Saturday, January 31, 2009

Powerful Lessons From A Movie

It is so interesting to find something that moves your thinking in a way that feels powerful. To have this happen from a movie is also interesting. Not everyone might receive these lessons after seeing the movie, but I'll share it just in case. If you get a chance, you can rent the movie Cold Comfort Farm. You can see a preview at the link provided, but the preview may not be enough.

I watched it twice and I would watch it again. Here's the synopsis from Netflix: "When Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a young society woman in 1930s London, becomes suddenly orphaned, she's forced to take up residence with a group of her unsophisticated, oddball relatives at their farm. Despite protests from the bedridden, iron-willed matriarch of the farm, the aspiring lass tries to achieve some semblance of order and class in the house -- and in her own life." It's a great comedy and very well done.

Here's some of what I gleaned from the movie:
  • Flora, the lead character, loves to fix things. In the place she went, which is a horrible place to go, she accepted it as a challenge and in the early part just flowed so easily with what was going on. The relatives were even trying to get her upset, but couldn't.
  • The relatives were all attacking her in a way, but it rolled off her like water off a duck.
  • She took the time to observe and get to know each of them and what appeared to interest each one. She found that by asking a lot of questions and observing every detail. Fascinating.
  • As she genuinely became interested and observed and questioned, a unique relationship developed--a trust.
  • She saw more in them than they saw in themselves. Each relative was limiting themselves to a very small world and scope; whereas, Flora was seeing a vastly greater picture of potential in each of them and she decided to make it known to them.
  • As she observed what motivated each relative; that is, what hidden things were important to them, she built her "sales pitch" around that theme to astounding success.
  • Each and every person on the farm and those she had relationships with were dramatically improved as a result of her love, interest, motivation and caring. Each was changed so much, one would be hard pressed to remember how they were previously. Powerful.
  • It is after all received what they needed and wanted, that Flora decided to avail herself of what she wanted.
  • The magnitude of the power of one person to positively affect others is exemplified in this film. She did it all with the absolute best, light hearted attitude I can imagine.

It was pure joy to watch this film and I enjoyed it even more the second time. The best thing is that I felt so inspired by all the points I just made that I got from it. Easily one of the best films I have ever seen and how interesting that it speaks volumes about sales and life in general.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gentlemen: This Is A Football. . .

I was just thinking of a training session I did at a dealership about a year and a half ago. I was there once a week doing training on commercial trucks. The previous trip I did walkarounds on a number of commercial units--just enough to demonstrate the technique, information and excitement of the product.

So, the next week, after a little classroom work, I wanted to see what they had. Knowing they probably would struggle with the commercial product on knowledge of features, I asked each one to give a presentation on a retail car or truck that they should be very familiar with. It was worse than pathetic. I could not imagine they could sell any vehicle on the lot unless the customer already made a decision to buy and buy now. I raised my voice a little peeved, stating that this was the worst I had ever seen.

What's worse, every one of them had passed all of the factory tests on the computer, but couldn't even do a presentation on a product they have been selling for some time. Many dealers have abdicated the training to the factory computer module training programs and this is not a good thing. Training is critical for success--but as far as I'm concerned, the factory training modules aren't good enough. They can be helpful, but I would much prefer to do my own training. People need hands on, real world training and absolutely must learn to present the product they claim to sell. They need to be tested on it and coached on it and praised on it and criticized on it. They need training.

This skill is so basic and so necessary, that it would be a good move to not even let them talk to a prospect until they have satisfactorily given a solid presentation to you or the dealer. Now is a great time to get the training efforts of the store on full alert. We can't afford to have one possible buyer slip away out on the lot.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Powerful Words Sound Familiar and Encouraging

"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live. . . "

See rest of the 1932 inaugural speech of Franklin D Roosevelt and hear audio of it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

All Of A Sudden, It Is Clear To Me!

All of a sudden, it is clear to me! Have you ever made that statement? You are learning every day--even, perhaps studying on purpose--and day after day the lessons and tidbits are gleaned and filed and thought-over and set aside. Then, all of a sudden, it makes perfect sense and you have gained an understanding of the subject that you never had before. You might have even thought you knew what you were talking about in the past, but now: You Know! All of a sudden it is clear to you.

I've had so many of these that I stopped counting, and the only thing that has them continue to come is the fact I am constantly searching and learning. Books, newsletters, the Internet, experiences--they all add to the knowledge pile building toward the "all of a sudden" realization. Of course, it doesn't really come all of a sudden, does it? It's a journey.

Here is one of my favorite tools that helps me greatly: Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine E-Newsletter. The link will take you to the sign up page. If you're in sales or management, this newsletter is awesome. It is the best I have ever run across and I look forward to receiving it weekly. In addition, his website is an ocean full of valuable insight and thought starters. His newsletter contains a video lesson each week, along with guest articles and many links. It is a very powerful and interesting tool for me.

I now receive a lot of email newsletters (as well as produce them), and I like them all, but the one at the very top of the list and continues to stay there year after year is Jeffrey Gitomer's Sales Caffeine E-Newsletter. I predict that you may feel the same after you try it. Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Follow Up Lessons

You might think that things like houses are long-term purchases and there isn't much need to follow up with clients that have purchased. Logic would dictate that they will be there a long time, so what's the point?

I've only purchased three homes in my time, but I have periodically looked seriously at others that I didn't purchase. It's interesting to me that there was virtually no follow up on any of the purchases and the follow up on the ones that we looked at was extremely weak and might have been one phone call or email.

That's pathetic, don't you think?

As a sales trainer for so many years, I'm just amazed by this kind of treatment and this kind of thinking by a "sales person." The sale is made, so on to the next. See ya. And, the ones who didn't make a sale must have so many more prospects to get on to. See ya. Good luck.

So, here's some good questions for the sales person (pretend you're the sales trainer here):
  • Do you think that I might like to have the salesperson stay in touch?
  • Do you think that I might have some friends? Who might come into the market?
  • Do you think I might want to contact someone in the future for a different place, another place, a rental, etc., and it might as well be you--if I can even remember your name?
  • Do you think I might be able to send referrals?
  • I've heard it said that the average time of home ownership in this country is about 5 years. Do you think I'm above average or below average, or just average?
  • Do you think I might have relatives that may need a change?

I can't even think of the name of any of the real estate sales people I have ever dealt with.

Do you think this thinking about real estate has any relation to the auto business? I've purchases several vehicles from different places and the most I ever get is an occasional service flyer.

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Evening Power Questions

Continuing about asking great questions from the chapter "Questions Are the Answer" from Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. In the previous post I quoted the Morning Power Questions. Great questions that lead to helpful thoughts. Tony says that "in the evening, sometimes I ask the Morning Questions, and sometimes I ask an additional three questions." Here are the Evening Power Questions:
  1. What have I given today? In what ways have I been a giver today?
  2. What did I learn today?
  3. How has today added to the quality of my life or how can I use today as an investment in my future? Repeat morning questions (optional).

After you've absorbed, used and appreciated the questions in this and the last two posts, pass them on to people you know!

Morning Power Questions

Here's a little more from the same chapter as yesterday's post, "Questions Are the Answer" from Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. He states that "our life experience is based on what we focus on. The following questions are designed to cause you to experience more happiness, excitement, pride, gratitude, joy, commitment, and love every day of your life . . . if you have difficulty dicovering an answer simply add the word "could." Example: "What could I be most happy about in my life now."" Here are the Morning Power Questions:
  1. What am I happy about in my life now? What about that makes me happy? How does that make me feel?
  2. What am I excited about in my life now? What about that makes me excited? How does that make me feel?
  3. What am I proud about in my life now? What about that makes me proud? How does that make me feel?
  4. What am I grateful about in my life now? What about that makes me feel grateful? How does that make me feel?
  5. What am I enjoying most in my life right now? What about that do I enjoy? How does that make me feel?
  6. What am I committed to in my life right now? What about that makes me committed? How does that make me feel?
  7. Who do I love? Who loves me? What about that makes me loving? How does that make me feel?

Tony says, "quality questions create a quality life."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Problem-Solving Questions

I was just thumbing through one of my favorite books, Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. I stopped on page 201 which has "The Problem-Solving Questions." They are just wonderful. I used to carry them on a card with tape all over it to protect it so that I would remember to ask them. They were very helpful for me during that period, and I enjoyed seeing them again. Here they are:

  1. What is great about this problem?
  2. What is not perfect yet?
  3. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
  4. What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
  5. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is neccessary to make it the way I want it?
Awesome questions. Give them a try! I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Better Time Could There Be?

It's no new news that the auto business is way off. It's a tough market for most right now--there's no doubt about it. In one way this is very good news and that is that there is no better time than now to prepare for good times that are on the horizon. Whether it is 3 months, 6 months, a year--who knows? But this much we should know for sure and for certain: It will rise again!

In the meantime, doing the best you can with what you have to work with is the order of the day. Keeping the most optimistic attitude will always have huge benefits. That's all good. Yet, there is so much that can and should be being done now to prepare for the good times. Here's a short list:
  • Database. Everyone means to get around to making this the gold mine it should be. It's always "I'm too busy; there isn't enough time" and other similar comments. So, now that there is time and no one is too busy, what better time could there be to get this thing built and in full control? Buy a card scanner and you can scan your business card stack into the program and sync it to your ACT database saving a good deal of time. Once you get the database up to speed, you can now schedule contacts and opportunities at will. In addition, you can add some depth to your database. After all, it's not just the customer you have, but their family, who they know, their business affiliations and so much more.
  • Website As A Business Tool. You can get this done. I know of other fleet & commercial people who have built their own sites and done a nice job of it. If you sell commercial trucks, you especially need a separate, more effective site to help you handle you regional market. It's not free, but it is very inexpensive if you can build it yourself. Use a company we use: Network Solutions. There are hundreds of other suppliers as well. If you can, you will generally be better off to find someone to build it for you, or at least work with you to get it up and running.
  • Great Communication Business Tool: Marketing and staying in touch with your customers couldn't be easier in today's world with products like e-mail newsletters and such. You can make yourself look really good for a song. It's going to consume some of your time and attention, but it is pretty easy to put together. We use Constant Contact and highly recommend them. There are hundreds of other companies as well.
  • A Plan of Action. Plan out ways to stay in touch, methods to communicate and how to make decisions on who to contact and when. Call it a Master Plan. Sounds really important. It is. The tools above are put in motion by the plan. The better the plan, the better the motion. For example, you will have a plan to send a thank you note for having the opportunity to show them a vehicle, along with a follow up plan whether they remain a prospect, or become a customer. Either way, they are still a great opportunity. Try to think of all the ways that you might have a good opportunity to communicate with all the people and companies in your golden database.

See yourself getting so busy and having so much success, that you are forced to hire someone to handle all this stuff for you. The best part is that you have been building it, tweaking it and making it pay dividends along the way and now the people you hire to take up the charge will know what to do and do it well because you know it. Superstar. How cool is that?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Help Your Customers and Help Yourself

Here's an idea to help your customers and in the process help yourself to some repeat and referral business. Start a blog. It's free. Go to http://www.blogger.com/. Piece of cake to get started. Now, instead of talking about yourself, promote your customers. Include photos, artwork, slogans, website links, video links, personal stories of their legendary service. Add to it regularly and once you complete the circle of your clients and prospects, start again. Promote your blog by having all your clients and prospects sign up for an email version of your blog. That is available at no charge through Google's own Feedburner. I do this now.

Next, start an email newsletter that you can create even more of a following on. Go to www.constantcontact.com. It's a very low cost per month (under $25). Introduce new products, new services, important industry trends, special incentives, a service coupon, little known facts about your store and much more. Include one or two articles in each issue about one of your clients with links to their website, to the blog and maybe some of their favorite partners or suppliers.

You'll be amazed at the mileage you will get out of these two interlocking projects. You'll be a hero and gain substantial status as a business person and reap the rewards of the referrals, repeat and incremental additional sales these pleased clients will provide. Send business to your clients in any way you can and it will come back to you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Creating Opportunities For More Sales

Thinking about men's clothing stores for sport coats, shirts, accessories, suits, etc. My wife bought me a couple of sport coats for Christmas from "our guy" at The Men's Warehouse. Earlier, I had bought a couple pair of slacks from the same guy. Matter of fact, over the years, our guy has waited on me many times. Not one follow up phone call ever. Not even one.

In order for this guy to get any more business from me, he needs to wait around until I get the urge or need to go in there again. Of course, this assumes, I haven't stopped at Jos. A Banks or some other place in the meantime. Been there too, but don't have a "guy". It seems like an obvious opportunity to just learn what I like and then call periodically with some suggestions of things on sale in my size, color, whatever. Heck, he could have a sale opportunity any time he wanted with any one of his hundreds of customers. Don't ya think?

He could ask questions like, what do you think you'll want to be buying soon? Any special occasions coming up? What's your favorite shirt? Then he could plan out some strategic contacts over the next 12 months to have me come in to see some special selections. Or, he might even send them to me for approval.

While I'm in the store getting what I'm getting, he might say, "How's your belt collection doing? Need any new ones? How about ties? Ready for a nice silk solid? How's your shoe collection? These are all missed opportunities, so far. At both places.

Here's the real interesting part: I would absolutely so love it if they would follow up with me like that. It would be so cool. I would buy a lot more clothing. I have a need for their product and for their service. I only get the product when I get around to it (which isn't often enough for my wife), but the service is not very effective. Seems like there are so many sales going unnoticed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Great Dealer Websites: Winkel GMC

This is a new spot in our Commercial Truck Success IdeaLetter where we share great dealer commercial websites that we find or are sent to us. Since we also build websites for commercial dealers, we are always looking for those who stand out ahead in website thinking.

This time the spotlight is on:

Winkel Commercial Truck Center in Reno, Nevada.

Here's some things we liked about their site:

  • This is a separate website from the retail store and has a separate URL address.
  • Good domain: winkelfleet.com
  • Great graphics
  • Truck with body changing on home page is interesting.
  • Links to retail site.
  • Nice header and relatively easy to navigate.
  • Address, phone, fax and toll free number in header on every page!
  • Multiple menus. Easy navigation.
  • Good inventory photo arrays with multiple photo angles.
  • New AND used commercial inventory links and easy to use.
  • Right side menu has links to large photos of upfitted trucks that may compliment certain trades such as, traffic control, landscaping, refrigerated, catering, and much more.
  • The "Gallery of Possibilities" Wonderful.
  • Staff with names, position, phone, fax, cell phone, email link. (NEED PHOTOS!--Make it human!)
  • Contact us has information plus a form which is better than most.
  • Service & parts informational links with contact names and numbers.
  • We think this is a great dealer commercial truck website. We really do appreciate a good commercial website.

This one should be doing a good job for the dealership!

www.winkelfleet.com

If you see a dealer commercial truck website that you think is a good one, please send it on to me at tminion@commercialtrucksuccess.com.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make the Wall Disappear!

Many times in my life I come to a wall. It's a huge wall, at least 40' high, miles long, smooth surface, and I have no conceivable way to get past it. It is something I need to learn, but don't want to or don't feel I have the energy or time to learn it, or I feel I'm not smart enough, cool enough, wise enough. When I reach one of these walls, I know I need to get over it, around it or through it, but my most common thought is, "I want someone to do this for me."

The first time I really recognized this wall was when I needed to learn how to be able to effectively use a computer. This was when computers were brand new and MS-DOS was the protocol. All that stuff to remember. I kept asking the fiance manager next door what to do. One day, he said, "enough! You have to learn this. I'm not helping you anymore." After a day or two of whining, I made a decision to learn it. I bought a book and started down the path of learning enough about MS-DOS that I could effectively make good use of the computer. The wall disappeared almost immediately. It was much easier than I was imagining. Now, people were coming to me asking me how to do it. What a change of events.

It happened again when Microsoft came out with Windows. I thought that I didn't need that because I was getting so good at MS-DOS. Over time, all the cool programs I was using went away because they didn't work on Windows. The wall again. Finally (slow to be sure) I began to learn Windows when it was version 3.1. The wall disappeared.

Some of these walls are really high, others not so high, but always what makes the wall disappear is not actually learning the thing I need to learn, but making the firm decision that I am going to learn it. As soon as the decision is made, the wall just begins disappearing until there is nothing stopping me. I could go on and on with events that have been walls for me. I have them all the time. This I have learned: If I just face it and decide that I am going to learn it (even if I don't want to), then I can. And, when I do learn it, I am always amazed at how much easier it was than I thought.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Definition of Insanity

I've heard it said many times that the definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result.

I'm reminded of this and want to paste it on my wall. It is so true, isn't it?! How many times have I kept doing the same things, but somehow thought it would produce a different result now. Maybe my thinking changed, but my actions didn't.

Maybe I'm not prospecting, but I am expecting business to improve. Perhaps I am majoring in minor things, getting distracted. One of my favorite lines I learned from one of my customers is this: when asked how he was doing, he said, "I'm trying not to confuse activity with accomplishment." We could change the word accomplishment to effectiveness. Some people I talk to are doing 50% of normal, yet they are busier than they ever were in better times. It's interesting how much activity we can get into that doesn't really produce results or isn't really effective.

I'm only writing this to remind myself of my own efforts and activity. If any of it applies to you, it is purely coincidental. No animals were harmed in this message.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great Dealer Websites: Ivan Leonard Chevrolet

This is a new spot we put in our Commercial Truck Success IdeaLetter where we share great dealer commercial websites that we find or are sent to us. Since we also build websites for commercial dealers, we are always looking for those who stand out ahead in website thinking.

The spotlight this time is on Ivan Leonard Chevrolet in Hoover, Alabama.

Here's some things we liked about their site:
  • This is a separate website from the retail store! And, it can be opened from the main dealership site and it opens in a separate window and has a separate URL address. Like that! Great job!
  • Good search engine ranking. This is partially due to a large number of URL's the company owns and uses. They obviously pay attention to the web.
  • Nice team. Contact Us page has photos, phone numbers including cell number and email. (These guys look like truck guys!) The first thing I look at on a website is people. Make it human!
  • Nice header and relatively easy to navigate.
  • Address and toll free number in header on every page!
  • Contact Us hyperlink on every page and on home page in three places which takes you directly to the team photos and numbers. Awesome, awesome, awesome. People want to deal with people! Get them focused on contacting you and asking for you directly. Super job!
  • Home pages shows some logos of large clients. Name droppers. . .
  • Has good product pages describing general product items and separate pages for inventory. Sweet and simple. Like that.
  • In Stock/For Sale pages have new, used and specials. Photos okay, but small and has minimal info on truck.
  • Link back to the main store is under other inventory and it opens in a separate window. I like that much better than just going directly to the site and closing the previous window. Same thing applies when at the retail site and going to the commercial site.

We appreciate a good commercial website. This one should be doing a good job for the dealership!




www.commercialtruckssoutheast.com

If you see a dealer commercial truck website that you think is a good one, please send it on to us. Email address at bottom of page.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

1903 Was An Interesting Year

A couple nights ago, I watched a wonderful Ken Burns PBS movie titled, Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip, which Tom Hanks gave his voice to. Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson made a casual bet on a whim to drive an automobile from San Francisco to New York in 1903 and to complete the trip within 90 days. No big deal to do it in about 5 days today, but this had never been done then and there were no roads--at least for automobiles across the country. I really enjoyed the movie and it struck me just how new automobile transportation is in the history of the world.

It was in 1913 that the first Interstate road across the country was begun. It was not completed the first time until 1927. It was called the Lincoln Highway and is now Interstate 80. Today we have Interstate highways galore. Think of it: It has only been 82 years since the very first road across the country!

At the same time, 1903 saw the Wright Brothers make their first powered airplane flight. Think of what has happened in transportation since then. It is just amazing to think of it and we now take all that for granted--it's so commonplace.

It's interesting and fun to think of how far we have come in such a short period of time. I feel better already. . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Do You Love About What You Do?

What do you love about your job? I've heard that good advice is to do what you love. Easy to say. I've heard the question many times over the years that has given me thought: What do you love doing that you would do for free if you didn't need money? Is there anything in your job that you would feel that way about?

In 25 years with car dealerships, my favorite thing--the thing I loved to do was to manage inventory: order the cars, try to juggle the right inventory mix accounting for season and taste changes, dealer trade needs, color mix and much more. It is very complex if you get into it seriously, but I always thought it was fun and satisfying. I enjoyed it even more doing commercial trucks than the retail inventory. I thought I was pretty good at it and always striving to be better at it. The possibility of improvement was always a given.

The interesting part is that I was never really paid to manage inventory. It was somewhere in the job description I suppose, but even prior to becoming a manager, I asked to order the cars for free just for the experience and fun of it. It is my favorite thing still and I talk about it often in the blog. Of course, there were other things that I loved. I loved giving good sales meetings. I did not love giving bad ones and I have done my share of those, but I always strived to have really good, worthwhile meetings that were fun and interesting. As a result, there were a lot of them that met that objective. I loved encouraging and uplifting the sales team and creating synergy with them to hit objectives, sometimes just for the fun of it. I even loved desking deals and appraising cars, going in on the close, and satisfactorily handling a service issue. There was a lot that I loved about that position. I learned a great deal. Today I look back with a smile as the not so lovable things are now overshadowed by the things I loved then and still love today.

I hope as you think about your own travels that you find things that you really love about what you do and some that you might do for free--if you didn't need money, of course.

Monday, January 12, 2009

To Thine Own Self Be True

Ever heard the phrase, "we are our own worst enemy?" I think it is a universal part of human nature to want to be appreciated and to feel that we have value. Generally, we look outward to others hoping to get that appreciation, yet even if we find it, inside we are beating ourselves up for whatever is not perfect now or how imperfect it has been in the past. Worse still would be beating ourselves up for something we might do poorly in the future.

Take heart! Here's a phrase I learned that has become an affirmation with me: "That's just what is! But, I have the power to change this instant!" Take heart, because it is true! Remind yourself as often as you feel you want or need to so that you can let that personal guilt trip loose and concentrate on how you want things to be. You have the power always and it is there anytime you choose to use it.

Being true to yourself would be to encourage yourself--to uplift and build yourself up. The good news about that is that you have the power right now and that is a great decision to make. When we can get to the point where what we tell ourselves is more important than what anyone else tells us, I think that is total personal freedom.

I had a boss tell me one day, "your sales really suck!" I know how hard it was for him to say that to me and the natural reaction might have been to cower and find excuses and reasons and people or circumstances to blame. Certainly if there were things I could have done and didn't, I would have a place to improve immediately. There were many times in my life that this would have been true. Strangely enough, when this event happened, I had been doing everything that I possibly could have and more, so I said, "you're absolutely right! My sales suck." Not the response most people would expect, but by acknowledging what is, I took all the hurt out of that reprimand. And, it is true that sales were not what I wanted either, but, the key is that I wasn't beating myself up, but lifting myself up. I could stand firm that I was doing everything possible that I could think of. There is serious power in that.

If you even acknowledge what is (some people call this "reality"), do it with a smirk, but matter-of-factly: "That's just what is!" All the while inside you are totally in charge building your true self into what you truly want. Tell a child often enough they are stupid and uncoordinated and that is what they will be. Tell a child often enough they are smart and sophisticated and special and that is what they will be. That is true of all of us in that what we say to ourselves is our own truth. To thine own selves be true.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Great Dealer Websites: Joe Basil Chevrolet

This is a new spot that we put in our Commercial Truck Success IdeaLetter where we share great dealer commercial truck websites that we find or are sent to us. Since we also build websites for commercial dealers, we are always looking for those who stand out ahead in website thinking.

The spotlight this time is on Joe Basil Chevrolet Commercial Trucks in Depew, New York (near Buffalo).

Here are some things we liked about the site:
  • They chose a great domain name: BasilTrucks.com
  • This is a separate website from the retail store. Huge! Great job.
  • Good search engine ranking.
  • Contact Us page has photos, phone numbers, including cell number and email. (Do we really wear suits to sell commercial trucks?)
  • Nice header and relatively easy to navigate.
  • Address and toll free number in header on every page!
  • Under Specials tab they have a featured truck, weekly ad and a large closeout sale spread. Nice job.
  • Photos of trucks can enlarge and show good detail. Great job! Some even have multiple photos in a slide show.
  • Under Vehicles tab, a sub-tab called Search Commercial opens a page with photos of various truck types with bodies to click on taking you to that section. Nice.
  • Also under Vehicles tab is a sub-tab on Pre-Owned. We love used commercial trucks!
  • Hours of operation and map with direction are in a link at the top of the page no matter what page you are on.
  • There is some great links under the tab GM Tools.
  • Also great links all over the home page.

This is an excellent site and the really important things are there. Great job Joe Basil Chevrolet Commercial Trucks!

www.basiltrucks.com

If you see a dealer commercial truck website that you think is a good one, please send it on to us at tminion@commercialtrucksuccess.com.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Promoting Your Customers

This is a good idea all the time, and especially in the current economic climate: Promote your customers. The best way to help your customers be more successful is doing whatever you can to help them get new business. Here are some ideas to do that:
  • Make a list of all your customers and sort it by what they do. For example, you might have a list of customers who are plumbers and electrical contractors and such. As you have need of these services, this is the list to consult. Now take it to the next level and have the list printed out for your prospects and customers. Hand it out to your friends as well. Start referring business to them every chance you get. Become a promoter.

  • Put together a nice HTML newsletter through Constant Contact, or other such client. Highlight your customers in each issue with photos, testimonials, etc. This is very easy to do and is very powerful.

  • When you run across an idea that you think is great for one of your clients, give them a call or drop them a note telling them about it.

  • Next time one of your customers needs an upfitted truck, see if they can plan the need a month or two ahead and offer to have it built and get them some free signs and let you display the truck with their name and logo on it for a few weeks. Great advertisement for both of you, and you are encouraging them to plan ahead.

  • Introduce your clients to each other and spread your lists so that everyone is helping each other any time they can.

  • If a customer must downsize and sell off a truck or two, help them get the best numbers for that as possible to help lighten their load. They will remember your help. Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time.

Go out of your way to help promote your customers and their business. It will serve you very well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The NTEA Work Truck Show - March 4,5,6

Though the market may be down and finances may be tight, it is a safe bet you will pick up enough ideas and see some new products you would not have otherwise known about to make you a lot of money this year. Do everything you can to attend the best single show of the year: The NTEA Work Truck Show. This year it is being held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Great Dealer Websites: Schepel GMC

This is a new spot that is published in our Commercial Truck Success IdeaLetter where we share great dealer commercial websites that we find or are sent to us. Since we also build websites for commercial dealers, we are always looking for those who stand out ahead in website thinking.

The spotlight this time is on Schepel GMC Truck Commercial Department in Merrillville, Indiana.

Here's things we liked about their site:
  • They chose a great domain name: Schepeltrucks.com.

  • On the FRONT PAGE of the site is a picture and phone number and email address of Steve Doty and Dave Hoekstra!! That is huge, guys! Great job. Most sites you can't even find people and here you are on the front page!

  • Featured vehicles on the right side of the front page. Nice.

  • Good search engine rankings

  • Nice header photo changing regularly.

  • Smooth front page design and great tab design.

  • When you click on the Body Upfits tab and click on inventory, you get a number of photos showing they type of body people might be looking for and when you find one you like such as service bodies or cargo vans, you click on the photo and it takes you to the inventory. Very nice. I'll have to borrow that idea.

  • I love the Why Buy Here tab. Short and sweet. Why else? We're number one!

  • Phone number is on every page prominently displayed at the top of the page.

Overall, this is an excellent site and all the really important things are there. Great job Schepel GMC!

www.schepeltrucks.com/

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Duplicate Your Success - Get Lucky Again!

In the last ten years, I've sold some dealers some different pieces that turned out to sell in a reasonable period of time and generated better grosses than normal. After that happens, the logic would be to repeat that success, but many have not. I'm writing this today to suggest to you that repeating any of your successes is a good thing and you really can get lucky again and again. A couple of stories will help illustrate this.

First, I sold a dealer two 8' service bodies with 3-piece cargo bed enclosures. We installed them on the low profile service body instead of the standard height. When they arrived at the dealership, the manager called yelling at me that these things were mis-built and were pretty much unsaleable. I will admit it is a bit unusual, but that doesn't make them unsaleable. They sold in two weeks at very good grosses. They were not replaced, so that huge success could not be repeated.

Next, I sold Red F450 with XLT package and Alcoa wheels with a service body mounted on it. To me, this is one of the easiest sales in the world. It sold within a month (small dealership not on the freeway) at a $4k gross. They didn't replace it, so no possibility of repeating that success.

I sold another dealership a black Super Cab single rear wheel Ford with XLT package and all the toys along with a beautiful service body. It sold in less than two months at a $5500 gross. They did not replace it, so no possibility of repeating that success.

That's three true stories, but I have a lot more of them. There should be nothing easier that duplicating a success even if it was originally outside your comfort zone. Success breeds success. There is no such thing as normal in the truck world. When you find something that works, duplicate it and get lucky again!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Looking Forward To Change!

What else is there? It was change that got us here and change that will get us there. There is nothing but change nanosecond to nanosecond. Change is a constant; however, the title of this article is Looking Forward to Change and that really works better as a question: Are you looking forward to change? How you answer that question will make all the difference.

Look forward with eagerness at what great new and improved products available to serve your customers. Change is what keeps you in the lead! We need to offer our customers creative options through newer technology, lighter weight and more durable materials, along with better, more efficient designs to keep our position as leader.

At the moment gas is back down under $2.00 a gallon, and we should know by now that it won’t stay there. It will continue to be a volatile commodity (pun intended). Hybrids will help a little and more and better solutions and technologies are just around the bend.

We need to stock a better mix of product to get more sales by solving more of our customer’s problems. When things tighten up, the creativity flows! There is a huge opportunity in half-ton trucks with commercial shells, racks, slide-out bed, and other commercial style accessories in 2009. Manufacturers like A.R.E., Highway Products, and others are expanding their products to serve this market. The SVE MidBox is an exciting new product that sells well. It is a good bet that stocking trucks in this portion of the market will serve dealers well. These solutions offer more efficient use of GVWR and cargo capacity while increasing fuel efficiency and lowering costs. Customers have to love that combination!

We need more solutions to turning inventories in a timely manner, moving the units off the lot with profit to buy more inventory and keep the cash machine ringing. One solution to help with this is the new commercialtrucklocator.com website where you can close the deal now even if you don’t have the truck in stock and help move old inventory.

We need better and more effective ways to stay in touch with our customers and to expand our sales influence. Database customer relations software like ACT! can help by keeping all your information more organized and accessible. Improved or expanded websites and blogs can help as well. HTML email systems such as offered by Constant Contact will go a long way to helping you make follow up very easy. There are a lot of great ways to be more proactive in managing all your sales and prospects that will lead to increased sales.

We will always have customers who make a living with their trucks and we will need more and better solutions for them regardless of fuel prices. This is a great time to get excited and creative about the solutions you can offer your customers. Stay on the leading edge with new information by seeking the suppliers that are leading and innovating.

Of course, we can count on change and we get to choose how we respond to that, but to the Commercial Truck Pro, the breakfast of champions is looking forward to change!