Last month, I gave you the first three commandments for successful prospecting. This month, I bring you commandments four, five and six, which focus on bringing the best ideas to the business, involving yourself in the community and completely understanding the products.
If you play a role in the success of other businesses, then you need to share successful ideas that make sense when prospecting. Everyone wants to learn a new closing line or new objection handling technique. Sales people want to succeed, so bringing ideas not only increases your ability to build rapport with them but also helps you build allies of support within the business. What kind of ideas can you really share with a prospect? Consider that you have successful stores you already manage where you help with best practices, compliance, sales training and fixed operations ideas. There are many obstacles that get in the way of sales and service having success. You have experienced them through other businesses. What did they do and how did you play a role in removing the obstacle?
What kind of new legislation can you share and what can you do to mobilize a grass root campaign with the people you are meeting? This is another way to bring ideas to the business. During the debate in Washington on Dodd-Frank, in Congress, the retail automotive industry mobilized a grass root effort and enabled the passage of the Brownback Amendment, excluding the industry from this legislation (it was determined that the amendment would be policed in our industry by other means). This is just one example of the legislative rulings nationally that we need to be aware of. What about your state legislature and its reflection of the retail automotive industry? Rallying people around a cause that affects their lives is a great way to build credibility and rapport.
Every business wants to be more effective and efficient. What can you provide to help in those areas? If your forte is sales training, then prepare to offer great training ideas. If your area of expertise is driving income with products, then bring ideas that everyone can relate to. Whether you are offering solutions in areas of dealer obligor, reinsurance or retro programs, each has merit and can fit somewhere in most businesses. Find the fit and create opportunity. Whatever your intention, be prepared every time you prospect the store.Commandment V: Thou Shalt Have Involvement and Exposure in the Community
If you live in a metropolitan area, you have a great advantage over your rural competition. Involving yourself in your community can create the advantage of esteem. Sponsoring a little league baseball team or getting involved in charitable community activities or civic clubs enable you to be out front in the community. Calling on franchise or independent retail automotive businesses in your community enables you to engage in community conversation. Most dealers are involved in some kind of a community activity. The point is that you will meet people who do business at competitive stores (prospective targets) as well as the stores you do business with. Before too long, your name and your activities are recognized in the community. Who are you doing business with and whom are they doing business with?
If you use the services of a dry cleaner, grocery store, gas station or other business of the like in your community, then you need to ask where they are purchasing their vehicles from. If it’s not one of the stores you do business with, then find out some discovery information. Why do they purchase their vehicles there? How long have they been purchasing their cars from there? Who do they know there? Then tell your prospects that you were referred by a local business owner and customer. Reciprocity makes the world go around. You can’t be a “secret agent” in your community or where you do business. Referrals often times open many doors and you just have to be prepared to ask and take advantage of the opportunity.Commandment VI: Thou Shalt Have a Complete Understanding of Their Products
If your intent is to introduce product to the prospect, then be sure you understand all the nuances of how the product works. Be prepared to answer the questions that are most frequently asked. What areas of the product are most understood by consumers, and what areas are sometimes misunderstood? You need to know everything that is in the contract and how to explain it. Demonstrate the most effective way to set up the product, and detail the features and benefits. Don’t ever find yourself in a position to get educated by your customer (the F&I manager) on your product.
If the product you’re introducing can really increase profit and protect their customers against loss, you should be ready to show them how easy it is to sell. What is the “pitch” in introducing the product? What is the history and background of the product company? What is the philosophy of product companies as they apply to new business? How does the company respond to existing long time relationships? How has the product company played a role in ensuring success with their dealerships? Whatever you need to provide to instill confidence in a product or more important, a product change has to be available when the questions come up. Remember: when the bell of opportunity rings you have to be ready to answer it.
Have an idea of the competitive products you are vying to replace. It is not always practical to assume you should know every product. Ask what they like about it and what they don’t like. Review the product contract and cost before you begin to do a comparison.
Next month, we’ll take a look at the last four commandments for successful prospecting: discovering where your prospects do business, maintaining communication with your peers, listening and talking effectively, and partnering with the right product providers.