Here’s an embarrassing story that shot a Ford dealership’s sales through the roof… but not ‘til after I was red in the face…
1993. My band had broken up—my dreams of touring the world crushed—and I was working as a service advisor at a dealership in Seattle.
A consultant approached me and said, “Chris, you’re hitting the best numbers I’ve ever seen.”
“Thanks,” I said.
He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re twenty years old and outselling everyone in your industry. You’re putting guys to shame who’ve been advisors for twenty years.”
“Well, I’ve figured out how to make it fun. It’s like a game to me. And the more fun I have, the more sales I make.”
“Interesting,” he said. “Look, I have a meeting scheduled with a team of advisors at a Ford dealership that’s hurting right now. Would you mind coming along with me and maybe teaching ‘em a little bit of what you do.”
“Sure,” I said. “Sounds like a blast.”
The only thing was, I didn’t know at the time that I’d misunderstood what was being asked of me..
That night I went home and began plotting my presentation…
I dedicated my entire week to it.
Every night after work I cranked up the Alice In Chains “Dirt” album—which I was hooked on at the time—and outlined what I was going to talk about. I made worksheets and diagrams and sales scripts for the attendees.
I spent my entire Saturday at Kinkos—with Alice in Chains jamming on full-blast in my headphones—putting together manuals chock full of step-by-step systems for each of the advisors. I plopped down $160 of my own money to have it all printed and bound together in spiral notebooks.
When I showed up to the meeting and began handing out the manuals, the consultant chuckled and gave me a strange look. I wasn’t sure why…
As I shared with the group my strategies for building trust and creating relationships with customers, I could tell they were into it, but the consultant kept shaking his head and laughing to himself.
Yeah, the hair’s a little embarrassing, but that’s not the REALLY embarrassing part…
Was I doing something wrong?
Whatever, I thought, push on: teach these guys how you work your magic.
Now, it’s PARAMOUNT that service advisors create long-lasting relationships with customers because repeat business is how you win.
Being a service advisor is different than a being a guy who sells…let’s say for example…suits or stereo equipment or jewelry.
Since your customers can’t always see what they’re buying, they have to TRUST your diagnosis about what’s under the hood.
They have to trust that you’re shooting ‘em the real deal about things they don’t understand.
They’re skeptical and, a lot of times, think that advisors are out to rip ‘em off.
And let’s face it, a lot of advisors ARE out to make a quick buck. But advisors like these don’t see the big picture, and that’s why they’ll never be successful.
A guy buying a suit can look in the mirror and see whether it looks good on him or not.
But a lady listening to an advisor explain why she needs to drop $700 on something she can’t see or understand is a different type of customer AND needs to be treated differently.
Trust is the key to creating lasting customers. It’s more important in the service industry than in just about any other type of sales.
So during the meeting I taught the advisors how to build this trust…
One of strategies I taught ‘em would later become known as my Pet the Dog Principle—a principle I put a name on a decade later when I met a blasphemous veterinarian who didn’t like dogs. I’ll share that story with you soon in another post—it’ll change the way you look at sales forever.
For nearly two hours I went on about relationship building, trust building, making sales fun and collecting customers.
The advisors ate it up, but the entire time the consultant kept making strange faces, chuckling, and shaking his head.
After the meeting I asked him what was up. “What were you laughing at?” I said, a little unsure of myself.
“Well,” he said, “first of all, they loved it. That’s some of the best info I’ve ever seen. I was laughing because you were just supposed to come do a little ten-minute pump-up talk for these guys, not an entire presentation.”
Seems I’d over-anticipated my role in the meeting…
Embarrassed, I said, “Oops,” as I looked at the clock on the wall.
When he’d invited me to speak, I never heard him say anything about it just being a ten-minute deal. I didn’t know it was supposed to be just a “little” talk. And I don’t think he knew that I don’t do “little”…I only go big.
“You showed up with all these manuals,” he said, “and worked with these guys for two hours. Quite frankly…I’m…I’m blown away.”
The dealership immediately implemented my systems and their numbers shot through the roof.
They soon hired me to help make their service department even more successful. And the consulting company contracted me to talk to other dealerships in the evenings after I got off work.
Looking back, I didn’t know it at the time, but in that meeting 22 years ago, as a young—and somewhat naïve—service advisor, I laid out many of the systems that would change how advisors all over the country approach service today.
I didn’t have a clue that my systems were about to revolutionize the industry.
Who knows, if I’d heard the consultant say it was just supposed to be a “little ten-minute talk”, I may have never gone on to work with all the dealerships and business that I do today. I’d have done my ten minutes and that would’ve been it.
Maybe all the Alice Chains I was cranking did a number on my eardrums. They’re one of those bands that tend to do that type of thing. (R.I.P Layne and Mike.)
It’s crazy how much good you can do when you’re willing to go the extra mile.
Why do I go the extra mile every day?
Because I never want to go back to being poor like when I was a kid…living on handouts in Tijuana and having to go around to churches begging for donations so I could eat.
However, I also insist on making “going the extra mile” fun…
Success HAS to be fun. And what’s awesome is, in return, fun FUELS success.
It’s a fact that sales people who have the most fun at what they do make the most sales.
That’s one of the reasons I have every business and dealership I work with implement “Gamification” sales games...
I have them plug in games that are strategically designed to flood their sales people’s brains with dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline—similar to what crack cocaine does to an addict—filling their teams with surges of excitement, energy, and confidence and making them crave MORE—more customers, more sales, and bigger numbers.
And just like a crack addict who’ll do anything to get his fix, you’re team will do anything to get more sales—ethically that is.
These games are the secret weapon of many of the most successful startups in Silicon Valley.
Google and Facebook are using games like these every day, and if making more sales is important to you, I strongly suggest you do the same…