Five Steps to Improve Everything

Whether your improvement initiative is large or small, the key is to start doing something fast.

Do you want to improve your motorcycle sales, your accessories business or your service operation? Do you want to improve your managerial skills, your conflict resolution abilities or your ability to delegate? Do you want to improve your personal financial situation, your health or your family relationships?Here are five steps to help you improve all that and more.

Identify Exactly What It Is You Are Trying To Improve

Often when people talk about the things they’d like to improve they use fuzzy terminology. The subsequent problem is people then pursue activities tangentially related to their objective.

Do people in your dealership talk about improving abstract conditions like to be a better salesperson or to use good judgment? Chances are high they have, and chances are even higher these abstractions have caused dissatisfaction with people not attaining these “objectives.”

Here are common examples of vague objectives:

  • Be a better salesperson
  • Improve listening skills
  • Use good judgment
  • Motivate staff
  • Effectively manage
  • Practice good customer service
  • Take pride in work
  • Create a learning organization
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth
  • Contribute to the community

Be Specific:

No one has unlimited amounts of resources like time, energy or money. The best way to improve your chances of being successful is to know exactly what you are trying to improve.

Increasing product knowledge is an admirable goal, but broad. Understanding electronic fuel injection, for example, is much more specific.

You may want to be a better salesperson, and in fact you will be if you can specifically improve your ability to handle price objections.

Describe Evidence:

In addition, identifying observable success-indicating evidence helps ensure success by knowing it when you see it.

Can you explain your motorcycles’ electronic fuel injection in such a way that customers comment on the effectiveness of your explanation? Has improving your ability to effectively navigate price objections increased your personal daily sales totals?

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Performance Based Selling

Instead of saying you want your people to “be better salespeople,” how about “placing 48-hour prospect follow-up calls which result in a follow-up appointment two-thirds of the time.”Improving listening skills could be specific to using “echo” techniques, making certain that you’ve heard what the other person communicated and getting their agreement: “So you’d like the chrome front end, red custom paint and the performance exhaust system, is that right?”

Using “good judgment” is always problematic. Whose judgment do we consider good? And this usually comes into play when people are talking about handling customer situations. “When it comes to customers who are dissatisfied, we want you to use your good judgment.” This has warning written all over it.

How about giving parameters? Misunderstandings with customers occur. We want you to behave in such a way that customers comment positively about your handling of the situation and pledge to remain a loyal customer.

As you can see, the abstract examples above seem like very important and admirable objectives, and they are. They simply are not specific enough to focus energies or enable us to realize when we’ve truly achieved success. Bottom line: specific is terrific.

Identify and Eliminate Knowledge Gaps:

First you have to perform something called “task analysis,” which, simply put, is breaking down the steps necessary to competently perform. Then you have to determine which steps you perform competently and which you don’t.

In our 48-hour follow up example listed previously, the task might be broken down like this:

  1. Capture prospect’s name, contact information and interests
  2. Get permission to follow up
  3. Place follow up call
  4. Greeting
  5. Gauge interest
  6. Make offer
  7. Secure appointment
  8. Place confirmation call prior to appointment

Now you have to evaluate your (or someone else’s) knowledge about how to perform these steps:

  • Do you know at least three different ways to capture a prospect’s name and contact information?
  • Can you effectively ask for permission to contact later?
  • Can you execute an effective phone greeting?
  • Given the prospect’s tone of voice and language, can you gauge interest?
  • Is your offer interesting, relevant and compelling?
  • Do you have an effective way to manage and confirm appointments?

One deficiency many dealership staff members confide in me is they don’t like to make these kinds of calls because they can’t think of what to say.

Here’s a hint, don’t. Don’t try to think something up; rather, write something down. There is not one thing wrong with jotting down a handful of bullet points about what you want to cover with an important prospect. Bottom line: You have to know before you can go.

List Success Factors and How They Can Help:

Success factors are the strengths and resources you can draw upon to help you meet your objective. These resources might include the local library, high-quality web sources, knowledgeable coworkers, contacts at manufacturers, informed family members or a mentor.

Your strengths could include being creative, organized, well spoken, outgoing and methodical. Back to our example about the 48-hour prospect follow up, you might go to the library and get a book about effective phone techniques, get guidance from a co-worker who has great phone skills and use your natural organizational skills to help you track and keep numbers and contact information.

You won’t use all your strengths and resources to achieve every objective you set, but it is confidence-inspiring when you put pen to paper to discover just how many success factors there are from which you can draw. Bottom line: There’s no replacement for displacement. Create a high-performance engine to meet your goals.

List Limiting Factors and How They Can Be Minimized Or Eliminated:

This may well be the hardest step for many, as we often delude ourselves into thinking about something in a way that might not be accurate.

Perhaps you think you’ve come up with what you think is the world’s greatest, can’t lose, I-can’t-believe-I-am-so-brilliant proposition to bring prospects back into the store. Your idea: giving away a dealership promotional pen. What will others think about it? That’s when you pull out a tool called convergent validity. That’s a fancy way of saying, ask similar targets (not your coworkers and not your mom!) what they think of your idea.

In this example, you could ask existing customers if when they were still in their shopping phase, if an offer for a dealership promotional pen would have been persuasive enough to bring them back into the store. You’ll probably be surprised at the findings. (If you can’t tell, no, I don’t think a promotional pen is going to create a stampede of prospective new customers into your dealership. It’s just not powerful enough. What might be? A personalized test ride, a behind-the-scenes tour of the dealership, or an invitation to see a brand new product). Bottom line: Free up the brakes.

Create a Short, Fast-Moving Action Plan:

Most people take way too long to start an initiative. “Well, before we start doing our follow up calls, we need to decide how this will fit with our dealership brand and our overall positioning in the marketplace, so let’s have a meeting and talk with our marketing coordinator next month before we do anything.”

Huh? Look, some projects require a blue ribbon commission, weeks of planning and a couple of Gantt Charts and some don’t. The key is not to treat every plan as a nail and your only tool a hammer. The key is to figure out which project requires what approach.

Whether your improvement initiative is large or small, the key is to start doing something fast. Start reading relevant information. Talk to a trusted advisor about your plan, and create a bullet point outline of these steps.

I like to work out first thing in the morning because then that way I’m doing it before I realize I don’t want to, and then … well, I’m already in the gym, and I might as well finish. Bottom line: Do something now.

For more on Peak Prospect Attraction go to
and watch the quick video overview.

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