How to perform in the Top 1%

I was talking with the woman I love yesterday. She loves me, yet, when talking about car salesmen, she is convinced their primary mission is to find a sucker. WHAT?? Those are my people you’re talking about. Please don’t lump us together with the Lawyers and Politicians.

Sadly, that’s where we are.

What the heck have we done? We have allowed a few scum bags to define who we are as an industry. We, that’s you and me. Us car business folks. We have a bad reputation.

 How did this happen?

Poor management, poor ethics, poor hiring, and poor training are good places to start. With nearly 30 years in this business, it continues to amaze me that the number one training method for a new salesperson is to throw them on the sales floor and let them sink or swim. My friend Craig Lockerd asks, “Did you hire them dead or kill them afterwards?” What normally happens is they gravitate to the rest of the untrained folks you hired poorly, and learn from them how to do it wrong. It is a vicious cycle.

Most salespeople are so pressured to make a living, and so unconsciously incompetent that they resort to unethical manipulation, telling people anything, doing anything to make a sale and hold more gross. Sadly, it is worse now than it has ever been. When I talk with colleagues that have been in this business for a long time, we shake our heads at the manipulation tactics in the car business nowadays. Part of this is the culture in which we live. However, most of it is “the pack ain’t no faster than the lead dog”. Yep, YOU, Mr. Dealer.

Our poor reputation was not earned over night. And by the same token, I think it might always be with us. Why? Primarily, due to the path of least resistance. The easy way. We are good enough. Why do you think the manufacturers came up with CSI?

Now, I know some GREAT car people who work very hard to ALWAYS do the right thing. Frankly, it is not easy being the good guys, BUT it is very rewarding! 

My father told me, “Son, when it comes down to it, all you have is your good name”. So it is with your business. I am in the Reinsurance business with DealerRE. I am proud to say we have an excellent reputation. I run this company as if it belongs to God, because, frankly I believe it does, and I certainly want to reflect Him.

Having a great reputation can be the single most important business plan you can have. Always do the right thing, regardless of the cost, or of its convenience. That business attitude will become well known in the market place and will do more to grow your company than any other single thing.

 Next, train your people to be the very best. As my friend Dave Anderson says “There is only one thing worse than training your sales team and have them leave you. It’s not training them and have them stay.”

So, everyone involved in your sales department needs to be trained, together, to work as ONE! They need to learn the 2500 year old art of persuasion. The dictionary tells us that persuasion is using one's personal or positional resources to change people's behaviors or attitudes. Systematic persuasion is the process through which attitudes or beliefs are changed by appealing to logic and reason. Not tricks, NOT manipulation. An article in Forbe’s magazine says, manipulation is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in their own interest. Persuasion is the art of getting people to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit you. And many times, they don’t even know that it’s in their best interest…yet.

Wikipedia says, persuasion can attempt to influence a person's beliefsattitudesintentionsmotivations, or behaviors. In business, persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person's attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person.

Right now, it would be my guess that you have a sales team of unconsciously incompetent sales managers, salespeople, F&I managers and BDC personnel. If they are not preforming in the Top 1% in the industry, shake your head yes!

One can have great products and services, but if your people are not trained, what ultimately do you have? If all your people have had some training, but on different methods, that is also inefficient.

Where does one learn about the art of persuasion? Well, you could read a book. There are several out there. Then you could have all your people read the book, but how does that relate to selling cars and being profitable? After all, the biggest hurdle when finding a better way is implementation.

The key to having your company rise to perform in the Top 1% is to get your entire sales team trained in the art of persuasion, together.  Putting them on the same sheet of music. Have them finishing sentences for each other. Take them from unconsciously incompetent to consciously competent.

That kind of development and training is not easily found for our business, unless of course you know where to look.


 DealerRE and IAS Team Up! (Link)

Tim Byrd is Founder and President of DealerRE a Tim Byrd & Associates company, a managing agency located in Gloucester, Virginia. An Auto Industry Expert on Dealer Owned Reinsurance Companies, BHPH Operations, Dealership and F&I Development. A 25+ year veteran of the car business, Tim is a trusted advisor to many car dealers. Tim has been featured many times in The Virginia Independent News, Special Finance Insider, Around the Commonwealth, The BHPH Report, and the Dealer Business Journal. Tim is a sought after speaker and co-author of the #1 Best Selling book “Unfair Advantage”. First and foremost, Tim is a Christian man whose values, he strives, are a reflection of those of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Tim can be reached at 


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Comment by steven chessin on September 26, 2014 at 2:12pm

The key to persuasion is truly understanding the value something provides that others do not see and giving them that "Ah-Ha" moment. A customer was sinking repair money every month into an old car with 150k and 15 mpg. My persuasion was simply "do the math".  We used a calculator and he lit-up when he saw that he couldn't afford to NOT buy a new car. 

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