In the year prior to our economic meltdown, 16 million passenger vehicles were sold in the United States. This year I estimate that less than 12 million will be sold. Certainly this is a serious decline. In spite of this decline, I believe that some people can still make a good living selling cars and a lot of other products. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Beverly Bishop spent more than 30 years as an extraordinary sales professional. In fact, I profiled Beverly in Millionaire Women Next Door. During her career she sold over $100M worth of motor vehicles. In her best year, she sold 369 units. Never once in her illustrious career did she sell fewer than 200 in any year. Beverly told me that she has lived through many an economic downturn, recession, malaise. But even in good times, never did a week go by when one or more of her colleagues “put his head in my door and said ‘business is lousy, no showroom traffic.'” She always responded the same way, “Thank you, I didn’t know that!” She didn’t know because her proactive based business was always good.
When I first interviewed Beverly, she was employed by the number one Chevrolet dealership in America. I assumed when I entered the showroom that her office would be closest to the entrance. But it was just the opposite. She was all the way in the back of the huge showroom. Beverly’s business was not dependent upon prospective customers walking in the front door. She was much more proactive. Besides selling to her previous clients, she aggressively prospected and hunted for new customers. Beverly sold via relationship and affinity marketing. When she sold one Tahoe to a partner in a large law firm, she viewed it as just the beginning, not the end. As she said, there may be 20 or 50 or 100 other partners in the firm who have similar needs.
Affinity had another meaning for Beverly. She sold cars at cost [no commission] to the clergy. She found that people in this vocation were highly credible when making referrals. That’s why she aggressively prospected men and women of “the cloth.” Also, she made a donation to their respective houses of worship if any of their congregation purchased a car from her.
According to Beverly, “I worked every minute while I was in the office constantly contacting current clients, prospective clients and/or sources of influence. Most car sales people are order takers. They merely wait for prospects to show up. Most of the time they stand around talking to one another. I’ve never sold a car to a car salesman, so when I’m at work I talk to prospects and clients on the telephone.”
“When there is an economic downturn, that is the time to turn up the fire. Call more prospects; find out when they might be purchasing an automobile; always keep working-never look at the clock. I tell people that becoming a top producer is hard work. Then you will never have to serve coffee to your sales manager. You will earn his respect. Do your own thing. Go out and find your own customers and keep them for your entire career.”
No doubt 12 million vehicles are not 16 million, but there is still much money to be made in this economy. Follow Beverly’s advice: “Stop complaining about the economy. Be positive, believe in yourself, have faith. With this attitude and good work habits, you will succeed.”