The Big Sin:
I'm always amazed at the number of so-called sales people who think that they can just do nothing and customers will just come to them . . . after all, they are the "sales person."
How does someone select a sales career and then do nothing to assure that they will be successful at their chosen profession?
Do our sales people today really understand what selling is all about?
Have our sales people had good role models, teachers and mentors that they could turn to when they needed a good dose of reality and the cold, hard truth about the career they have chosen? In fact, do they really look at their employment in the RV industry as a career or are they just passing through while developing their resume enhancement skills?
If your are the owner or sales manager of an RV dealership, can you honestly say that your sales team understands and practices professional prospecting techniques to assure a constant source of new and repeat business?
If you are an RV sales representative, can you honestly say that you fully understand the professional prospecting techniques that must be incorporated into your daily routine to assure a constant source of new and repeat business?
Prospecting is one of the greatest skills any sales rep, in any industry, can hope to master if they want to build a career and reach the highest levels of sales success. Successful prospecting will set them apart from those who just want to take up space and hope that the market comes to them. It just doesn't come to you, you have to go out and grab it.
Another prospecting problem is the attitude of many sales reps that think it is the responsibility of the company they are working for to do the prospecting for them. They confuse marketing with prospecting.
Marketing simply creates awareness of a product or dealership. Prospecting creates customers.
There is a very simple rule to success in sales . . . talk to more people and do it more often than your are doing it now. Create situations that will put you in front of more prospects than your peers at the dealership or your competitors down the street.
Don't wait for the prospects to come to you, don't wait for the next "up" and don't wait for the next visitor on the lot. Change the way you do business by changing the way you prospect.
Look at any successful sales rep you know, in any industry, and there is one key thing that sets him or her apart from their peers . . . they always seem to have more business than they can handle and they close more of that business. It didn't happen by accident, they had to work at it.
Look at prospecting in a completely different light and understand that it is the key to your success and the most important thing you can learn to establish yourself as a sales professional.
Here are a few ideas and statements that might cause you to rethink the way that you prospect.
It is impossible to run out of prospects. That may sound like a bold statement, but read it again, slowly. How can any sales rep run out of prospects? I don't care what you are selling; there is somebody out there that wants to buy it.
The challenge? Find them.
Sounds simple enough, but I don't think many sales reps believe this statement. If they did, we would see much better prospecting techniques and increased prospecting activities at your dealership.
You have to be more aggressive and you have to be more creative than most sales people are, but that's not as hard as you might think it is. Look around you, do you have a master prospector at your dealership? If so, learn from them. If not, step up to the plate and lay claim to the crown.
If you are not selling, then you better be prospecting.
Don't sit on the telephone book, read it. What a dull thought . . . who, in their right mind, would want to read something as dull as a telephone book?
Did you ever notice how small the printing is in a telephone book? There's a real good reason for this . . . there are so many people they have to print it that small just to get them all inside the covers. Every one of them is a prospect, or they should be until you prove otherwise and have first hand knowledge that they will never engage in the RV lifestyle.
That's what makes prospecting so exciting. Would you rather talk to your fellow employees, who are not going to buy anything from you . . . or would you rather talk to someone who may not understand the value of investing in the RV lifestyle? If you are the one doing the prospecting and if you are the person who can convince them to make that investment . . . then you win. It's just that simple.
If you don't talk to them, someone else will. Prospecting is talking . . . talk to prospects, not to each other.
Your next prospect is closer than you think. When was the last time you asked a customer for a reference? Read any sales book and you will see something written about prospecting from existing customers versus trying to build a customer relationship from the ground up.
When I work in the field with our sales reps I ask them to tell me about their last ten sales. They can usually discuss them without even looking at notes. They will tell me all about the product or service they sold, profile the person who became the customer, and even tell me quite a bit about the company this person works for. This isn't anything to brag about . . . you should know this about every customer.
Then I ask the killer question. How many new prospects did you get from those ten customers?
It is very discouraging when the answer frequently comes back as zero. In fact, it comes back at zero with rookie sales reps and believe it or not, it also comes from veteran sales reps.
If every sales book tells you to ask present customers for future prospects, then why don't sales people do it?
Take a look at your last ten sales . . . be honest now, how many prospects did you get from those ten customers? You don't have to tell me the number, but if it's less than ten, then you are leaving money on the table and making sure that those prospects never become customers.
If a person thought enough of you and your dealership to invest their hard-earned money in your product, then why wouldn't you ask them for one or more references so that you could maximize the relationship?
When was the last time you made a cold call?
Let's see now, I've been an active RV enthusiast for about 25 years. For most of that time period, there has been a conversion van, trailer and/or motorhome parked in my driveway. Not once in 25 years has an RV sales rep ever made a cold call at the Zagami household. That's right, nobody has ever knocked on my door and acknowledged my participation in the RV lifestyle and took the time to introduce themselves and their dealership.
Crazy idea? Maybe not as crazy as you think . . . or want to believe.
Why wouldn't you make a cold call? While certainly not the most productive way to spend valuable sales time, it does provide some unique opportunities for the aggressive and creative sales person.
Here's an interesting experiment next time you go to work. Count the number of RVs that you see in the driveways of the homes you pass along the way. Industry statistics say that one out of every ten households in the Unites States now own an RV. If you pass 100 homes on the way to work than you have probably just passed ten prospects.
We all like to talk to qualified prospects. I'd say that a house with an RV in the driveway would qualify as a prospect, wouldn't you?
Then why haven't you called on them? If you pass them every day, why wouldn't you stop, introduce yourself, and drop off your card and invite them to visit your dealership?
Never thought of that did you? Guess what, your competition probably hasn't thought of it either.
Now if you pass all these homes with RVs are you just going to wait for the next time they want to trade and hope that they will visit your dealership? What if you were just a bit more aggressive? What if you did stop and introduce yourself? Of course they would be surprised! They might even be ready to buy a new RV. And if they are not ready to buy a new RV, there's a real good chance that they know more than one other family who also enjoys the RV lifestyle.
Still not convinced? Prove me wrong then. Take a day next week, leave for work an hour early and stop at every house that has an RV in the driveway. Prepare an information package that you can leave behind if nobody is home. The package may include your business card, a flyer about the dealership and perhaps a product brochure on one of the new RVs they would find at your dealership. While you are dropping off the packages, don't forget to get the name of the family who lives in the house so that you can make a follow-up telephone call later that day.
Don't wait a week . . . call them the same day or no later than the next day . . . while your prospecting tactic is still very fresh in their mind. Heck, it may even have been the discussion topic at last night's family dinner. I know it would have been at my house if there had been an aggressive and creative sales person who had the guts to make an old-fashioned cold call.
Imagine that, 25 years and it hasn't happened yet. I wonder what you are waiting for.
Good luck and good selling.