As agents and agent associates, we all know how tough it is to unseat an incumbent and secure new business. It takes determination, time, resources, and — most importantly — a sound, well thought-out plan and process to influence and motivate the dealer to change.
Developing and increasing production in the accounts we have can take equal amounts of determination, time, and resources. It also takes the ability to influence and motivate an F&I manager or stakeholder to make a change.
What separates success from failure in each of these endeavors?
When you have a clear understanding of the dealer’s goals and objectives when trying to acquire new business, and when you can also clearly articulate how you can support the dealer in the achievement of those goals, you stand out from your competitors and win the business. Then, with peer alignment, you and the dealer execute your plan and work to achieve the goal or objective.
"Teaching someone how to set meaningful goals truly is the gift that keeps on giving – to the person you teach, and to you."
Once achieved, both you and the dealer know it was done together, and you can enjoy equal recognition and credit for what was accomplished: a great foundation for a long-term partnership.
Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, as most agents have already learned, it doesn’t always go that way.
How to Set Goals
If you are struggling to set and meet goals for a particular dealer, ask yourself this: “Do the primary goals I set with the dealer align with the goals of the people in the dealership who are doing the selling?” Many times, upon reflection, the answer is “No.”
In account development, we usually compare current production to benchmark, identify variance, determine acceptable increases in these areas, set timebound objectives, tell everyone what the new objectives are, do some training, and track the results.
The problem is that if the individual goals of the producers aren’t aligned with the primary goal, we significantly diminish the probability of success. Add to this the fact that only about 3% of the population sets meaningful goals, and you can see why sometimes things don’t go as we had planned.
If you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, teach the managers you work with how to set professional and personal goals.
Objectives when given to a producer by someone who has based the objectives on their goals seldom motivate or change behavior in the producer in a positive or permanent way. This is especially true if the producer doesn’t believe the objective is realistic or achievable.
Usually showing someone that if they can get from 31% service contract penetration to 50% they will make more money doesn’t make the necessary impact to inspire the discipline required to stick with it and work through the discomfort they experience when attempting to change a process or change a behavior.
Goals Are Aspirational and Inspirational
What can have an impact and inspire? Taking the time to gain a clear understanding of what the producer wants to achieve or what their personal or professional aspirations are. Once they have shared them with you, ask if they have a plan to get there. Unless they are one of the three percenters, chances are they won’t have a plan.
It has been my experience that, when asked, most people share that they want to earn more, have more time for family, achieve higher professional recognition or seek the next position on the professional ladder.
Keep in mind that the reason most people don’t set goals is fear. They fear what others will think if they share a bold goal with others. They fear failure. They fear accountability. They fear change and finally, many are afraid to share that they don’t know how to set meaningful goals.
This is your chance. Teach them that goals need to be written down, they must be stated clearly and positively, they must be timebound, they need to be specific and realistic, and they need to be reviewed daily. They need to have a plan to achieve their goals and they must track and evaluate their progress and be willing to adjust when needed.
Once you have helped all the stakeholders to set goals, there is more clarity in how and when your primary goals will be achieved. Your job then becomes to drive stakeholder accountability on the daily activities necessary to achieve their goals.
Teaching someone how to set meaningful goals truly is the gift that keeps on giving — to the person you teach, and to you.
The great Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” It’s only possible with goals.
John Tabar is United Development System’s director of training. Prior to joining UDS, Tabar has spent the past 30-plus years dedicated to the automotive retail business.