This Month’s Selling Principle:
The 90 Day Wonder (A brief reminder of what REALLY works)
I want to take a couple of minutes to discuss with you the phenomenon affectionately known as “The 90 Day Wonder”. For those of us unfamiliar with this phenomenon, let me ‘splain it to you.
The 90 day wonder is the sales associate, brand new to the business, who starts out like gangbusters. Who, for the first couple of months, leads the field and outsells the rest. The old-timers simply dismiss it as “beginner’s luck” and secretly hope the kid “comes back down to Earth” sometime soon. And sure enough, after about 60 to 90 days, the new guy’s production starts to dip until it finally plateaus somewhere around the average of the rest of the staff.
Now some owners, managers and even trainers believe that this occurs because the new associate becomes “too smart” (as if intelligence were a malady) and they start to take the short cuts the old-timers teach them.
Well, I suppose there’s some truth to that theory. As a matter of fact, N.A.D.A. discovered that the average retail automotive sales manager spends only about 18% of his or her time working directly with their sales force. So, after that initial “training session” with the management staff, the rest of the newbie’s training is done by the other sales people. It stands to reason that if our average performers on the sales floor are doing most of the sales training, our new associates will develop only average skills and work habits.
So, as a sales manager, I made a concerted effort to spend the majority of my time working directly with my sales associates. And you know what? …It worked!!…sort of…for a while…and then slowly their performance dipped also.
Then I asked myself, what are they doing differently? They’re getting a different result so they must be doing something different. And then it came to me…like a slap in the face or a konk on the head.
When we first start out in our careers, we don’t know much about the product and we don’t know many wiz-bang sales techniques. What we do know is that we’re excited (you know, new job, fancy dealership, new car smell etc.), we really want to help our customers, and the only thing we really know about is ourselves. Consequently, we end up enthusiastically selling ourselves and our eagerness to serve.
Then, with product knowledge, we stop selling ourselves and start trying to sell cars. And with sales knowledge, we stop enthusiastically trying to serve and we start aggressively trying to sell.
The distinction, my friends, is not one of semantics. It’s one of authenticity. It’s a distinction readily perceived by our customers.
Now, obviously I’m not saying that product knowledge or sales technique is unnecessary, quite the contrary. But what I am saying is that we need to develop the mind set and skills that’ll enable us to always approach our jobs with the “enthusiasm to serve” of a new hire. IT…IS…POSSIBLE, you know. With state management skills and rapport building skills (among others) we can become or go back to being, and stay: a 90 day wonder for the rest of our career!
Until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
Objection of the Month: “We must think/sleep/pray about it.”
These are just a few of the most common strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America and attended by thousands of the top sales people in our field. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on overcoming this particular objection and it’s not intended to be.
a. “Of course you need to think about it, it’s a big decision, right? Come on inside so I can get you all of the information you’ll need to make an intelligent decision. Follow me please.”
b. “Where I come from, that means someone just wants to make their decision” (or “pray about it”) “without some salesperson hanging all over them. I’ll just excuse myself for a few minutes and you folks go ahead and discuss this alone.” (or “do what you feel you need to”) “When I come back, if you have any remaining questions, I’ll address them then. That way you’ll feel completely comfortable about owning your new car.” (Then we need to leave and get out of their line of vision for a few moments. After about thirty to forty seconds, we get back into their line of vision, close enough to see them but not so close as to hear what they are saying, and let them see us waiting. When they ask us back into our offices or back to the table, they’ll usually tell us either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ but rarely tell us they need to think about it.)
c. “Mr. Customer, we’ve worked out such a great deal already. Now is the best opportunity you’ll ever have to own the van you really want. I’ve worked very hard for you and now the ball is in your court. So, let’s wrap this thing up so you can start enjoying your new van. Do you want it registered in your name or the company name?”
d. “That’s fine Ms. Customer, obviously you wouldn’t spend time thinking this over if you weren’t serious about owning this car. You wouldn’t be telling me this just to get rid of me would you?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Then I know you’re going to give this careful consideration, right?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Listen, just to clarify my thinking, just exactly what is it you have to think over?
e. “That’s great! Let’s think it over together. Two heads are better than one, right? What exactly do you still need to think about?” (Or if the objection is “Pray about it”:) “That’s great! Let’s pray about it together. But I always want be honest with you though folks…you’re going to pray for guidance, right?” (Wait for their response, smile, and then say,) “Well, I’m going to be praying for the sale.” (If we aren’t comfortable with this last one, don’t force it.)
f. “Good! Think about it some more, and remember they can only honor this deal for a certain amount of time. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
g. “Okay, that’s why I’m here! I’ll help answer any further questions you may have while you think. What’s the first one?”
h. “Please don’t think yourself right out of the car you really want to own! I can see how excited you are and that excitement is really a necessary element of making a great decision. Let’s finish it now so you can start showing off your new Porsche. Will that be a personal check or a company check?”
i. “Sometimes when my customers say that it means I haven’t done my job well enough. Tell me what you need to know in order to feel comfortable about owning this car.”
j. “Whether you take one night, one week, or one month to think this over it’s still going to come down to the same three issues it does with all my clients. I call them the three “P’s”. The first “P” is the product. Is it missing some equipment you need?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Is it the wrong color?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Does it have stuff you don’t want?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Anything at all wrong with the car itself?” (If so, we simply switch them to a unit that better fits what they’re looking for. If not, we proceed with:) “Maybe it’s the second “P” which stands for the “people”. Is it the dealer location that’s hanging you up?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Is it our service hours?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “The dealership’s reputation, is that what’s wrong?” (Wait for their response, then ask,) “Is it me, did I do something to offend you?” (If so, we simply introduce them to someone else. If not, we proceed with:) “Then it’s got to be the last “P”, either the payments or the price. Which one is it?”
k. (If the objection is “Pray about it”:)“That’s neat! I don’t hear that very often. You folks are a devote couple, huh? You pretty much go down the path the Lord leads you, right?” (Wait for their response, and then say,) “Listen folks, you’ve found the car you’ve been thinking about for six months now, equipped exactly the way you like it, in the color you didn’t even think you’d be able to find, at the store that’s closest to your home, and with a salesperson who takes care of her clients for years after the initial purchase. All that and we even got it to fit into your budget too! Isn’t it possible, folks,” (Pause…) “isn’t it possible that’s why He led you here in the first place?”
Next month’s objection will be: “I don’t want to play the back & forth game.” We need YOUR input!!! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to [email protected].
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing”.
Keep Your Goals in Sight
by: Author Unknown, A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul
When she looked ahead, Florence Chadwick saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.
Already she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.
On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on – hour after hour – while millions watched on national television.
Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.
Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.
Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours!
“Loneliness and Solitude are two faces of the same coin. One hurts while the other heals.”
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