There are many skills RV salespeople must master be in the top 20% and start living more off their referral business than the new customers coming in the front door.
Since it’s typical that it takes many new salespeople two and sometimes three years to hit their stride, thus the initial challenge is to financially get through those early struggles, while learning and developing the key skills they must have to really be good at what they do.
Since many dealerships in the country are small, with only four to six salespeople, it’s often that sales managers are just too busy to spend the time it takes to give a new salesperson a fighting chance to make it to year two or three, so turnover is high. Dealerships struggle with this because they either don’t have a quality person to do the training and/or aren’t willing to designate the financial resources to implement a training program for new hires.
So what’s left? It’s helpful for new salespeople to truly understand the skills they will need to acquire to be in the top 20%, so they can take their own steps to seek out resources to help work toward that goal. With that in mind, here is a countdown of critical skills, from number No. 11 to the number No. 1 (in order of importance) they need to position themselves for a successful career.:
11.) Have Confidence and Self-Esteem
Typically, around seventy 70% (or even 80%) percent of the time, a customer will say no to your efforts to ask them to buy today. Since there is much more rejection than success, this simply wears new salespeople down over time and they become disenchanted and leave the business. Unfortunately, this is a major reason for a high turnover rate with new salespeople, who never get the chance to reap the rewards that often happen in year three.
10.) Be Highly Highly Self-Motivated
Sales is a commission business, so salespeople are somewhat of an independent operator in a team environment. With that can come a great deal of competition among the sales staff, since they are all fighting for the same customer. Having an “‘Up” system helps give everyone more of a fair chance, but if they don’t, the fastest and most motivated person often wins, since everyone is fighting for the same customer.
9.) Be Able to Manage an Inconsistent Income
This is a silent killer that too many dealerships miss when interviewing new prospects for salesperson positions – the ability to handle and manage the ebb and flow of an inconsistent income. When becoming a salesperson, it’s often the first time a new salesperson has had to manage a performance-based paycheck and one that truly rises and falls each month based on sales success. Everyone has bills to pay at home and salespeople need to game out possible outcomes for each month of the year, where the rise and fall of business is often affected by outside things such as the climate. Other things such advertising programs, RV shows, and product availability have a direct impact on this as well.
8.) Be Open to Feedback and Coaching
Since customer needs are constantly affected by the economy, interest rates, job stability and other things, customers needs are always adapting. This typically brings adjustments in approaches and feedback from sales managers as far as selling techniques. Some salespeople simply aren’t open to coaching – and in some cases criticism – when they don’t adapt to those changes.
7.) Work on High-Payoff Activities in Downtime
With many sales managers not having the time to provide ongoing training to their staff, it requires that salespeople take responsibility for their own development when slow periods occur. All too often, we walk into a dealership and see salespeople hanging around in groups talking about the ballgame last night instead of spending time on activities and self-development that can directly impact their ability to sell. You will never see this with top salespeople, as they will take every available minute to study, learn, and increase their knowledge.
6.) Be Friendly but Assertive With Customers
This is a balance some salespeople struggle to find. Of course, they need to be friendly, so their customers feel comfortable and like them, but they also need to know when the situation calls for them to be a little tougher with the customer who is just there to try to bully them (some even take pride in doing so). Although you may have heard the term “the customer is always right,”, frankly the customer isn’t always right, and salespeople sometimes have to be uncomfortable for a couple minutes to professionally set a customer straight with the facts. The best way to describe this is what my general manager used to call me way back when I was selling: “A dove with steel talons.” Salespeople need to game out these scenarios before they happen and think about how they might handle them, so they are prepared.
5.) Ask Questions and Listen
Most customers walk in with either a need or a problem to solve. The only way to find out exactly what that might be is to be a questioning machine and an active listener. This is not meant to be an interrogation, but a sequential process, where each next question is founded in what the customer last said. When this happens, salespeople can help make the customer feel more comfortable talking, while at the same time revealing information the salesperson needs to move to the next step.
4.) Know Your Product
Customers are more informed every day and spend more time researching product and features on the internet before they walk in than ever before. As a result, they are more prepared with technical and product questions than in the past. Salespeople must master the product they sell to be perceived as a product expert or risk losing credibility with the customer. Once that happens, the possibly of a sale quickly drops. Even if your sales skills need polishing, being an expert on your product can help overcome this with most customers.
3.) Honesty and Integrity
As customers, we have likely all dealt with a salesperson at some point who was less than honest. Do you remember how you felt? Customers are experts at smelling out a dishonest salesperson and they can do so in seconds. Once that happens, you’re done. It’s simple, you must be honest and have integrity or you won’t sell anything.
2.) Have Superior Follow-Through
Having or not having great follow-through is both the quickest way to build – and lose – credibility with a customer. The definition of great follow-through is simple: doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. If it can be answered now, then do that. If it can be solved now, then do it now. If you put it on a list to be answered later, commit to a day when you will get back with an answer by. If would I tell a customer that I would get back to them with an answer by Tuesday at 3, then I would call them Tuesday by 3, even if I didn’t have the answer yet. Each time you do this, your credibility goes up. However, the one time you don’t do it might be the last time, because all credibility will be lost.
1.) The Ability to Build Rapport and Trust
People buy from people they like and trust. Period. If you do everything on this list from No. 2 to No. 11 but don’t build rapport and trust with your customer, you will not sell anything to them. Buying is an emotional decision … it’s a feeling. I feel so strongly about this subject, I wrote my latest book is about it . “No Trust, No Sale” by Thomas Morin is available at all major online booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Walmart and many others.
Everything you do begins and ends with the customer and how they feel about you. They know it and you know it. If you master anything on this list, master this one step first, then work on everything else, preferably in the order in which I have written it.
Being able to identify and understand the type of customer who is standing in front of you, how they conduct themselves, how they want to be sold and then making adjustments in how you sell to them, will be the best investment you can make to get to year two and three (if not sooner) when you can start enjoying large and consistent commissions.