With a Solid Financial Foundation, We Give Ourselves the Best Chance of Success
“Nothing stinks like desperation.”
This is one of the truest and most descriptive sayings in the sales world. When our customers know that we are desperate to make a sale — either by intuition or by simple observation of our style, voice and body language — the balance of power shifts irrevocably to their side. Instead of the “win-win” situation that the best sales consultants want to achieve, it quickly turns into an adversarial “race to the bottom,” where coming to an agreement and holding gross will come to an end.
This isn’t good for the sales consultant, and it’s not good for our customers (after all, when making a major purchase, people want to work with a professional who cares, not someone looking to make a quick sale).
Two elements go into staying out of the “desperation zone” and becoming the calm, cool sales consultant who can answer most questions and/or objections our customers may have. The first element is building our sales skills. When we focus on the customers’ wants and needs and build the perceived value of not only the vehicle but of our dealership and ourselves as a sales professional, we can find a solution where everyone comes out feeling great about the sales experience. This is how we build a prosperous career.
The second element, however, is where even great sales consultants may stumble. Once the money comes into our personal account, does it flow right back out? No matter how good our income is, it’s challenging to out-earn poor money management and bad financial habits. To keep this desperation at bay — and live a less stressful life — my Theory of 5 mentors have taught me five lessons that every sales consultant should keep in mind when it comes to finances.
1. Get Focused: One of my mentors, Robert Kelly, once said to me, “Chris, do what you’ve got to do daily so you can do what you want to do in life.” It takes effort to let go of short-term pleasure to take the actions necessary for a sustainable, happy and prosperous life.
2. Make — and Keep — a Budget: If we don’t know what our money is doing, we can’t control it. We shouldn’t wonder where our money goes; we need to have a clear understanding where it will go and then decide how to grow it. One way to accomplish this is to start investing early on for retirement, because it’s easier to build wealth that way for later years (and it’s never too late; if you’re not already doing this, start now).
3. Spend Less Than We Make: It’s tempting to live a lifestyle that we can’t afford. In today’s credit-driven society, we can fake it for a while, but the bills eventually come due. If we want to be prosperous for the long run, living within — or below — our means will set us up nicely. It’s a much happier life when we know we can pay all our bills on time rather than decide which bill gets paid late this month.
4. Pay Ourselves First: My mentors have instilled in me the importance of making savings a priority. Determine what portion of the income goes into our savings accounts before anything goes out. This number needs to be realistic, and it’s crucial to take it seriously. When we have a margin of safety in our bank accounts, setbacks become nuisances instead of emergencies. We also will have the resources to invest when a good opportunity comes along.
5. Budget in Some Fun: It’s easier to maintain the discipline of creating and maintaining a budget if we’ve made some room for fun. Again, make it a realistic number, but it’s OK to give ourselves permission to have a hobby, go out to eat or do some other fun activity. Of course, if we’re in a dire financial situation, “fun” is something that should be put off until we’re out of the woods. When we’re on solid financial ground, however, we enjoy a prosperous life.
A majority of sales consultant income is commission-based, and our paychecks will fluctuate from month to month. This makes it all the more urgent to understand where our money goes. By keeping a strict, solid financial foundation, we will ride out any lean months and not crash back and forth with a “feast or famine” mindset. By all means, be determined to make the sale, but when desperation takes over, our careers will inevitably dip, and we’ll get caught in a downward spiral. When maintaining a strong financial discipline, we will stop that spiral — and/or keep this from ever forming in the first place.