One of the most common objections we get as coaches and trainers is, "I think I can do that myself."
And yes, it's true. Everything we do as coaches and trainers, you can do yourself. You're already paying managers that can train, that can coach, that can mentor, that can teach. So ask yourself, "why am I even considering an outside coaching or training service?" "What problem am I trying to solve," or more importantly, "what result am I trying to achieve?"
With that thing in mind, there are two main reasons you're struggling to get it done. The first one is fairly obvious -
You know how to get it done, but you're stuck in your own whirlwind of daily tasks and activity. If you could carve out the time to set procedures, set goals, and roll them out to your team, then you'd have a way forward, right? Here's the problem: because of your lack of time, solutions you enact will tend to be authority-based, meaning you'll set forth the new process and expect your people to "just do it, because it's their job." In this case the best you'll get from your people is compliance. Remember, to achieve the result and get it to stick, you need to effect a change in human behavior, or your time will have been wasted.
The second reason is related to the psychology of human learning -
People learn best when they're invested. Which means they've decided for themselves to pursue the result they want, and to acquire the needed learning and understanding to bring about the success they seek. People who go to conferences are invested; they attend with an expectation of learning. People who pay for classes are committed; they've invested in the class for a specific reason, and they expect to achieve a result. These decisions are marked by events, which solidify the initial impulse for change, and produce a firm commitment to improvement based on internal desire. So why can't you do this yourself? Here's an answer that maybe you weren't expecting: you're too close to your people! Let me explain.
Having worked with you every day, your people assume that as their leader, you've been doing your very best. Then suddenly you announce you have more to teach them, and their first thoughts are, "Where was this information yesterday? Did you just make this up? Why should we believe you?"
Lasting change results from the realization of a problem, the enthusiastic discovery of possible solutions, agreement to a course of action, and ongoing accountability to "committed others."
For your people to embrace learning, you also, as their leader, must be learning alongside them. By discovering solutions together, you help to open the minds of your people. If you announce a new process and simply enforce it, you fail to create the necessary belief in the minds of your followers. Put simply, when you limit choices you encounter resistance.
When you make changes based on authority alone, you get compliance. Compliance is generally good enough for good enough results, generally. You can micro-manage the minimum standard, but if you want inspired results, you need inspired people. You need people with open minds.
When you start a project of learning together, you create accountability to each other, which is vitally important for the success of your team. Without a regular cadence of accountability, your project will fail. When you learn together, you BOTH become accountable to the new way of doing things.
This is why partnering with a coach, a trainer, or an outside authoritative expert is often the first step in producing a meaningful change in human behavior. It creates an opportunity to pause your whirlwind and focus on one wildly important goal. Within this framework you can bring focus, clarity, and begin to inspire the internal motivation required to make a lasting change. By bringing in coaches, you create excitement around learning from authoritative experts. By preparing for a launch event that will rally your team around a common goal, you create a mindset of expectation. By sticking to a cadence of accountability, you create a sense of ownership, responsibility and personal commitment, not only for personal improvement but for the good of the entire team.
Think about moments of breakthrough in your own life. Not the milestones, but the originations. In most cases, you weren't there alone. Something came in from outside your space and lit up your world, helping you to break out of your routine and embrace a change. Beyond a checklist, beyond a formula, it was a change of mindset, a change of behavior, a change of habit, and that's the hidden benefit of coaching.
Often in sales we have problems of perception vs reality.
Generally, the customer's perception of what they should pay for a car, what their trade should be worth, how much is required as down payment, and ultimately what their payment should be, is no nowhere close to the reality of what it takes to purchase the vehicle.
When customers "pencil their deal," to get an idea of how to set up their budget, they do it through the lens of rose colored glasses.
You can blame the advertising if you want: The "lost leader" they saw online includes incentives they don't qualify for.
More than that, you can blame human nature:
They've been walking past their own vehicle for so long, they've forgotten about the dings, dents and scratches that have accumulated over the years. Or that they're due for tires, or that they can't remember the last time they paid for a brake job.
They've over-estimated their credit score. Or seen a score from a free "credit monitoring" service that's based on a different model than the one used by automotive lenders.
And finally, because of easy lending and low rates, they've come to believe that money down is no longer a requirement for large purchases. In fact they view down payment almost as a mark of shame, like the fact that they can get approved with zero cash down is somehow a badge of honor, rather than taking pride in having saved up some cash, and saving on interest as a result.
So you start the interaction, you present a vehicle, you present a financial proposal, and then you discover the problem.
You're about $100 bucks a month off from where the customer thought they'd end up, and now you're battling to explain why. You're digging in to combat the customer's unrealistic expectation.
And you're trying to explain it to someone who likely has little respect for Retail Sales Consultants and the service they provide.
They think you're a little scummy, they think maybe you're trying to rip them off, they believe there's a better deal somewhere else.
But they don't like confrontation; they don't want to have the tough conversation; they're unwilling to engage with a person they don't fully respect. So what they tell you is:
"We need to think about it."
And they leave.
And when they leave, they rarely come back.
So what - that's just part of the business, right?
I refuse to accept that.
When I lose a deal I always know why.
When I win a deal I always know why.
Like, not just a guess... I ACTUALLY KNOW.
If YOU want to know why, you need to learn the science and the psychology of how the human brain formulates large purchase decisions. And to get through that conversation, you need to manage transitions and flow with the skill and poise of a true professional.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're left with one thing in a scenario like this. And if you DO try to dig in at the very end, or bring in the hard closer, really try to apply some pressure to get it done, wear them down a little - if you do that, it feels abrasive.
And it perpetuates every stereotype that's given the retail automotive industry a bad name.
You've justified why they don't respect you and given them zero reason to complete the deal, or to return at all.
IF, as sometimes happens, their overwhelming desire to own the vehicle combined with their very real distaste for repeating the same goat rodeo down the street, actually results in a purchase, it will most definitely be "one and done." No repeat business, no referrals. And your closer will thump their chest and take credit for a job well done.
To change the narrative, you need a meaningful setup so you can have constructive closing conversations.
You need to establish yourself as a true professional, to take on the role of counselor, guiding your customer through a large purchase decision.
It's not complicated, but it is complex.
It doesn't take MUCH time, but it does take SOME time.
You know that every customer is different.
But even though human beings are all different, human brains are pretty similar.
The psychology of the purchase decision takes the same basic format.
Transitions, and the flow of the interaction, have repeatable patterns that can be learned and practiced.
1: Change. What are the problems, and how bad do they hurt.
2. Timing. Urgency to complete the transaction now, without being perceived as pressure.
3. Spend. What can you hope to gain by spending on THIS, and what do you fear losing out on by spending on something else.
4. Dealership. A Dealership. Your Dealership. And YOU. Build trust by communicating confidence and demonstrating expertise.
5. The Vehicle. What is the unique value offered by this specific vehicle; something that matters to the customer, and something that can't be replicated anywhere else.
There are scientifically proven methods to help build rapport. To find commonality and improve responsiveness.
There are word tracks to help manage the transitions.
There are proven strategies to help maintain a positive emotional state for both you and your customer.
Understand your purpose: To guide and consult.
Understand your mission: To improve your life by improving your skills.
Here to help,
Friend of Salespeople
We see the same misconceptions from customers, over and over. There are SO many, but these are the four most common:
Here's what happens if we fail to break these down:
You are a consultative guide, to help the customer through the process of making a large purchase decision. But the customer doesn't know that when they first meet you.
Your vehicles are reconditioned well and priced to the market. You have no room to move even if you wanted to. But the customer doesn't believe that when you try to explain it to them.
Your used cars move so fast that somebody else WILL buy it after your customer leaves. But your customer doesn't get that until it's too late.
The products and services offered by your finance department are a necessary and valuable piece of the purchase. You really can help them get the best interest rates and streamline their purchase process. But your customer doesn't trust you enough to let you try.
So much of what we do as salespeople is based on the need to break down misconceptions in order to have meaningful and productive conversations. Conversations that could result in a sale.
You let those barriers stay in place, they're not buying from you. Even if you really do have the best deal.
It SHOULD be easier than this. But unfortunately, after decades of mistrust, this is what we're left with.
Learn the flow, learn the transitions, and your're a third of the way there.
Now just master the Psychology of the Decision, and make sure you know the Nuts and Bolts.
Till then, you'll struggle along, frustrated, blaming your customers for "not getting it."
Anyone ever had the unique experience of having their job announced as "available" during the morning sales meeting?
"So we're hiring for a used car manager. If anyone knows a qualified candidate, let me know."
That's what happened to me today. It wasn't entirely unexpected, as I had recently made our plans known - that we're hitting the road for a 4-week magical tour of mystery to uncover the greatness that is American Automotive Retail, and then to fulfill a life-long dream of launching a startup in an industry I love.
I've wanted to be a sales educator for years. I'm in it to change lives.
The income difference between 8 cars and 15 cars a month is an absolutely LIFE-CHANGING amount of money. The confidence that pours forth from a truly professional and successful sales consultant spills over to others with LIFE-CHANGING results. The ability to guide others through the process of making big decisions is a LIFE CHANGING skill to have acquired.
I fell into the car business by accident, out of sheer necessity. I struggled for years to accept it on my terms, but only through the process of teaching others and serving the needs of others did I discover the mindset and methods required to achieve massive success in car sales, and in life.
Though I started by accident, I'll be leaving automotive retail on my terms - not to abandon it for something perceived as "better," but to help bring greater understanding to an industry plagued for decades by negative press and unfair assumptions, stuck with the unshakable stigma of scum-bag syndrome.
All you would-be buyers that still think you're getting taken, you can shake your heads sadly at this point and chuckle at the misguided ramblings of a washed-up used car salesman on damage control.
"What a worthless mission," right??
That's fine - things go much more like they've been going, and all you'll be left with is a "buy it now" button and a delivery driver. Forget about the hospitality, the selection, the freedom to look and feel, touch and smell, the little perks, the excitement, the thrill of instant gratification, or the joy of being understood, of genuine human connection. That will all be gone.
Me? I'm out to improve the lives of salespeople and to help preserve all the best things about the industry I love.
See you on the other side!
A sale has three parts that co-mingle:
1. Nuts and Bolts
2. Transitions and Flow
3. Psychology of the Decision
Your manager at the dealership (or another salesperson) can tell you how to do the nuts and bolts. This is like, how to get keys for people, how to scan a driver's license, how to use the CRM, how to fill out paperwork. You know, all the important stuff.
Good trainers can help you anticipate your transitions and maintain a flow during the sale. This is the stuff like: how to greet a customer so they actually want to talk to you, how to get customers inside so you can talk to them more easily, how to get customers to drive the car, how to get customers back inside to present a financial proposal, how to ask for the sale confidently, how to close naturally. This stuff is super important.
True educators recognize that understanding the psychology of the decision is really the heart of the sale. If you won the deal, you know exactly why. If you lost the deal, you know exactly why. YES, you can successfully make sales but simply knowing the nuts and bolts, and managing the flow and transitions. But to be a real pro, to feel in control of your own destiny, and to truly become the trusted expert for your clients, you need to understand the psychology of how the human brain formulates large purchase decisions.
At dealershiplife.org, this is where we start. The people at your store will give you the nuts and bolts. Some of the veterans will help you with transitions, and we'll give you some strategies to help out, but the core of what we do is help you understand your purpose as a sales consultant, which is to help guide others through the process of making large purchase decisions. Do do you that you need to know things about your customer's decision that they may not yet know. You need to bring up things they may not have thought about yet, and help them confidently through it. That's when you leave amateur sales behind you, and become a true professional, worthy of respect and highly valued for the service you provide.
We're talking about a sale that has no "grip."
The wheels are spinning, but we get to the end and the customer leaves. There's no "grippy" conversation happening at the end, so we can't close.
The reason we can't have a constructive closing conversation is that we haven't had a meaningful setup.
More than just showing the vehicle, handling the nuts and bolts, we need to spend the "pre-line" part of the sales interaction having meaningful setup conversations that can be referred back to during closing. These constructive closing conversations are otherwise adversarial.
Set up with the 5 pillars, demo the product, ask for the sale, then have a constructive closing conversation that flows naturally.
Benjamin Dykstra - Sales Educator, team learning facilitator, on a mission to improve the lives of salespeople and change the public perception of automotive retail.