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Your objectives in the interviewing and screening process are plentiful. The old school “hit them hard, right between the eyes and see if they can take it” approach may not be the best method in today’s climate.
The kind of representation needed today may not match up perfectly with the type of super-strong closer you may have sought out decades ago. Sure, having the ability to close a deal is important, and of course you want good salesmanship, yet the average buyer and hiring methods may have changed a good bit. Therefore, the type of candidate you need has probably changed as well. Fortunately, many dealerships have transitioned to an even more professional screening and recruiting process which includes the list of pre-determined interview questions.
Customers today must feel safe. They expect a salesperson to be very knowledgeable about products and services. This helps the customer feel they have made a great choice in vehicle and dealership. It isn’t complicated. Be great focusing more on creating a buyers’ environment as opposed to a sellers’ environment.
Please don’t think I’m getting weak in my old age, I just believe too many customers today will disconnect if there is the slightest sense of a stereotypical salesperson present.
What type of candidate meshes well with today’s consumer?
♦ Good communicator
♦ Technologically savvy
♦ Allegiance to the organization
♦ Non-threatening appearance and overall demeanor
♦ Ability to think well on their feet
Below is a snippet of our sample interview form. These questions and how you go about going through them with a candidate will go a long way in obtaining insight into the real person and their sincerity.
You get the picture. You are in the best position to assess whether your process of interviewing candidates could stand an overhaul or some level of tweaking. This part of the manager’s job is simply too important for anyone to wing it.
I believe the old school way of marketing is the best way to create trust and loyalty. The result is repeat and referral business that pays big dividends for the long haul. The current generation coming into workforce were born with an electronic device in their hand, may need a bit more convincing of the impact of personalization.
Hopefully you are already doing this to some degree, yet imagine every salesperson hand writing 10 cards and making 10 customer and/or prospect calls every day, Monday through Friday. Duh, some may say, can’t you come up with something earth shattering, this is so basic?
Success, individually and collectively, isn’t all that complicated.
I’m sure you already spend a great deal of money on CRM tools and human resources for sales support. However, as wonderful as today’s technology is, it can come with a little collateral damage as well. Many salespeople lean on it solely to trigger future activity, and lose site of the personalized follow-up. Consider allocating some of the marketing budget for cards, envelopes and postage.
Just so you know, The Mar-Kee Group practices what we preach. Our office sends out dozens of blue ink hand-written cards every day.
This isn’t about asking someone to buy anything. This is about touching people to convey that they are important to you, and not just viewed as a future transaction. If all people hear from a salesperson or dealership is the “special opportunity to save big” email messages, that’s not massaging relationships very well.
If you need more traffic and business right now, and had 50 - 100 cards going out every Monday through Friday over the last couple of years, your current reality might be more attractive.
Why don’t more salespeople do the personalized calls and cards every day? Here are some possibilities:
Well, you know it’s inevitable. Eventually some in your dealership will leave, either voluntarily or involuntarily, but will exit nonetheless. Instead of just allowing people to ride off into the sunset, why not invest 5 to 10 minutes with them on the off-chance that you could learn a little something? You may be surprised at how many people with experience in your workplace possess valuable information that you could put to good use.
This is important because another reason to incorporate exit interviews is to increase the chance of ending on a good note with the person leaving. Remember, they’re consumers too!
1. Take time to review the exit interview form. The first thing on it is the employee’s reason for leaving. You really don’t want to spend a lot of time here but it’s good for the company records, nonetheless.
2. Ask the employee how can customer satisfaction be improved? To trigger some input you may have to give a few examples and remind them it’s not just in the department they worked in.
3. Ask the employee how can employee satisfaction be improved? This may trigger discussion on employee treatment, training issues, quicker deliveries, pay plans, support from service and an assortment of other comments that you can filter through later. Remember, when you want more information, ask them to expand on or clarify why they feel this way.
4. Ask the employee how can profitability be improved? That is – any suggestions they may have that could generate income and or control expenses.
5. Ask the employee what’s their take on the overall dealership image & ask for suggestions. Ask them to identify pros and cons of working for your company. This will reveal areas you are doing well in and uncover needed improvements, if applicable.
Most of the time, the General Manager or Dealer would handle the sessions. However in the event they are not available or hey, maybe they were the problem; you will want Plan B in place. Plan B must be a qualified manager or two who understands the true importance and purpose to execute this meeting as designed.
Preface all meetings with a statement like: “Tom, we are always looking for ways to improve our operation and we value your opinions. This should only take 5 to 10 minutes and we would like for you to be candid and share your viewpoint in a few areas”. Then proceed using your form. You don’t want to rush through this, but anything over 5 to 10 minutes is probably overkill. Sometimes you may need to let them off the hook by saying that if they can’t think of anything right now, to please feel free to keep a copy of the form and email or mail it back after they have had a chance to think about their answers.
With these exit interviews, some will complain, some will provide valuable insight, and on occasion, you’ll get some real doozies. Sometimes you will discover some perceptions that may be shared by other employees that you can act on. Exit interviews can uncover extremely valuable information so don’t overlook this 5 to10 minute opportunity to strengthen your dealership. I used this when I was a GM. It captured some great ideas and indeed many employees exited on a more favorable note.
The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.
It is my belief that these two questions need to be asked every time before leaving the customer to get a proposal from management.
Next to the last question to ask the customer before getting up to go for desk assistance:
You have given the customer a chance to share the other equipment they may be considering. These are items they ask you to throw in if you want them to sign up. Often times it’s when you can least afford it; after you have already made previous deal concessions.
Maybe you really can afford to throw it in or at least share the cost with the customer. Why not nip this issue in the bud before it has a chance to cost you money, or even put the deal at risk? After you ask this question, and they said “no”, a few may still try later. However, this is when you simply state (with a smile of course),
Every desk manager has experienced salespeople who really need and want the deal. Some are hoping management will go along with the program and throw it in the deal. I also know there are many strong, non-bashful salespeople who don’t lay down and write up the offer. These people see it as hundred dollar bills they don’t want to give up unless of course, it’s already a Mini (I’m joking right? Not! ). They hold firm for the dealership because they run with extreme pride when desking their deals.
Let’s move on to question number two. Ask this final question before getting up and desking your deals:
Let me share my strong feelings for the precise wording here. First, I use the assumptive word “when”, not “if”. Next, the phrase “complete the rest of the paperwork, right now, correct?” (of course with an affirming head nod and a smile).
I mean, “do all the paperwork right now” isn’t walking on eggshells. “Do the paperwork right now” is no soft shoe, and if there’s anything else that needs to be flushed out, it’s about to surface. Any other potential obstacles or loose ends in the customer's mind is coming out now.
It’s not unusual for salespeople to ask “If we get the figures right could we earn your business today?”, or some version of this. I always want to avoid saying the same things other customers hear at other dealerships. With “earn your business today”, they can say “yes” with less commitment than the above alternative. Some say “yes” just to see what figures you can do, then ask for you to write it down on your exit visa, that’s your business card. And then, of course, they state they’ll “get back with you before they do anything.” The old joke used to be; “Ok, when you come back ask for “blue boy”; that’s me in the corner holding my breath waiting for you to come back.”
It sounds like we taught them how to ask the question, the less effective way. Don’t reprogram them after training them, because they will always ask the customer the same way you asked them.
Ok, one last thing.
If you require salespeople to fill out a needs assessment sheet with customers, then these two questions should be added to the very bottom, post demo, pre-desking.
If you would like to discuss this segment or any other issues important to you, give me a call. I’ll do my best to assist.
3 Strategies to Improve Vehicle Sales Gross IMMEDIATELY...
Richard Keeney, Co-Founder
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is the leading provider of Automotive, Boat & RV Sales, Service & Management Training Solutions.
Proverbs from 25-year car sales veteran Rex Gambrel of Anderson Ford in Clinton, IL.
The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.
Customers looking to buy a new or pre-owned vehicle will always be looking to get the best deal. It’s hardwired in most of us to attempt negotiations. Where you end up, if you get the deal, and how good the customer feels about it is dependent on the salesperson knowing something acceptable and convincing to say next.
Whether you use this up front (before the initial proposal) or in response to a request for additional concessions, it’s one of the best ways to “pass the test” when a customer wants to make sure they aren’t leaving money on the table. Mastering the art of replying with the best acceptable responses to price objections has never been more important than today.
Train your team on this strategy and continue to discuss until all have this down to an art form where it’s simply a conversation taking place. Understand that if some are not prepared to handle price objections professionally, they will continue to react instead of respond, losing deal momentum and selling you on cutting the deal more!
Many times, the opportunity to sell a customer originated from their internet research, where they discovered you had a vehicle they want and at an acceptable price. However, this will not keep most of them from wanting an additional discount. It’s the old psychological reality of, “If this is what they are asking, then I want to start the deal from there.”
When a customer sees something in writing, it tends to be a bit more convincing. A visual backup validates things as more factual, as opposed to a verbal response only. We recommend the following script be on a professional document and are happy to provide one customized for your dealership.
(See script and visual tool below.)
Utilize the original MSRP as you begin your conversations with a customer and while presenting the vehicle. This falls right into the concept of “Theory of Contrast”. This is another opportunity for you to be pro-active in eliminating or minimizing some of the customer’s intentions of getting a lower price. Obviously, the objective here is for them to feel even better about their investment and to lessen the chance they have additional illusions of “savingsdeur”.
Example discussion: “Mr/Mrs __________, the original MSRP, or price of your vehicle when it was new was $36,800, and at $36,800 it was a great value. Let me share what the original owner received for $36,800, and what you’ll be getting even though your investment is only $24,900.”
Most customers need some assurance that they are indeed saving a significant amount of money looking at Pre-owned, which tends to validate the wisdom in their purchase strategy.
As mentioned above, we are very motivated to help your dealership customize these strategies into your own words and professional documents. As leaders in Automotive, Boat and RV sales training, The Mar-Kee Group takes every effort to ensure our clients and their employees are confident and empowered by the tools we offer. Ultimately, it means happier customers that return time and again to your dealership, increased overall sales, and boosted morale for your sales team. A win-win-win for everyone involved! Contact us with any questions or for more information on our sales training courses and strategies.
The Mar-Kee Group
The T.O. strategy has been around for quite some time, yet at some dealerships it’s not an “all the time” thing. Some salespeople view it as a friction point with management. Some handle it very well. They are grateful for the opportunity to get additional support as a final effort to close a sale.
It is important to communicate to salespeople that management needs to have the option of speaking with customers 100% of the time before they leave. They also need to work with their people to smooth out the transition to management.
When you say option, it may be a good idea to explain that management needs to leverage their time and won’t always opt to do the T.O.
Otherwise you will have those who think (and say) that the 100% philosophy is what is demanded yet not followed through on.
Below are great tips to use in an occasional sales meeting. Salespeople need to understand all of the benefits so they do it for their reasons, not just because you said so.
• T.O. stands for “Turn-Over” and “Total Opportunity”
• Should always be done (attempted)
• A second face can work wonders
• Makes a great impression on those not “closing” at this time
• Increases the chance of a return visit
• Provides customers with another contact should the Salesperson not be available later
• Partner with another sales team member as a backup plan
• Great gesture of appreciation for customer
• Customers will sometimes tell others what they won’t tell you
• Someone with a fresh approach and open mind-set may help the situation
• Common ground with customers can occur in many cases
• Some customers won’t close until final word from an authority figure
• Should always be done with class and professionalism
• Forget the ego - Get help often!
• If it closes easily - You have done your job
• Needs to be done in a timely manner
• Minimize ‘fire alarm” T. O.'s
• Say “Hold on just a second” – “I have an idea” or “I just thought of something.”
• Do not take customers to the command center (sales desk) without permission
• Even if another salesperson closes and you split - a half deal is better than no deal
• The T.O. is not only for the end of the visit
• Do it first for your reasons, and yes, it is also a responsibility
A sample of this concept is available in the new version of the Sales Management & Leadership module of eAutotraining. I invite your call. Should you ever want to discuss other sales gross enhancing ideas, I'd love to help! Feel free to contact Richard directly at 888.300.4629.
RELATED: How NOT to Ask For the Business (Some Humor Intended) by Richard Keeney
The Mar-Kee Group is the leading provider of Sales, Service & Management Training Solutions to Automotive, Boat & RV Dealerships.
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