The dim-witted can find logic in even the most idiotic ideas. This makes installing perfect process and practices more difficult for the average organization. As someone who trains salespeople for a living, I can say that most everyone is trainable. Most receiving training are capable of achieving amazing results. The only requirement is that they are willing to listen to others beside themselves. There will always be a few who believe they know better.
With nary the case study or data to suggest their ideas are superior, there are those who will stand fast when presented an opposing viewpoint. No amount of recommendations based on facts, experience, historical evidence or collected insights will change their mind. Not just salespeople, but even managers will sabotage smart business practices if it butts heads with long-held yet incorrect beliefs (or causes them to lose face). This is a problem when instituting policies and procedures.
A handful of examples I’ve come across recently:
Salesperson explains how it is much better to reply back in ALL CAPS to an Internet lead because “then the customer knows I’m a real person.” This, I was told, is superior to attaching a picture of themselves in their signature because “anyone can send a fake picture of themselves if they wanted to.” Again, I don’t fully understand the logic of this rebuttal so maybe I’m the dumb one.
“I deliberately misspell a few words so they know it’s not an automated template.” Great. Customers today would much rather believe they’re working with someone of substandard intelligence than to receive a formulated email answering their questions. Again, I don’t get it.
From a desk manager, “Talking price with a shopper will only send them shopping for a better price.”
News flash: This is happening any way. If you refuse to enter a conversation regarding price before a showroom visit, they refuse to keep you in consideration.
When asked to send a video to the Internet lead prospect, a salesperson stated he instead prefers to send a video another salesperson sent one of their own customers (preferably about the same vehicle) to save themselves time, and to create urgency in the supply and demand for the vehicle of interest. While I am willing to agree there is some very loose logic here, wouldn’t the prospect prefer to work with a salesperson willing to send them a video themselves? To create urgency, you could include the statement, “we’ve received a lot of interest in this vehicle this week.” Again, I’m unwilling to bend to the will of this person if there are other smarter options available, so maybe I’m the stubborn one.
“I tell them the car is here and available, even if it is sold. If they get mad when they show up, I probably wouldn’t have sold them anyway.” As a sales trainer, I make it clear I don’t condone lying to shoppers. This person was correct. It is harder to be perceived as a trusted advisor when you start out your relationship telling them a bold-faced lie.
A new-to-the-game digital consultant in automotive speaking at a conference I attended stated that only weak salespeople use templates and that people should manually write their emails. This may work at a store where every sales agent has achieved a high level of education, can fashion grammatically correct sentences with no spelling errors and well-thought out replies using neurolinguistics to achieve ideal responses from customers. It fails everywhere else. Which is almost everywhere. Consultants should know that part of their job is loading the lips and fingertips of those they train so no one has to go it alone and figure it out by themselves.
An Internet Director told me they insist on using one email template that would beat any of our 175+ email templates we provide to dealers. He claims his email wins out because it is a straight-to-the-point call-to-action. The text in their super-impressive email, you ask? Two lines. “We want all of our Internet customers to get the best deal. To get the best deal, you have to call me.” Now, I don’t claim to be right about everything, but I do believe I am right about the few things I know. There is a serious disconnect between “helping Internet customers” and “demanding they use the phone”. Those two actions are not mutually inclusive.
Lastly, a sales manager stated that the best follow-up process to a new lead includes 3 phone calls in the first hour and no email should be sent until those calls are made. Hey look, I get it. To a sales manager, I love the idea of my salespeople killing the phones and being hungry to get a customer on the horn. It’s important. Three calls in one hour, though, seems excessive. Especially before an email is sent. (After all, that’s the medium the shopper chose to contact you with.) Speed to reply is imperative, but should never outweigh quality of reply. In regards to Internet leads, all mediums should be explored, not just one. Again, 3 immediate calls to a new lead sounds great to a sales manager at a dealership. It sounds like a nightmare if you’re the customer. If someone calls me three times in an hour, it better be my wife screaming our house is on fire. No other time would three calls with nary a text or email be welcome.
When I hear tactics or recommendations such as the ones above, I always tell them the same thing… “That’s only in your head.” Just because it sounds good to you doesn’t mean it works on anyone else. Dealers bring in agencies such as DealerKnows to help give an outside perspective on what needs to be addressed to achieve better performance. We craft our methodologies based on data and historical performance to guarantee success. Not what we think sounds good to us. We don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but first build a more customer-centric culture among those we train by changing their mindsets. To be a great salesperson, it does not take incredible talent, amazing skill, endless word tracks, an insatiable drive for success, or longevity in the position. All it takes is keeping ears open and the mind unblocked. Having an impenetrable opinion can prevent salespeople from accomplishing great things.
I’m unsure when people began believing opinions carry more weight than facts. Some inevitably believe what they think and feel is right, regardless of the data. Even when presented with facts, some will relent and some will disregard. All we can do is influence the minds susceptible to change. All salespeople and managers who refuse to adhere to best practices may need to find work elsewhere.