Category Archives: The Experience Forum

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t, Teach.

I can remember the last time I heard this directed at me. I was doing a sales meeting to sell one of my training products. As I was in the Sales Manager’s office filling out the invoice, I heard one of the salespeople say as they passed by, "He probably wouldn’t be doing this if he was actually knew how to sell."

I started wondering if that’s how he really felt, or was he just being a smart ass? After all, are trainers just salespeople who couldn’t make it in the sales and management business? I think not!! And anyone who feels that way has got to be living in a different world.

The most successful trainers like Cardone, Verde, Stucker, Ziegler, Kain, Ram, Cohen, Tewart, and even the Mike Whitty’s of the world, were all outstanding salespeople and Managers before they started their companies. So, why would these individuals, who sold a lot of vehicle’s, managed a successful department and made a lot of money, would want to give up their secure positions to become trainers?

Speaking for myself, my degrees are in Education and Speech Communication. I taught school for several years before I started selling cars, so teaching was already a part of me. But selling cars became too autocratic for me. It was just me giving to me, and I felt the need to give more of myself to others (my teacher mentality). So I became a Sales Manager in order to help my salespeople become more successful for themselves, their families and my dealership. After I wrote my first book in 1988, I felt starting Michael Learning Group was the obvious transition for me, and it’s been the right decision for over 25 years.

I have to believe that virtually every trainer has a similar story. It couldn’t have been just for the money. As compared to salespeople and Managers, trainers put themselves out there every single day, spreading their message for people to learn from, as well as critique. They’re not afraid to sign their name to everything they say and create. They provide a valuable service by performing consulting and training, writing books, developing audios and videos, creating websites, all so that others may learn and benefit from their experiences. They take the burden off of Sales Managers so they can do what they do best – create profit for the dealership. Trainers emphatically make a difference!

It would be great if every salesperson and Manager was responsible for their own development. It would be great if Sales Managers had the time and capabilities to provide continuous training. But the fact is, they don’t. Most would never read a sales book on their own, or listen to a management audio on the way to work. And try to get them to attend a seminar is like pulling teeth. Salespeople feel like they’ll miss a sale, and Managers worry about being away from the store and having their departments fall apart. This is why we need in-dealership and seminar trainers. They provide a service that is necessary for continued growth, especially if Managers cannot, or will not provide consistent training and motivation for their employees.

Trainers have special gifts that separate them from the masses. They have a way of communicating ideas in an understandable, enjoyable way. They can motivate their students to reach higher levels of achievement. They have a heart and a mind that’s big enough to share with everyone they meet. They have a passion for wanting people to succeed. This passion is reinforced by every positive testimonial they receive. And by developing learning tools, they contribute even more to an industry that has provided them a rewarding life. This is what separates trainers from salespeople and managers.

And though many trainers make an excellent living, I’ll tell you what they really make. They make salespeople sell more vehicles. They make Managers become better leaders. They make internet departments increase volume and profitability. They make finance departments increase back-end sales and profits. They make service departments increase upsell and "right from the start" service work. In essence, they help make dealerships better.

Here’s a quick example of a trainers value. I went into a dealership to sell one of my products. The dealer said, "I’ve been in this dealership for over 30 years. What can you teach me that I don’t already know?" My response was, "It’s because you’ve been in this dealership for over 30 years that I can teach you things you don’t already know." Trainers study this business every single day as they travel around the country providing their consulting and training services. They see what works and what doesn’t. They can understand the differences between what works in a small dealership versus a mega-dealer group. So they would certainly come to a dealership with a plethora of knowledge and ideas that could help even the most experienced dealer or manager learn something new and different.
So I wanted to do some research to see who would say something as stupid as, "Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach." Who was it that first verbalized this ridiculous quote? Was it some economist who felt that the working force was more important than the teaching force? Or was it a disgruntled manager who just didn’t like his trainer? Well, to my surprise, it wasn’t either of those. It was actually a line from George Bernard Shaw’s "Man and Superman (1903)". The line was:

Bob: "I’m so discouraged. My writing teacher told me my novel is hopeless."
Jane: "Don’t listen to her, Bob. Remember: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach."

Over the years, it’s been sarcastically meant to show that people who are able to do something well can do that thing for a living, while people who are not able to do anything that well make a living by teaching. (Used to disparage teachers.) Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this is absolutely not true.

I want to finish by saying that trainers, as well as teaching sales managers, are an asset to our industry and should be viewed in that light. And if you marvel at how easy a trainer performs and think you might want to become one, don’t take the leap and quit your job too fast. Interview some trainers to see what it actually takes to run a training business, or as an independent contractor. Believe me. It’s not as easy as you may think.

The American author, William Arthur Ward said many years ago, that “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”.
If you’re so inclined, tell me what inspired you to become a trainer, or a training sales manager. I’m sure we’d all be interested to know what your motivations were.
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Mike Whitty, President of Michael Learning Group, has been an author and trainer for over 25 years. He develops products and training for vehicle manufacturers, dealerships, salespeople and managers. You can learn more about Mike and his products and services by visiting http://www.mikewhitty.com and http://www.salestrainingstore.net.

Why Don’t They Want to Learn?

I’m sitting in my living room right now, possibly feeling a little melancholy. As with any person who lives their business, my thoughts turn to training, which I love more than anything.

To set the stage for my rantings, you should know that I’m not new to the business. I spent 10 years in the dealership as a salesperson and manager, where I won awards for every carline I sold, and won a national walkaround competition for a major manufacturer. I will be celebrating my 20th year in the vehicle sales training business, so I feel I’ve stood the test of time, and know a little of what I’m speaking. Over the past 20 years, I’ve developed successful sales websites for my company (autosalestraining.us), performed numerous large group seminars for manufacturers and major training companies, developed products that have successfully sold around the world, and worked with dealerships to train their salespeople and managers and develop their internet departments. In essence, I love this business and everything I do for the industry.

Throughout my career, I’ve experienced many of the frustrations other trainers in our industry have, mainly on how can we get our salespeople and managers to want to learn more. Now as I begin speaking about this, keep in mind that I have met many salespeople and managers who actually want to learn and are excellent examples for our industry. But as with any industry, the Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule) probably applies. We have 20% of our salespeople who do 80% of the work. So we likely have 20% of our salespeople and managers who I would consider truly professional. So if you are one of the 20%, please don’t take this article personally because it has nothing to do with you.

So my thought begins, why don’t most salespeople and managers want to learn more than they already know? They resent it when they are sent to training away from the dealership, they won’t buy a sales book or audio with their own money, they won’t go to the library to check out a book, they won’t even search Google for free articles on sales and management. Is it that they already know everything there is regarding their jobs, or do they feel it’s just not important to learn more?

This year I developed a program called, “How You Can Make $100,000 Per Year in Auto Sales.” I created this program because I got tired of salespeople making $40,000 per year in an industry where they were promised an “unlimited income potential.” This program, which I’m very proud of, comes packaged with a 289 page workbook which incorporates selling skills, business skills and internet skills training, and 6 audio cd-roms that talks about “running their business like a business” as well as hours of training on negotiating, closing and handling objections. It is the most complete program I have ever seen and would help every salesperson reach new levels of sales and financial success.

I sell this program in a sales meeting format. We offer a dealership a free 30-minute sales meeting that’s motivating and inspiring. The only requirement for the sales meeting is anyone who wishes to purchase this program, which I currently sell for only $129, the dealership will agree to payroll deduct their investment over the next couple of pays, making it easier for them to acquire.

Now I must admit, I’m proud of the way I present. My training is high energy, my message is real world, and I do have credentials. I’ve been an NADA and RVDA presenter, so I know how to work a room and keep their attention for an entire day. And in 30 minutes, I’ll leave them with enough solid information to at least start thinking about how to earn more money than they currently make, even if they don’t buy the program. So you would think with all this going for me, salespeople and managers who were interested in their careers would want to hear from someone who is a solid contributor to our industry.

So when I look out at the group, what do I see? Closed minds, eyes down, salespeople looking at their watches, some even have their backs turned to me, and some even create an excuse to leave the meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I will have some devotees in the meeting that do buy my products; people who smile and nod their heads in agreement, people who are looking at me straight in my eyes, those who take notes and sign the payroll deduct forms before the meeting is even finished, and those who even productively comment on issues I’m speaking of. These are the ones that keep me going and make the meeting worth while. But what about the other ones? Why would they take such a negative approach to learning? Am I an imposition on their time? Do they think they know more than I do? Do they think they’re already successful that they don’t need to learn more?

As I’m writing up the invoice in the manager’s office for those who purchased the program, I overheard one of the salespeople say as he passed, “If he really knew how to sell, he wouldn’t have to be a consultant!” Is that really the way they see us, as failures rather than successes? Is the adage, “Those that can, do – those that can’t, teach” really the rule?

So as I looked at the attitudes of some of these salespeople, I was wondering what the trickle-down effect could be that may cause them to think that way. So I went back to the initial call to the dealership to setup the free sales meeting. Aside from those managers who treat us rudely or hang up on us, only 10% of the managers we call welcome the opportunity to have their salespeople listen to an outside trainer. Why do 90% of managers turn the sales meeting down? Do they not want their salespeople to learn anything more? Are they afraid we’ll say something that goes against what they believe? Could it be that they don’t believe that training and motivation works? These sales meetings are absolutely free, there’s no financial risk to the dealership. Plus it’s done before the dealership opens, so it’s not even an imposition on their time. If I walk out with a few sales, great. If I don’t, then I know I’ve left them with some good information, and a motivating and hopefully inspiring sales meeting to start their day. That alone sounds like a win-win situation to me!

So, we setup a sales meeting. When I walk into the dealership, I normally will sit with the manager for a few minutes and explain the program so he/she knows exactly what I’m going to talk about. I’ll always ask the manager if the dealership has a policy of splitting the cost of the program with the salespeople as an educational perk. 60% of the dealerships will say no. Why wouldn’t they want to help with a training investment? It really doesn’t cost the dealership that much, and it would show the salespeople that they believe in them enough that they’re willing to help with their education. But some of the reasons I’ve heard include: “Why should I invest it my salespeople when I’m not sure that they’ll even be here tomorrow.” And, “If they want to learn they can purchase it on their own.” Some managers won’t even come to the sales meeting. I wonder what message that sends? Hmmmm.

I do some management training for a state automotive association. I wrote the book, “The Ultimate Automotive Manager”, but I don’t bring it with me. I simply provide the training workbook. But what I will do is offer all the managers in the seminar a free ebook if they’ll just email me and ask for it. If I have 20 managers in the seminar, only two will email me for the free ebook. 99% of the managers won’t even take learning if it’s free. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that most managers have never received any training on how to be a successful leader. So if they don’t believe in education, I would imagine that mentality would trickle down to their salespeople.

Sometimes I ask myself why I continue to stay in an industry that doesn’t want to learn. Well, here’s why. Every so often you get to be a part of a life changing experience. You trained a green-pea that went on to have a successful career. You receive an email from a despondent manager who’s ready to quit. And because of something you said, and the way you made him feel, he took a new approach to his career and continued his good work. Or you get a call from a salesperson that was #6 in the dealership, and because you taught her how to run her business like a business, she is now #1. Or you developed an Organizational Planbook that helped someone become better organized and therefore, increased sales. And the countless many other success stories that keep me wanting to help that one additional person achieve a rewarding career in auto sales.

My job as a trainer was created the moment one of my salespeople asked me a question when I was a sales manager. To respond to that person who made the “consultant” remark, all I can say is I was an excellent salesperson. But being in sales was way too autocratic for me. I’m the type of person who loves helping other people succeed. My degree is in Education and Speech Communication. So after learning the auto sales and management business, training was the next logical step for me. Along with being a trainer, I’m also a writer, product developer and instructional designer. These talents provide a way for me to give back to an industry that has been so very good to me. It’s a career I have a great passion for. It’s the same type of passion I wish for everyone who pursues a career in vehicle sales.

“To be successful, you must always remain a student of your craft.”
…Mike Whitty

Memoirs of a Car Salesman

When I first started selling cars in 1977, I was stationed in West Germany, working for the British Army and making a little extra cash on the side. I realised very quickly, that moving motor cars was a lot more fun and rewarding than spending my time in a tent in the middle of some wet and cold forest, with huge Chieftain tanks rumbling towards me in the middle of the night. Thats when my life changed forever.

I came back home to England in the late summer of 1978 and was offered a job as a junior sales administrative clerk; A fancy name for someones assistant. My assigned Salesperson was a chap called Lon Ham, a retired World War Two Spitfire pilot, who had flown in the Battle of Britain. Well, this chap was ice cold. He told me what to expect when it came to helping customers buy these used Talbot automobiles, which were essentially, quite nice French cars. we also had Hillmans and Rootes vehicles. Enough said, they were complete pieces of ….You can figure it out for yourself! I learned a lot from Lon in the short time i was there, especially how to clean his cars for delivery! Not wanting to be a hired detailer, I wanted to grow and started looking for better opportunities.

I had been there for six months, earning about three hundred pounds a month, which in 1978 was an ok living for a young chap that had grown up with nothing, when I came accross a gentleman in the beautiful city of Bath, that was a managing Director for a Volkswagen dealer in the City. He offered me a job selling new VW and Audi cars, so off i went, now feeling that I was a professional, armed with enough information to be dangerous! Thing is though, most customers, "Punters" as we referred to them, had less knowledge than we did so it made me feel like I was a pretty smart chap.

These two years spent in the car game in England were enough to make me now understand why selling was like a drug addiction. You could greet People with a warm smile, offer them a nice cup of tea and then convince them why they were making a fantastic decision. I met so many People from all walks of life, but my funniest early experience came in the summer of 1980.

I had a very old but distinguished lady come in to test drive a new Golf GTI. I looked at her in complete shock, wondering, why on earth does she want to buy a GTI? Well I let her test drive the car and away we went, all over the winding streets of Bath, a 2000 year old Roman town, with hills and windy roads all over. I told her where to drive and she promptly told me to "Shut the F### up and proceeded to drive as if she was in the World rally championship, thus plowing both of us at one hell of a pace right into a cow field and hitting a cow! Even though i was unhurt, she looks at me and said, "I think this car has spongy brakes!" She gets out of the car and left me there. Long story short, she had just escaped from a local mental institution and had a fetish for fast cars. Try explaining that one to the Owner.

Well, I now had a little over two years in the business and was yearning to come to America, which was the place my long lost Father called home. Aahhhh selling cars in America.

Well his real name was Bill Herrera, a man from Des Moines Iowa who had spent his whole life in the sales business. Pappy was the type of Manager who was always strict, but incredibly fair and for those of you who have sold cars, this was actually a rare feat. Too often Sales Managers were great Salespeople but lacked leadership skills and would "shoot from the hip" so to speak.

Well, here I am, it’s 1981 and I had just arrived in Stockton California. a place that even though had a certain beauty, was for the most a giant shit hole in the middle of the San Joaquin valley. Don’t get me wrong, the city was actually pretty, but it was full of gangs and at the time had the highest murder rate per capita in the USA. I remember going to an ATM machine, which was a fairly new thing back then and trying to figure how to get money out, when a young black male asked me, "Excuse me, but do you want to get robbed?" Completely startled and not really sure what was happening, I replied, "Do you wnat ot get your teeth shoved down your throat mate?" Stupid? Yes. Did it work? Absolutely. He promptly said no and I said, " That’s nice because I don’t want to get robbed, so piss off and have a nice day!" To which he ran off and I managed to walk away, still none wiser as to how to get my money out.

My first ever car job was with a Company called Chase Chevrolet. I got a job as a new car salesman and was told to just get out there and ‘Be a star!’ Well a star I was not. Interest rates were 20 percent and we were selling amazing vehicles like the Chevy Luv pick up, the Citation and the Chevy Chevette, or better known as the Chevy Shove it! I went twenty eight days without selling one vehicle, but then, on the twenty eight, I sold the oldest Van conversion on the lot! It had been there over two years and of all the People, I managed to sell it! High fives were flying all around, the boss was ecstatic and once the customer left…….. He fired me! That’s when Pappy came onto the scene!

I was dazed and confused, but needed to get a job, so as I walked the auto row, I went into this old grey and miserable portable office and there he was; Crap happy Pappy! Looking at me he said, "Sell me this pen". I said what? To which he replied, if you can sell me this pen, you’re hired! well, I got the job and the stories that could never be made up!

The owners son had always been a bit odd, we used to commonly refer to him as a ‘member of the lucky sperm club’. Gary, (The son) was about as bright as the light in an English refrigerator straight out of the fifties! one of reasons we English drank warm beer! He would spend his days, trying to be his Fathers gleaming hope, all the while setting up golf balls on an astro turf mat and chipping them over the Dealership office into the High street, occasionally with the crashing sound of broken glass, as the result of hitting a car! I swear, this is not made up, movies were made as a result of this kind of dealer. When he wasn’t chipping golf balls, he was getting high with the lot attendant; something that I actually had never been exposed to in my home Country. Pappy, knowing that he could not fire Gary, constantly would find ways to ditch him, or send him on dealer trades, which was when a Salesperson would go and get another vehicle that was sold from another dealer, kind of like a transfer.

After spending about six months with pappy, I had learned the power of persuasion! He would tell me, "You need the three C’s junior, cash, credit application and comittment. Get me their shoes, their cash or their wallets! He would always counsel me and instruct me and the other guys on what to say and boy, if you didn’t do it right, he would sure let you know! I remember one particular deal, when the customer was trading in an old Chevy Caprice diesel wagon! A truly remarkable piece of Generous motors engineering crap! As I brought the deal to Pappy, he gave me the proposal, which included his trade in as a negative number! He said, "Junior, when it comes to their trade, you tell them to write a check to Western Towing for twenty five dollars. When they jump up and ask you what you are thinking, you tell them it is to tow their piece of shit off the lot, because it is taking up space!" Well, I suppose you had to be there, but just as I gave them the great news, the husband jumps up absolutely twisted at the offer, demands to see the boss and a noise was coming from the closet behind the customers, who were approximately three feet from it. The wife said what on earth is that noise? I said.It came from the closet." To which she opened the closet and one of our Salespeople, whose name was Bill, was ‘Test driving one of his hookers who worked the street by night! YES! Believe it or not, we made the deal, fired Bill for the night, only to bring him back the following morning because he was also the main supplier of pot for the owners Son and took the customer’s trade in for I think about fifty bucks! Bloody hell, I thought, Pappy was able to turn the whole situation aroound and still close a sale! I figured that he was the guy that would teach me all that is not sacred in the auto industry. Fortunately I did grow and moved way beyond taking shoes as a deposit.

there were many occasions like the one I told that happened at this used car dealership. I specifically remember the characters, Bob, from Conway Arkansas and Harlie H. Huffstuttler from Chattanooga Tennesee, who had the most severe case of Manager itis I had ever seen, but was basically as dumb as a box of rocks, but funny. his Daddy, as he said had been a moonshine runner during the prohibition era and Harley claims that as a little boy, he had lost the nubbs of his right fingers, from a distillary that blew up. Henceforth, Harley was completely shit scared of loud bangs and on July 4th it was always a show, when Gary would throw an M80 firecracker into Haley’s office, only to see him shit his pants and ‘run for the hills!

These were fond memories of People who made the life of a young Car salesman both entertaining and exciting. Bob was a Vietnam veteran, who would take pride in seeing how many Vietnamese he could put into the trunk of a car and Pappy would s’spiff us’ $5 for one and $25 for a Family. Certainly not appropriate in any circumstance, but times were different back then and these random acts of stupidity were acceptable. Boy am I glad we became more sensitive to these issues today.

Some of my last memories of Stockton were in 1983, when as a group of young lads, we all drove high powered Mustang 5.0’s we would drag race through the streets of Stockton, often without regard for the safety of anyone, let alone ourselves. One night as I was driving home, I had noticed Pappy’s Son, Jack, who had become and still is to this day my best Friend on the side of the road. To his right was an old Pacer that had been driven into the kitchen of an appartment building. It was my Brother and he had just arrived in America a month earlier. Being as they were all drunk, in one of these races, my brother attempted to overtake Jack, causing him to swerve into a young palm tree. He went over the tree and into the kitchen. Stopping right at the dinner table, without so much as displacing anything or anybody, he calmly opened the door and the Woman in the kitchen said," My God, if you were that hungry, you could have knocked at the front door!" Long story short, my Brother gets out pleads head injury, was not breathalized and was given a lift home by the local Police! Try that one now.

Well many things happened in Stockton and Pappy eventually quit and moved back to southern California. It was not too long before I eventually went south as well, only now with a Woman who would soon become my Wife!
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Written by Farler Knows Cars