THIS IS MY 28th year in the motorcycle business. During that time, I’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of dealership professionals and developed a keen eye for which salespeople will do well and which ones won’t.
Winning at sales involves a lot more than selling stuff. Here are six things I’ve discovered about people who succeed:
1. Their perspective is: What do I have to do to make it work?
Keeping your customers happy, improving your dealership and moving your career forward require the identification, exploration and communication of ideas. If you want to achieve what you’ve never achieved before, you must do what you’ve never done before.
When faced with a new idea, the salespeople who ultimately will see limited growth – and thereby limited career achievement – often say, “That idea won’t work, and here’s why.” This is what I call a destructive perspective. They spend their time trying to dismantle or prove something unworthy of pursuit rather than consider its potential.
People who experience explosive growth say, “That’s an interesting idea. How can we make that work?” This is a constructive perspective. They add, they experiment, they create and they innovate. This is where new ideas for sales processes, promotions and adding value to customer experiences come from. Not every idea works, but if it’s a worthy idea, it’s worthy of exploration.
Ask yourself: Are you constructive or destructive?
2. They are intrapreneurs
Intrapreneurs are individuals who view the dealership and their department as if they owned the business. In 1987, when I started working for Tommy Hannum at Hannum’s Harley-Davidson in Philly, he put me in the service department. My first day, we stood in the doorway overlooking the service department, and he said, “See all this? I want you to think of this as your business.”
He slapped me on the back and pointed to my desk. I don’t think my feet hit the ground that day. I cut my teeth in this business running that department – doing everything from creating processes to handling customers to working with techs to sweeping the floors. I loved it. It was mine.
Successful people are intrapreneurs. They understand the larger picture of increasing revenue, decreasing costs and contributing to the distinctiveness of the dealership. They show up early, stay late and care about results. You never will see an intrapreneur sitting in his car, poking at his smartphone, waiting for his shift to begin. Intrapreneurs are inside the dealership, champing at the bit to get to it.
3. They allow themselves to be vulnerable
No one really knows how long a lobster can live. But we do know that in order for a lobster to grow, it must shed its shell. Until that happens, lobsters are extremely vulnerable to predators.
People are much the same way. Successful people allow themselves to be vulnerable while they grow. Their ego is healthy enough so that they can make mistakes and perhaps even look a little silly. They don’t care if they screw up their new phone script on the first couple of tries. They don’t care if their coworkers laugh at them when they attempt to explain a new product. Because they know the greater good of self-development is worth the trial and error. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.
4. They leverage external resources
The challenge for even seasoned sales professionals is bouncing back from a setback. One key to having Super Ball-like resilience is seeking input from external sources. If you’re struggling with a particular sales dilemma — how to respond when a customer says he wants to go home and think about it, for example — you could count your losses and move on.
Or you could read a book about persuasion, consult an expert, talk to another salesperson that has overcome this challenge or brainstorm new ideas with your sales manager. Just don’t give up.
5. They try not to be the smartest person in the room
One of the advanced sales workshops I’ve conducted for the past 13 years has been more popular and boasted more staying power than The Rolling Stones’ famous tongue logo. Why? Because in those sessions, we explode existing thinking in order to obtain fantastic results.
One of the important messages I give to participants is this: “Back at the dealership, you’re probably the smartest person in the room. And now, you’ve proven you’re smart enough to put yourself in a different room.” If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.
6. They look for ideas in unusual places
Successful people look for new ideas anywhere they can. I’ll pull dealership-marketing ideas from the Grateful Dead, sales management approaches from Bill Belichick, Saturday strategies from the Apple Store, objection-handling techniques from James Taylor and sales approaches from Nobel Prize-winning scientists. This is the creative process at work. Successful people are creative.
Are you built to succeed? Not everyone is, but if you’ve stuck with me this far – and you can honestly commit to following these six rules of people who sell well – I like your chances.