Finding The Reset Button

by Scott Bradley Have you ever wished that you could reboot your sales career? Do you find that tackling a new prospect or following up with current clients isn’t exciting anymore? Perhaps the new guys are outselling you, and now both your productivity and attitude are at the bottom of the sales board.  If this is happening to you, maybe it’s time to hit the reset button on your business plan. We’re all familiar with rebooting a slow running or frozen computer. We simply power it down, wait 30 seconds, and turn it back on.  The reboot allows the electrical charge to drain more completely, ideally restoring a computer’s speed and efficiency.  We are not computers, but restoring our productivity and drive can be almost as easy. A great way to start is by opening a book or reading relevant articles on sales. I’m not referring to the factory-mandated online training courses, or the cursory glance at the new vehicle launch support material. I’m talking about accessing a wealth of great information, much of it free online and relevant to automotive professionals. Doctors, accountants, and attorneys all update their skills as part of a lifelong continuing education requirement.  These professionals know that continuing education also gives them a competitive edge in their field. Maybe they’re on to something? I recently stopped by a Barnes and Noble to review their available books on sales careers. The Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie classics are still there, yet there are a multitude of new authors with remarkable insights into sales and customer service that are worth a look. If you don’t want to leave the showroom, click on one of many Internet book sites.  Amazon.com lists over 2000 titles on sales alone! Pick-up or click on Daniel H. Pink, “To Sell is Human,” or Jeffrey Gitomer, “21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling.” Both of these titles are well written, relevant and thought provoking.  These authors offer a multitude of ideas that you can use everyday. Their insights into sales and service are inspiring and never lack for “ah ha” moments.  You just may find yourself looking at your sales career with a fresh and perhaps even an overdue perspective. As sales professionals, we owe our clients, the management, and ourselves a periodic career reboot. Whether we find our personal reset button in books, the Internet or with a gifted trainer, the choice is yours. However you choose, incorporating some form of continuing education in your sales career should become part of your new business plan.     © Copyright 2013 by Scott Bradley and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved....

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When And How To Make A Turn

by Michael Hargrove Tweet How far should a salesperson take the transaction before they get someone else involved? When is the right time to make a turn? What is the best way to make a turn? Should turns even be made? These are questions common to virtually every auto sales training event I’ve been involved in. My colleagues and I (in the training field) each have our own experiences, theories, and guidelines. Some of them differ wildly. And even though a few of us like to think we know the hard and fast rules of turning, in truth, there only exist general guidelines and, at best, theories. Mine are no better than the others, to be sure, but here is what I believe, having learned from my own experience and from the experiences of my clients. As to the first question, I believe each of us, salesperson and manager alike, should take each transaction at least one step past our own competency level. We shouldn’t bail out on our customer, and ourselves, at the first hint of customer resistance or the first taste of our own discomfort. Actually, a good guideline to excellence is making sure we take each transaction past our own comfort level. If we find ourselves losing rapport with our customer, we should make at least one attempt, and probably several, to hook back up with them. If we are unable to get a today commitment, we should try at least one, and probably seven, other ways to ask them for their business. If we are in a challenging closing scenario, we should try at least one new closing technique or strategy. I am not suggesting that we should “burn out” a customer before we get help but I also believe turning too early is just as costly in the long run. When is the right time to make a turn?  This one is relatively easy to answer. As soon as WE become the impediment to our customer’s satisfaction, that’s when we need to get someone else to serve them. Maybe they require more expertise on our product than we currently possess. Maybe they have a problem with our color, gender, or something else. Maybe WE have a problem with THEIR color or gender or something else (in which case, perhaps we should reconsider pursuing a career in customer service?). Maybe we’re just off our game that day. In any case, if WE are the reason they can’t do business with our dealership, then WE owe it to them and our employer to get someone else involved. The best way to make a turn is to make it to our customer’s benefit to work with the new person. Tugging on our tie, excusing ourselves to “get them our card”, or just blurting out, “Oh, I have an idea!” are no longer effective ways to make a turn. I do train outside the car industry also. Whenever my non-auto industry clients discover I’m a car guy, they usually barrage me with questions and criticisms of the car biz (like I control it or something.) Once, a lady commented, “You guys in the car business must have the biggest business cards on Earth!” Naturally, I asked her what she meant by that. She replied, “Well, because it always...

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The No Money Down Syndrome

by Michael Hargrove Tweet       Each month, I get one or two requests similar to the one I received from a salesperson named Phil who works at a dealership in the northwest. I thought it would be a good idea to share with you his particular e-mail and my response. Phil wrote: In my sales meeting today we were told that getting cash down is our biggest problem. I understand that cash down means gross, however the industry advertises “$0 down delivers” and sometimes it is difficult to overcome that objective [objection]. Could I get some assistance with this. Maybe some word tracks or example situations. My response was as follows: Phil: Sometimes getting the customer to put more cash down simply takes explaining the “math” of the situation. And some of the time, it’s an actual condition of sale; the customer ONLY has this amount down, period. Most of the time, however, and particularly if the cash down challenge is a consistent problem, it’s due to the way the salesperson sets up the transaction. When the salesperson responds to the no cash down subject with; “No problem!” and just leaves it at that, it may create problems for them asking for cash down later. I agree with the philosophy of write them, don’t fight them. I also think that we can do this while still setting up the negotiation process to come. If the customer tells us early on that they “don’t have any money to put down”, we can respond something like this; “Everyone here at Kickass Motors, is absolutely committed to showing each customer the most advantages way to drive the car of their choice. And we’ll do that for you too. Okay?” If it comes up again, we can respond with something like this; “There are several different ways to make the car you want affordable. What I’d like to do is put all the different ways we can accomplish this for you in black and white, in writing, so you can see them for yourself. After reviewing them all, YOU tell me which way works best for you. Sound good? So, let’s go find your perfect car.” If they bring it up again, we can respond with something like this; “Folks, not only will we discuss the initial investment but we’ll also cover your monthly budget, interest rates, numbers on your present vehicle, etc. And when it’s time to, I’ll ask you to make your final decision simply on the bottom line. Fair enough?” You see, Phil, all of these techniques still allow us the opportunity to ask for sufficient amounts of cash down when we begin the negotiation process. It’s in the asking that we get enough down. Don’t ask, don’t get. At the beginning of the negotiation process, when we ask for 35% initial investment and 24 monthly installments, if they (or rather, when they) protest, we can respond with something like this; “Remember me sharing with you that everyone here at Kickass Motors is absolutely committed to showing each customer the most advantages way to drive the car of their choice? Well, obviously the cheapest way to drive your new car is to pay cash but very few of us are in a position to do that. So, what’s the...

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When Customers Ignore You – Five Business Building Tips That Costs Nothing

By Jeff Mowatt Remember the days when people noticed good customer service, talked about it, and most importantly – rewarded you for it?  Happy customers would return and spread the word.  In today’s fast paced world however, people are so rushed moving to the next thing, or so distracted by their mobile devices, that good customer service is overlooked.  Fortunately, as I share in my seminars, there are several easy things you can do that will enhance your service and boost your business which your customers will actually notice.  Best of all, they cost you nothing.  Here are five for starters…   Be the voice of reason Here’s an insider secret I discovered when clients started bringing me in to assess and offer feedback on their call centres. You can generally tell within 10 seconds whether the service rep will calm the customer or irritate them.  It’s not what the employee says – it’s the sound of their voice when they say it. Employees who have thin or high voices, mumble, or add useless words (ya know, kinda, sorta, fer sure) garner less respect from customers than those who are more articulate. Conversely, when you lower your tone and enunciate – by crispening-up your consonants and rounding-out your vowels – you’ll be perceived as more reasonable and intelligent. By watching your language you’ll transition in the customer’s mind from being merely a clerk or order taker into becoming a Trusted Advisor.   Show-off your homework Today’s customers are so busy trying to juggle the demands of work, home, family, finances, and errands, that they are amazed when someone goes to the trouble to do some homework and find out about them.  So, before a client meeting, spend a few minutes doing a web search on the customer and the company.  Start the conversation with a few comments along the lines of, “I read that you have…” “I noticed on your website…”  It’s a wonderful way of demonstrating your intelligence while focusing on the customer.  In the customer’s mind that makes you brilliant. “You’ll be noticed more if you’re a good listener rather than a smooth talker.”  Listen loudly Customers are impressed by your knowledge; not your product knowledge per se – that’s taken for granted.  Customers are more impressed by your knowledge of their unique individual needs.  Today’s customers are assaulted by information coming at them: tweets, emails, sound bites, and micro-ads.  That means you’ll be noticed more if you if you’re a good listener rather than a smooth talker.  It’s not enough to just listen to customer needs and then offer solutions. You need to be perceived as listening.   Fortunately, this is as easy as saying two words after your customer explains their needs: “Sounds like…”   Starting your comments with sounds like forces you to paraphrase your understanding of their needs.  It’s also a great lead-in to expressing empathy, as in, “It sounds like you’ve had a frustrating time trying to fix this.”  You’ll be seen as someone who truly gets your customer.  That’s listening loudly.  And customers do notice.   Make time shrink Imagine a customer or co-worker asks you to send them information that might normally be sent the next day.  You could say, “I won’t be able to send it to you until tomorrow.”  Or...

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My Life’s Priorities (part 2)

by Michael D. Hargrove Print a PDF of all of the Life’s Priorities exercise worksheets here Reduce your priorities into ONE word for each (you may want to combine or eliminate some of them). Remember this is your life and your priorities. Their definition need only be relevant to you. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Now go back and rank them (on the right) in order based on the following criteria: the definitions ,values, rules and beliefs attached to each of these priorities. © Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc. e-mail Michael Hargrove Follow on Twitter @MDHargrove Sign in to Friend Michael...

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My Life’s Priorities (part 1)

by Michael D. Hargrove Print a PDF of all of the Life’s Priorities exercise worksheets here or use notebook paper.   List your life’s priorities or everything in life that’s important to you. Avoid using one word answers like “peace,” “happiness”, “love,” “success”, etc. at least for now. Be specific and detailed. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. You can use the back of this sheet if you need to. Next Goals Page © Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc. e-mail Michael Hargrove Follow on Twitter @MDHargrove Sign in to Friend Michael...

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Life’s Priorities Exercise

by Michael Hargrove     Tweet   “If you don’t stand for something, then you’ll fall for anything!” – Jim Rohn Unfortunately, most of the people we know fall into that group of souls who simply go from day to day, situation to situation, gladness to gladness, crisis to crisis, reacting to whatever is thrown in front of them. They never really think about what they want, what they believe, and what they stand for. They sort of live their lives in a fog, neither overjoyed nor miserable, devoid of any real passion, asleep at the wheel. Furthermore, we have found that two of the most common causes for talented, energetic, driven, goal oriented people to consistently fail to reach a particular goal are either that particular goal was someone else’s goal for them or it was in conflict with their life’s priorities to begin with. When we set goals without first establishing our life’s priorities, we unwittingly set ourselves up for a frustrating series of subconscious self-sabotage, or worse yet, we achieve the goal and are miserable because of it! The following is one of the first exercises in our workshop entitled: Make A Decision: Goal Setting Simplified. It takes about 30 minutes to complete for most and requires a quiet place with no interruptions. Afterwards, we need to take a few minutes to really assimilate these new found priorities of ours. The benefits of completing this exercise are many. One of the most obvious is that all of our decisions (major and minor) become infinitely easier to make. When we come to a fork in the road of life, we simply have to choose the path that is in harmony with our life’s priorities. Another benefit is the depth of character this exercise fosters (an explanation of this follows). One more is that we’ll now have a “things to do” list for our lives. Pretty neat, huh? One advantage, perhaps not so obvious, is that we now have a much better chance to really listen to another’s point of view without fear or prejudice. They may talk to us for 20 minutes, and they may even be able to change our mind, but they can’t change us. And that’s an extremely empowering place to operate from!   Our passion for life is in direct proportion to he level of character we posses. Character is the security we have based on our integrity to our own value system. Times of crisis do NOT build character… they simply expose it. Stephen Covey Link here for first Goal Sheet  © Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc. e-mail Michael Hargrove Follow on Twitter @MDHargrove Sign in to Friend Michael...

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Attitude Is Everything

By Francie Baltazar-Schwartz   Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!” He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed Him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.” “Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested. “Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.” I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live. “Weren’t you scared? Did...

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The Changing Nauture Of Friendship

(Found on the Internet without an Authors Signature)   As we have grown and changed so have our ideas on friendship… 1. In kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who let you have the red crayon when all that was left was the ugly black one. 2. In first grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary halls. 3. In second grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you stand up to the class bully. 4. In third grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus. 5. In fourth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch square dancing partners in gym so you wouldn’t have to be stuck do-si-do-ing with Nasty Nicky or Smelly Susan. 6. In fifth grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of the bus for you. 7. In sixth grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to Nick or Susan, your new crush, and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed. 8. In seventh grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the social studies homework from the night before that you had forgotten about. 9. In eighth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old baseball cards so that your room would be a “high schooler’s” room, but didn’t laugh at you when you finished and broke out into tears. 10. In ninth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went with you to that “cool” party thrown by a senior so you wouldn’t wind up being the only freshman there. 11. In tenth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who changed their schedule so you would have someone to sit with at lunch. 12. In eleventh grade your idea of a good friend was the person who gave you rides in their new car, convinced your parents that you shouldn’t be grounded, consoled you when you broke up with Nick or Susan, and found you a date to the prom. 13. In twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out a college, assured you that you would get into that college, helped you deal with your parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go… 14. At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you. 15. The summer after twelfth grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you clean up the bottles from that party, helped you sneak out of the house when you just couldn’t deal with your parents, assured you that now that you and Nick or you and Susan were...

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Another Random Act Of Kindness

by Michael D. Hargrove     Tweet   I want to share with you a true experience that changed the way my friend Tom lives his life and indirectly my view of the world. At the time, Tom was waiting tables at the Newport Bay Restaurant on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon. As he was listening to a couple he had been serving quietly explain how they had somehow misplaced their money and didn’t have a single credit card on them, his thoughts ran from how to avoid an embarrassing situation in a crowded patio of patrons to how this was going to absolutely kill his check average for the day. “An absolutely lousy way to end a shift”, he thought. His focus was riveted back to the flustered couple as the woman asked, almost whispering, “What do you do in situations like this?” Tom didn’t have a snappy answer to this but before he could even give them a look of dismay, a man sitting at the table next to them calmly said, “Dishes.” They all looked at the smiling face next to them and he jovially repeated, “There’s always dishes you know.” Well, the laughter that ensued was just what was needed to lighten the heaviness of the predicament for just a moment. Then the couple nervously rattled off a bunch of alternatives, “I know the bill’s for $57, but we have $40 dollars in the boat, we could give you that and one of our driver’s licences and come back later with the difference or we could leave you a $300 pair of binoculars as a deposit until we can get back here with a credit card or one of us could stay here while the other goes back to the dock to get our money or…” “There’s another option.” It was the man sitting at the table next to them again. “There is?” Tom asked. The man continued, “Yes there is…I could put your meal on my credit card, you give me the forty bucks and then mail me back the difference later.” Everyone paused in silence for what seemed like forever but Tom knew was a mere heartbeat or two. The lady broke in with, “You’d do that? Well, we could also leave you the binoculars or something…I mean we will pay you back. We own several businesses all over Portland and…” “Oh, please!” the man interrupted, “If I thought for a second you’d rip me off for twenty bucks, I’d never have offered.” All the while this man was smiling a smile that lead Tom to believe he knew something that everyone else was oblivious to. Not a sneaky kind of Œget one over on someone’ smile but one that seemed to be born of…well, pleasure. This guy was thoroughly enjoying this exchange. As the husband ran off to their boat to get the $40, Tom took the man’s credit card to ring up the bill. In his mind, Tom was half expecting the card to be maxed out or stolen. It wasn’t. He wondered what would possess someone to do this for a couple of complete strangers. Then he thought, “Well, my check average is saved but so much for the tip!” When he returned with the voucher and a pen, the other...

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