What Are Your Objectives in the Year to Come?
By Jered Sobel
The beginning of a new year is always so exciting. Everyone looks at how they did in previous years and makes projections on how their next year will go. Some of us anticipate building for the events to come: the wedding in the fall or the new baby on the way. Others set goals and plan for achievements that require change in themselves: go back to school, find a better job, quit smoking, get organized or get in shape. As many of you already know, most of these big life resolutions never quite seem to pan out the way that we would hope; while a majority of us make resolutions,very few manage to complete the life changes throughout the year.
In my travels and training with my dealer clients, I am always asked how the next year is looking. I answer that with another question, how does tomorrow look and what did you d otoday to have that tomorrow? While spending the last month projecting the coming year with my clients, I saw that the salespeople I work with, who follow-up with their clients correctly, have record months every month.
When projecting in a business,it is easy to look at the trends of the numbers and say a 10-percent increase per salesperson is a reasonable request based off of natural growth in skill and client base. Over time these increases add up, but anyone can jump much faster than those numbers suggest by doing what some of the top salespeople are doing. We are going to talk about now just setting our projection goals, but howto achieve them and shatter what we may have thought was not possible before.
One of the most common New Years resolutions is to get in better shape, and yet so many people fail to achieve this every year. When this goal is initially set, we get excited about the changes we are going to make and then we either dive headfirst into trying to change all of our habits at once, or we put off the actions until tomorrow,or worse, we do not even know what we need to do to effect this change.
If we want to lose weight, we try to do it as fast as we can and then get discouraged and fall back into our old habits when it does not come off as quickly as we would like.
If we want to be able to run a marathon, we delay the start of training until it is more convenient.
If we actually want to achieve any of these goals, we just have to ask ourselves, How does tomorrow look and what did we do today to have that tomorrow?
In sales, if we want the big raise at the end of the year, we have to treat it like training for a marathon,we have to do something today so we are set for tomorrow. When a customer walks through the door and is greeted by a salesperson, they do not have very high expectations for the salesperson. The customer may have just been to five other dealers and shopped online, they might not like salespeople and they have no reason to like or trust anything about where they are now.
On the other hand, we know that we have much better odds of helping someone purchase if they come in on an appointment. If they come in on an appointment it means they know you, like you, trust you, like the dealership and your products, and have a general idea of what your products cost. What would you expect your closing ratio to be when a customer comes in asking for you?
If we want to change the big picture at the end of the year, we have to change the day to day. Here is how some of the top salespeople have become the top salespeople: it is by changing the quality of people they talk to.
To do so you must first have a follow-up system. They all work if you work them. Start your morning with a time management meeting. All salespeople and sales manager must be in the room for 15 minutes to review all leads, appointments, challenges and meetings set for that day. It is not what you expect, it is what you inspect. Salespeople are shown how to develop repeat and referral business, leads, non-sales from previous days, set up target market plans, bird-dogs, work parts and service for leads, prospect, network and role play on bringing clients back in on the phone. Those meetings are held daily and are not in place of regularly scheduled product or sales training.
The benchmark to measure the short term success of the meetings is the number of appointments each salesperson has per day. As the follow-up quality increase, the greater the client base is for each salesperson and the higher the closing ratio and gross profit.
Once salespeople learn to build a base of clients who ask for them, they will experience a much higher closing ratio than if they continue to live off the fresh walk-in clients. The real secret to dealership growth? As your staff continues to become good with follow-up, you need to hire more salespeople to service the existing traffic.As your dealership client base continues to grow, your repeat, referral, parts and service will also grow proportionally. The momentum is healthy and provides security through hard times.
When you run your business correctly, you cannot help but grow. Every January should beat the previous January in sales and gross profit if you use the 11 months in between for follow-up and to build a client base. Otherwise, you are living off floor traffic that you pay for with advertising and location. Test yourself starting today, February versus February a year ago and so on. If you are not experiencing steady growth you are leaving the door open for your competitor to steal your market.
A sales driven New Years resolution is now very easy. Take your follow-up and set a daily goal of calling a manageable amount of people every day. Have on clear objective, set the appointment. Make it gradual so there is no flare up and flare out, and have clear objectives for the day. The goal for those just starting is one appointment a week. Then move it to an appointment every other day. Then an appointment every day. Watch as each individual shatters the numbers they have done year-over-year with the increase in quality customers.
The easy part is setting the goal and putting the system in place, but just like a New Years resolution, if you do not attack it one day at a time or if you occasionally skip a day, it will fall by the wayside. As a manager or dealer, it is your right to demand quality follow-up and continued service for every one of the clients you spent money on bringing in. Give your staff the tools, the training and the culture,then plan for continued long term growth.