Recently, I went Sporting Simo Clay Shooting with my sons.
The trapper sends out a pair of clays simultaneously. It first appears easy but actually is quite difficult because they fly fast and your senses become so magnified in making sure you hit both birds. They are going in different directions and sometimes you shoot too quickly or too late at one and/or the other bird before formulating your plan.
If you are patient however, you can actually shoot both birds with one shot because there is a point in time where both birds actually intersect as they cross. This requires calm, confident patience and carefully planning your shot.
I track the birds with both eyes open and when you see the intersection getting ready to occur I close my non-shooting eye, take aim and at that precise moment take action by pulling the trigger. It is exhilarating to see the clays reduced into “dust” with one shot. The formula; having vision (seeing it happen before it happens), planning, patience, timing and action.
This reminded me of many dealerships out there where the formula gets mixed up and resembles a three ring circus. Action without the vision, planning, timing, and patience required to afford their people the skill sets to accomplish their tasks and consequently their goal attainment.
The next two columns, we’ll look at the formula and how it can apply to your dealership. This month, we’ll address vision and planning. Next month, we’ll look at the patience, timing and action required to carry out your vision and your plan.
A number of years ago when she was still alive, Helen Keller was interviewed. The interviewer asked her, “What could be a more dehabilitating handicap than not having your eyesight?” Helen Keller quickly responded, “Oh, that’s easy, it’s not having vision.” You see, sometimes you can see more with your eyes closed by envisioning what and how you want things to happen.
True leaders reach out to the future and envision business getting better, their team getting stronger and envisioning a dealership synergy that bonds the team together like super glue.
That is when everyone looks in the same direction instead of each other. Some of you know that my roots were well planted in Corporate America with Harris Corporation long before the car business. The thing that struck me about that work environment is, as a sales person and all the way up to a vice president, we were trained every month and sometimes weekly to sharpen our leading edge abilities, knowledge and self confidence. We had to because our greatest foe was IBM. We owned the markets we wanted because we were provided with the ‘extra measures’ to become our best.
As an executive, I was promoted quickly several times because of three things – I hired right, I trained my people right and showed care and concern for them all the time. That’s it, plain and simple. Like the tide coming in, when my people rose to new ranks so did I. Because of my background I have been given a gift of seeing things in a store way beyond just being a car guy.
Why is it we in this industry don’t have the same vision? Ready, shoot, aim comes to mind.
Due to the changing marketplace and economic conditions, statistics now indicate that in one to two years, half of what a salesperson knows about selling becomes obsolete.
Some of us are still using five to 10-year old material and the same tired word tracks. This will give you progressive deterioration if left unchecked along with high attrition, lost deals, team disintegration and lost in the desert people. Put on a new pair of glasses and enhance your vision by taking your team to new heights of skill achievement. Do not confuse short term motivational ‘raw raw’ locker room sessions, product or technical skills with sales training enhancement. None of these help the sales person sell skillfully or your managers become leaders.
We must visualize our store and our people growing to the fullest potential. Then constantly begin seeing the improvement areas to take them there every hour, every day, every week, every month. Your reward for this corporate approach to running your business will be rewarding in so many immeasurable ways. The galaxy of opportunities will surprise you.
Most dealers will spend more time planning advertising than providing their sales team with quality time for on going ‘high quality’ skills training. I know a few GSMs who are much more concerned about what color balloons go up on the lot Saturday morning than about the care, well being and personal growth of their sales team that produces (or not) his income every month.
Go figure. I see dealers all the time spending $20,000-$80,000 a month on advertising and at the end of the month cannot give a clear analysis of the ad sourcing to determine the real ROI on their expenditure. It’s like buying swamp land in Florida. What is the unrecovered ad expenditure? Guarantee you it is a ton of money that goes wasted and they don’t even know it.
Wouldn’t it make sense to place a small percent of the ad budget each month into a ‘value building effort’ to increase the abilities and skill sets of your sales and management people?
Call it the synergy fund and let it build. Many dealers are too busy counting deals and complaining about gross profits instead of utilizing their vision to see there are better ways to grow our business and our people.
“Great leaders and salespeople have an edge because they are able to let go of obsolete ideas.”