One of the hardest techniques to teach a salesperson is that of the turn-over (T.O.). Boiled down to simplicity, the rules for a T.O. can be summed up in 9 words, “Before your customer leaves, introduce them to a manager.” That’s it!! How hard can that be, right? As it turns out, it’s very hard because we allow our feelings to hijack our disciplines. We walk customers for all kinds of reasons. (Walk is slang for letting a customer leave before introducing them to a manager) One reason we walk a customer is because we feel that we’ve made such a positive impression with a customer that we know they have no choice but to come back so instead of asking them to buy now, we sprinkle Be-back Dust on them and bid them farewell. Other times we walk customers when we are in our valley moments-these moments are when we are emotionally low; maybe we are having a bad day, week, or worse, we’re halfway through the month and we haven’t sold a single car yet-whatever the reason, we’ll bounce the, “I’m not buying today,” customer so that we can eagerly wait for the perfect lay down customer who will hopefully get our month back on track. And then there are those times we walk a customer simply because we just don’t like their attitude (I’m sure the feeling’s mutual). The list can go on and on why we won’t give a T.O., but when it comes to receiving a T.O., we’re all too willing.


See if this sounds familiar. A customer shows up on your lot, hurriedly picks out a vehicle and refuses to go on a test drive- reasoning that they just looked at one down the street “exactly” like it. Complying, you 86 the test-drive, hurriedly write up the trade, call to get a payoff, present numbers, …and they leave vowing to continue to keep shopping. Your business card just got added to the stack of other salespeople who thought the same way as you. If you only remember one thing today, remember this:


Never take a T.O. from a salesperson at another dealership.


Picking up where another salesperson left off is like you giving your competitor the PIN to your ATM card and allowing him to play with your money. When a customer shows up, they’re yours. What you do next determines whether or not they will remain that way.  Ask any customer if they like to shop for a vehicle and you will hear a resounding, “NO!” Think about it, if customers hate shopping for a vehicle so much, then why do they continue to shop? Customers continue to shop because no salesperson has taken the time to meet much less exceed their expectations. A doctor doesn’t assume to know why you are sitting in their office. They ask a bunch of questions in order to gain a better understanding. Once they know why you are there, then they can diagnose how they will heal you.


Sure, your customers may come in weary and frustrated from shopping all day, but that doesn’t mean that you have to continue to add to the frustration simply because you’re the last dealership they visit and weren’t the first. They’re still shopping because every salesperson is taking an assumptive T.O. from the previous salesperson.


Your customer may have seen many shows today, but they haven’t seen your show. Be unique, creative, fun, and positive when determining why your customer is in the market, then you can discover how to select, demonstrate, write-up, and deliver based on those expectations.


It’s more profitable to give a T.O. than to receive one.


I’ll see you next time on the blacktop.

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Comment by Marsh Buice on May 20, 2014 at 1:13pm

Hi Brian, thanks taking the time out to read and share your comments sir. The TO is simple by design yet hard to execute because we allow our emotions to hijiack our disciplines. It's important for the sp to not view the TO as a weakness nor should management belittle the sp when they do TO a customer to us.

Comment by Brian Bennington on May 18, 2014 at 9:01pm

Greetings Mr Marsh Buice,  After reading your "Sometimes 1 is all you need" post, which immediately preceded this post, I read your bio and figured I'd comment to you about them when I had time.  Now, I do.  Back to back, they're both proof that as a GSM, your definitely a "cut above."  Your "1" was a really positive motivational piece, and this one is a excellent overview of the implications, followed by an endorsement, of the "T.O."  Nice job!

While I was raised in a "straight sell" environment, I loved the "theater" that a T.O. situation provided.  Just to say "I'd like to introduce my manager" is boringly devoid of a story that, if properly told, could actually have your customers looking forward to talking to them.  Normally, I'd "background" whoever was coming in on the deal to the point where the customers were enthusiastic about the process.

During the late '80s, pre-Lexus and Infinity, I sold at the House of Imports in SoCal, which was then acknowledged as the #1 M-B store in the country.  There, if you walked up to the desk and the working mgr. "smelled" even the slightest amount of negativity, another rep immediately took over.  I learned that if I came on really strong to them, as in "unbeatable," they left me alone.  Also, the fact that when I was first there and they sent their #1 rep in to see if any money was left on the table and he got nothing, I think they thought I could "hold my own."  I will say that if a rep, who'd get 1/2 deal, didn't "make his share" of the commission, I'd be awfully disappointed.

On several occasions after realizing I couldn't get to first base with a customer, I treated them so badly they immediately complained to the mgr., who knew he could "send me home" as part of his "outrage" act, and it was a perfect opportunity to make a "sorry for our reps' rudeness" deal.  The first time this happened, the GM called me in to see what was going on.  Bereft of the knowledge of theatrics and the "finer points" of selling and wondering why I was getting 1/2 the commission, he eventually relented, but cautioned me to "watch it."  I said I would, but then cautioned him it could happen again, because when a customer is "on the fence," now and then they'll "need a push."  Or, to paraphrase Dr. McCoy on Star Trek, "Jim, I'm a salesman not an order taker!"               

Comment by Marsh Buice on April 29, 2014 at 2:42pm

@Bobby, thanks for reading and reposting my friend.

@David you said it: Ego is at the core of it all which is why we as managers have to get off our butts and manage hands on. We must make sure that our salespeople arent taking any shortcuts. If you wait until the deal comes to the desk its too late. Thanks for sharing your valuable input David.

@ Joe, the T.O. is a sign of strength not a weakness, but if we as managers allow it to be. Often when a sp brings a T.O. to us, we "lose it" forgetting why the T.O. is there. The time to T.O. is now, coach after the customer has left on what to do better next time. Always appreciate you brother.

@Jeff you make a great point. People aren't barcodes-they're people and we cant treat them like a transaction. Make them feel wanted by being understanding why the are in the market. When someone comes in wanting a $10k car and you dont have one to offer, spin it in a direction that is more advantageous for the customer. (i.e. use the cash as a down payment and get a newer nicer car, etc) People feel pressured when we're selling out of our needs and not theirs. Thanks for taking the time to read- I love and appreciate your comments Jeff.

Comment by Jeff Mayernik on April 29, 2014 at 11:55am

It is tougher when someone has been burned down by a salesman on another lot.  Seems to happen mostly with people shopping inexpensive used cars (under $10k) and I see it on our lot sometimes - we assume that because they want a 'cheap' car, that's all they can afford and they are going to be credit challenged. That is a destructive mind set. Removing the 'buy it now' pressure and figuring out what features matter to them is a much stronger approach. My experience has been that people are more likely to buy when they don't feel like they are making 'pressure' decisions.

Comment by Joe Clementi on April 29, 2014 at 11:34am

Excellent post my friend!  David makes a great statement when he mentioned "ego" at the core. It's not enough to assume you have done everything possible.  The turn over doesn't have to be a painful process!  Another great read Marsh!

Comment by David Martin on April 29, 2014 at 11:18am

It is amazing how big a role that ego plays in the sales process and this is another example. You have hit the nail on the head with this article (as usual). I hope managers will print it out and make it the focus of their next sales meeting.


Comment by Bobby Howard on April 29, 2014 at 11:06am
Thanks Coach!

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