Maintaining Sales in a Stop-Start World

Jeff Williams

Absolute Results looks at strategies to put in place on the other side of the COVID-19 slowdown.

SALES momentum is like a freight train. When you don’t have it, it takes immense effort to get that heavy train with rusty wheels rolling down the tracks. When you do have it, you better keep it going because it will carry you, even if you run a little low on fuel.

But whatever you do, don’t let that train run completely out of steam and stop on the tracks, or it will be painfully hard work to get it going again.

Yet, in the car business, we let the sales momentum train run out of steam every 30 days and then we start over again.

Perhaps one of the causes of this monthly stop-and-start battle for momentum is the “30-day year” that we in the retail car business operate. And to survive, and hopefully thrive, we have developed these sales rhythms.

Many dealers see the first week of the month as the “hangover week” where we recover from jamming for last month’s close and we clean up last month’s business.

Week two then becomes set-up week as we have recovered from the last month’s end, we are familiar with any new programs, and we start marketing and pushing our team.

Week three is the big week where we really start jamming again and we push our teams physically, working long hours and running weekend sales promotions to get caught up.

Week four we push our teams mentally as we scramble to close out another 30-day year. And next comes another “hangover” week, and so on…

While this rhythm may have worked 15 years ago, it doesn’t work the same today.

Traffic is unpredictable. Dealers cannot just plan to spend 50 per cent of their monthly ad budget in one week and sell 50 per cent of the month’s cars that weekend. Offline advertising used to bring immediate traffic, but today’s online advertising brings leads that often take 60 days to close.

Margins are too tight, and our teams don’t seem to have the resilience they used to have – maybe because the “hope” for a good weekend to save their month and pay cheque no longer seems like a reality.

So how does a car dealer create momentum earlier in the month, and then keep it going?

Let’s start with getting sales momentum early in the month.

Many dealers and OEMs have recognised the power of the dealer who gets a fast start on the month because it is usually right around the middle of the month where a dealer decides to either push for their volume targets or to give up.

Dealers who are tracking well by the end of the second week of the month are much more likely to keep pushing hard and to finish the month strong. Why? Because they have sales momentum.

So where does this momentum come from?

Sometimes it’s from the excitement of a hot new product or OEM offer. Sometimes it’s from carryover deals from a great previous month. Sometimes it’s from market momentum, and the luck of seasonal traffic. But all of those reasons are external and not usually predictable. The best sales momentum is internal, from our sales team, and it comes from their activity.

When our teams are busy, with car-selling activity, their activity creates momentum. That’s why one of the key sales leadership mindsets is to inspire activity. Specifically, inspiring activity that is about selling a car today or creating an appointment to sell a car tomorrow.

And the best kind of activity to inspire is appointment-making activity. When each member of the sales team is busy reaching out to 15 or more customers each day by phone, they are certain to have six to eight quality conversations, which generates one to two appointments – every day.

Appointments are the fuel in the train engine. When we keep feeding the engine fuel, we keep the momentum and the deals coming.

The good news for most dealers is that there is no shortage of opportunities for their sales team to convert into daily appointments.

Dealers have thousands of customers in their database, hundreds of prospects in their CRM, and dozens of new customers in the service drive every day. Those three buckets of opportunities alone can often provide many dealers with the needed appointments to hit up to 70 per cent of their monthly sales goal.

So what do most dealers need? They need training for each member of their sales team to learn basic word tracks so they feel comfortable reaching out to 15 customers a day.

They need a simple system to organise and measure the effort and effectiveness of their team’s appointment-making. And they need a sales manager who understands that rallying their sales team to fight for appointments every day is a top priority. They need an appointment culture.

Selling cars today isn’t a mystery. It’s math and hard work. And when a dealer does the Appointment Math™ every day, and when they do the work of rallying their team to fight for appointments, momentum is created and deals happen.

And the Appointment Math™ works regardless of the week of the month – just keep making those daily appointments and your sales momentum train won’t run out of steam before you run out of month. And best of all, your team won’t have to jam so hard to hit their sales goal at the end of the month.

With the current pause in retail auto sales, now is a good time to jump start your dealership’s appointment culture by booking a Sales Leadership training session for your management team and finding out about a World Class Appointment Driven Event with Absolute Results.

Jeff Williams


Jeff Williams is the CEO of Absolute Results and has dedicated the last 20+ years to helping dealerships, OEM’s, and sales people across the globe rethink how they sell cars. His three greatest passions are his family, his business, and his charity work.

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