How often do we see a favored team lose an important game? Fairly often. It happened as recently as the Super Bowl and we see it each year during the NCAA basketball championship series. Is there anyone who believes the favored team wasn't capable of winning these big games or that they didn't have a sound game plan? What then was their reason for losing?

Think about golf; if Tiger is the number one golfer in the world, why doesn't he win each tournament he enters?

In my private life away from NCM, I am fortunate to be able to “compete” on the BassMaster (B.A.S.S.) professional fishing tournament trail. There I am able to experience first hand what I'm speaking of. How often do you think the big-name pros with the high-dollar sponsorships win? Not very often. I often hear comments regarding how lucky the winner was. Maybe. But luck is what happens when opportunity, preparation and one other key ingredient meet.

What I see as a common thread here is a failure to execute. Sure, heading into a game or tournament everyone has a sound plan. They have the opportunity. They've practiced at length. But their failure to execute the plan results in a loss.

What does any of this have to do with the automobile business? Probably more than we think. As an industry, we develop a business plan. We spend millions of dollars on training (preparation). We spend millions more advertising to create floor traffic (opportunity). Yet more than we would like to admit, we don't obtain the desired results.

Is this because we are unlucky, or did we fail in our attempt to execute the plan? Think about our closing and delivery ratios. If we could improve them by 10% or even 5%, how would our bottom lines be impacted?

In basic sales training we are taught the steps to a sale. We are also taught that our failure to properly execute all of the steps will most likely result in a lost sale. Knowing this, why do we allow our sales personnel to skip steps?

Positive attitude and genuine desire are parts of the success equation. How often do we see a new salesperson fresh out of training have more success than our average veteran?

This is fairly common because the new salesperson doesn't know the “shortcuts” yet. This new salesperson doesn't realize the impact of negative equity or doesn't know about pre-qualifying a customer on the lot. So he or she devotes time and effort toward taking the customer through the steps to a sale. More often than not, the results are positive. They combine opportunity with preparation, with the proper attitude and desire and lastly, they are able to execute. Aren't these the same characteristics your consistent top performers possess?

One of my best friends, a successful dealer, consistently works with his sales team on what he calls blocking and tackling.

Each morning, each individual opportunity to do business from the previous day is reviewed. The team reviews each deal and each part of the process in an attempt to identify any areas where they might have improved and had better results. The dealer's primary goal in requiring this daily exercise is to improve the team's ability to execute the plan.

We are all familiar with the adage, “Plan your work, and work your plan”. Maybe it should be, “Plan your work and execute your plan.”

Good selling!

Tony Noland is director of international operations for NCM Associates. He has 30 years of automotive retail experience.

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