Practice What You Learn: What Goes in Training Should Stay in the Store

If you’re like Ed Goldstein, you know the great ideas you pick up to improve your sales game won’t implement themselves. “I literally have a couple of different areas around my desk that I’m constantly looking at to remind myself, ‘Hey! This idea works. Keep it going,’” the internet manager for Wigder Chevrolet in Livingston, N.J., says. “It’s always in front of me.”

The approach is one Michael Tyman, an automotive retail consultant would endorse. “If you truly want to apply what it is you’re learning in training,” the CEO of California-based Professional Success says, “it’s got to be a daily practice.”

Looking to improve your game? Let’s review how successful salespeople stay motivated and focused on improving their performance.

Set the Stage for Success

For Tyman, achieving long-term goals begins with a foundation of accomplishing daily responsibilities. Salespeople that stay on top of their to-do list find it easier to consistently use new tactics, he says, because they can concentrate on the customer and what it takes to sell the car. Undistracted by missed deadlines, they’re less likely to revert to old, bad habits when the stress of trying to keep a deal from going sideways mounts.

“Most people are so far behind they just never do it,” Tyman says.

To help salespeople get and stay ahead of the curve, he stresses the importance of the first and last hour of the workday. Arriving at the dealership, Tyman says, they should start following up with prospects and setting appointments – not chatting with co-workers or doing busywork for the desk. Before heading home, they should clear the decks by entering the day’s activities into the CRM system and completing the specified tasks.

“Today is the most important day. What we do today will dictate our success for tomorrow,” Tyman says. “If you want to hold on to training, you’re going to have to challenge yourself daily to practice what the training involved.”

For veterans like Goldstein with a record of success, the obstacle they need to overcome may be easy repetition – not poor time management. “When you’re making 50 phone calls a day, suddenly you start to sound like a robot and you’re saying the same thing over and over again to every customer,” he says. To counter that tendency, Goldstein posts articles outlining new tactics and highlights the relevant areas.

“Those do help,” he says. “When I’m on the phone with a customer, it may just catch my eye for a quick second, but it’s an instantaneous reminder.”

Managers, Do Your Part

Being pragmatic, Tyman said he understands that even well-intentioned sales professionals need direction and support. To help them achieve program objectives, Tyman begins with the management team when he starts a dealership  training engagement. Their participation in training secures their buy-in and showcases to the salespeople that everyone is expected to toe the line.

“I mandate that the general manager and the general sales manager participate in every first training session. With them in the room, there’s no way salespeople can say they didn’t hear that,” he says. “Are you tired of excuses, are you tired of all of the lack of participation, are you tired of the lack of accountability? How we can eliminate that is by you participating in everything they participate in.”

From there, Tyman meets every other week with the salespeople to set individual goals, chart their progress, acknowledge success and, when necessary, address poor results. He sees this investment by the dealer principal and himself as an opportunity to expand their sense of responsibility to the business.

“I’m not just a cheerleader that comes in and leaves a book,” Tyman says. “I encourage salespeople to take ownership of their customer base rather than think of themselves as employees.”

Give New Ideas Time to Work, but Know When to Let Go

Even the best ideas for improved performance don’t always work right out of the box, Goldstein cautions, and frequently must be tailored to specific customers and situations. “It’s really trial and error,” he says. “You just keep trying until you find something that you think is going to work.”

Tyman agreed, saying, “If the internet (buying) cycle is 120 days long, on an average, don’t you think you have to give it at least 120 days? I mean, 120 of your best days.”

Goldstein currently is “fiddling” with an email catchphrase to make him more memorable to shoppers, a video process for merchandising his inventory and whether to invest in an iPhone-specific mobile application. “That’s why I put these things up on my bulletin board,” he says. “What today isn’t working in my brain, maybe next week I’m going to look at it a different way.”

Not everything that comes his way, though, comes to fruition. Despite an early burst of enthusiasm and his best efforts, Goldstein recalled cutting short suggestions that simply weren’t suited to Wigder Chevrolet’s culture or customer base.

“It was a fleeting moment,” he says. “It looked good when I initially saw it and then, for some reason, it looked different a week or two later.”

Keep Learning

With nearly 25 years in automotive retail, Goldstein credits his longevity and success in the business to continually monitoring and improving his performance. Not only does he scour trade magazines and websites for the latest tactics, but he also keeps an ear tuned to colleagues and vendors for inspiration and innovative ideas – even when he’s not immediately sold.

“You have to have an open mind,” he says. “I just jot ’em down and put them aside. You never know. Someday that idea that didn’t seem right at the time will work now.”

At the same time, Goldstein occasionally must remind himself to silence his inner critic and go with the moment. He learned that lesson earlier in his career while questioning the advice of a younger consultant brought in to help set up his store’s website.

“Really? I’ve seen it all,” he remembers thinking at the time. “You’re not going to show me anything that I’m not going to know. But at the back of my head, I just clicked it off and said, ‘You know what? This is a good opportunity. Listen.’”

Additional Resources

Looking for additional tips you can implement in your store today to drive more traffic with your online advertising and desk more deals with your internet sales processes? Check out Cars.com’s DealerCenter. Here, you can access our DealerADvantage blog or archived recordings from our DealerADvantage LIVE webinar series. 

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