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Think Beyond the Results To The Keys That "Deliver" Internet Sales Success

What is the most frequently asked question in the car business? If I had to bet, I would put my money on "How many did you deliver?”.

Salespeople have to confront the "how many" question time after time. It comes from so many people that it is no surprise they are often guilty of the sales misdemeanor of failing to focus on the principles of good salesmanship, including adhering to a structured sales process—not that they don't acknowledge these concepts as being, at least in part, responsible for their better successes. After all, any accomplished vehicle sales professional who has put together a top tier performance knows the prospects don't come in with their cash in hand, begging to buy the freshly cleaned, over-aged unit on the front pad with the big spiff (although it would be nice, wouldn't it?). Top producers always know their professional, personal and financial rewards will only come as the result of a consistently solid best effort. There will be no deliveries or prospective follow-ups, sales or referrals from previous customers if there aren't good product presentations. Yet almost any salesperson constantly confronted by the "How many?" measurement can become so overwhelmed by the result objective, the delivery, they lose focus on their efforts.

Throughout my career as a general manager, I always fantasized about adopting a "step down" pay plan. My idea was that every salesperson would start the month having already earned a set amount—say $10,000. From that point forward we would charge them back for every incident that represented a less than outstanding effort:

· You didn't introduce yourself when you met the customer? That's $200.

· Didn't ask for the customer's phone number or forgot to write it down immediately? That costs you $250.

· Didn't ask your sold customer for referrals? That's $75, etc, etc, etc.

I truly believe that the end result for my salespeople would have been that they would have earned the same amount as they did with our conventional plan. But as they eliminated their effort errors, they—and ultimately the dealership, of course—would be vastly ahead of their prior average earnings.

I'm proposing that the "How many did you deliver?" question be voted out of dealership vocabulary. It should be forever banished to the circle of Hades where all passé dealership expressions and illicit practices ("big-thumb" sign-ups, "When can your husband come in and go over the numbers," and "Well gee, Mr. Smith, if you back it up to the telephone, I'll tell you how much your iron is worth") live in infamy. Instead, we'll replace them with some new questions. Here are some of my proposals:

  • How many Internet leads did you respond to within an hour last month?
  • Is every follow-up that you scheduled completed?
  • How many fresh e-mails did you send to older, working prospects today?
  • How many mass e-mails did you send in the last 60 days?
  • How many times did you call AND e-mail your last 10 prospects in the first five days?
  • Did you take the time to provide range pricing to your last three new prospects?
  • How many vehicles did you bring to a prospect last month?
  • How many times did you suggest an alternative vehicle to a prospect in the last 60 days?
  • How many newsletters have you sent out in the last three months?

Here's a few more for managers and owners:

  • How many times did you look at your Internet lead reports last month?
  • How many times did you go over an Internet inquiry with your Internet salesperson?
  • Did you remind someone to do a mass e-mail for the last program update?
  • When was the last time you called an Internet prospect and asked them if they were happy with your dealership’s service and offered your assistance in making them a customer?

It may take some time, but I guarantee the sooner we do it, the sooner we'll have more—more deliveries, more pride, more fun and more money. We'd all be walking a little bit lighter if we stopped focusing on the "how many" of our results and spent more time on the "how many" of our efforts!

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