They’re Wasting My Time!
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes in sales, then you’ve likely cried out, “These customers are wasting my time,” more times than you’d like to admit. And you know what? You’re right, they are a waste of your time. Here’s why:
- You hold a grudge: Newsflash: When you show up to work today (and everyday after that), you will fail more often than you succeed. Now that you know that you will fail 70-80% of the time, what are you so scared of? If you’re going to fail, do it well and do it often. Failures are tragic only when you are unwilling to go out and fail again. What distinguishes great salespeople from the average ones is their ability to move on. Whether you make a sale or you don’t, hold it loosely-when we win we celebrate too often and when we loose, we commiserate too long. As the ancient saying goes, “Pray, but move your feet.”
- You hold a gavel and not a brush: It seems as though we as salespeople attain our professorship in Sales-ology right around the 30 day mark. After about a month of getting screamed at for walking a customer, presenting numbers without a commitment, and sprinkling gallons of be-back dust all over our customers without success (the be-back dust must’ve been expired), we become jaded and cynical. I remember my first month in the car business; I filled a 3 subject notebook full of customer’s names and phone numbers, their desired vehicle, what they were trading, what they did for a living, their hobbies- I was like a courtroom stenographer; anything I could think of I wrote it down. I thought I was going to be different…wrong! The more customers that didn’t show up, bought elsewhere, lied to me, or hung up in my face, the more cynical I became. At one time, I was so cynical I didn’t even cover my draw-I couldn’t pay rent nor the day care, and my truck note was already 2 months past due. Athletes, writers, musicians, and yes, even salespeople are artists. Selling is your muse. Not every play will result in a touchdown, not every book is a best seller, not every song is a #1 hit, nor will every Up will result in a sale. Every day, every encounter with a prospect is an opportunity for you to create another masterpiece. Put down the gavel and pick up the brush-use your experience to work with your customers more efficiently, not judgmentally. Navigation systems efficiently follow roads not trails. If you were driving to Disney World, sure you could try to save time by driving though someone’s pasture, but eventually you’ll wind up stuck or in a ditch. If you want to find sustained success, find the disciplined roads and skip the trails.
- You’ve got to max out: Customer’s are a waste of your time if you don’t maximize their possibilities. Selling cars is physically easy, yet mentally tough. Not asking enough questions to uncover what and why your customer is in the market will lead to you looking like you’re trying to catch chickens in your back yard-before you know it your customers are all over the place leaving you mentally exhausted and frustrated (Which is precisely the time that you throw in the towel and cry to anyone who will listen that they are wasting your time). When you are working with a customer, do not give up until you’ve exhausted every possible opportunity: switching them from New to Used (I know the used car has 60,000 miles but let them say no, not you.), or Used to New (New rebates will help them with their negative equity situation.), more down payment and why (When you ask for [more] down payment, customers think of us as extortionists. Explain to them why more down payment is needed and how it will benefit them in the long run.), or adjust trim levels and option packages (Don’t say, “You need to be on a base model,” instead say, ” We need to adjust the package to get you closer to where you are trying to be.”). Just like exercising, the harder you are willing to push yourself, the greater the gains.
- You need books not lines: Legendary Coach Paul Brown said, “You can learn a line from a win, and book from a defeat.” The greatest injustice you can give to yourself is not drawing the lessons from your defeats. Instead of eulogizing with a bunch of other salespeople, who are glad it was you who “wasted time” and not them, recycle your defeats for fuel toward the next win. Sure there are people who want you to sell a car for $3000 below invoice; I know you printed out and showed your customers book values and market averages, but they still want retail for their car-stop getting hung up on the ten percenters. Don’t allow 10% of irrational people to screw up the other 90% of people who need your help. You are worth every dollar you ask for-act like it. After every encounter, ask yourself how could you have done better? (Every encounter, sale or no sale, can be improved.) How could you have handled the phone call, demo, write-up, negotiation, or after sale service call better? Be absolutely honest with yourself to discover the miscues and missteps and make the mental adjustments needed in preparation for the next opportunity. What the customer didn’t do isn’t the issue; what you could’ve done better is.
If you hold on to grudges, aren’t thinking creatively, not exhausting every possible option, nor learning from your mistakes, the customer’s aren’t wasting your time, you’re wasting theirs.
I’ll see you next time on the blacktop.