One of the reasons why people don't do effective sales meetings is because they are afraid to speak in public. The first step to overcoming this fear is to confront it.

When I mention “Dealership sales meeting” to sales people I often get responses like, “gripe session,” “boring” or “a waste of time.”

You know why? Because most of them are a waste of time. We have everyone come in early to work. Then we go around the table and ask them how many vehicles they have sold for the month. Shouldn't the sales manager already know that?

The finance manager's role is, if they attend at all, to tell the group — you guessed it — how many deliveries they have logged. This is the best opportunity we have to train and motivate our people and instead of using it for something positive, we turn it into the “dreaded sales meeting.”

I ask finance managers at my F&I training seminars if they would like to someday become general managers or own their own dealership someday.

One giant step towards getting there is to get good at training. Effective sales meetings show leadership. Since we already know that most of our meetings are boring, how visible would you be at the dealership if you ran informative, motivational meetings? Maybe your initiative will cause the other managers to spice up their presentations, just to keep up.

One of the reasons why people don't do effective sales meetings is because they are afraid to speak in public. When people are asked to reveal their worst fears, public speaking is at the top. Some people say they are more afraid of speaking to a group than they are of dying.

The first step to overcoming this fear is to confront it. I vividly remember the day I made that decision.

I was doing a small presentation about the department I headed up — the indirect lending area — to other officers of the bank I worked at. When they called my name to present, I approached the front of the group like I have done other times — very nervously. This time I was extremely uncomfortable. My knees were noticeably shaking. As I spoke, my voice quivered. I lost my train of thought, stumbled around, and the presentation was terrible.

After that, I decided I would never be humiliated like that again. I had two options. I could avoid at all costs ever presenting again, or I could confront my fear. I chose the latter. I wasn't determined to simply do it — I knew instead, I wanted to be one of the best at it. I taught myself to channel all that energy in a more positive direction.

One of the most important parts of being effective at sales meetings is preparation. Preparation is as key as the delivery of the material. This is where you get comfortable with the subject matter, so that during the presentation, you can concentrate on getting the message across.

In preparing for a talk, there are three questions you need to ask yourself in order to ensure that you're talking your audience's language.

  1. What do you want your audience to know? When your presentation is over, have you conveyed the message that you set out to? Is your audience now equipped with the knowledge they need to accomplish the task? Have you persuaded them to do what you want them to do?

  2. What do you want your audience to feel? Have you inspired them? Are they motivated? Does the message become part of them?

  3. What do you want your audience to do? As a result of your presentation, is your audience motivated to act? Will they carry the message to others?

Tailor your presentation so the audience will know, feel and do what you want them to. An effective sales meeting produces results, and the results are measured through the audience. If you give a knowledge fact-backed meeting, but no one understands it, what have you accomplished? When your talk is over, they will take with them only what they remember.

An effective presentation does not make the audience SUFFER to get to the end of it. Use this acronym in a way that won't allow them to suffer.

Start: An audience remembers the beginning of the talk. This is where to grab their attention. You set the framework and pace for the rest of the material. Start with a theme, analogy, or quote. You can also use questions to get your audience involved at the beginning. “How can we as a team better serve our car buyers?”

Unlike: People will remember what is different or unlike in your presentation. The peculiar information stands out in their mind. Try saying something positive in a meeting that would be different.

Frequent: Information repeated several times in a presentation stands out in the audience's mind. (i.e. “The time to turn your customer over to the F&I office is point of sale!”)

Finish: They will always remember how you finish. Structure your presentation so that you leave them wanting more. This will keep the sales people talking about your subject matter long after your talk.

Exclusive: Material that is exclusive to us, or personal, leaves a lasting impression. Make sure your information is delivered to them so they relate to it. (i.e. “The reason for 100% turnover at point of sale is so that we are always prepared to give customers a quick and efficient process.”)

Remarkable: The information that stands out will most likely be remembered. Remarkable is accentuated by the tone of your voice (enthusiastic, colorful) or that which stands out visually. Visual aids or handouts help make your information more remarkable.

Once we have established what we want the audience to know, feel, and do and have organized the material so our audience won't SUFFER through it, it is time to draft an outline of our presentation.

I like to use an outlining method called Mind-Mapping. It allows you to access both the left (analytical) and right (creative) sides of your brain.

It uses key words, phrases, colors, and images to encourage creativity, and still allows for the organization you get from outlining.

Here's how it works: First, draw a picture of the topic in the center of an index card. Next, write keywords or phrases by branching off the center. Start from the upper left of your topic and work your way around the card clockwise.

Don't be wordy. You want your brain to access the concept, but also allow your creativity to take front and center. Use colors, pictures, and codes that are easy for you to remember.

Now you're ready to present the information to your audience. Presence is the key. It is your poise, or how well you exude the confidence of your position.

It reassures the audience that the message they're getting is the right one. Presence is a combination of proper posture, use of gestures, movement among your audience, voice and eye contact, and your delivery.

The finance manager can present many topics to the sales people. Focus on topics that improve the F&I process. Documentation or sales subjects make excellent sales meetings. They might include:

  • Why should 100% of customers be turned over to F&I at point of sale?

  • What information do we need on a credit application to give us the best opportunity to get it approved?

  • How can the sales department properly endorse the service contract?

To take advantage of this opportunity to train and motivate the sales staff, you must first be committed to take action. You need to make one decision right now that guarantees to improve your professional life. That's to become good at training and committed to improving your sales meeting abilities.

It starts with this: “I will never again come to a dealership sales meeting without preparing something worthwhile to present to the group.”


Ron Martin is the author of the book “The Vision of Finance and Insurance” and a national sales trainer and consultant for auto dealers. His company is The Vision of F&I Inc., 219-637-2796; www.thevisionoffandi.com.