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Dealer Ops

Sales Lessons from the Paperboy

I’ve been in sales of some type for most of my life. I was hustling newspapers at the age of nine; graduated to hawking cookware and china door-to-door in my early 20’s, later I moved manufactured homes for a living and eventually migrated into the automotive industry. The door-to-door gig was by far the most challenging, while the automotive industry the most rewarding.
One thing I’m sure of is that the root of my sales desire came from hustling newspapers. It hooked me for life on a sales profession. I loved the feel of money in my pocket once a sale was made. The more papers sold, the greater the reward at the end of the day. Not once was I concerned about coming home empty handed. I had already mastered a key sales skill without realizing it. If you talk to enough people, you eventually find the ones that want your product. I also learned the importance of retaining repeat customers and discovered that exceptional customer service was rewarded with tips.
Another skill I acquired was the ability to up sell. Through casual observance, I learned that people liked to drink coffee while reading the paper. I turned that into a profit center by teaming up with a coffee shop close by. Yes, at the tender age of nine, sales were in my blood and there was no cure. Even if there was a cure, why would I want to find it? Before I knew there were fancy words for each skill, my practice of them led to my economic gain and personal growth.
Another important lesson learned, previously not mentioned, is the most important of my lessons: lead referrals. I built my little newspaper empire by increasing sales through referrals. If Mr. Jones said Mr. White was interested in my product, all I had to do was tell Mr. White he was referred to me by Mr. Jones and the sale was closed. These were my first encounters with lead referrals and I loved it. In fishing terms, I didn’t have to find where the fish were. I already knew. All that was required was for me to bring the bait (my product) to land the fish.
Leads, direct referral or not, are the lifeblood of sales. That is especially true in the sub prime marketplace. If you make your living in SF, it is truly the customer you want to see. There are several ways to acquire these customer leads, but the most effective and cost efficient is Internet sub-prime customers from third party lead sources. They do all the marketing and you work the fruits of their efforts. The return on your investment, when worked properly, is fantastic. You normally have fresh leads to work that compliment appointments and follow up calls. Combining these leads with an exceptional sales presentation and diligent follow-up will generate successful conversions to sales.
Salespeople aren’t satisfied with just a sales lead anymore. They want a guaranteed sale with huge gross. The lead must be scrubbed, rubbed, washed, polished, bronzed and most importantly, free. If the sales lead doesn’t take them to the “promise land,” they want their money back, plus compensation for pain and suffering. Where does this line of thinking come from? I learned from age nine there is no such thing as a perfect lead, no matter how badly you want it.
Recently, in another automotive publication, I read an article on the subject matter of leads and what they are. This is a topic we discuss regularly in our office. Within the article the author states that a sales lead is a clue leading to the next step on the sales process. The ultimate goal of which is to achieve the sale.
When I think about sales professionals, I envision Detective Colombo. He would take the smallest lead and follow it until he reached the desired goal. He never gave up and continued to ask all the right questions until the end. He knew if he kept asking questions and listened to the feedback, he could gather enough information to close the case. Not every lead sent him down the right path, but he knew if he kept working every lead then success would follow. The most important thing is to work every lead like it’s the last one you’ll ever receive. If you don’t give up on the customers, you can watch your sales volume grow. The process is so simple, even a nine-year-old country boy from Idaho figured it out, so I know you can.
Vol 3, Issue 6


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