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‘Sell Something Dammit!’

Get Your Body Shop Out of Neutral

The title was taken from a good friend of mine who published a newsletter right after Sept. 11, 2001. His name was Hank Trisler. You may remember Hank from his great sales book, No Bull Selling. I remember hopping on a plane the first day commercial aircraft was allowed to fly again after the attacks. I read Hank’s newsletter on the plane and have referred to it hundreds of times since then. 

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The overriding message was simple: Nothing happens in our organizations until somebody sells something. We, the salespeople of the world, have a heavy responsibility to do our jobs. If we don’t sell, our families don’t eat. If we don’t sell something, the technicians who depend upon our success will have no cars to work on. If we don’t sell something, our parts suppliers dry up too. Literally everyone depends on us because if we don’t sell something, the world grinds to a halt. The tendency after a global event is always a fear-based response. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a little fear or uncertainty. But I am here to tell you: It’s time to re-engage! 

One of my shops is in a small town of 30,000 people. The car business was affected dramatically with the shutdown order coming from our governor. Most dealerships in the area took a significant sales blow. Interestingly, there have been a few outstanding examples of sales leadership.  

There is a local salesman who works at Yemm Dealer Group named Jesse J Perez. Jesse took my sales training over 10 years ago and has been routinely named “Salesman of the Month” and “Salesman of the Year” ever since. After Jesse attended our class, he changed his business card telephone moniker from “cell phone” to “SELL phone.” His proactive nature keeps him on top even during showroom lockdown. Jesse will single-handedly outsell some dealers in the area. He has 17 out the door already in April. Pretty amazing when your showroom is on lockdown. 

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The sales approach is equally important in all departments. Body shop estimators are not always the best salespeople. Too many have become order takers who survive on insurance company referrals. We think it’s dangerous to rely on those referrals because our salespeople can become apathetic. We must improve our sales acumen right now. The reality is that miles driven have decreased and will be significantly low for the foreseeable future. That means the collision repair pie is shrinking and the real sales organizations are going to prosper. 

Here are a few basic tips:
1. Set daily sales goals. 
2. Display a sales scoreboard for all to see. 
3. Measure and record traffic, new sales and batting average. (“Traffic” refers to the dollar value of estimates written daily and MTD. “New sales” refers to captured traffic in dollars. “Batting average” is new sales divided by traffic.) Your batting average should not fall below 70% in most cases; 70%-90% of your new car customers are predisposed to have the selling dealer repair their newer car. If you don’t sell 70% or more of your traffic, you don’t have a sales program, you have sales prevention program. 

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We have a saying: “The affect of the seller will determine the outcome of most selling situations.” Affect, when used as a noun, is defined as perception, belief and attitude. If the salesperson has what we describe as a weak affect, he or she will perform poorly. When weak salespeople ask for the order, they often use unnecessary conditional language. 

For example, the salesperson might say, “Mr. Prospect, If we repair your car, would you like this or that?” The strong salesperson uses resolute and confident speech such as “Mr. Prospect, When we repair your car, would you like before and after pictures?” 

The subtle difference between the words “if” and “when” tells a great deal about the sales acumen. When you use indefinite language like “if,” you are planting doubt and indicating to the customer lack of confidence. When you use words like “when we fix your car,” you indicate assumption that you will be taking the customer’s problem away. 

In conclusion, be like Jesse J. And while the rest of your competitors sit around and rehearse all of the negative mantras about how awful things are, you will get the lion’s share because you take your sales responsibility seriously.  Get a “sell” phone and sell something dammit.

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