Category Archives: Sales Training

Who is Training The Trainer?

Sometimes I think I am the luckiest person on earth. I have the great privilege of traveling all over this beautiful country working with dealers to help them learn and prosper in our business. Being a moderator of Twenty Groups is a passion, and I have the utmost respect for all our clients. They take the time away from their businesses to train on how to be more profitable. Back at their stores they are the leaders, trainers and decision makers. They have chosen to train themselves — train the trainer. As a result they will be as prepared as they can be for the challenges in front of them, and be able to call upon their fellow group members and their moderator when they don’t have the answers.

This training, however, is only as good as it is implemented. I heard a saying the other day from one of my members: “There are two things for certain in his business. The sun will rise in the east and there will be training everyday!” What a great philosophy to live by. Do you ascribe to a similar philosophy? How good are you at getting this complete? More importantly are you doing it at all? I will make you one promise that I can guarantee is true. Someone in your dealership is doing the training. If it is not you or your management team, sales personnel and other staff are taking it upon themselves during the smoking huddle or bull sessions!

What I do find is most dealers over complicate training, and make the mistake of training everyone on the same topic. Not everyone needs the same training. The true art of training is looking at each team member’s performance, identifying their strengths weakness and training on them. Monitoring the personal performance of each member, sales or management, is how you determine what training needs to be done.

If I decide to do a training meeting for the entire team on “Meet and Greet,” yet half my team is the best at it, they will instantly develop the attitude that I am wasting their time. To be honest I am. If I have a sales person that gets 85 percent or more of his ups inside the door and seated, why do I need to train them on this subject? Knowing the numbers and performance of each team member easily identifies the weak areas that need to be addressed. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your entire team needs the same training, because they don’t and never will.

The second biggest mistake I see in this business is a training meeting that occurs prior to opening hours and are too long. You will never win the battle of demanding employees come in 30 minutes early to train. You will always wait on one or two. This will lead to frustration and the trainers will not have the right attitude for the session. You should hold daily training meetings, although only a part of the team each day should participate. Identify the weak areas and bring those selected members in for training that day. Also make sure that these sessions last no longer than 20-30 minutes. After that, you have lost their attention and they lose too much of the discussion.

At the end of the day, as the owner you are accountable for insuring that your team is the best of the best in every step to the sale. Only then can you build your business to withstand the ups and downs of market conditions. Make it your goal to spend time every day one on one with your managers. If you are a small operator spend one on one time with your sales staff and hold them accountable for keeping track of their plan. As George Dans, the Human Torch, says “Those who come to work without a plan, plan to fail!”

Do you have a plan?

Written by Butch Moore
Leedom and Associates, LLC – Sarasota, FL
800.966.8733 x305

Wise Decisions This Year

Many years from now, we might remember 2009 as “The Year Cash was King.” As important as profits are, cash is what this year will be about. How liquid can you keep your operation? Many dealers over the last several months have been looking to shore up cash reserves and slash expenses. Inventories are being controlled more tightly than ever, and in some cases, even personnel are being slashed.

The decisions to slash personnel may have the biggest long-term impact on many dealerships and it might not create the anticipated effect. In the short run, it does reduce expenses, but at what cost? The hardest thing to replace in a dealership is good talent. You just can’t afford to make the wrong personnel decisions.

Choosing to let someone go based purely on salary is short-sighted. The most expensive employees usually have experience or drive a lot of revenue to your P&L. Either way, simply choosing to trim based on earnings could be very detrimental to your organization because it will be extremely expensive to replace that experience or revenue. When business picks up again you will need those employees more than ever. Now, this doesn’t mean you should retain unproductive employees or those who can’t adjust to changes in your dealership environment. You have to evaluate all aspects of performance, while keeping your future business in mind.

Keep your best talent and use the slow times to your advantage. Take care of some tasks that have been on the backburner for a while. If sales are slow or your service department isn’t working at capacity, it is the perfect time to make sure everyone on your team is executing at 100 percent performance with every customer. Train your team during this slow time. Can you use your best people to do the actual training? Are there other activities they can be doing? Look around and be creative.

If you don’t believe your staff could use more training, take this challenge: Take a salesperson to the lot and ask them to give you a vehicle presentation, or ask a service writer to do a full write-up for you on a vehicle you just traded for. How much value did they present? Did they cover all the steps you expected them to?

The average amount spent for training in the dealership as a percentage of total operating gross is 0.7 percent for highline, 0.9 percent for imports and 1.1 percent for domestics. That percentage pales in comparison to many expenses in the dealership, but if you feel you can’t afford that amount for training, there are many ways to train that are free or inexpensive. Many industry vendors have recently begun offering webinars at no cost, industry Web sites (like have hundreds and hundreds of educational articles that are free, and most dealerships have training material they previously purchased just laying around. Put these resources to use!

How resourceful are you when it comes to training your staff? How do you train? What do you use? How do you implement it? Send your best and inexpensive training tips to We will compile the list to share.

Written by Harlene Doane
Auto Dealer Monthly

Your Sales Game Plan: Does It Include Improving Processes?

Most, if not all of you, have prepared your budgets, business plans and goals for 2008. If you haven’t, it’s not too late. I know a couple of dealers who are “battening down the hatches.” They think 2008 will be worse than 2007, so they are cutting as many expenses as possible in preparation of lower income. Although monitoring expenses is good practice, it’s not the only solution.
If you believe industry soothsayers, business will drop by at least 10 percent this year, and the more new vehicles you sell, the higher this percentage will be. If a dealer has been selling 100 new and used vehicles a month at an average gross profit of $1,850, it would mean at least 10 fewer deals a month and a reduction of $18,500 in monthly gross profits. Some dealers will accept that and find a way of saving that money each month by reducing advertising, cutting personnel, etc., so they continue to get the results they got in 2007.

What if instead of cutting expenses, the same dealer makes a plan to implement and follow proven sales processes? Instead of worrying too much about volume and gross goals, concentrate on how well your sales team follows your sales processes. If you focus on closing ratio, for example, your sales manager and team will increase that ratio. However, more often than not, they increase the closing ratio by logging fewer customers. If everyone is following the processes correctly, the closing ratio will take care of itself.

The first step of the proven sales process is a proper meet and greet and is followed by a meaningful interview, which will set the correct tone for more customers to want to do business with you. Remember, it is a business, so treat your customers in a business-like fashion.

A proper meet and greet should start with the word, “Welcome,” and the salesperson’s introduction. Eye contact is imperative; if the customer can’t establish eye contact with your salesperson, they won’t trust them and probably won’t do business with them. A firm, professional handshake and a genuine smile should be natural ingredients in the meet and greet. Your salespeople should easily obtain your customers’ names if this is all done correctly.

The meet and greet is designed to professionally ease into the interview. The ideal place for the interview is inside, either at the salesperson’s desk or at a round table in the showroom. Your team needs to remember this is to be a conversation, not an interrogation, so make sure they conduct the interview appropriately. Building rapport is key, and one of the best ways for your salespeople to do this is get the customers talking about themselves. Open-ended questions are a great way to get things started. For example, ask who, what, why, how, when, and “tell me about” questions—basically, the kind of questions a talk show host would ask guests.

After the meet and greet, your salesperson should get your sales manager involved. I recommend that your sales manager get up and introduce him/herself to the customer at this time. One of the reasons your sales managers are appointed to that position is because they have excellent communication skills. Have your manager put these skills to work with your most important asset, your customer, and do it early on in the process. It is not conducive to selling if your salesperson introduces your customer to your sales manager at the end of the process, either to “glad hand him” on his way out or to try and hammer a deal the customer is not comfortable with. Making sure the manager is introduced to every customer early should increase your closing ratios immensely.

Once your salesperson and sales manager have decided which vehicle to show your customer, your salesperson should bring the vehicle to the showroom instead of taking the customer to the vehicle. This will show professionalism and great customer care, and it will allow the customer to focus on one vehicle instead of cruising the lot. A full-feature benefit presentation is key to build value. Remember that your customers buy the benefits, so make sure your salespeople describe the benefits of each feature.

The demo drive is when your customers’ feelings and emotions will be at their highest peak, so have your salesperson drive the vehicle first. Then, switch drivers at a secluded halfway point. If your salesperson asks every customer at the half-way point, “Where will you be going on your first trip in your new car?” it will help each customer take mental ownership of the vehicle, so closing the deal should be a snap.

Before negotiations start, every customer needs to be shown the service and parts departments and introduced to key personnel in these departments. This step will help sell the dealership; then have your salespeople lead them back to the showroom.

If every one of your salespeople followed this process 100 percent of the time, and your sales manager got involved with every customer early in the deal, what do you think will happen to your sales and profits? Let me show you.

A dealer selling 100 cars a month probably sees 500 customers a month, which equates to a 20 percent closing ratio. As discussed earlier, if the industry drops by 10 percent, this dealer will have 10 percent fewer customers, or 450 a month. By following the processes just described, I know that you will increase your closing ratio to at least 25 percent, more likely to 30 percent. That means instead of selling 100 vehicles from your 500 customers, you will now sell 112 from 450 customers. Therefore, instead of losing $18,500 a month and searching for ways to cut expenses, you now will make $22,200 more each month (12 extra deals @ $1,850 each). That equates to over a quarter of a million dollars in extra gross profit in 2008—a year that some people expect to be worse than 2007. Even if I am wrong by 50 percent, is $133,200 extra profit a good number for you in a down year?

Written by Michael Rees, CEO
DealerPro Sales and F&I Solutions

Understanding Sales Training in Auto Sales

Overview of the different aspects of auto sales training to include new and used car sales, financing, and more.
The overall success of the automobile industry ultimately depends upon sales. There is a huge demand for well-trained auto salespeople who have the ability and aptitude to meet the ever-changing world of technology. Dealerships that invest time and money in an auto sales training program will receive the best results with a highly qualified sales staff. A good auto sales training program provides the proper education and motivation that is needed in today’s highly competitive field of auto sales.

Auto sales training, important for both new and used car sales, is available through online courses, formal and informal on-the-job training, and through offsite seminars and workshops. Initial auto sales training should be given to every new salesman to ensure he is equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in his career. Effective auto sales training includes rewarding the salesperson with certificates and other forms of recognition in acknowledgement of the individual’s progress in meeting the sales goals set by management. In addition, subsequent training and development must be ongoing to ensure the professionalism of the sales staff is maintained. Internet forums and blogs should be accessible and made a part of auto sales training. Auto sales training forms the foundation for successful auto sales, but daily interaction and close communication between management and the sales staff further guarantees that maximum results are obtained.

Comprehensive auto sales training outlines in considerable detail the responsibilities of the salesman toward prospective buyers, while emphasizing the importance of courtesy, integrity, diplomacy, and basic common sense. The auto salesman will learn how to communicate effectively with the client, what questions are essential, and what are the ways to demonstrate the advantages and appeal of the product he is selling. An auto sales training program will guide the salesperson through each step of a potential sale, from the initial approach to the final closing of the sale. The salesperson will learn to listen to every concern of the prospective buyer and avoid the tendency to oversell. Selling takes patience and it requires a genuine interest on the part of the salesperson for his client.

Financing, or F&I, is another important aspect of auto sales training. Salespeople need to be knowledgeable of credit reporting, financing options, and the benefits of buying vs. leasing, as well as any incentives and rebates, in order to give the customer as much information as needed. The salesperson must be able to negotiate, cooperate, and suggest if he or she is to succeed in making the sale. Auto sales training will give him the know-how to do so. Auto sales training should include the latest advancements in automobile technology in order to thoroughly familiarize the salesperson with the products he or she is selling.

The top performers in auto sales are the ones who have received the benefits of good auto sales training. They have learned to listen patiently to the customer and interpret their personal preferences. Success in auto sales is based upon establishing a positive relationship between the salesman and his client. Clients today are wary of over-aggressive salespeople and have learned to avoid the high-pressure tactics of the past. After all, no one wants to buy from a disagreeable, uncooperative salesperson. The salesperson must be taught the skills of establishing good interpersonal relationships. The importance of meeting the primary goal of customer satisfaction is stressed throughout auto sales training.

The auto dealership is in the business to make money and providing the best possible training for its staff will ensure that it does. Auto sales training is mutually beneficial it is a worthwhile investment in the future of the automobile industry.

About the author:
Jeff Blackwell is the founder of, an online sales training community featuring sales training resources including articles, scripts, discussion forum, and more.

Upfront Pricing System to Increase Profits

Training Your Staff – Upfront Pricing System to Increase Profits

The person who came up with the idea of asking for additional money over the vehicle’s sticker price was a genius. The problem was no one knew why we were asking for the money. If you can train your sales managers and salespeople to use an upfront pricing system, you will see an increase in your gross profit.

I recently read a survey about what consumers thought a dealership should make on a $40,000 vehicle. Needless to say, I was surprised at the results. Seventeen percent of consumers thought a dealership should make over $2,500, while 18 percent thought up to $2,500. Another 21 percent were willing to let go of $2,000; 16 percent said $1,500; 17 percent said $1,000; and just 11 percent stated $500.

Consumers are just scared of the unknown and are actually willing to allow a dealer to make money. Shocking, I know! If you tell consumers exactly what you are asking for in dealer profit, you just may get it. Keep in mind this goes back to building value in your vehicle early on in the sales process. Retraining management and salespeople will guarantee success with an upfront pricing system.

Here is an example of penciling a new car deal:

MSRP: $23,243
Dealer Profit: $995

Pinstripe: $149 (Dealer add-ons)
List Price: $24,387

Incentive: $1,500
Sale Price: $22,887 (plus taxes, tags, and $99 processing fee)

You can preach about getting back to basics, but you actually have to make the effort to get there. It seems much harder because we have strayed so far from the basics. The bottom line is we have adjusted to an information-based selling strategy. The idea of just providing information and nothing else is what is costing us money. When you go to a fast-paced, information-based system, you take the human element out of selling. We adopted this trend when we should have continued to build relationships with customers.

In order for an upfront pricing system to properly work, it is imperative that you retrain your staff to focus on what I like to call the Three S’s of Selling.

[list:3dcywtzy]1. Sell Your Service. Believe it or not, people will pay more for your service than they will to help pay your bills.

2. Sell Yourself. This philosophy has never changed in the business. People want to do business with someone they feel comfortable with.

3. Sell the SIZZLE, baby. Price is certainly a factor when purchasing a vehicle, but people still buy due to emotion. They are buying the way the vehicle is going to make them feel. I know this sounds elementary; however, we lose sight of this when we are constantly comparing figures and results.[/list:u:3dcywtzy]
All in all, when sales managers and salespeople apply these simple techniques, they can then use the upfront pricing system to increase gross profit in their dealerships. A “good” deal is a state of mind. With 89 percent of consumers willing to allow a dealership to make $1,000 or more, it’s fair to say consumers appreciate the need for dealerships to make money.

Written by Jacob Lawson
General Sales Manager
Thompson Automotive

We Have Been Trained, But Did We Learn Anything?

You, not the trainer, have the most impact over the effectiveness of your staff’s training experience. You can improve the likelihood of positive training results by becoming more involved with your staff and their training.

First, let’s look at what we expect from training. When we send someone to training, we generally expect them to bring back significant information which they will use in their daily job. How do we know training translates into learning that will achieve the desired end result? The answer is often, “We wait and see.” In order to better understand how to enhance the training experience, let’s look at why training fails.

Management may hold unreasonable expectations for either the training session or the employee. An example would be expecting a training seminar to transform an employee into a self-motivated dynamo. Most people bring back between two and four ideas or techniques which they can actually use in their daily job. In actuality, two to four performance enhancing ideas should be considered a very successful investment in training. A significant impediment to training success is the average person’s inability to assimilate these ideas and techniques into their work routine.

These employees are often expected to implement these techniques themselves, but find little time for change once they return to work and are consumed by their old habits. They may not even try to utilize the new ideas because they are overwhelmed by their current work load. These realities can be overcome and it is management’s responsibility to overcome them.

Management may fail to communicate their expectations. Enhancing your training investment requires that you be involved. Know what to expect from training. Knowing the information covered and what you want your people to bring back with them is the first step. If you don’t know what the training is going to cover, why are you spending the money to send them? Next, communicate your expectations to your employee. If it’s sales training, let them know you want them to improve their communication skills, negotiation skills or closing skills. Your people can then zero in on the information you want them to understand because they know your reasons for the training as well as your expectations.

Management may fail to follow up with personnel after training to assist in applying the new information. This can be accomplished by debriefing each person individually or as a group after attending training. Debriefing is a time to learn what they learned, ask them how they intend to use this information to improve performance or suggest ways in which they might apply their new knowledge. During this time, plan with them a method of implementation of their new knowledge and discuss the anticipated results. How will these results be apparent? How will they benefit from applying their new found knowledge? Let them know that while work must go on, the time and effort required to create better work practices will yield results that you can measure.

Follow up at regular intervals to see how each new idea is working out. Is it part of their regular routine now? If not, why not? This follow-up is essential to helping each person reach their new potential and maximize your return on training.

The success or failure of training depends on the leadership of management and their commitment. While this article is directed to outside training it also applies to in-house training programs. Management’s time and effort in the training process is invaluable. Let your people know that their professional development through training and follow-up is worth the effort and you will see a better return from your dollars spent.

Written by Jeff Smelley, President & Founder
Compass Systems

When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Even the most expensive shoes can ruin your feet

Most everyone has heard the saying, "If the shoe fits, wear it". Unfortunately, too many people have interpreted that to also mean that if it’s a high quality shoe with a great brand name, they should keep wearing it regardless of the pain it’s causing their feet. Day after day they force their poor swollen foot into another painful experience simply because they think it looks good on them, or they believe it’s the right thing to do.

In business, we often take on new roles or new jobs that simply don’t fit who we are or what we do best. Sure, we can all learn how to do new things, but we have to be honest here: a Clydesdale will never win the Kentucky Derby, and, as much as they’d love to make it work, Kevin Garnett (a power forward) will never be successful at point guard.

Coming from a "team perspective", the problem with each of these situations is that the person involved can’t always recognize when things aren’t working out. It often requires a manager to step in and help that person identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to point out the pain they are causing for the organization, not to mention their own life.

In these cases, a manager must put the best interest of the team ahead of anything and everything else. The success of the company comes first because if it doesn’t, overall performance will lack and eventually so will profitability. This can be tough for a manager, especially if there is a relationship established that goes beyond the role of manager and team member. You could be very good friends.

As a manager, you can’t keep trying to cram a painful situation into a system or or a responsibility that just doesn’t fit. If day after day you suffer every time you see that person fail, then it’s your job to give them the best possible chance to succeed, even if that means changing roles or moving on in order to do it.

Here’s the good news: There are plenty of shoes out there to fit all different sizes of feet. Find the right shoes, or the right person to wear them, and everyone will be happier and more successful.

Shawn Ryder
Auto University

Training Gossip Doesn’t Work

Training Gossip Doesn’t Work: Implement a Method of Training that Does Work

One of the greatest deficiencies I observe in dealerships is the lack of proper training. Most dealers under-invest in staff training to their own detriment. The typical scenario is that a dealer will invest in training upon initial implementation of a new system, but will choose to forego supplemental, ongoing training due to the mistaken belief that it is not needed. Failure to continue staff training limits the effectiveness of personnel and diminishes the effectiveness of your new or existing system.

The perception, in many cases, is that employees should be able to “pick up” additional skills by just performing their jobs day to day. The truth is that people tend to gravitate to a routine. Once this routine is established, they will cease looking for better methods of performing their jobs and utilizing available resources. At this point, efficiency and effectiveness suffer due, not to limitations in your system or method, but to limitations in initiative on the part of your employees. The most direct counter to the malaise of daily routine is ongoing training.

Employee turnover is another contributor to ineffective use of your technology resources. Employee to employee training is akin to gossip. If one person tells another a story and it is then relayed to several other people, the story will become more distorted as it travels from one person to another. Training exhibits the same characteristic. For every person that trains another person some of the original information is lost or distorted. Therefore, the quality of information disseminated will deteriorate with each retelling.

In a learning situation, no one takes in 100 percent of the information presented. We may hear all of it, but effectively retaining everything you heard or saw is beyond an individual’s ability. The average individual experiences a 10 percent to 15 percent retention rate of new information presented during a typical training session. Therefore, multiple training sessions are required to reach the 80 to 90 percent knowledge level for above average performance. A training curriculum is needed to build on the foundation knowledge, or the fundamentals of the job, acquired during previous training sessions.

Don’t assume your newly hired, or promoted, staff member possesses a clear understanding of the job they are undertaking. Assuming prior knowledge leads to poor job performance, high turnover rates, and employer dissatisfaction. Structure your training program much like building a house. Develop a plan that is complete and will include all of the aspects necessary for success. Build a foundation that will support the entire structure and then go about building the knowledge and competence of your staff that will assure success.

Let’s face it, you did not get where you are today by attending a 3-hour, 1-day or even a weeklong seminar. You likely got there by a progression of training and experience over a period of years. In my experience, the best training methods include classroom instruction, followed by hands-on experience to assimilate the classroom knowledge into working knowledge. Applying the “theory” learned, in classroom or one-on-one training, creates a deeper understanding of the subject matter, which facilitates advancing to the next level of performance. Designing your training program to repeat this cycle of instruction and hands-on application will take your staff to the heights of performance that is required for the success of your business. Doing so will mean higher employee retention and greater productivity, therefore resulting in greater profits.

Education should be an ongoing commitment. Accept it, plan for it, budget for it and then execute the plan.

Jeff Smelley
Compass Systems

Training on “The New Process”

With all the changes in your business, especially with regards to how customers shop your dealership, are you aligning your showroom processes with this new customer behavior? If you haven’t adapted your showroom training, you may be missing the boat with a lot of your showroom visitors.

What exactly has changed? For decades, your showroom process did not change. Customers came in and were greeted by a salesperson. The salesperson was taught to build rapport, qualify and land them on a vehicle. Next, present and demo the vehicle, building value and mental ownership. Finally, trial-close the customer, do a trade walk and write up the deal. Gain agreement through some lengthy back-and-forth negotiating, get them in the box and do a spot delivery.

The customer has taken more control of the shopping and buying process. They don’t need you like they used to. The greeting is more often when they land on your home page or call the dealership. Customers use online tools to research vehicle features and prices. Today’s shoppers use services like KBB and Edmunds to determine their trade-in value. Car shoppers can weigh finance options, calculate payments and get pre-approved quite easily.

In today’s market, the first half of the sales process is done prior to visiting a dealership. The greeting, needs assessment, vehicle selection, features and benefits, trade value and financing make up the “pre-visit” checklist for most car buyers.

There is a positive. Today’s showroom visitors are more educated, lower in the purchase funnel, and more ready and prepared to buy.

Why did it change? The Internet is what changed the buying process; the negatives of the old showroom process are why it changed. A lot of customers didn’t like our old showroom process. The main reasons are:

[list:3dqgrl9a]• It takes too long. (Sir, if you’d pay sticker, you’d get out quicker.)

• Customers don’t like sales pressure. (Even if you aren’t high-pressure, you are still asking them to buy now.)

• Customers don’t like the back-and-forth negotiating process.

• Customers generally don’t like the hassles associated with buying a car.[/list:u:3dqgrl9a]
By using the Internet, customers don’t have to go through all of this, so why would they?

What to do about it? Get rid of the things customers don’t like. Help them with their pre-visit checklist. Be an ally, not an adversary. Create chemistry and value instead of conflict. Adapt your showroom process and teach your salespeople the new skills and steps to win the patronage of the best opportunity you’ve ever had—an educated, ready-to-buy showroom visitor.

This adaptation is not a major overhaul; rather, it’s just some tweaks and new questions to ask. Here are a few examples of changes you should make in your showroom process.

v Screen your customers. It’s a great practice to ask showroom customers if they’ve had a chance to look at your inventory online. Have they submitted a Web form or called the dealership prior to visiting? You create conflict when you contradict prices and other information they’ve already seen or been given by your dealership or the manufacturer. By asking a customer if “they’ve purchased or shopped at your store in the past,” you may discover they use your service department regularly or a friend recommended them.

Ask the customer, “What do you hope to accomplish today, so I can be of the most service to you?” This question helps your salesperson determine a time frame for the visit. It may also educate the salesperson in how ready the customer is to buy or what still needs to be done. In many cases, shoppers are in your showroom to do the one thing they can’t do online—test drive.

v Accelerate your process, and tell your customer you are doing so. “I can tell you’ve done a lot of homework and that’s great. Sounds like the only thing left to do is test drive the car, make sure it’s the one you want and go over the final figures, am I right?” Yes or no, your salesperson will know where he or she is in the process and can adapt.

Offer tools your customers use at home and work in your showroom. Kiosks or counters with Internet access in the showroom are a necessity. Nothing slows down the process like making a customer leave to finish their research. Having third-party tools available for customer use can prevent “we have to think about it” from coming up so often.

v Be prepared. A lot of your showroom traffic is appointment-based, or should be. Be ready for your appointments. Make sure customers know exactly where to go and how to find their salesperson. Have the car pulled up by the showroom, gassed up and cleaned up. Have a deal folder started with online credit applications, a printout of the vehicle information, a KBB printout, copies of e-mails and whatever other pre-visit information that was gathered. This way, you can pick up where you left off.

These small adjustments to how you conduct business in your showroom can make it much easier for customers to trust and appreciate you. It sends a message to customers that you understand their process and are willing to help them make a big decision. They may think, if you are this good before they buy, then they’ll be treated really well after they buy.

Greg Wells
Partner, Kain Automotive Internet & BDC Training and Consulting

Trick or Treat or Learn and Earn

If you fail to train, then you train to fail, and with the way the volatile market is headed going to a trade show and joining a Twenty Group are probably the best ideas or strategies you can employ to grow your sales. Business normally heads in two directions, one is that most dealers spend more time working in their business instead of on their business. Which do you more of? Twenty groups are great for working on your business not in your business and the two go hand in hand. When coming to a trade show, most people think that, hey this is a great time to get away, have some fun, throw some money around, meet old friends and make new friends.

That sounds good, however, reality check says that the real reason for going to a trade show is to learn what is new or old again and to bring back strategies, equipment or real-life ideas that can and will be placed into action so that you can become more profitable.

To get the most from attending a show, you have to have a clear plan. The worst thing you can do is show up and say, “Well let’s think, what should I go and see?” Knowing what you need to accomplish before, during and after the show is vital today.

Make a list of the goals you want to achieve by visiting the show. Include your own personal goals and those of your dealership. Every subsequent decision that you make should put you closer to achieving your goals for the rest of the year and the next year.

Read through the trade show promotional materials carefully. Use the knowledge you’ve checked out to make a plan for attending the show. Include a list of “must- see” booths and “want-to-see” booths. Spend a little time researching the vendors, so that you’ll have a clear idea of whom you need to see, and what you need to learn from them. That way you’ll have useful questions.

Training today is more important then ever. Any successful dealer will tell you that you need to build a fort of people around your dealership to protect your employees, your assets and your customers. If you want to improve profit centers in your dealership, then most likely training will be the cure for long-term success. If you want short-term fixes then buy a box of band aids. The problem is that band aids fall off quickly. If you belong to a Twenty Group, then most likely you understand this. I have spoken at many Twenty Group meetings, and it’s always a honor to speak in front of people like you and me who are on the CANI program of life. CANI, stands for “Constant And Never-ending Improvement.”

Now let’s have some fun in this article. I have spoken at and have been a vendor at several trade shows, and it amazes me when I see millionaires with their shopping bag collecting all the balls, yo-yos, toy cars, footballs, candy, cookies, sun glass holders, coffee cups, pens, toys and all those great promotional items. It almost seems like trade shows are like a giant Halloween party. You see these great dealers marching from booth to booth collecting the trinkets and really what are they going to do with them? Give them to their grandkids or whatever.

Your goal is to collect information, assimilate it at the show and then meeting with your key people on how you are going to drive more business back at your dealership. Make sure you go to workshops that are specific to your areas of growth and profitability. After the meetings, strategize on plans, dates and implementation and who is going to champion the move or the change.

Today’s dealers have three real-world choices when it comes to gaining or improving sales. You can either take a shortcut or pay cut, and buy your sales through sales promotions, dog-and-pony shows, the car-mafia guys from the firm Dewey Hit ’Em And Gross Them or the AD guy.

Or you can do the old OK boys round up. We have to buckle down now that gas is $4.99 a gallon. I need all of you to burn yourself out and start back on the bell to hell or bell to sell work shift. Or we can train and then we can gain. A buck spent on training can last a life time. The ad will last for minutes and the memories of working too hard will last for years. It’s your call my dealer friend. Your commitment to training will determine your place in business or how profitable you will be. Train – Wikipedia – the definition of training – A train is a connected series of vehicles that move along a track (permanent way) to transport freight or passengers from one place to another. Isn’t sales training the same thing? Isn’t growth and change a connected series of processes that move along with proven procedures that transport sales and income from your customers to you and your team? Get focused this year when you come to tradeshows, plan it out, and then place your plan in action. I like what T. Boone Pickens said, “ A fool with a plan is better then a genius without a plan.” Peter Sheehan who wrote the book “FL!P” said that “Action brings clarity.”

Known across America as the Human Torch for his energetic, fired-up presentations, George Dans is a dynamic speaker who specializes in changing behaviors through a positive life attitude. George shares his powerful message You dont need to know how to get to your goal, you just need to know you will reach your goal with audiences around the world. He can be reached by calling (951) 898.9071 or via e-mail at

George Dans and Associates – Corona, CA