In a friendly ‘catch-up’ conversation with a dealership general manager I’ve known for 15 years, the subject moved to advertising, what’s working, what’s not and how things have changed in the past 20 years. That’s how I heard the story of Bret. A story that so inspired me I knew I’d have to write an entire column on it.
My general manager friend Angelo, about my age, has been in the car business since he was 19, moving up and on several times to his current position leading several franchises with an 85-person sales team. Despite his considerable responsibilities managing a large (and prosperous) operation, Angelo still loves the sales end of the business and is always anxious to share (okay…brag a little) personal success stories of top performers.
Angelo told me about Bret, a new hire to the dealership two years ago. They met when Bret was demonstrating copy machines at the dealership. Like countless other ‘Angelo’ success stories, Bret had never sold cars. Today, he is consistently one of the top unit/gross producers with the agency, responsible for 367 sales for the past 12 months. With bonuses, he will earn over $100,000 in 2012. So how does Bret do it? Angelo says it’s his smile that lights up two city blocks. Bret says it’s making sure as many people as possible knows he sells cars for a living, and making sure he exceeds his customers’ expectations by at least 150%.
In April of 2010, Bret was selling office machines for a Kyocera distributor. During a presentation to office staff, my friend Angelo told Bret he would make a great car salesman. Intrigued, Bret went to lunch with Angelo, the sales manager and the top producing salesperson at one of the franchises. Two days later Bret called Angelo and told him that if Angelo would personally make a commitment to sharing his own knowledge of the business, Bret would make a personal commitment to being the top salesperson at the dealership within six months. Both parties met their commitment, however Bret was the top producing salesperson in his fourth month at the dealership.
Here are some of the things Bret did to exceed his own personal expectations, and those of the dealership.
- Bret and Tanya, his wife of nine years, wrote over 400 letters to friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances explaining that no one in the world would work harder to earn their business for any transportation need. The letters were personally hand addressed and hand stamped. As you can imagine, the ‘open’ rate was near 100%. There was a self-addressed, stamped return postcard and e-mail address if the letter recipient would like to be kept up to date on sales, promotions and special VIP events.
- Bret has his own personal website and Facebook page that are filled with stories of satisfied customers (including friends and relatives). On his Facebook page he features pics and stories of new models as well as featured pre-owned vehicles. There are links to the dealership website on both sites. Bret isn’t on Twitter yet but says he’ll be on by the first quarter of 2013.
- Bret’s business card (he distributes at least 500 a month) features his website and Facebook info, as well as the dealerships’ websites. His business card also has his cell phone and personal email. Bret says he got excited about business cards when reading Joe Girard’s book ‘World’s Greatest Salesman’. (http://www.joegirard.com ) Bret bought Joe’s CDs.
- Bret invested in several sales motivational series including Dale Carnegie, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar.
- Bret’s wife drives a vehicle that is fully wrapped with a dealership logo, and a slug line that says ‘Call Bret’ (and dealership number).
- Bret’s dealership coops advertising reimbursement on a stair-step program, with roughly 10% of the entire dealership ad budget allocated to individual sales efforts.
- Bret has his own e-mail list with over 3,000 names, segregated with opt-in levels for frequency and message options.
- Although Bret self-arranges his floor time to best match referral appointments, he does attend every product and sales training schedule.
There is a unique synergy necessary to develop and support super-star self-motivated salespeople like Bret. Often, the biggest mistake on the corporate level is assuming that the best performing salespeople should automatically be expected to move into management positions. Bret, like the famous Joe Girard, made it clear that he was not interested in running the dealership. He is an extremely proud and successful sales consultant dedicated to being the best of the best. He, and others like him, are Me Incorporated. My hats off to my friend, Angelo, the man who hired him, and to Bret for making such a rewarding partnership work well for all involved.
Now, in the first month of this brand new year, will Angelo and Bret inspire you to take a hard look at your team. Are there any potential superstars lurking in pools of mediocrity? Will you start looking for new energetic, self-motivated individuals who will recognize the opportunities of partnering with your products, reputation and goodwill? People who fully understand…the harder and smarter you work, the luckier you get! People who understand the importance of Personal marketing. People who will invest in themselves. People who have the confidence to call themselves “Me Incorporated.”
One of the most difficult challenges for motivated individuals is organization. David Allen is considered the ‘organization guru’. (www.DavidCo.com ) There are also lots of great books on the market by organizational experts. For a free abstract/condensation of the book “The Personal Efficiency Program” by Kerry Gleason, e-mail me. Then share it with the folks on your team who will appreciate it. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2013! Good selling!