The Absolute Importance of Accountability When Running a Dealership

It’s amazing. And I’ve seen it a hundred times. They don’t realize they’re doing it but they still do it. That’s for sure. I heard a salesman with his chest puffed out (as it should be) reliving the story of a terrific job done with the happy new owner of a car. The salesman DID do a great job. These people were cold to begin with and initially he could barely get them to part with their names. They wanted a price only (no need to see a car today) to compare with the countless quotes the husband had tucked away behind his pocket protector.

They didn’t like or trust car salespeople and were happy to share this point with him. He then found a seed of common ground and built on that, getting them to open up a bit. They agreed to a test drive. He went twice as far as normal to use the time to get further related to them. He asked them things that created fantasies of what the friends and neighbors and their kids would think and how the first road trip would be in their new car. He showed them every button and everything under the hood. He physically got into the trunk and lay down to show off all the space. He created a story to put each benefit into their realm of understanding. They would now feel almost incomplete without those benefits. He sold the dealership and service department. He created a relationship.

He ignited desire and the price fell into line because they had places to go in this car! They left happy and will be his for life. He was damn proud and deserved to be. He accepted full accountability for this result. Makes sense, yes?

Two days later, he’s complaining. Very thin traffic. The people he’s been waiting on just aren’t getting excited. Morale is down. Another salesman quit today. “That’s how bad it’s getting around here.” He’s going to have a weak paycheck.

Management, inventory, advertising and the giveaway competitor up the street are all on his nerves. This man is a good salesman from a closing standpoint. He’s good. Not stellar. Good. He did a stellar job with a couple a few days ago but he’s still just good. Why? Accountability. Just a tweak and he’s great

With an accountable attitude, his thinking would be more like: “Man, I used to be weak on my prospecting and follow up but now that I’m stronger with it, it’s really going to pay off! I won’t be in this position this time next year!” And, “I’m not doing well with the customers I’m getting. I should review what happened and see where I can improve so I don’t keep losing them.” Sound corny? Maybe. It just makes you more money, that’s all.

In my mind you don’t get to take credit for victories if you don’t take credit for negative outcomes. — Jeff Sterns

I believe that if you don’t take accountability for EVERYTHING (and I mean everything), you can’t be a master at your craft. This is a craft. Sure there’s some luck in selling, but no amount of luck will get it done for you month after month, year after year.

Here’s another line to highlight: You have to make a decision now. There’s going to be a lot of making decisions “now,” along the way, while reading this book. You can’t wait until you’ve finished the book to get your career started! Plus some of the things we talk about, if you can “believe it before you see it,” will begin to work BEFORE you understand it. One of my favorite authors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, says, “You’ll see it when you believe it.” I’ve seen this proven right a thousand times. First choose your beliefs and then the evidence to support that belief will appear.

Remember, it’s now 18 years since I built that house. It took me a long time to break down and analyze what had actually occurred. Things will come together for a long time after you’ve completed this book. Understanding it completely is NOT key to it working. Starting something NOW for damn sure is!

The decision you have to make is to be accountable for everything. Wins and losses.

“The event is not important, but the response to the event is everything.” — I Ching

This is where you get to CHOOSE how you feel. Below are some ways to look more deeply at an issue. (Excellent idea to repeat verbatim where applicable. We still have to talk about the subconscious. The following alone, when faithfully used, has made tremendous differences for people.)

  • “I did a great job with those people.” (“Man, no one else would have gotten that deal! They weren’t doing anything and just wanted a price. I didn’t lose hope, as it was almost impossible to get their name. I’ll use this as a reference point to remember for self encouragement if I ever lose hope during a future deal.”)
  • “Traffic is thin.” (“If only I was on the “stay in touch” program a year ago that I’m on now. I’d have a steady stream of clients coming through. At least I’m already causing a good year next year.”)
  • “The ones I did wait on just aren’t getting excited.” (“I need to work on my skills. Where can I improve? Why am I not impressing these people?”)
  • “Morale is down.” (“I’ve fallen off listening to my motivational/training CDs on the way to work lately. I’ve been a bit weak on reading, too. I can decide to feel good now in this instant, as I am fully accountable for how I feel. Like I’m gonna put my morale in someone else’s hands? I’m going to go effect a boss and a co-worker in a positive way before I leave today.”)
  • “A salesman quit today.” (“I will never ignore another new or struggling person again. I could have helped that guy. How must he have felt with the other salespeople letting him die? I’m as accountable as anyone around here for turnover. Turnover is a black eye to the whole store and hurts my image too.”)
  • “Problems with management.” (“At least I have a job that will have me coming and going as I please soon enough. A manager can never hope for that! I’ve never seen a manager having a problem with an employee who was getting the job done, bringing him deals to sign with no upset customers. I guess I had better get back to being one of those favored, productive employees. What have I done to make his day?”)
  • “Inventory problems.” (“Some salespeople sell whatever they have. What if I had a cart full of bananas? What would I be really good at selling? Bananas! As long as there is a car left on the asphalt and a customer, I can do something. It is what it is and it’s just something that happened. No one’s happy about it but I can take the next customer, get related and sell a new or a used vehicle or get a deposit on a non-existent car and make my boss go buy it!”)
  • “Advertising isn’t very effective.” (“Well I guess I have only myself to thank for my past couple of years’ actions that have me even caring at all about the advertising. I’ll be creating my own traffic soon.”)
  • “Giveaway competitor up the street.” (“Why do I let that crap into my head? The dealership up the street is really just a person at that dealership who has to do a better job than me. I don’t know of another person who can get related as I can. Sheesh! It’s not like a ‘dealership’ can wait on someone!”)

Now, the good news is that you don’t have to say this stuff out loud. It’s called self-talk. It may sound a bit corny but I’m tellin’ ya, don’t let anything out of your mouth that you don’t want to come true. It may sound a bit too easy on the house but what the heck? What’s the object here?

You need to make a decision to accept accountability for EVERYTHING as it relates to your career. I know that it works in the rest of your life too but I can best attest to how it affects salespeople. Stay out of the blackout gang (complaining co-workers). Are those other guys and gals who are standing around complaining going to get you to your specific and pointed goals?

If coworkers sit down for a visit, are you politely asking them to let you work, or are you allowing your day to be spent by them? More on that soon. What are you using your life for? Only you know what money means to you. If you love it at your store and never want to retire, that’s FINE. Are there others (known to you or not) you’d like to help out? Would you simply like to use your time more wisely? A customer who takes hours to close and turns into a deal is ALWAYS easier than one that doesn’t take long, but walks.

What if you waited on the same amount or less people but sold many more of them? This isn’t more work, it’s less! Plus, you’ll be building that many more relationships as there are very few deals without them. There is no downside and it has nothing to do with greed. Giving to charities or directly to needy families or your church or temple feels good, and it is good. I’ve given more since retiring than some salespeople earn. I like to have that ability and I like that it’s happening. If I could work the same hours and not retire, keeping all things equal but earning more to donate, it would be worth it.

Maybe a waterfront house with a boat and a convertible and the time to enjoy it sounds great to you. Maybe “things” don’t flip your switch at all. It’s not all about “stuff.” Supporting charities is a priority to my wife and I. Also, we have a special needs son who has been very expensive for over four years now.

My wife and I have been to an alternative medicine doctor in Hawaii, to Johns Hopkins in Maryland and everywhere in between talking to doctors and trying many things that insurance doesn’t cover. We even considered moving to Poland to be near a clinic for six months! Thank God for the money to pursue every avenue for my son. Like Forrest Gump said, “Money isn’t everything, but it is one less thing.”

I can assure you that the decisions and attitudes discussed above will make a tremendous difference in your income and life enjoyment. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

Keys to Success

  • Do everything on purpose.
  • Make everything a choice. You never have to do anything. You get to.
  • (Even when the choice is “pay taxes or go to jail.” When you choose, it affects you differently than “having to” do something.)
  • Even choose how you feel.
  • Take accountability for everything including your morale.
  • Donate or tithe regularly. Important as any of the above.

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Comment by Joe Clementi on July 4, 2014 at 11:26am

I concur with @Robert, this is an excellent post. I too will share this with my dealer friends!

Accountability is everything!  One of my favorite quotes is “If you want to keep getting what you are getting…keep giving what you are giving.”  The results will be commensurate with the effort.  Make a decision to be great or at the very least, pursue the greatness that is! Thank you Jeff for the post and for allowing me to contribute my two cents.

Here are 7 simple rules from the book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson.

  1. Show up
  2. Show Up consistently
  3. Cultivate a positive outlook
  4. Be committed for the long-haul
  5. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith
  6. Be willing to pay the price
  7. Practice the Slight Edge with integrity
Comment by Robert Linkonis Sr on July 3, 2014 at 1:20pm

Fantastic post!!!  I will be sending the link to some dealer friends!

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