Monday, May 4, 2009

From Mini to VW to... I dunno, I give. You tell me.

Mini passed on me, but they said I was outstanding and would like to consider me for their new store. They decided to go with someone with more auto experience, and I can't really argue with that... having no auto sales experience myself.

Then another ad caught my eye, Volkswagen. So I submitted my resume and they called me back. The next day (Friday) I went in for the interview, and that evening when I got home they again, called me back. They really liked me, like my energy, and thought I might be a good fit. Would I come in on Monday morning to their in-house training program and spend a day learning their sales process? Sure. I'd love to. And that's what I did today.

It was very similar to the Dale Carnegie sales process I already know, just more specific to selling cars. So that was nice and familiar and built confidence. However, the main factor that was mentioned was that our biggest selling advantage in selling is our superior knowledge of our products and inventory, and in-depth study of the competition. *beat*

Well crap. I don't really have either of those things. Yet, and I realize knowledge will come. But it was discouraging to hear, particularly since I'm entering this industry with no auto experience. On the other hand, when I started selling at Revchem, I didn't have an in-depth knowledge of silicones or UV-initiated resins either, so I suppose in that way it's no different.

Overall the day was very enlightening, and I definitely think I could work that process well. So I sat down with the manager again and discussed the position in more detail today. We talked about the commission structure and bonuses, medical/dental all that. Sure working on 100% commission is risky, but it's always a good motivator. That part doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that I have to essentially create my own customer base. The foot traffic at the dealership is very light. So not only am I doing the sales process once they land on the doorstep, but I have to get them IN the door in the first place.

Today I was told to treat this as if I were running my own business. The flipside of course is that I'm working for them as an employee, so I'm not totally on my own.

There is also no formal product knowledge training. There are certifications you have to eventually obtain from VW, but the internet is my friend I guess. I think my main hesitations at this point are concerns over the short term. How to get people in the door. Getting up to speed enough to speak confidently about the vehicles I will be selling. Becoming intimately familiar with the inventory so as to know what cars to select.

I get paid more on unemployment than I do sitting at the dealership learning about the products. So it almost makes more sense to research at home for a week or two, then go work for them. But then I don't want them to hire someone else while I'm learnin' up.

I think more importantly I am stressing about the process of getting the customers in the door in the first place. The main reason I'm attracted to selling cars in the first place is that the customer generally comes to YOU! I don't mind doing the work of generating prospects and leads for myself; that's a vital part of the sales process that any seller worth anything should be able to do for themselves. Just in my experience it's the part that takes the longest.

So, I'm stressing a bit about it. Mainly because I have no other employment prospects on the table. And, I'm starting to stress again about what direction to be looking for employment. Should I concentrate on sales, or should I concentrate on management? Do I even want a management position? What about teaching? Some people think I should pursue teaching Latin... What about that?

I just don't know. My top 5 talents are: Connectedness, Empathy, Individualization, Achiever, Arranger.

Definitely seems to tell the story of someone who's a sales professional, doesn't it? Or clergy, or team leader, or producer, or director, or....

Anyone got any insights?


Mary said...

Teaching was my "fall back" career choice in 1995 and it ended up being something I liked. Yes, the kids are pain in the ass-and the parents are worse, but the time off is great. Example, I'm off 4 mos a year but still get paid during those months. Something to think about...not sure about Latin, though. Math, science and special are always in demand subjects now.

Derek said...

My only advice on the realm of "what to do" is to just do what literally feels right to do. Really look deep into your own self and do what you feel is the right thing to do.

Secondly... for sales advice... from one sales pro to another... learn what you can about the product and don't be afraid to jump in and get soaked! Besides... with car's the most important buzz items are likely to be: #1) MPG #2) resale #3) reliability (based on statistics of previous year models) #4) good housekeeping magazine's opinion on the vehicle and #5) Price.

As for getting people to come in... go out and make visits anywhere and everywhere that might provide the slightest bit of a lead... eventually it will drum up a few bites and out of that possibly a sale or two (fingers crossed!)

Otherwise... all the absolute best luck to you in your coming trials!

Hope this finds you better off!