Over the last fifteen years I’ve conducted numerous dealership sales meetings, at which we perform an interactive exercise called “Who Do You Know?” I ask each salesperson to write down just one name of someone they know in each of about 75 categories that I read to them over a twenty minute period. After the exercise is completed, I inspect the pages and pages of names that they’ve written down and I normally say something like, “Don’t talk to me about not having enough showroom traffic!” Then I and the sales management staff train them on how to expand and leverage this list of people, their personal circle of influence (COI).
This group of non-current prospects includes relatives, friends, neighbors, and everyone else that the sales consultant has developed a personal relationship with during his or her walk of life. Those of us who were in automotive sales in the 1960s and early 1970s know that our incomes (and even our jobs) were greatly dependent on how well we cultivated and nurtured our personal COI.
I remember my first sales manager telling me that everyone I know, everyone my wife knows, and everyone my mother and father know need to become aware that I am in automotive sales and that I want the chance to earn their business. He went on to explain that not everyone is a prospect for a new Oldsmobile, but everybody’s driving something and I needed to be the transportation specialist for my circle of influence. In fact, achieving my earnings expectation over the next few years would be dependent on my COI.
Before a new salesperson was even allowed to take an “UP” or an inbound telephone inquiry, many dealers demanded that the salesperson develop a detailed manual file system consisting of each person in his personal COI, and that he send a letter to, and make phone contact with, each person in that file.
Why is it then, that in today’s dealerships, this group of “opportunities to do business” (OTDBs) is largely ignored by most managers? Unless someone in a salesperson’s COI has bought a vehicle (or tried to buy a vehicle), we rarely find the names and data on these people in the dealership CRM system. The potential sales to this OTDB group are far too large to be overlooked.
The NCM training and consulting teams have developed and implemented processes to identify and engage the salespersons’ COI. Remember, these OTDBs will also deliver at 50%+ when dealt with in a face-to-face environment, because we have a relationship with them.
Implementing a disciplined COI engagement process is one of the subjects taught in the Principles of General Sales Management I class at the NCM Institute Center for Automotive Retail Excellence. To get more NCM tips come to www.dealerelite.net daily!