February 7, 2011-Webinar delves into keys to increasing PG&A sales

After an educational conference, organizers hope attendees take the ideas they encountered and translate them into improvements at their businesses.
To help that process along, Powersports Business recently hosted a webinar where dealers who attended the magazine’s Profit Xcelerator conference &?expo last fall were matched with experts who offered advice on goals inspired by that event.
The topics for the webinar included implementing an Internet strategy, suggested by Steve St. John of Dreyer Honda South in Whiteland, Ind.; generating floor traffic through social media, suggested by Jeff Carlson of Lost River Powersports in Bowling Green, Ky.; and turning PG&A staff from clerks to salespeople, suggested by Gaby Gregoire of Gregoire Sport in Quebec, Canada.
Nedie Recel, marketing manager for Dominion Powersports Solutions, spoke on Internet strategy; Laura Reinders, marketing coordinator for PowerSports Network, spoke on social media; and Sam Dantzler, a longtime industry dealership trainer and 20 group consultant and owner of Junior Inc., spoke on training PG&A staff.
The webinar was presented by Powersports Business, CycleTrader.com and PowerSports Network as part of a series that also included topics such as e-commerce, lead management, preowned sales and mobile technology.
During Dantzler’s presentation, he emphasized the importance of having staff who are people-oriented rather than product-oriented.
If your staff’s focus is on the product, he explained, and it’s the same product that is available online and employees provide the same information available online, customers will opt to buy online for 20 percent less. Successful PG&A departments offer more than that, said Dantzler, a longtime industry consultant and 20 group moderator for Harley-Davidson and metric dealerships.
“Why would you go to a bar to pay three times as much for a beer? It’s the same exact beer you can get at 7-Eleven for a fraction of the cost,” Dantzler asked. “Because of the experience of going into that bar or that club.”
The store experience
As an avid consumer of motorcycles and motorcycle product, Dantzler said he finds it depressing to go into some dealerships.
“I expect someone to come up to me losing their mind they’re so excited to show me the next coolest little widget that just came into the store,” he said. “Which, mind you, I’m really interested in, but I don’t know that exists until you tell it to me or show it to me.”
Because of trends in the powersports marketplace, Dantzler believes it is more important than ever to engage customers. He noted two years ago, 55 percent of motorcycle customers were new bike buyers.
“I would suggest that that number is radically lower now, and it has to do with how much you’re engaging,” he said.
He said the people coming into dealerships today are true enthusiasts who want more than just product knowledge.
“What do the enthusiasts want??They know about all the websites out there; they know how to research the information,” Dantzler said. “What they want is an experience when they come into your store. And so we’ve got to have salespeople creating experiences. People will knowingly pay more for a good experience —i.e. the bar — as opposed to just the product.”
Clerks vs. Salespeople
Dantzler says the first step in transforming your staff from clerks to salespeople is figuring out what the difference is.
He says to make a chart, with one column labeled “salespeople” and one labeled “clerks.” Then, with your staff, list things clerks say and things salespeople say. List the objectives of a salesperson versus the objectives of a clerk.
What you’ll find, he says, is clerks use the word “help” frequently. Can I help you? May I help you? Have you been helped yet?
“Great opening lines for polite clerks, horrible opening lines for salespeople,” Dantzler says.
To combat this, he says training must be done weekly at a minimum on the value of the “greet”? — or the initial engagement with the person.
“It’s real simple,” Dantzler says. “I just throw in the back of my mind, ‘Is that person losing their mind to go talk and share the experience of motorcycling with the next customer walking in the door?’ And if not, why not?”
Emotional Attachment
Dantzler says most people will naturally tend to act as a clerk — take the person to the item they are looking for — but it won’t occur to everyone to ask why the customer wants the helmet, where he’s going, how long he’s been riding or other personal information.
“It’s real easy when someone says, ‘I’m interested in Product A,’ and you say, ‘Oh, it’s right over here on the shelf, let’s go look at Product A.’”
However, personal conversations can help connect with a customer. And salespeople should be looking for an emotional attachment that’s going to tie that person to the dealership.
An easy way to start to change your staff’s habits is through the acronym FORM, Dantzler says. FORM stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, Motivation — four things salespeople should be asking about. The first two categories are self-explanatory. The third, recreation, involves activities other than what your store sells, since their interest in powersports is a given. And lastly, motivation is what brought them in the store on that particular day.
When the customer leaves, he suggests dealer principals or general managers follow up with their employees and ensure their staff discovered the consumer’s FORM: Tell me about his family. Tell me about his occupation.
Long-term goals
After dealers have covered the basics, Dantzler suggests they implement some further initiatives.
He recommends creating a scoreboard behind the customer wall tracking line items per ticket and average sale for each employee.
“I should be able to go up to any one of your employees and say, ‘What’s your line items per ticket right now?’ And they should fire off to me, ‘1.7; 1.9; 2.3.’”
People want to keep score, Dantzler says, and they want to get better; a quarterback knows his QB rating because it’s his profession and he wants to do well.
He suggests dealers make staff write their own score in. He says it’s easy to print out an Excel spreadsheet and tape it up. But when it’s blank and they have to fill it in, employees are more apt to know where they stand.
He notes that increasing line items per ticket can do a lot of for the store’s profitability, and it can also do a lot for an individual employee’s paycheck.
Which brings up another point. Dantzler says if dealers expect their employees to act like true salespeople, they need to pay them like true salespeople and reward them when they achieve or exceed goals.
He says spiffs and contests too often don’t extend to parts and accessories people. He says that’s a mistake unless dealers expect them to just work the cash register.
Not everyone, however, responds to the same incentives — some like extra pay, some prefer days off. Dantzler says you need to know your staff in order for a contest or a spiff to be effective for them.
Focus on the experience
Overall, Dantzler recommended dealers focus on the experience of doing business with their company. He says somehow many businesses in this industry have stopped having fun, even though fun is exactly what the consumer is paying for.
“People will pay premium dollars for premium experiences,” he said, “but they may or may not pay premium dollars for the same product.” PSB

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