Eff-You. That’s my name.
You know why mister? ‘Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight; I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name.”
-From "Glengarry Glen Ross" by David Mamet
Ask an automotive dealership manager who his or her best-performing salespeople are, and you’ll get a similar answer. The top spots will usually be occupied by:
- The Old Guy who’s been there 20 years & lives on referrals
- The newest Green Pea
That the most seasoned pro tends to perform is no surprise. What’s shocking is that the brand-new guy or gal – knowing nothing about product, process, closing, or anything else – outsells nearly everyone.
But why? How does a know-nothing noob sell the most?
To answer that question – let me ask a better one: Why, after 90 days or so, does that Greenie stop performing? Why do they crush it out of the gate then begin a slow decline?
The answer is almost too simple: New Kid performs because he/she doesn’t know any better, so they follow instruction.
When the sales manager tells New Guy to use the CRM, they do. When the desk manager tells him to say “this”, and not say “that”, Greenie repeats what he’s told verbatim. When New Guy greets a customer, they’re quickly turned-over to the floor manager before leaving. If told to call a customer and say, “I’ve got great news!” instead of “Hey.. wanted to know if you’re still interested in buying…” the Green Pea follows script to the letter. This results in more write-ups, more be-backs, and more sales. Most importantly, when the manager instructs New Kid to ask every customer: “What would it take to get you to own this today?” New Kid actually does it.
The eager Green Pea doesn’t prequalify. The Green Pea doesn’t decide who’s a buyer and who isn’t. He doesn’t make-up his mind whether or not a customer is able to make a decision today. He doesn’t decide what the desk will or won’t do. He doesn’t negotiate on the sales floor. He doesn’t give discounted “out-the door” prices over the phone. He doesn’t quote payments without write-up and commitment. He doesn’t pick and choose whom to turn over, whom to write up, or whom to follow-up with. Most importantly, the Green Pea doesn’t fight the desk.
Because the Green Pea just doesn’t know any better.
But the typical salesperson does. They’ve been around the block, and will tell you exactly what’s what. They are experts in consumer behavior. They’ve learned every lazy shortcut, taking them often. Bottom line, they won’t listen to the desk, sales manager or anyone. They’ll never follow a script; they cherry-pick leads; they won’t do turnovers, and they won’t follow your process – because they know better than you.
Problem is, un-teachability guarantees mediocrity. Teachability is why New Guy is more successful than the veteran. Teachability makes you better and gets you promoted. Teachability fixes what you didn’t know was broken. Teachability makes the best better. Every top athlete is coached-up daily, and Fortune 500 CEOs read Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins.
And those who never improve and are never promoted? They apparently know better.
We all witness this. Please forgive the boast, but I’m proud to be an established expert in my field. A few years ago, I experienced the highest readership of any online column in powersports. I’m frequently asked to participate in industry panels, assist with business plans, draft white papers and will be a featured speaker at two upcoming powersports expos. I am incredibly humbled and honored to have such amazing, successful people read my columns and solicit any coaching I can provide.
For example, here is a list of those who read my articles and have sought advice at some point:
- Presidents and CEOs of motorcycle manufacturers
- Top industry consultants
- Digital marketing VPs and NSMs
- OEM & aftermarket VPs & regional managers
- Dealership owners
- NYSE consulting firms
- Private equity groups
And here is a list of people who don’t read my articles and avoid taking advice:
- My 5-year-old son (already an expert on everything)
- Every salesperson on my staff
Well, familiarity breeds contempt for sure. But the level of pushback I receive when trying to coach-up frontline staff is extraordinary. It’s unfortunate because we all want the same thing: to sell more, earn more and be successful. Nobody wants a salesperson to thrive more than his manager. Yet so many fall into the trap of un-teachability that the manager often gives up in frustration.
To be clear, I’m not purporting to be as smart or smarter than anyone. In fact, I am humbled by those readers mentioned who are well beyond my level. But owners and CEOs understand the importance of teachability – looking for insight and inspiration from even a motorhead like me.
For those of us who’ve found some success in our given field, it’s shocking that so very few will listen. At 22, I was as arrogant and clueless as anyone – but to paraphrase "Glengarry Glen Ross" – when the guy in the $80,000 car had some advice, I paid attention. I was teachable.
Still am. Every day I humbly learn something from someone else. Education can come from the custodian or the C-suite, if you just take time to listen. When hiring and managing your team, look for that spark of teachability — it’s more valuable than anything else on the resume. And don’t forget, coffee is for closers.
Chris Clovis has had the honor and pleasure of 27 years in the powersports industry, currently serving as vice president of EagleRider Motorcycles (www.eaglerider.com). Chris’ opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer, publisher or clients. If someone on Chris’ sales team is actually reading this, he clearly wasn’t talking about you.