Monday, March 31, 2008

Negotiation Techniques

One of the most useful skills you can learn is how to negotiate effectively. Here are a couple of quick tips (since it's late) on how to negotiate.

1) Do what my 5 year old daughter does. Never give up! "I want a Wii." Sorry, Melissa--it's too much. "I really want a Wii." Maybe for your birthday. "Daddy--if you love me, you'll get me a Wii." Guess what? I just played a game of "Super Mario Galaxy" on my daughter's new Wii. (Great game, by the way.) In the car sales world--"Your payment is $400." I want to be at $300. "I'm sorry, but your payment is $400." How about $350? "I wish but it's $400." Ok.

2) Change the offer (very powerful.)

You: "Mr Customer, your payment is going to be $400."

Customer: "I want to be at $350."

You: "I'll check with my manager. (leave and come back) You know what? They made a mistake--they used the wrong rebate and your payment is really going to be $427"

Customer: "But you told me $400! If it's not $400, I'm walking." You get the picture--very powerful stuff.

3) Use the "up-to" hand motion.

Customer: "I'll pay $350 per month."

You (motioning your hand in an raising manner): "Up to...?"

Customer: "Up to $375"

You (raising hand higher): "No more than...?"

Customer: "No more than $390"

You (final raise): "But if you found the perfect car and it was $400, you wouldn't let $0.30 per day keep you from your perfect car, would you?"

4) Be prepared to walk away--and mean it!

You: "Mr. Customer, this car is gonna run you $23,900"

Customer: "I'll only pay $20,000"

You: "Unfortunately, this is the hottest car out there and that's what they are selling for. But I would understand if you don't want to pay that so have a nice day."

Customer: "Uh--what about $22,000?"

5) "Here's what I can do for you..." I work with some people who want us to get an offer out of the customer before we work figures. You know what? I disagree... Lets say you walked into Lowe's and wanted to buy a dishwasher and you asked the sales dude how much it is and he said, "Make me an offer what you would pay today and I'll take it to my manager." You would...

a) Either make a low ball offer
b) Be afraid to make an offer at the chance of offering too much
c) Get pissed at the high pressure tactic and buy somewhere else
d) Say, "I'm just looking."

So--here's what I would do.

Customer: "How much is this car?"

You: "It's $23,900 but here's what I can do for you today. I have a contest I'm trying to win so I'll sell it to you right now for $23,250 and if anyone asks, you're my cousin and using my discount, OK?"

Last but not least (at least in this article...)

6) Hit them high and negotiate from there. It's a negotiation game so hit them at full sticker (at least) and get them to make an offer after you "peal them from the ceiling" unless of course the stars align and they hook up! (it happens about 10% of the time by the way...)

7) Indifference: If you act like it is no big deal to sell the customer a car, they will want it more. I remember a billion times where it was time for me to go home and a customer walks in. "Are you still open?" I try everything in my power to get them not to buy so I can go home broke and they buy. Hmmm...

8) "I'm not sure if this car is available. I think someone already bought it...let me check." Remember the Wii I talked about? I already have a powerhouse computer and an XBox 360 so I really had no intention of ever buying a Wii but when they told me I couldn't have one--I wanted it! I did the same thing when I bought my house. The real estate lady told me they had 2 other people about to make offers so I paid almost full sticker and bought my $130,000 house (that is probably only worth $20,000 right now--freaking Michigan economy!)

Hey--"Family Guy" is on so goon night and good luck selling!


Sunday, March 30, 2008

CSA 2008 News

Hi--I've finished the code to update CSA2008 from earlier versions like CSA 3.0, 4.0 and 2007. It will be up on my website within a couple of days (still testing it out.)

Also, if you want to access my website, do it with because I, being the absent minded goofball that I am, forgot to renew but am in the process of doing that.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Effective Follow Up Techniques

I would venture the say that good follow up techniques will make or break a salesperson. Quite frankly, you can do a terrible job at it and still get some repeat and referral business but you can do a fantastic job at it and sell a ton of cars.

Here are some observations and techniques that I have garnered on the subject of follow up.

There are many ways to follow up with customers but I will focus on the most important--those being the phone, email and mail. If I were to order those three in order of importance, here is how I would do it.

1) Email: Everybody reads their email now a days--especially if they are from someone they know and if they don't have attachments on them.

2) Phone: In my opinion, a phone call is only good if you get a chance to talk to your customer. Quite frankly, I never answer my phone unless I'm expecting a call--I hate speaking on the phone. I will, though, always read my email.

3) Mail: People get bombarded with mail--I get about 2-10 pieces of "junk mail" a day and mostly throw it in the garbage BUT I have hooked up time and time again (like 0% on a credit card, etc.) I have learned that mail sent in a business sized envelope is pretty much never read but if you send postcards, your response rate will be a million times higher. Post cards are easy to read and don't involve opening an envelope, etc.

OK--my follow up system.

Day 0: When someone buys a card, they get a post card from me thanking them for their business. I send that immediately and it is colorful, etc.

Day 1: I call them to thank them and to see if they have any questions about their car. I let them know that they will be getting some "stuff" in the mail about their car and to make sure they read it.

Day 7: I send them a letter telling them more about the dealership--who to see for service, who to call with questions about their paperwork, our hours, etc.

Day 14: I send them a letter telling them about the CSI survey they are going to get.

Day 20: I call them and ask if they got the survey. I ask them to make sure they put "completely satisfied" and to make sure they send it in.

Day 28: I send them one last letter with a couple of business cards in it asking them for referrals.

I also send out a post card or newsletter once every month, or so, with special deals, recipes, etc.

By the way, all of this can be scheduled and done in an easy way with my Car Sales Assistant 2008 software package.

OK--other follow up in detail.

Emails: Always have a good subject line that will relate to them personally or their vehicle. This will improve the chance of them reading your email.

Do not have attachments. Most people hate attachments--they are so informal and can sometimes contain viruses.

Mail: once again, post cards are the most effective. Use a color printer and have something colorful but straight to the point. Use my software to print return addresses and customer addresses on the other side.

If you need to send a letter, use an envelope that is a weird size or shape so it doesn't look like credit card junk mail. Hand write the customer address--do not use labels.

Phone: If you leave a message, send your customer a letter with a business card telling them that it was you who left the message (especially if it was an orphan owner.) People easily delete answering machine messages and may remember you if you send a letter and a business card. How many messages have you heard on your machine? Jim--this is Joe Blow from XYZ cell phone service (delete)... "Uh--Martha--who was that cell phone guy who left that message?"

If you leave a message, have it be something like this. "Jim--I have some great news! Call me as soon as you get this."

Well, home at lunch--have to get back to work. So--enough for this afternoon. Good luck using these techniques!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The "Percentage Close"

I'm going to start writing articles about individual closing techniques. I recently wrote an article about how you should always ask for the sale but that isn't really a "closing technique" in the sense that you are getting someone from saying "no" and "closing" them so they say "yes."

OK--first in this series, the "percentage close"--sometimes called the "1 to 10 close"

Here's how it works. You ask someone to buy a car and they say, "I want to think about it."

This is what you say: "Mr. Customer--let me ask you a question. From a scale from one to ten where one is that you wouldn't take the car if it were free to ten where you would take it right now, where do you stand."

If they say...

1-5: you are on the wrong car.
10: get the paperwork started! You just sold a car.
6-9: (This is what most people will say) so you ask them back, "What would it take to get you to a ten?"

If they give you an answer, then you have a roadmap to follow to sell them a car.

So--lets roll play.

"From one to ten, where do you stand?"


"You know what, Mr. Customer? I think we're on the wrong car. What don't you like about this one?"

Lets try again.

"...where do you stand?"


"Great! Do you want to title it in one or both names?"

One more time...

"...where do you stand?"


"What would it take to get you to ten?"

"Give me another $2000 for my trade. My credit union told me it's worth $10,000."

Simply overcome the objection and hopefully sell the car.

Now, I know what some of you are saying. "Now they told me that their credit union said their car is worth $2000 more than it is! Now what am I going to do?"

Uh--if you're asking that question then you'll need to read one of my previous articles on how to overcome objections... Tell you what--I'll whip one out for you.

"Mr. Customer, who at your credit union told you that it was worth $10,000?"

"My loan officer. They have a little purple book that they go by."

"Oh yeah--I've seen those books. Matter of fact, our finance guy uses the same book when he gets people loans because it's a loan value book--it really has no bearing on what a car is worth--just what they will loan for a car."

"Yeah, but they told me that I should get $10,000 for my car. I saw one just like it on another lot and they were asking $15,000 for it!"

(Drop a little feel felt found on them) "Mr. Customer, I promise--I know exactly how you feel. I once had a trade in that was worth $8000 and I felt it was worth more but you know what I found out? I found out that our used car appraiser has been doing this a lot longer than me. All he does is trade for cars between dealerships and believe me--he is usually within a few hundred dollars of what a car is worth. When we trade for a car, we also have to do a safety inspection and fix whatever is wrong with it before we can put it on the lot and sometimes it costs a couple of thousand dollars to do that. Let me do this--let me get him to re-look at your car. Maybe I can get a couple of hundred dollars more and we can get the ball rolling so you can start enjoying your new car. Fair enough?"

I know it doesn't always work that way but that little speech is almost word for word for one that I have personally used dozens of times to sell a car and would you make some assumptions with me?

1) If you use the percentage close, will you not be closer to selling a car because you'll find out if you have them on the wrong car or you will find out an objection that you can hopefully overcome?

2) Don't you think the percentage close is a nice, easy close that you can remember?

3) Isn't it non-confrontational? It sure is--it's nice and easy to put it into the conversation to get information out of a customer.

Thanks for reading this blog! Also, if you are in the need of follow up software that will help you sell more cars then please check out my website

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What is the Best Closing Technique?

Hmmmm--tough question. Perhaps the best closing technique is to always ask for the sale.

I remember one time many moons ago when I had a customer come on the lot and look at a pick up truck. I did a great meet and greet, asked a lot of questions about his wants and needs, built some great rapport in the process, went on a wonderful test drive where the customer absolutely seemed to love the truck and got back to the dealership. You know what he said to me?

"Thanks--you did a great job. I appreciate it." He then proceeded to walk away from me leaving me with my jaw hanging all the way to the ground. I was about to let him leave when I yelled something towards him.

"Jim--hold up." I walked towards him and said, "Jim--we just drove your perfect truck--why don't you buy it?"

Believe it or not, he stopped dead in his tracks and his eyes rolled up for a few seconds while he went over a few things in his head. Finally, he said, "You're right. I'll take it."

Wow--I almost let a buyer walk away from the lot. You know what else? I have never let that happen since.

I sold real estate for a year and if you think the car business is tough, try selling real estate. Here are some comparisons.

Customer doesn't like product.

Real Estate: You have to schedule another showing which means calling up the real estate office that has the listing, finding out when you can show it and setting up a new showing with your customer.

Cars: You just walk them to a different car.

Customer Agrees to Buy Product:

Real Estate: You have to get them a mortgage, get inspections, set up a closing and wait (30-60 days)

Cars: You run their credit, submit them over the internet, have an answer in 30 seconds, get the car cleaned, do the paperwork (30-60 minutes)

You get what I'm talking about? Well, when I sold real estate for my one year, I sold 1 property--a pizza parlor owned by a friend of mine. You know who bought it? A fellow real estate salesperson's brother. I listed one property that sold. After getting into the car business, I started reading books on how to sell and I tried to learn from the above average salespeople on the lot and you know what I learned?

I never asked for the sale! And when I say never, I mean NEVER! Wow--how many listings and sales did I miss?

I would go into a house and a family and I could tell that they loved it. I would then say something like, "Wow--nice house, isn't it?" and they would say yes. Then I would just stand there with my hands in my pocket and create an objection for them. I would say something like, "Why don't you go home and think about it and let me know?" and then I would never see them again.

Try this during your next sales process. Say something like, "It sounds like we found the perfect car for you. Are you going to title it in just one name or both names?" Only one of two things can then happen. They can tell you how many names they are going to title it in or they are going to give you an objection. Either way, you are closer to making a sale than you would have been by not asking for the sale.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Your "Friends" at Work

Some of my best friends are people I sell cars with. You know the stats--you spend more time with the people at work than you do at home with your family. I can honestly say that I know more about the people who sit next to me than my own wife.

Let me state something else. Some of my worst enemies are the people I work with. You know what else? My best friends and my worst enemies overlap--they are one of the same.

I know what you're thinking--man, you're warped, Marv! Well, I'm not. When I say that they are my worst enemies, I really don't mean that we hate each other but that we...

...Tell you what. Let me define "enemy" before I call my good friends enemies. In a war, an enemy is someone who is against your ultimate goal of winning a war. In a movie, the good guy's enemy is the person who keeps him from doing what he is supposed to do in the movie. Darth Vader didn't want Luke to blow up the death star, did he? Therefore, he was Luke's enemy even though, through the process of amazing coincidences, he was actually Luke's dad, made C-3P0, used to own R2-D2 and was also Princess Leah's dad. Uh... yeah right.

So, using my definition of "enemy", are my good friends--those who keep me from reaching my goals, that of selling cars and providing for my family.

OK--how can my good "enemy" friends keep me from doing that? Let me give some examples just from the last couple of weeks.

I called off of work on Wednesday because I had a bad cold. My wife had it, my daughter had it (and missed school--something she never wants to do) and my little baby-boy had it. I had a bad sore throat and slept in until 11:00 (something I rarely ever do) and thought I was blowing my brains out with all the snot in my nose. Now, granted, I could have been a "trooper" and went to work but I would have sat there all day and not tried to sell anything--I wouldn't have felt like it. Also, just the fact that everyone in my family was sick told me something--whatever we had was catchy! But, whenever I call off, people always assume that I'm faking it and run their mouths about it. A girl was running her mouth saying that she thought I was faking and finally I had to tell her to worry about herself and mind her own business.

We have to make follow up calls at work and I fallen behind and the same huddle asked me how many calls I had left to make and they asked it in front of my manager--the same manager that told me in the sales meeting that I needed to catch up on the calls. My problem is, I don't call everyone on the list that they provide--I call the ones on my own list--the ones that I think I would stand a better chance to sell (and I sold 3 of them in the last 2 days.) So, even though I was salesperson of the month last month and am leading this month (or at least tied for 1st) all I get is grief about my calls I need to make--from people who are selling fewer cars than me. You know what I told them? Mind their own business and worry about themselves.

One of my good friends told my boss today that the reason I miss a lot of work and never want to be there is because I have this "computer business" and plan on doing that for a living. I'll be honest--if it ever gets to the point where I can support my family selling my software, I would do it in a heartbeat. Why wouldn't I? I "bad" day at home with my kids beats any "good" day at work and I'm almost 41 years old--I don't want to "broom snow" the rest of my life and work 55-65 hours a week the rest of my life and watch people control my destiny the rest of my life (like strikers for example ) and I certainly would like to see my kids more. But--I'm not there...yet! Needless to say, my good friend telling my boss that led to a confrontation today that quite frankly, was unneeded--and put me in a pretty bad mood that could have cost me a sale. I had to assure him that until my numbers say otherwise, assume that I'm there to sell cars but I also had to make it clear that if a dealership ever told me that I couldn't run my business on the side, I wouldn't work for them. So--I had to be put in a bad situation that should never have happened--all because of a "good friend" and I still don't know who it is.

I've had "good friends" try to skate me a million times. Once, in Tennessee, a girl came up 5 minutes before we opened (I wasn't there yet--I always manage to be 1 minute late to work--not matter what time I get up!) and said her mom told her to see the "guy from Michigan." Well, I was the only guy from Michigan and everyone let me know it (they called me Damn Yankee every day) but that day, my good buddy Tinker played Ronald Reagan being questioned about Iran Contra--he didn't know a thing and had no idea that there was even a state called Michigan, let alone someone from there selling cars at the dealership! Tinker and I are still buddies--I just understand that shit like that goes with selling cars and don't take it personal. We still joke about it when I go down there to visit--pretty funny stuff!

I had a customer a few weeks ago try to call me while I was out to lunch. I wasn't there so he called back on a "phone up." Another salesperson took the call and the customer said, "Marv never answers his phone. I want to deal with you." (her words) so she just decided to start working the customer. Now me, I would have told the customer something like this. "I assure you, Marv answers his calls but I think he's out to lunch. I know he would like to talk to you and he is a pretty good guy so let me get your number and I'll make sure he calls you the moment he gets back." I would have said something like that in a heartbeat. I have no interest in working other people's customers and I hate working customers for half-a-deal. But--this person decided to work this customer and started talking prices with the customer over the phone.

Needless to say, the salesperson told me what happened and I said, "When is my customer coming in?" She said, "at 12:00--we'll both work him." I instantly went to the manager and told what happened and said, "This is my customer. I generated the call and they called for me and I want to work them." The manager said, "Well, let her work the customer and take 1/2 the deal." I said, "No--my customer I want to work him." So--the customer's wife comes in and I was with another customer so I didn't have a chance to cut her off at the pass. The salesperson I work with catches her and starts working her. I go to the manager again and she sees me so she comes over and asks, "What do you want to do?" I said, "I don't want to put the customer in an awkward position. Ask her what she wants to do." So, the salesperson goes up to the customer and says, "Marv is right over there and I know you've been dealing with him. Do you want to deal with him or with me." Then she adds, with big puppy dog eyes, "It really doesn't matter." It does matter--to me! I hit the roof and she knew it by the look on my face so she finally did what she should have done to begin with--she made an excuse about why the customer should go to me and excused herself from the customer. Needless to say, I already had great rapport with the customer (it was her husband who got mad at me for going out to lunch on a day that I worked 13.5 hours) so I sold her a car. When her husband came up later, I even cracked a joke--I patted my fat gut and said, "Sorry I missed your call but I love to eat--I was out to lunch." He laughed and everything was cool. I have no hard feelings towards the other salesperson--she is a cool girl and a great salesperson. I just told her how I would have handled the situation and that is exactly how I handle it--I always make the other salesperson look like God's gift to great deals and that they should go ahead and deal with them. I honestly think she was put in an awkward situation but the customer and I don't think she intended to skate me--I think she just handled it wrong--at least from my standpoint.

I could go on and on. Here are some facts about the huddle that I have learned in my 12 years selling cars.

If you are rocking and rolling and someone isn't, there is a great chance that they will run their mouths being your back about how you "get all the house deals" and poop like that. Hell, I had one guy tell the manager that I had a "bad closing ratio" during a month where I out-sold the 2nd place salesperson by 5 cars. "He sucks--he's only closing X amount of people." Uh--at the end of the month, don't managers just look at your total sales? Also--I tend to log everyone so of course I'm going to have a lower closing ratio than someone who logs, for example, only their sales.

If a good friend of yours is doing bad and you're doing good, there is a good chance that they will try to bring you down to their level so they don't feel all alone. They don't do it consciously--they just do it.

If you are in the huddle with a bunch of underachievers, they will talk about how bad the business is, how the programs suck, how we have no inventory, how the bosses are jerks, how the used car manager doesn't put enough in their trade, etc. In other words, they will justify their underachieving and try to get you to believe all of it!

I work with a few smokers. A couple came in the other day and a smoker was standing next to the door when a young couple headed towards the showroom. I was getting up to greet them and saw the smoker there (he wasn't smoking at the time). I asked him, "Hey--are you catching them? I don't want to step in front of you." He looked towards his buddy (they were on their way out to smoke) and told me "No" because at that time, it was more important for him to smoke with his buddy than greet a customer. Needless to say, I caught the people and even though it took me 4 days, they just left in their new truck today and I made enough $$$ to buy 10 cartons of smokes (they are expensive in Michigan, by the way--not that I smoke because I don't.)

OK--the moral of this article.

  • Stay away from the huddles or only stay in them for up to 10 seconds. If you are in a huddle and the talk gets negative about anything--get out!
  • I still B.S. at work but I don't let it consume me.
  • Stay away from people who have the "stink of death" on them--you know which ones I mean. The ones who are not selling any cars and have the fear of being fired. The ones who always volunteer to fill the brochure racks and put out the balloons and get the managers lunch and coffee, etc. The ones who think that doing all of that stuff will help them keep their job that is probably paying them only $0.50 an hour since they aren't selling anything. Stay the #$%&@ away from them! You have your own problems to worry about and don't need to hear theirs. It's strange over the years--I've been on full commission for 12 years straight--no salary, no draw for the last five, etc. I've seen people go month after month only selling 1-3 cars and they stick with it--making probably the $0.50 per hour and they refuse to quit and get bummed when they get fired. I wonder why they stick around--perhaps the security of a job even if it isn't paying anything--is better than not having a job? Hmmmm--always wondered about that.
  • I'm guilty of it too but don't gossip. It will get back to the person one day and they will find out that it was you who helped spread the gossip.
  • If you sell a car, don't go tell an underachiever about it--first of all, they are already in the dumps and all they will do is start running their mouths about how it was a house-deal. I worked with a guy who used to say this to me every time he saw me sell a car and he would say it sarcastically. "Another 'lay-down' for Marv!" I would say this back to him--"They are all lay downs if you know what you're doing--maybe you should learn how to sell cars."
  • If someone has something bad to talk about, find any reason in the world to excuse yourself. "My dog's uncle broke his leg and can't pay his bills." Uh--"Excuse me--I have to go to the bathroom."
  • Mind your own business and tell people to mind theirs.
  • Don't read the newspaper or watch the local news. There is nothing uplifting in either of those mediums. If someone wants to tell you some bad news, excuse yourself or just act indifferent and put the shit out of your head. "Man--gas is high." Uh--excuse me--I have to go get a root canal? "Man--it sucks that my house is only worth $10,000 now." Uh--excuse me--I have to go get my prostate exam'd? "I don't know what were going to do with the strike going on." Uh--excuse me--I'm going to join up and go to Iraq.
Well, did I bore you enough today? I think so--I'm going to bed. Good night, y'all.


Thursday, March 13, 2008 down for a couple of days

Hi--I'm getting old--what can I say? I forgot to renew and am doing it right now. So--until it is ready, you can still access my website but you will need to type in

Sorry about the problems--I blame it on my gray hairs getting in my eyes!


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Car Sales Assistant 2008 Update

Hi--I have a minor update for CSA 2008 that is now on my website.

There was a big problem with the follow up not working right that is now fixed. Thanks to everyone who brought it to my attention especially Leon and Andy--who emailed me their data files that helped me track down the specific problem.

For instructions on how to update, please check out the tutorials.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

12 Years of Funny Stories

March 3, 2008 was my 12 year anniversary of selling cars. I've seen some funny things and I've seen some stupid things. I'm going to share a few of them with you.

I remember one time we were moving around the lot in Tennessee. One guy hopped in a new Silverado and gunned the motor to a very high RPM. Something blew and some fluid (transmission perhaps) started pouring out of the bottom. He looked at us (there were about 5 of us watching) and said, "I didn't do it!" The funny thing was--he was dead serious and I really think he thought he didn't do it!

I remember another time, it was raining slightly and I was walking with a woman and her daughter--about to show them a Chevy Tracker. I walk talking about the tracker and looking at them while we were walking. There was a truck parked with a trailer hitch sticking out. I didn't see it and absolutely smashed the soft part of my knee into the ball of the hitch and flipped over it into the muddy rainwater. Without missing a beat, I got up--eyes watering on the verge of crying--and kept talking about the tracker. To this day--I wonder what they thought of it!

I have 2 memories of people walking into the glass showroom wall. One time, there was a guy named Jim that I worked with. We had a glass room that we trained in. Someone bought catfish for all of us and Big Jim walked over to a box of it and opened it. "Boy--that sure looks like some good catfish!" he said as he walked off--smashing his 260 pound body into one of the glass walls. The entire room shook and I laughed my ass off as he shook the cobwebs out of his head.

The other time was when a customer of mine, we'll call him Bob, came in to look at some cars. Bob was around 70 years old and his son was with him. We used to park cars along the front of the dealership and our showroom was all glass. Someone sold one of the cars so there was an empty space. Bob looked at it and said, "Oh--I see you have it opened up." I was confused. Was he talking about the missing car? "Uh, yes," I said. Bob then went full blast and walked into the glass wall right were the car was missing and smashed into it. I had one of those laughing fits when you can't stop. I couldn't help it. I looked at Bob's son and said, "I'm sorry... I can't quit laughing!" Hey--you laugh when you watch America's Funniest Home Videos and when it happens live--it's just as funny.

There was a guy I worked with named Donnie. We called him Big Donnie and he was a monster--about 6'6" and about 300 pounds of muscle and beer gut. One day, Donnie was in the F&I office sitting with a customer. His big hairy arm was hanging out of the doorway and for some stupid reason, I decided to rip a big pinch of his arm-hair off. I grabbed a hunk and ripped it right off of his arm. Big Donnie didn't flinch and just turned to me. His eyes did the talking. He was gonna kill me. "Oh my God!" I thought to myself. "What the #@$%& was I thinking?"

All day, Big Donnie didn't say a word to me. I tried to stay away from him and made it a point to walk all around the dealership if I had to avoid him. He would just give me that look like he was going to rip my arm off and beat me to death with it. I was scared shitless. Finally, I went over to him and said, "Donnie--I don't know what I was thinking. Sorry..."

"Marv," he said, "I'm gonna kill you after work." He probably meant it!

"Donnie--please. I just lost it. Tell you what--it's about 90 degrees outside. What if I pull your keys for you? Will you let it go?"

Donnie was a big guy--heat really effected him. He looked outside and looked at me. "Pull my keys and give me that little phone book you have on your desk and I won't kill you." The phone book was one of those cheap yellow pages one they give away so I agreed. Needless to say, I'm still alive to write this blog so Big Donnie didn't kill me.

A couple more about Big Donnie. One time we were at a bar shooting some pool. Donnie was shooting and accidently backed into a guy shooting at another table. The guy turned around like a bad ass and looked up at Donnie--his face turned pale. He then turned to me and said, "I shouldn't mess with that guy--should I?"

"Uh, no." I answered.

I worked with a guy named Dan--a real funny, life loving little guy who didn't give a damn about anything in the world. He always giggled and just had fun. One time, we all went out to dinner (we hit our goal so the dealership took us to a place called Dale's Steak House--maybe you heard of the steak sauce? Best steak in the world!) Dan was a little buzzed (well, a lot) and everyone went to a bar afterwards. Dan was bouncing around trying to dance and bumped into a guy. The guy turned to Dan and yelled, "You got a problem?" Dan giggled and turned to Donnie. "Donnie--this guy thinks I have a problem." Big Donnie turned to the guy and said, "He ain't got no problem!" The guy agreed.

One more Big Donnie story. I used to play cards every wednesday with the guy who blew the trans and Big Donnie. I make it a point to never drink when I play poker. Big Donnie had been drinking all night and kept winning this certain game we kept playing. I said, "Donnie--if you win that game again, I'm gonna kick your ass." I was joking just for the record. Big Donnie turned to me--drunken sweat pouring from his face--and poked me in the chest with his huge finger. "Hoss," he said, "I'm gonna hold you to that."

"Oh shit," I thought to myself. Once again, what was I thinking? Well, Big Donnie was very drunk so I just assumed he would forget about it. He actually won that game again and didn't say anything to me about it--or my challenge. Thank God! The game went on for about an hour longer and ended. Donnie said, "I gotta hit the can. When I get out, I'm gonna kick your ass." Oh Shit!

"Donnie--I was just kidding," I pleaded.

"You better be here when I get out," he snarled at me. I nodded my head weakly as the bathroom door closed behind him. As soon as I heard the lock click into place, I ran for the door. My demo was about 25 feet away. I fumbled with my keys and I ran towards it. I had the sinking sensation in my ass that it was about to be kicked clear over my shoulders. Just like in the movies, the keys kept fumbling in my fingers and I tried to find the right one to open the door (my demo didn't have remote keyless entry.) I finally found the right one and scratched the hell out of the paint around the keyhole as my shaking hands tried to put the key in the hole. FInally! It unlocked and I hopped in the car. I quickly started it, put it in reverse and gunned it, squealing the tires and I hauled ass out of there. I got away! The next day--Donnie didn't say a word to me. He never did since then. Phew!

It's getting late and I have to sell cars tomorrow so enough bed time stories tonight.

If you liked any of these stories, please buy a copy of my Car Sales Assistant 2008 software! Thanks in advance.


p.s. Respond with your funny stories! We'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Take on Product Knowledge

First of all, let me state a sad fact--I probably have the worst product knowledge in our dealership. Why is that sad? Probably because it could cost me a sale.

Phew--glad I got that off my chest!

Let me tell you another fact--I won a walk-a-round contest 2 years ago--I beat everyone in the dealership and went to the Michigan state finals and won it. It was on the Chevy Tahoe and in front of GM execs as well as product trainers (the people that know everything about the vehicles.) I went up against some very sharp people and the guy who won the year earlier scared the hell out of me. Man--he was sharp as a tack rattling off the features and benefits. But you know what? I beat him. Also, I won a cool $3000 bucks and spent $2000 on the computer that I am using right now. You know what else? I didn't know jack about the Tahoe and I still don't know jack about the Tahoe--at least not what I should. How did I win? Let me tell you...

First, let me tell you my take on product knowledge. It is very important. Not only that, the lack of it, or the misuse of it, can easily kill anything else you've accomplished with your customers.

Here are some tips on product knowledge.

1) Learn as much as you can. Read books, watch videos, drive everything you sell and learn how to pop the hood (so you don't look like an idiot trying to find the latch when you have someone who wants to see the engine.) Know how to set the clock (you will have a customer come back one day and ask you how to do it. You will look like an idiot if you have to grab the manual.)

2) Be an expert at something--whether it is trucks, small cars, etc. You know why? Someday a newbie will catch a customer who starts asking questions about the vehicle that you are an expert in. He (I use "he" but it could be "she"--"he" is the correct way to refer to someone when the gender is unknown) will be very nervous and probably turn that customer over to you.

3) Only talk about what the customer wants to hear. How do you know what they want to hear? Ask questions! If they are interested in gas mileage, talk about fuel economy, flex fuel, hybrid technologies, etc. I worked with a guy in Tennessee who knew everything about every car we sold--the problem was that he didn't know how to turn it off. He once tried to sell a Cadillac Catera to an older lady and bored her to death talking about fuel injection. She couldn't care less and finally made an excuse and left.

4) Instead of telling what a feature is, tell what it does--especially how it relates with your customer. Then make sure they understand that they have to have this feature. I think I read in a sales book years ago that it is called "feature - advantage - benefit."

Here's an example: ABS brakes.
  • What it is: It is a braking system built into the car.
  • What it does: It has a computer that pumps the brakes for you in hard braking situations.
  • What is the benefit? It helps you maintain control in a hard braking system.
  • Why is it important to your customer? Tell a story that could happen. "Mr Customer, imagine that you are driving down the road and it's raining a little. All of a sudden, a kid on a bike pulls out in front of you. One of two things can happen and probably will if you didn't have ABS. You might run over the kid or you might try to avoid him and crash the car. With ABS, if you jam on the brakes, you will have a better chance of controlling the car if you have to swerve around the kid. The kid is safer and so are you and your family."
  • Last step: Get reinforcement from your customer that this is important for him. "Mr. Customer, don't you see how ABS could be important for you and your family?"
5) Sell the sizzle, not the steak. An old saying in the car business sales in general. What it means--make it exciting when you talk about. Make their mouth's water!

OK--enough rambling--it's getting late. I'm sure by now, you want to know how a goof-ball like me with virtually no product knowledge beat everyone in Michigan and won 1st place (as well as the money--man it was nice getting a $3000 check that day!)

I used step #3--I told them what they wanted to hear. I didn't talk too much about the features of the fantastic Tahoe, but rather about GM's "Total Value Promise"--their current slogan at that time. I told about how GM backed their vehicles with a 100,000 mile warranty because they had faith in it. I talked about OnStar and how it was the best thing since sliced bread. I talked about how the Tahoe was going to drive Toyota and their sport utility into the ground. I sold the sizzle, not the steak. When I was done, their mouths were watering. I even ran out of time but they gave me more time when I looked bummed out and said, "Man--I didn't even have time for my closing statement!" The funny thing is that, while going over the features on the outside of the Tahoe, my mind went blank--I couldn't think of a single one! You know what I did? I smiled and said this: "I was going to go over some features about the outside of the Tahoe but you know what? I'm not going to (I didn't mention that my mind went blank remember...) Instead, I just want you to all look it over." I smiled and added, "It is a beautiful vehicle, isn't it? Man--we're going to beat Toyota with this!"

Eating out of the palms of my hands!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here we go Again!

Expecting 5" - 8" tonight. Believe it or not, my daughter is bummed out because I told her she probably won't have school (4" is usually the point where they close it down.) My wife bought me a snow blower at a garage sale for $20--a real old one (probably 30 years old!) It probably weighs 100 pounds and takes starter fluid to start. It ran pretty bad--kept clunking out and couldn't handle more than an inch of snow) and one of my neighbors (he owns a car service shop) told me it probably needed a spark plug. I bought one for about $3.49, a new can of starter fluid and some screws and washers to hold the plate over the pull-cord starter thingie. So, all in all, I have about $30 invested in a snow blower (they are going for at least $300 for a new low-end one around here if you can find a place that has one for sale--same thing with rock salt--totally sold out around here) and it now works like a champ! I even did the neighbor's yards on both sides of my house.

Oh yeah--once again, we have to snow-broom off all the cars, move them, plow, move them back, etc. Once again, we don't get paid to do it. Once again, we probably won't even get a hot lunch served for doing it. Once again, we probably won't see a soul on the lot who wants to buy a car. Once again, I dread going to work tomorrow!

Speaking of my daughter, here are some things she made in clay the other day (she is 5 years old.) The first person who leaves a comment to this post--has to be a comment, not an email (make sure your email address is in it) and tells me who the 3 characters are (there are 3--look carefully...) will win a FREE COPY OF CAR SALES ASSISTANT 2008! I guess it's the only way I can support my daughter's art career. And no--if you already bought it, you do not get your money back (I spent it on clay!) But you can get a free copy to give/sell to a friend or a 2nd copy for yourself. By the way, the shot below was made with a Canon Xti Digital SLR--man, I love that camera!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

CSA 2008 Update and New Tutorials

Hi, everyone.

I am very happy to say that I have a new update to CSA 2008. There were a lot of problems with download and installing the program. Also, the copy protection was a major pain in the ass. I have fixed both of those things. You can download the newest version here but make sure you check out the tutorial on how to update from an older version.

Also, I fixed the Monthly Stats on the main screen--they now are more accurate and reflect split deals in your stats.

I also made some cool tutorials that install with the program (press HELP on the main taskbar to view them) They can also be viewed on my website by clicking this link.

Please rest assured that I am constantly working to improve my software. Please report any bugs to me and I'll try my best to squash them. I have found, though, that some bugs are caused by not reading instructions so please check out the tutorials.

Thanks a billion!