently press forward beyond the 1rst, third, and 4th No.
It matters that you turn your customers over to let a fresh face help you.
It matters that you follow through after the sale-you not only need your clients to make your month, you need them to make your career.
It matters that you remain walking with your customers during the frustrating moments-the moments when the warranty they paid $2500 for won’t cover the repair.
It matters that you follow up and stay in touch with your customers’ lives not their wallets.
It matters that you help others regardless of what’s in it for you.
It matters that you’re willing to be a student of your profession.
You showing up today matters because everything you do (or don’t do) is significant to the outcome of your day, month, year, career, and your life.
(Yes, your life.)
What you do matters, but the emphasis of those matters have the wrong meaning.
When a customer hangs up on you…
When a customer won’t get out of the car and give you a chance to help them…
When a customer gets annoyed because you can’t tell them a price or tell them what their trade is worth in the first 30 seconds of meeting them….
When a customer won’t demo…
When a customer refuses to come inside “for your business card”…
When a customer  jumps across the street and buys from your competitor because you didn’t turn them over…
When a customer goes off on you because you dropped the ball while their car was in service…
When a customer won’t return your phone calls…
When a customer gets cold feet after agreeing to buy…
Failing matters, but it doesn’t give a meaning to what you are worth.
The ill moments-the moments when you screwed up, blew up, got yelled at, or were left standing alone should be tied to matters of the day not meanings of your heart.  What you do has to matter-showing up today, facing the giants in your life, has to be worth it…if it’s not worth it, don’t show up. Pivot and find something worth showing up for. What you do today has got to be so significant- so important to you, that the implications of what you do is higher than the outcome that it may produce. 
 
The outcomes only define how well you did something- they don’t define who you are or what you’re worth.  
 
Rejection is a lesson in self-education not self-worth. Use the losses, defeats, setbacks, and almosts as education not excuses. While circumstances are the banality of most, you forge ahead, working and reworking today’s defeats into tomorrow’s victories.  Sure rejection hurts- we don’t like the sting of hearing NO and the stains that it internally leaves behind;  we don’t like the fact that we poured out two hours of our best efforts only to have our customer go down the road to save a few hundred bucks. Rejection hurts, but you must not let it kill you.
Rejection has matter not meaning- the significance of what you do and how you do it matters. How much you’re willing to give to that matter is what has meaning.
I’ll see you next time on the Blacktop.

lonely-old-man1

It’s painful….

  • It’s painful to have the last 4 customers in a row tell you NO.
  • It’s painful to have a deal slip right through your fingers-they agreed to everything only to have a family member show up and queer the deal.
  • It’s painful to believe a customer is “coming right back” only to find their right back was not at your dealership.
  • It’s painful to hear that a customer that you spent 2 hours with yesterday bought elsewhere today.
  • It’s painful to stay late putting a deal together-to miss seeing your children before they go to sleep only to have the deal roll back in the morning.
  • It’s painful to have a customer drive off on you because you couldn’t tell him your “rock bottom price.”
  • It’s painful to have a customer come back, but not want to work with you.
  • It’s painful to see other salespeople selling cars all around you.
  • It’s painful to have second guessed catching that Up that turned into a deal.
  • It’s painful to have a customer hang up in your face.
  • It’s painful to not be able to lure a customer inside with the the “come on in and I’ll get you my business card” close.
  • It’s painful to hear your manager scorn that you’re not demo’ing, writing up, nor convincing enough customers to buy-punctuated up with, “You’d better figure this out real quick” threat.
  • It’s painful to not be able to even sell your best friend.
  • It’s painful to show a customer a note twice as much as what they’re paying now.
  •  It’s painful to hear people tell you that you’ll never make it in this business.
  • It’s painful to wake up in the morning-feet throbbing, back sore, and forehead blistered from standing in the sun all day every day.
  • It’s painful to hear your mind screaming that you’re not cut out for this, that you’ve lost your touch, that you should go to lunch and never come back.
  • It’s painful to have to start at zero every single month!
It’s painful…
I know…
But it’s not experiencing the pain that counts…
It’s not just you, we’ve all experienced these pains.
But it’s what you do with these painful experiences that matter.
They matter because you can either let the pain define why you can’t do, won’t be, and shouldn’t have…
Or you can allow the pain to refine your talents, shape your character, and form your destiny.
Success is painful…
It’s supposed to be-if it weren’t you’d never think; if you didn’t think then you’d never fight; if you never fought, you’d never learn; if you never learned, you’d never grow.
Experiencing pain is temporary-that’s called failure….
Avoiding pain is permanent-that’s called regret. 
Most people get to the end of life recollecting not of their failures…
They reminisce over their regrets.
Don’t ever get to the end saying, “I should’ve…”
Face the pain, saying, “I did.”
I’d rather try and fail than succeed at not trying.
I’ll see you next time on the Blacktop.
MB

We’ve all set goals based on our emotions- who hasn’t vowed a radical transformation at the dawn of a new year only to wind up reverting to our old selves weeks later?

Like recovering from a hangover-the kind where we find ourselves pleading with the porcelain gods that if we can only survive one more time, we’ll never drink again, we as salespeople eek out a month that had disaster written all over it. In the final few hours we plead to the car gods above to grant us just one more reprieve. In exchange, we vow to never wait until the last minute again; we pledge that if spared, we will attack the ensuing month with abandon.

As a new month begins, the dry erase boards that publicly noted our mediocre finish, are wiped clean-all of last month’s transgressions are now buried in the eraser. Staring down the long barrel of a 25 day work month, we sit back in our chairs and emotionally blurt out our piece of cake, walk in the park, no days off, bell to bell goal. Six rejections later, we reflexively jerk back into our old habits-delaying today, but vowing to come out swinging in the tommorow’s of the second half of the month. As the second half begins, we guiltily tread the blacktop feeling the car gods are punishing our work ethic by sending us bad credit and negative equity customers. “If I could only get a customer who could buy, I would sell them,” you bemoan. Now that no one is worth your time, you begin setting up your fantasy league team-waiting for the perfect credit, lay-down customer to come waltzing in. With the noblest of intentions you prophesy that the last week of the month, you are going to give it your all. You are right back to where the insanity all started- 6 days to make a month. Does any of this sound familiar?

Think of goal setting as weightlifting. If the most you can bench press is 135 lbs-no matter how emotionally fired up you may be-no matter how much adrenaline is racing through your veins, it would be impossible to walk into the weight room the next day and bench press 350 lbs. As crazy as that sounds, we as sales consultants emotionally set goals much the same way. If you’re averaging selling 6 cars per month, even though your sick and tired of being sick and tired, it’ll be nearly impossible to attain a lofty goal of selling 3x (18) as many cars the following month. Sure you’ll emotionally fire out onto the blacktop-working later and longer, grabbing customers you’d never dreamed of catching before, calling customers you haven’t spoken to in years, but the minute the numbers don’t work in your favor and the fueled emotion evaporates in the thick air of rejection, you’ll inevitably revert back to your old ways.

Strength is gradual-so too is success. Think of success as a series of stepping stones and defeat as a cliff (how far you fall depends on how fast you can reach out and grab your anchors in life). Will you ever be able to bench press 350 lbs-will you ever sell 18 cars per month? Sure you can..gradually. To increase your strength, you must gradually add more weight. As you add more weight, your body works through the soreness until a new normal is found. In much the same way, you must gradually add new weights of productivity to your daily regimen. (i.e. Old month: 6 cars per month x 25% increase = 7.5 new month sales. Old month: 6 sales @ 20% close ratio = 30 ups vs. New month: 7.5 sales x 20% close ratio = 37.5 ups. Can you find 8 more customers in 25 days?) During this process, your mind and body are going to go bonkers in an effort to seek comfort-your mind will tell you to relax and your body will speak through soreness to ease up, but if you are unyielding in your efforts (you only need 8 more customers!), a new normal will be found. Once the new normal is found, you must keep increasing the weight until you achieve your goals. (Achieved goal: 7.5 sales x 25% = New goal: 9.5 sales. That’s only 10 more prospects. You can’t find 10 more prospects in 25 days?)

Your goal should be just out of reach, yet still in sight so when you do hit a tough day or challenging week, you’re less likely to become discouraged and revert back to your old ways, because your goal is still within reach.

Averages were meant to exceed, not succumb to. Use your averages as the floor, not the ceiling. When you do, you’ll achieve lasting, elevating success. I’ll see you next time on the blacktop.

As our inboxes become inundated with reports from both manufacturers and big-box automotive groups gleefully boasting of double digit gains in sales, one cannot help but hum the song, “Welcome back Kotter,” look up and be thankful that maybe, just maybe our industry is on its way back. We recount 4 years ago, walking past the TV and hearing the talking heads’ predictions of impending, dire circumstances. “Won’t happen to us,” we thought, “we’re rocking,” as we nonchalantly glance at the time on our newly financed Omega watch. With no ABS system, no airbags, no forward warning collision system-not even a seatbelt to restrain it, our industry smashed into reality, ejecting and killing the careers of countless dealers, managers, and dealership personnel. Some of their careers were given 3 months to live, while others showed up, feeling as if something wasn’t quite right, only to realize their fears when they repeatedly yanked on the locked doors of their dealership-their hopes and paychecks instantly flushed. With hands cupped in a half arch over their eyes, they leaned on the glass and stared into the lifeless showroom they once scurried across. As you stood out on the blacktop and heard those stories, you vowed that if you could get through one more month, things were going to get better. As a month rolled into a quarter and the quarter flopped into another year, you parlayed your optimism for just one more month..and another…and another. This industry made you tough, these times made you tougher. Although tormented inside, you played Russian roulette with your career. With an unyielding mental fortitude, you stared down the barrel of each month. Click, spin, click, spin, click, spin-nothing. Your fears were being painted, but you were too naïve, too crazy, too irrational to buy the painting-you stayed in and with baited breath waited for the next up. Many didn’t make it-you did, but you haven’t arrived, you’ve just begun. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It’s time for you to sharpen your axe. No longer in survival mode-you’re now the hunter and no longer the hunted. Unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy tried to run you down, but you escaped the jaws of disparity. You cannot wait for things to look up until you begin to look out…and when you do, you’d better be swinging a sharp axe. Opportunity doesn’t knock on the door, you’ve got to be prepared to kick the door in and seize your opportunity. Over the past several years, the industry may have slowed down, but technology did not. Now more than ever, your skills have to be razor sharp; you can no longer wish, want, or wing your way into a deal-you’ve got to wield your axe and blade through an uneven fight. Loaded with Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and social media, customers are showing up technologically armed with chords of objections, costs, quotes, book-outs, comparisons, and counters. When you have a dull axe, you have to work twice as hard, twice as long. Sharpen your blade by filing the rough edges of your day into a strategic, measured daily approach; sand the years of rust from disuse from your blade; us honing oil to polish your negotiation skills. Finally, with a circular motion, use your sharpening stone to perfect and repeat your product knowledge and presentation skills into a fine razor’s edge. In an industry full of axes, only the sharpest will survive.

See you on the blacktop!