JANUARY 1: LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH DRAMATIC CHANGE

There were many changes for the Simpson’s in 2016.  At the beginning of the year I was the Regional Sales Manager for GM Financial; the finance arm for General Motors.  I was responsible for 187 dealers across 5 states and 5 area reps.  The job entailed a lot of travel and being in a different car dealership every day.  When I accepted this position my strategy was to build relationships with my dealers that would result in an opportunity to eventually become a General Manager.  With my territory being the Midwest, I anticipated my opportunity to be a GM to be somewhere in the Midwest as well.

At the end of the Summer last year both of my kids left to go to their perspective colleges, so Jan and I effectively became “empty-nesters”.  Having raised our kids to this point in their lives ran parallel to Jan and I achieving this point in our lives where we could accept the right position at the right dealership regardless of where it was in the country.

I flew to several dealership interviews from one side of the country to the other, and once I had made up my mind of where we were going and who we were going to work for things moved pretty quickly.  I packed everything I needed and left Jan in Dallas to get my kids off to their colleges and to pack up our apartment in preparation for a relocation.  I arrived at my new store on a Friday morning, and by 11:00 I knew I had made the wrong choice.

A week later I got on an airplane and flew back to Dallas.  Before I left the dealership parking lot I made a phone call and accepted another GM position in another part of the country.  I called Jan from the airport with the news, “Don’t stop packing, but we’re going someplace else.”  I spent the next week helping Jan pack and the next Sunday I was on another airplane headed to our new opportunity in Maryland.  That Tuesday I started my next new career at my current store.  Walking into the conference room to meet my new staff, I knew in an instant that I was home.

In the 4 months since I accepted my current position, the store I manage has made a 180 degree turn, Jan and I are closer than ever, my kids are learning how to be self-sufficient, and I am finding things out about myself that I could not have learned in any other context.

figure-playing-basketballThe first day of the new year is a great time for introspection and reflection, and looking back I am so proud of the way Jan and I have embraced this new road we are on.  I am thinking this morning of the lessons that I learned along the way.

 

 

  1. Don’t lose focus on your goals, regardless of your circumstances or your geography
  2. The most important asset in any ones life is the quality of the relationships we make along the way
  3. We are capable of more than we think we are if we focus our efforts on our strengths and passions, and are willing to do the work and invest the time
  4. A person is never too old or too stuck to reinvent themselves into the person that they know that they can be
  5. Making a mistake is never fatal, staying in those circumstances becasue it’s easier than risking another mistake is the reason most people are dissatisfied with their lives

 

  • Big Wave Davesimpson-seadoo
  • David Simpson
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • (469) 939-0410 Mobile
  • bigwavedave@oictraining.com

BE A PRO

It is so cliche to try to compare sports to business, but in the case of sales there are a lot of parallels.

I am sitting here watching the Cubs play the Cardinals, and the Cubs are shredding the Cardinals pitching.  It is the top of the 2nd, and it is 7-0.  The Cubs are hitting all the way through the lineup, and that got me thinking about how baseball players, especially in the National League where the pitchers are in the lineup and get an at-bat, baseball players are professional hitters, just like a salesperson is a professional seller.

steps of a swingThis I know from my experience around the game of baseball; depending on the coaching philosophy a baseball players swing is 3, 4, 5, 6 and sometimes even 7 steps.  As a matter of fact, as players become more advanced in their abilities a lot of times coaches will take a player who had a 3-step swing and make it into a 4 or 5-step swing.  This makes it easier to isolate places in the swing that need work.

Do you think a baseball player ever skips one of the steps in their swing?  Of course not, they are professional hitters.  Why then do sales people skip steps in their sales process, if they are professional sellers?

How ever many steps there are in your particular sales process, make sure you stick to it and execute every one of them.

Performance Selling

I do a lot of “stand up” training for dealerships, and I was thinking about how communicating in front of a room (which most people are terrified of) has a lot of parallels to communicating to a single customer.

1.  Credibility is everything

If you don’t have credibility when dealing with a customer on the showroom floor, you might as well give them a card and turn them loose.  They aren’t going to buy from you, and if they do it will be because your manager has intervened with, “How cheap do I need to sell this vehicle to make this make sense?”  Likewise, my credibility in front of an audience has to be established early, or I end up speaking to the backs of everyone’s smart phone.  Lou Holtz says that customer’s have to answer 3 questions about a sales person before they will make a decision to do business with them.  Those 3 things are, Do you know what you are talking about?  Can I trust you? and Do you care about me?

Whether I am speaking to an audience of 1 or 1,000 for me to be successful, they each need to be able to answer “Yes” to those 3 questions.

Microphone-on-stage2.  You have to have good timing

The best stand-up comics are good at what they do because they have good timing.  They respond to their audience, and they space the jokes and the punchlines appropriately.

A successful sales person has good timing as well.  They respond to their audience, and they don’t try to force the “punchline” (the close) on the customer too early.

There are a lot of little closes in a sales transaction, before there is the big one.  There is closing that I am the right sales person to help the customer achieve what they are trying to achieve.  There is closing the needs-analysis conversation, then the product presentation and demonstration.  The timing of those closes has to be perfect, or at some point the customer becomes disconnected from the sales person, or the process.

I had a sales person who rarely ever had to negotiate.  When this person brought me a deal, it was a deal.  I asked him once how he was so successful closing on the first offer and he told me, “Some sales people close the customer on paper, I just don’t go to paper till the customers are closed”.  He timed his closing right so he didn’t have to negotiate; it wasn’t a matter of “if”, it was a matter of “when”, “how” and “how many times”.

3.  You have to close with impact

Simply put, if I get to the end of a performance or the end of the sales process, I need to have earned the right to ask for commitment.  This means that the previous 1, 2 or 3 hours had to have been spent building value in me, my message and my conviction.  For these things to be true, I need to have been in touch from the start with what my audience/customers expectations were, and I should have spent the balance of my time meeting those expectations.

Credibility, timing and impact are 3 things that effective communicators have a handle on, whether they are communicating with an audience in a stadium or a customer in a showroom.