Sales horsepower

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Sales horsepower

Doug Trenary, president of Doug Trenary’s Fast-Track Inc., is an award-winning author, speaker and teacher who since 1985 has helped companies of multiple sizes, including independent tire dealerships, increase sales and productivity. He was a featured speaker at the 2011 Goodyear Dealer Conference, and is developing a fast-growing presence in the automotive industry. His book, “The SalesMind,” focuses on how to maximize your time and establish strong positions with your team and your buyers.

If you are an owner or manager, it’s no big secret: You want more sales. Faster sales. Less costly sales. All in a tight economy. If you are a store sales associate or commercial representative who makes outside sales calls, you’re always in search of strategies to close more business.

Whether you are a retail dealer, supplier, wholesaler, have a commercial truck operation — or all of the above — sales issues are (or should be) always high on the radar. Companies that weather the storms of an economy, yet continue to grow and prosper, without question have built a certain culture of success. What is that culture?

For 26 years, my focus has been helping companies and individuals build this atmosphere. Is it easy? Of course not. Is it definable? Yes. I call it being a “SalesMind.” In terms of your operation, one of your key missions every day should be to maximize every possible aspect of a SalesMinded culture. Let me challenge you to consider and apply these thoughts. They are proven to generate immediate, measurable, financial results.

Three steps to better results

First, keep in perspective that you are in a great business, and share that exciting view with your team! Your sector (something with wheels) is massive: an estimated one-tenth of the gross domestic product in the United States. That’s approximately $1.5 trillion. The automotive business is fairly recession-resistant, not to say you haven’t taken some hits. People will give up a lot of things, but not their car. At least your industry has not been blown to pieces by this economy, nor has it, like so many other industries, been knocked out by technology.

The car and truck are here to stay. Make sure as a leader that you constantly remind your store or division team about the endless opportunities with vehicles. You can legitimately add-on sales of brakes, wipers, hot accessories — the choices are endless. Opportunity abounds, so take advantage of it!

Second, recruit and hire the right people for the job. There is no substitute for talent. The most elasticity in productivity (more quality work every hour) you’ll ever get is with an employee with the right capabilities. With that baseline, you can train them to do the rest.

Third, when you have the right team mix, train them and retrain them! That way, you are taking talent and stretching it to whole new levels. We have major manufacturer and dealer clients right now increasing sales and close rates, and dropping dollars to the bottom line, because they are getting their personnel focused, skilled, and profitable!

One of the worst mistakes, and I hear this all the time, is to “wait for the right time; slow season, etc., to do training.” Every minute you don’t sharpen saws, you’ll waste the greatest asset you have — the minds and talents of your team — and increase the greatest “hidden” cost you have — them not being able to sell as much as they can as fast as they can.

Let me say this again: You lose time and serious money when your employees’ skill saws are not razor-sharp. This is the essence of being a SalesMinded company.


Leveraging skills and more

So what can you do as a leader right now to increase sales and lower sales costs?

1. Leverage (get the most out of) attitudes. Maximize the drive, desire, optimism and energy of every one of your employees! Every study ever done says that a buyer is influenced by sellers who have good attitudes, smile, show empathy, and offer great service because they really care. There are a lot of things you can’t control, but the one standard in your company you can control is that “we will get the best out of ourselves!”

2. Leverage skills. You’re the seller, and customers and prospects are the buyers. You have products and services, and they have needs and money. Trade the two with skill. Some of the training keys I do in-house with clients are to role-play objections/answers at the counter to close sales instead of losing them, write scripts of what to say, practice asking key questions and listening, use the phone effectively to get buyers in the door when they call in, and have reasons to call them back to get them back in — and the key is to do it all in a low-pressure way. This kind of training gets real monetary results. And real dealers are getting them (see sidebar).

3. Leverage associates’ time. Make sure your associates are doing the most productive things first (not last), that they work on the things and situations they don’t like to do, and that each of them keeps making adjustments in how they speak and interact.

Finally, some words about information overload. You must make sure as an owner or manager that every member of your team is securing information on call-ins or walk-ins for follow-up and repeat business — and make sure there are simple systems in your company to make certain information is not drowning your employees. Un-captured, lost or unused information is lost money.

Next month, I’ll address how you, the leader, shape the sales effort. I refer to this as “here’s your role in developing a SalesMinded dealer team.” At the end of the day, the SalesMind wins. Make sure that’s you!  

Three dealers who 'get it' -- Trenary shows them how to maximize their selling skills

Doug Trenary, author of “The SalesMind,” has taught a number of independent tire dealers the art of leveraging their skill sets. Here are three examples.

“At Clark Tire & Auto, an 18-store retail chain based in Hickory, N.C., we have created a whole mix of custom training approaches,” he says. “We’ve role-played answering ‘your price is too high’ (ever heard that?) in teams, and closing rates (sales) went up. I’ve been in the field with their commercial trucking reps working on following up on proposals, smoking out hidden needs, and asking specific closing questions. The questions worked, and new retread customers were added that day instead of the reps having to call back.

“I asked owner John Clark why his teams were getting results from the training. His answer? ‘Because we are doing something different. If we just do the same things we always have, we’ll just get the same results, but we want to move up to the next level.’

“At Burggraf Tire Service, a retail and wholesale dealer based in Quapaw, Okla., we are in process with a multi-session training program that focuses on having their leaders incorporate ‘action plans’ with their associates. This, in turn, has led to these managers being able to reshape their own priorities, empower their store teams, and focus on sales growth and dealer support for their growing wholesale division.

“At Raffield Tire-Master, a nine-store retail and commercial dealership based in Macon, Ga., we incorporated a dual program of live training with their store managers accompanied by their use of my book and DVD products in their weekly meetings as brainstorming tools on how to creatively add more value for every customer.”

For a free copy of Doug Trenary’s special report, “Five Hidden Keys for Dealers to Close More Sales,” send an e-mail to As Trenary would say, your bottom line will be glad you did! For more information on Trenary’s results-getting work, visit or call (404)-262-3339.

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