How much money’s slipping through YOUR fingers?

The Sales Prevention Department’s alive and well in my part of the world, and I’ll bet my mother it is in yours, too. The world seems to be lurching from one financial crisis to another – first the GFC, now Europe on the brink thanks to massive debts – and yet so much of it could be solved if only sales people did nothing more than their job; to take the money people are begging you to stuff into your cash registers.

You don’t have to smart to be successful in sales. Just SHOWING UP is usually enough.

But most can’t even get out of their own way. I’ve been shopping for a new car, but if my experience is typical – and I fear it is – then it’s a mystery to me how car dealers, and the salesmen they employ, manage to feed their kids. And this is by no means restricted to the car industry.

Hint: how much money is slipping through your own Sales Prevention Department?

Example #1: Six months ago I decided on one of those up-market, outrageously-expensive European models. Phoned a nearby dealer, arranged to meet a salesman at the showroom, sat down with some kid in his twenties, ticked all the options I wanted, roughly added up the bill to somewhere on the nasty side of $120,000, suggested he might want to sharpen his pencil for a quick sale, and told him to send me a final figure. He had both my email address and my phone number.

I never heard from him again. Maybe he got snatched by aliens. Or his dog, fed up with not being fed, ate him. I have no earthly idea, but it’s the sort of nightmare that should be keeping his boss awake all night, staring at the ceiling.

Example #2: Bemused and somewhat perplexed by this, I simply refused to follow him up and try convincing him to take my money. I left it a few months – still nothing – so last week I started shopping again. This time a different dealer for a different make. Found one I liked, and with the young salesman in the passenger’s seat, took the thing for a test drive.
Back at the showroom, I told him I wasn’t going to commit to a new car for the next two or three years without spending at least a couple of days with the vehicle first, so he promised to get back to me about loaning me the car over the following weekend. That was last Saturday. Today is Wednesday. Still haven’t heard from him.

Example #3: Unwilling to waste any more time dealing direct with yet another Sales Prevention Department face to face, I instead went shopping online. On the most popular car website, I find two or three examples of the car I’m looking for, all at different dealerships across the country. (And by now I’d switched preferred models. I figured if the previous idiot’s sales skills were so lacking, his dealership’s service levels would be similarly inefficient)

I complete the online forms to make an inquiry, and hit the submit button. Four days later, not one of those dealers has bothered to respond.

Now, it’s not as if I’m buying a built-to-price, poverty-pack Korean tin can. I’m spending north of $100,000. And they don’t want my business???

Laughably, the website every dealer in the country uses to sell their cars clearly doesn’t trust the dealers either. It’s just sent me an automatic email, inquiring as to whether I’ve been contacted, and asking if I’d like them to give the dealers a gentle nudge. I presume something like “Gee, some jerk is trying to buy a car from you, wondering if you’d lower yourself to actually give him a call sometime.”

I don’t think so. Let them drown in their own sloth.

Here’s what’s instructive for all salon owners:

Think this kind of sabotage isn’t happening in your business? Do so at your peril, ‘cos it is. It happens in every business. Be paranoid. Paranoia is good. Every single time your phone rings, it’s ‘cos you’ve spent money making it ring. And every time that prospect falls through a canyon-size crack, it’s money wasted. Sales begging, not made. Profit left sitting on the table.

Be paranoid enough to mystery-shop your own business. The results can be terrifying. That’s why most business owners don’t.  Just last week, one of our recently-joined Inner Circle member salons asked us to do it for them. Senior IC coach Annette Gomez booked herself in for a two-hour session. The salon owner thought his business was doing ‘okay’, but when he read Annette’s report, detailing at least twenty glaring, obvious-to-any-customer ‘service failures’, he just about had heart failure. But to his credit, he got stuck into fixing them.

But at least he had the courage to get it done in the first place. Most salon owners – in fact most owners of most businesses – have a head-in-the-sand attitude when it comes to this kind of detail. Folks, this stuff IS marketing.

I advocate ruthlessness. Many a time I’ve had a salon or spa owner on the phone, complaining to me that a staff member “….won’t do what I want her to do/say…” – and my instant and repeated advice is; fire them. Now.

The danger of effective marketing is success….getting more and more customers, who quickly find out you’re no good.