"What's your title?" I asked someone I interviewed recently. "Best salesperson ever," she answered, then paused and laughed. Based on conversations with her and one of her rural lifestyle customers, I believe her. They have years of tractor, mower, attachment and power tool purchases together, plus mutual admiration.
Her response stuck in my brain and reminded me of one of my favorite sports stories. It was during the 2008 Olympics when swimmer Michael Phelps was breaking records. The story examined his anatomy, showing why he was born to swim. Four years later, he's still hauling home the gold. Or, what about the story of another athlete from the 2012 Olympics, Hiroshi Hoketsu? He's a 71-year-old equestrian dressage competitor who began his Olympic career in 1964.
Some salespeople, too, seem born to sell. Outgoing. Persuasive. Trustworthy. Relentless, even. And, if you're lucky, you might have a salesperson that has been successful for decades.
Other recent conversations with successful salespeople provide insights into what makes customers buy from them. One salesperson talked about how rainy days seem to bring rural lifestylers into the dealership. She puts on her rain boots, heads to the lot, starts answering questions - and starts selling. Another shared his thoughts about the importance of knowing when not to sell, of guarding against overbuying to keep a satisfied customer.
How can you as a dealership owner or manager have a whole team of gold-medal sales people? Maybe we can take a cue from the Olympics. Who do the cameras show after the athletes win? Their families and then their coaches. So, maybe it's as much about you being their coach, not just their boss; bringing out their best, not just a quota.
With the NFL preseason starting, I just had to share a quote on the topic from the great Vince Lombardi: "They call it coaching, but it is teaching. You do not just tell them it is so, but you show them the reasons why it is so and you repeat and repeat until they are convinced, until they know."