Shop Talk: Just Push Play

A great actor becomes the character. Yet salespeople lack that desire to be natural. Instead, they make up a new definition of what natural is. Natural to many means; the ability to do it their way.

To get the action started, just push play. That’s what you need to do when you want to watch a movie on DVD. Once you do, the opening scene begins, the story unfolds, builds to a climax and successfully ends. That’s how movies work. Not sales professionals.

In movies, actors rehearse for hours, days and longer to make the part they play believable and most important, natural. A great actor becomes the character. Yet salespeople lack that desire to be natural. Instead, they make up a new definition of what natural is. Natural to many means; the ability to do it their way.

Think about this: Oscar, Emmy, Tony award-winning performers are great at their craft. They have the ability to carry the audience with them on the journey that is the story. Imagine if they were salespeople hired to be the cast. 

As each salesperson received their script, they’d look at it, put it down and when the director shouted action, they would go and do whatever they felt like doing or saying. When asked why they didn’t deliver the lines in the script, salespeople would say, “I didn’t want to sound canned, so I just did it my way.” Sounds incredibly stupid, doesn’t it?

Yet every single day, dealers, managers and even salespeople use that very excuse to avoid proper training. Except for one very exclusive group: top performers. These leaders train constantly. Always perfecting their “lines” so that the customer feels comfortable and the sales professional sounds natural.

They say that life leaves clues. To all the dealers and managers reading this, look around. Athletes practice constantly. Actors rehearse. Doctors practice medicine. Even top CEOs have executive coaches. Those who commit to this all have one thing in common — SUCCESS!

I have yet to find a single dealer or manager who can give me one good reason to ignore training, to avoid training or to eliminate training. Yet in all of their dealerships, the one thing that is not going on is TRAINING! Why do you suppose that is?

DEALERS: You put off training for two reasons. First and foremost is affordability. In the past, bringing in a trainer had been expensive but worth it. Now with technology, dealers can subscribe to that same level of training at an affordable monthly investment.* The second reason is the fear that trained salespeople can quit. Now, there are no guarantees in life or in employee loyalty, but what about the salespeople who are untrained and stay?

MANAGERS: You are often resistant to training because you fear having to learn a whole new process. Most times, that’s not true. And, if the current sales process is sound, many professional trainers will work within that structure and get your sales team up to speed. The second fear of managers is that you feel training will showcases your weaknesses. If the salespeople learn new things, many feel it points to them NOT doing a good job. Yet, the exact opposite is true. A great manager will go to any length to improve the store, including getting outside help.

SALESPEOPLE: Ego. Ego. Ego. You especially if you have little experience, get these feelings that you already know everything and can’t be bothered wasting time in a classroom. You also fear being made to stand in front of your peers and role play. That was my biggest fear way back when I started, until I saw our top sales guy, stumble through a role play and then ask to do it again so he could get better.

I see so many dealers playing a numbers game by simply hiring people, giving them a place to sit and some brochures and then turning them loose on customers. Every now and then they hire a “natural” who has some success and encourages dealers that this is the right path. All too often, that natural salesperson realizes they won’t get any better staying where they are and go searching for a place that believes in them enough to invest in training.

You’d think dealers would recognize this happening around them. Unfortunately, most use it to prove that since people are going to quit, it doesn’t pay to train. In the words of Doctor Phil, “How’s that working for you so far?”

It’s still early in the year and if you’re serious about doing better than last year, commit to helping your team get better. Train the managers, train F&I and train salespeople. Maybe even take on some training yourself. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know.  t

*Email [email protected] for what to look for in a training subscription.

John Fuhrman is the Senior Trainer for Performance Road Agency. He has trained over 15,000 sales, F&I and management professionals for retail operations and dealerships across the U.S. Performance Road is one of the only agencies with a 100% sales software reimbursement program which can eliminate all CRM, Menu, Desking costs. If you’d like to ask him a question, or discuss your dealership situation, email him at [email protected]

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