Attributes of Great Salespersons (part 1)

(This is part 1 in a series)

Recently a student asked me what attributes compel an individual to be a great salesperson in the retail automobile business.  As I pondered the question I inquired of the student how he would describe a "Great Salesperson."  He immediately answered, "One whose sales production always leads the board, whose grosses are the highest, who earns the most in commissions and bonuses, and who has the most repeat and referral business."  In order to set up my answer an illustration from the beginning of my career was useful.

I hearkened back to 1980 and a sales veteran named Harold.  Harold had been very successful in a competing dealership across the street here in Savannah for 24 years.  After a disagreement with the owner he made the switch to the same store where I had just been hired.  He sold 24 units that month...I sold only 3.  Being quite perplexed I asked, "Harold, I rush to take care of customers from the time we exit the sales meeting until I leave at night.  I probably talk to 5-6 times more customers than you.  Yet you outsell me by 21 units and you never break a sweat.  What am I doing wrong?"

Harold made this quick observation.  "Larry, you run around here trying to find someone who will buy a car so you can earn a commission.  Consequently, you bounce from one customer to another with little success.  On the other hand, it is my daily goal to get in front of someone for whom I can slow down the process so that I can help him find the right vehicle that works for his situation and fits into his budget.  If I can slow him down...I will sell him a car!"  WOW, I thought, a salesperson who really wants to help his customer get the right vehicle instead of just trying to earn a paycheck.  That must be why he always sold in the mid 20's per month when an average salesperson sold 10 per month.

"So," I asked my student, "What made Harold a great salesperson?"  He replied, "Harold seemed to have the sincere desire to help his customer.  That must have positively affected their relationship and made them want to buy from him."  I added, "Harold had a demeanor that was both helpful and professional.  He gained his customers' confidence by asking questions about their desires and he listened intently to their answers.  Then he tailored his vehicle selection, presentation, and demonstration based on what they wanted to accomplish.  Harold followed this process throughout his career."  My success started after I took his advice.

These lessons are just as true today as they were in 1980.  Customers can easily ascertain your mood and your motivation.  HELP your customers to accomplish their goal(s) and/or handle their problem(s).  Be PROFESSIONAL in your demeanor, your dress, and your attitude.  Follow the successful sales PROCESS.  These attributes will set you apart from your competition, make your customer want to buy from you, and send their friends and family to you as well.

Happy Motoring!


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Comment by Rick Shahin on January 28, 2012 at 10:05pm

we always recieve when we give

Comment by Joe Clementi on January 23, 2012 at 11:42am

Excellent share.  Slowing down the process is essentail.  We talk about process and the importance of following established guides so that the end result is a sale. 

Comment by Ashley Givens on January 21, 2012 at 1:12pm

Wonderful story!!! It has to be about the customer and not ourselves  If we leave greed behind success is our new partner

Comment by Tom Cole on January 21, 2012 at 10:35am

Thank you for writing this!

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