Professional Selling – Automotive

Professional Selling AutomotiveMany automotive salespeople who haven’t yet reached the professional stage think professional selling is exactly the opposite of what it really is. They get started. They learn the product and what the special offers are then push them on the next client who comes into the dealership.

When you entered the selling field, you may have thought, “Now my job is to talk and talk and talk.” So off you go. “Here it is folks. The single, best answer to your driving needs. Oh, you’re going to love it. You’d better get one now before we run out of inventory!”

The professional automotive salesperson, the true Champion, realizes that people have two ears and one mouth, and that they should be used in those proportions. This means that after talking ten seconds, you switch your mouth off, switch your ears on, and listen for 20 seconds. This also means that instead of overwhelming your future client with your knowledge of the automotive industry and your particular line of vehicles that, you encourage them to tell you what they know, what they need and what they want.

Let’s compare the two methods. [Read more…]

The Triplicate of Choice for Money

I’m often asked how to eliminate money objections. The single best strategy I have is the triplicate of choice for money strategy.

Here’s how it goes: You suggest three different ranges of “investments” for your type of product. Then you ask the buyers what range feels most comfortable to them.

Most buyers will give you a range. Some will not. Those who don’t will say something like, “I don’t know what to expect in purchasing X because I’ve never considered it before.” And, those people will be handled differently. But, for those who already know about and/or own your type of product, the triplicate of choice is great for eliminating a money concern. By giving them a range of amounts up front–before you present–you will be able to adjust your presentation to deliver a product that suits their budget.

Here’s an example of what this strategy might sound like:

“Most people interested in acquiring this type of equipment with its standard options are prepared to invest $12,000. A fortunate few can invest between $15,000 and $20,000 which allows them to include all of the premium options. And then there are those on a limited or fixed budget who— with the high cost of everything today—can’t go higher than $10,000. May I ask, which of these categories does your company fit into most comfortably, Mary?”

“We were thinking of spending about $12,000.”

Why did she say that? In actual fact, Mary possibly didn’t have an exact amount in mind. She doesn’t want to be in the bottom category, so Mary opted for the middle figure.

I’ve structured the figures to allow me to say at this point, “What I’m excited about is this: the machine that meets all your minimum requirements involves an investment of only $10,000—substantially less than the amount you’re prepared to spend.” After you’ve completed your presentation and asked for the order, Mary can’t say “it costs too much” now, can she?

I’d still be okay if Mary had assigned her company to the lowest category. You see how it works. Structure this technique so that you come up a winner no matter what figure they pick. This is the best single strategy for eliminating the money as a potential objection later in the process. In fact, many sales are made at this point, it’s just a matter of presenting the product that’s best for them. You may not even have to concern yourself with addressing concerns or using closes that are typical of most selling situations.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

How to Keep Clients Happy

Mastering selling skills to gain new clients is one thing. Learning how to keep clients happy is another. If you’ve been in sales longer than six months, you have probably already learned that clients can be quite fickle. The reality of selling is that buyers can change their minds about doing business with you rather easily and often will at the slightest temptation.

This is where the value you bring to them makes all the difference. When you become not just a salesperson but a valued asset, you make it more challenging for them to replace you.

You see, you don’t just get people involved in your products. You build relationships with them. You, in essence, become part of their team–someone dedicated to helping them cut costs, provide better service, or whatever to their clients.  When you bring them the latest industry news or can have a non-selling conversation about the future of the industry, you’re not just a salesperson. You’re that industry expert they learn to rely on. And, there’s a lot of value in having those relationships–often enough value to keep your company off the chopping block if and when cost-cutting measures are put in place.

When clients are unhappy, they’re constantly comparing your product, the money and your level of service to that of the competition. As a business owner myself, I understand the value of keeping an eye on the hard costs of doing business. As a long-term business owner, I also appreciate the extra value that is often provided by some of our long-term suppliers–and prefer to keep doing business with them versus “shopping around.”

For a few other ideas on how to keep clients happy, watch my YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEWTC0GjzsU

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

When Buyers Interrupt You

One of the primary frustrations in selling is when buyers interrupt you. Granted, you are there to serve their needs. However, as a pro, you’ve pre-planned a presentation that will both educate and motivate your buyers. It has a certain flow to it that builds from one point to the next, right?

I do teach that we need to be flexible when giving presentations by sharing only what the buyer needs to hear rather than giving the exact same presentation to buyers with unique circumstances. That doesn’t mean you let the buyer run the show. As a pro, your job is to gain and maintain control of the entire presentation. By not taking control of interruptions, you’re letting the buyer control the sale. You must do your best to stay in control with the methods I’m suggesting here and by asking questions that direct the presentation back on course.

One of the ways to prevent interruptions is to set the stage in advance of your presentation. Consider giving your potential client a pad and pen. Explain that there’s a reason for the flow of your presentation, and that is to provide information and answer questions that typically arise. Suggest that he jot down thoughts that come to him during your presentation and at the end you’ll both look them over to see if you’ve covered everything. This allows you to take control, but also allows them to feel all of their questions will be answered. It will lessen their desire to interrupt you.

If you are interrupted say something like this: “I can appreciate your question. Let me make a note of that and cover it at the end of my presentation. The information I’m about to share might just answer all of your questions as we proceed.” Then go on with your presentation. You have sidestepped their interruption but honored their need to have something specific addressed. And, you have retained control of the flow of your presentation.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Learn more about this strategy and others like it by reading When Buyers Say No.

The Buyer’s Mindset

As a sales professional, it’s critical that you put everything else out of your mind when approaching buyers and focus on the buyer’s mindset.

When put into a sales scenario, the buyer’s mindset subconsciously shifts, asking important questions which must be answered before they are comfortable moving ahead with the sales process. Because this is a subconscious process, we know that it is always at work. We can count on it. More than that, we can make it our ally.

How often have you heard yourself, or others saying the words, “I’m just looking” when approached by a salesperson? It doesn’t matter what the buyer’s individual personality style may be, this is a universal, knee-jerk reaction because of the mindset change we all undergo when a sales scenario starts.

We are thinking,

  1. “I don’t need you, your product or service;”
  2. “I don’t have any reason to trust what you have to say;”
  3. “I don’t need any help to determine if you have a product or service that interests me;” and
  4. “I’m in no hurry to make a decision.” So, basically, “Let me shop by myself, thank you.”

One of those four thoughts will be the starting point in most sales situations you encounter. Once you understand that and work from that point of view, you will more quickly reduce sales resistance and increase sales acceptance.

The following four words, and the questions they bring to your customer’s mind, control every sales situation: Need, Trust, Help, Hurry.

Here’s how.

NEED

 “I feel no need.” Your goal as a one-call closer is to help them change their mindset to one of “I feel some need.”

TRUST

“I feel no trust.” No one will let you persuade them to do or own anything if they don’t trust you. So, you must work toward helping them think, “I feel some trust.”

HELP

“I want no help.” No one ever wants to admit they’re helpless. However, you can certainly help someone see that you can provide answers in areas where they may not be as educated as you are. After all, you are a trained professional in your field. So, you need to change their mindset to one of “I want some help.” And, that you are the one I want to have help me.

HURRY

“I feel no hurry.” Your job is to help them see that by taking care of the buying decision today, they’ll be better off than if they wait. They need to think, “I feel some hurry” in order to take action. It’s your job to create urgency.

It is extremely important that you learn how these four very specific words help define your potential client’s sales resistance. They are the primary barrier between “no sale” and “sale.” They are the main line of defense. They will keep you from providing the prospective client the very product or service they agreed to talk over with you and/or need the most.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from Sell It Today, Sell It Now.

 

The Tools of a Real Estate Pro

Every profession has certain tools, which, once mastered, will allow you the opportunity to become one of the great ones in that field. In this post, we’ll go over the tools of a real estate pro.

Let me begin with examples from other professions. A professional golfer is paid in direct proportion to his or her ability to take a piece of steel at the end of a stick and bring it down to touch a small, white ball at the right time and place to send it hundreds of yards, eventually dropping into a small hole. Someone like Jordan Speith is very professional because he has mastered the use of his tools (and won one of the green jackets at the Masters Tournament).

A professional fighter is paid for how well he uses his fists; a surgeon, the scalpel; the carpenter must master the use of saws, hammers, and power tools. The people in each of these lines of work develop their skills through years of study, practice, and experience before they can consider themselves professionals in their fields. If they’re smart, they learn not only by their own experiences, but through the experiences of others .

The same thing applies to you in real estate. You can’t become a real estate professional without learning what one does, can you? My goal in training is to help you realize that you’re no different from any other professional person. As a real estate agent, you must primarily learn how to use your eyes, ears, and mouth because one of your most important tools is your ability to create exciting, colorful images, thus leading people to the decision to own real estate.

You see, selling real estate is no different from any other profession. People in every field of endeavor are paid in direct proportion to the amount of service they give. You, as a real estate salesperson, are as professional as the income you earn. So, in other words, if you’re not making enough money, you’re not giving enough service. Read my other blog posts for real estate professionals to learn the strategies and tactics of a true real estate pro. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labors as an empowered agent!

Copyright Tom Hopkins real estate training International, Inc.

Automotive: The Profile of a Top Sales Person

If you’re not already the top sales person in your company, you may have some pre-conceived notions about what that person is like. When you hear the phrase, “Closing the Sale,” what comes to mind? Aggressive? Intimidating?  Persuasive? I feel “Closing the Sale” is helping people make decisions that are good for them.  The key words here are “good for them.” If you plan to be in the automotive business any length of time, you’d better get a handle on that point or your career will dead-end quicker than you can say, “lickety-split.”

We have a tendency to think that everybody closes sales in the same manner. This is not so. In fact, many salespeople who close sales are not even sure how they do it. Some earn tremendous incomes and can’t really pinpoint why they are so successful. I’ve visited with top salespeople in many fields and I’ve asked them, “Tell me how you close the sale?” They’ve replied, “Well, I just do,” or “It just happens.” That’s not true, but they’ve never sat down and analyzed what it is they do that has made them so successful.

I’m going to outline some tactics and strategies that have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to work for everyone when you adapt them to your personality, when you adapt them to the way you speak, and to your style of delivery.

The profile of great closing sales people

The very first thing is they have committed themselves to become students of techniques. What does that mean? It means they commit to selling and make it a part of their lives so that every day they are students. They constantly search for new techniques by attending seminars, reading books, listening to audio programs and then striving to incorporate at least one new technique or concept they have learned into each selling situation.

Another part of closing sales is that you must have the ability to get people to like you and trust you. If they like you and trust you, they won’t fight the sales process. However, if they don’t like you and trust you, not only will the strategies not work, they’ll backfire and your clients will feel you are getting pushy. Radiate empathy, but also have the ability to call for a decision and close the sale.

Top salespeople have confidence. Have you ever lacked confidence? Have you ever been wary of meeting new people? Sure! Everyone has. We overcome this by learning certain phrases, learning to ask the right questions and by doing this we can build our confidence–just by using the words and making them our own.

Do you know what the greatest closing tool of all is? It’s one word and that word is Enthusiasm–enthusiasm for what you do. I don’t mean the type of enthusiasm that is outward, bubbly, ranting and raving–but the enthusiasm that you have inside that people feel you have for your industry, your product and your career.

To build your enthusiasm, commit to living by the four P’s.

  • The first one is Preplan. Preplan every presentation.  Before you meet your clients, preplan. Before you demonstrate a vehicle, preplan. Before you handle an ad call, preplan. All professionals preplan–they don’t wing it! They don’t just get in front of a qualified decision-maker and start talking.  They know exactly where they are going and have their strategies and techniques planned out in advance.
  • The second P is Practice. What were all of us taught? Practice makes perfect. I’d like to change that to Perfect practice makes Perfect. There are many people who practice what doesn’t work.  They watch an incompetent salesperson, not recognizing the incompetence, and they start doing the same thing. The key is to find a professional who has done what you want to do, set your goal to practice what he or she does and then perfect it.
  • You must always work to Perfect what you do. If ever you feel you know it all, you are in trouble.  The more you know, the more you need to know. It’s just like your income. As you sell more vehicles and therefore, increase your income and expand your clientele, you’re going to need to increase your knowledge level. Remember, there is always a better way of saying it–and a better way of doing it. Don’t allow yourself to plateau.
  • The fourth P is Performance. You are putting on a performance with every client contact. This doesn’t mean you are phony. It means you are saying the right words the right way to get the end result that is in the best interest of your clients. So, when you talk on the phone, when you meet people in the showroom, when you go on a test drive, it’s a performance. Everything you say and do is part of your performance.

Become a student of selling, study the four P’s I have listed above. Watch what the top people in your dealership are doing, and search for new techniques and you’ll start closing more sales!

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Financial Services – The First Impression

The first impression you make on potential clients will either begin the process of building their trust in you or dig a hole from which you’ll have to recover before a foundation of trust can be established. It’s such a critical, yet often overlooked aspect of sales training. Everything you do or say when you’re within visual or auditory reach of potential clients counts. Orchestrate every move and word to build trust.

Your potential client starts sizing you up the first second he or she sets eyes on you. If you’re in a large lobby and the walk across it takes some time, the potential client may have formed a firm impression before you even get to say “hello” or offer a handshake. If you’re dressed inappropriately, are unkempt, shuffle or shamble across the room, have poor posture, appear intimidated or over-confident, and so on, your opportunity to win the day may be over before it even begins.

You have seven to ten seconds to make a good impression.

Offer a compliment on an article of clothing, a photograph on a wall or desk, a piece of art in the office – anything. Segue into a minute or so of pleasant conversation, which relaxes your potential client, starts the process whereby she begins to like you, and sets the stage for building rapport and trust.

If you’re a bit nervous at first meetings, don’t be alarmed. It’s natural to feel a few “butterflies” in your stomach. Even the top performers get that sometimes. I don’t mind a small onset of “nerves.” It’s nature’s way of keeping us on our toes. If you ever lose that slight uneasiness you’re probably getting complacent and that means you’re about to make a lot of mistakes and will probably lose a lot of sales. If you’re nervous before an original contact, relax. That’s S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure).

I still get butterflies before going on stage and I’ve presented nearly 5,000 seminars in my training career. The butterflies are there because I truly care to give the best performance I can with each and every audience.

If you stop having butterflies, take note of your attitude. Has it changed? If you get to where you don’t truly and sincerely care for the people you serve, you will have lost your edge in this business and it will show. There’s another side to the butterflies as well. If you continually get so knotted up that you feel as though you’ll throw up on your potential client’s expensive carpet, perhaps it’s time to rethink whether or not you’re in the right business. You may need to sit down with your manager, partner, or suppliers and go over your product knowledge and/or review the selling skills training you’ve had thus far before meeting with many more clients.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.  My upcoming Sales Academy and my online courses have been approved by the CFP Board and the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) for continuing education credits.

7 Ways to Re-Think No / Selling Skills

MazeA big part of your job in sales is to be the person in the company who gets the “no’s.” My job as your sales coach is to provide you with ways to re-think no.

In the English language, the word “no’ can carry many meanings. It would be a financially costly mistake for you to assume that the meaning your buyers assign to the word “no” is the same as the meaning you assign to it. Some of the possible meanings of “no” are as follows:

  1. Lingering questions: In sales, the word “no” very often means that the buyers haven’t had all of their questions or concerns addressed yet. Perhaps they’re confused about how your product compares to that of the competition. That’s a challenge you must be prepared to address. A confused mind often says “no.” It’s an instinctive protective device of the human psyche. If buyers don’t see a clear way to go with regard to your product, they’ll put off making any kind of decision.
  2. Inadequate explanation of benefits: If you’ve done your job of qualifying your buyers and are confident that your product will indeed serve their needs well, a “no” just means you haven’t completed the client education process that’s inherent in selling. If this is the case, it’s not necessarily a flaw in your presentation. Different buyers need different amounts of information delivered in different ways before considering a decision.
    Generally speaking, it’s better to give too little information and have  buyers ask for more (in this case, by saying “no”) than to give too much information and lose buyers on the basis of information overload or boredom. Trust your instincts during your presentations and close when you feel buyers have enough information to make an educated decision. If buyers consistently ask for more information after your initial closing attempt, then it is time to make an adjustment in your presentation.
  3. Additional discovery is required: A “no” may mean that you need to investigate further to determine what aspect of your presentation wasn’t clear. Remember, a confused mind says no. You may need to be more direct and persuasive during your presentations.
  4. A misstep in qualification: You may need to go back to the qualifying or needs identification step in the sales process to be certain you are presenting the right product for their situation. This “no” may be due to you missing something when you were identifying needs earlier in the sales appointment. It also may be due to a buyer being unclear as to his or her true needs. Because your presentation was effective in educating the buyer on what you incorrectly understood to be the appropriate product or service, the buyer may say “no” to your initial offering. The buyer may not be aware that you carry another product that will meet their newly-realized needs. Only with further conversation can you discover this epiphany and then present the better product.
  5. Unrevealed questions/objections: Perhaps the buyer hasn’t told you everything yet about their circumstances as to needs and their ability to afford what you’re offering. What? Don’t buyers tell you everything up front that you need to know to offer a win-win opportunity and close the sale? Sometimes this is merely an issue of trust. After buyers say “no” is one of the most powerful times to build trust.
    As mentioned above, buyers are often unaware of their real objections and questions until they start to become educated about the products and services that provide solutions. Or, perhaps they like the product but not the financial terms you’re offering. The point is that by using the proper selling skills, tools, and strategies in the correct manner, you can continue to move the sale forward despite initial reluctance from buyers
  6. Timing: Their “no” might just be a way of slowing the sales process down. It might mean “no, not right now.” Good timing is important when you make purchases, so why wouldn’t it be important to your buyers? By discussing options in timing, you may discover a time-frame that is quite agreeable to your buyers even if it isn’t for today.
  7. No, not you: With some buyers the “no” you hear could even mean “no, not you.” Please realize that with some product sales the buyers don’t just buy the product—they’re buying future involvement with you. In many cases, the sales person becomes the key connection between buyers and the company and they may just not have been “sold” on you. They may not feel comfortable with your ability to serve their needs. You always have to demonstrate your own level of competence right along with demonstrating your product’s benefits. Remember, people like to do business with people they like. It’s an important part of your job in the sales process to help them to like you and to trust you, so they’ll listen to what you have to say – to take your advice and want to be involved with you in a long-term business relationship.

There are many reasons that potential clients might say “no” but lack of interest is probably not one of them. Disinterested people won’t waste their time meeting with sales people and listening to presentations. So, when you have their attention, it’s because they’re truly interested in knowing if you, your company and your product can resolve an issue or challenge they’re having. The job falls to you to identify or discover what their needs and expectations are as they relate to your product or service.

You are the only one who can ultimately determine what each “no” means in every one of your selling situations. You do that by keeping the conversation alive through the use of precisely-crafted questions. By mining the information you need to know in order to determine if and how you can help them, you’ll close more sales that previously would have gone by the wayside.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from When Buyers Say No by Tom Hopkins & Ben Katt. We match or beat Amazon’s investments on Tom Hopkins’ books.

Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself?

Before each client contact, ask yourself this: Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself? This means giving yourself a quick attitude check. Are you concerned about your production this month? Or, are you more concerned with whether or not you have the right solution for the client?

LS002546When you present an attitude of helpfulness at the beginning of every client contact, you’ll become a top closer in sales. By approaching selling situations with the goal of helping the client, you won’t come across aggressively—and by no means will you be average or typical. And, with a helpful attitude, you’ll knock the dollar signs out of your eyes, which will put the buyer at ease.

I teach my seminar attendees that a salesperson’s income is a scoreboard reflection of the amount of service he or she gives to others. If you’re not happy with your current score (aka income), it’s time to improve the level of service you’re currently providing.

Improving your service begins with taking on an attitude of servitude. It also means taking control of your personal environment. If something that’s going on in your personal life is distracting you from your job, it may show to potential clients. When they feel you’re distracted, they’ll want to extract themselves from working with you.

Don’t risk losing sales or long-term clients because non-career challenges you are facing distract you from providing the service you know you need to deliver. Do whatever it takes to give your clients all that they expect and deserve. They’ll reward you with their business…and referred leads.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

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