Opportunities are meant to be seized upon, but not even David Jac-obson, author of Non-Confrontational Power Selling, could have guessed his part-time DJ job would lead to a career in auto sales.
In fact, he was actually apprehensive about moving into auto sales. He had interviewed at a dealership and the sales manager there had completely turned him off to selling cars.
"He told me how people get burnt out, how very few people make it, how it's a very grueling business... and I actually left there and was so disappointed because I figured I would find a career."
But it seems Mr. Jacobson was meant for a career in auto sales after all. Months after that interview, he was the DJ at a party for the owner of a different dealership. He convinced Mr. Jacobson to interview again, this time for him.
In two weeks, he was selling cars on the showroom floor. In four months, he was consistently the store's number one or number two salesperson.
"I took an immediate liking to the business and the challenge of meeting new people and selling cars," he says.
Now, after 15 years in auto sales, he attributes his success to good teaching and his determination to make auto sales his career rather than just a stop off point.
Today he is the vice president of Neil Automotive Group, which has 10 dealerships on Long Island. He uses the tools he's learned along the way to train his own managers and salespeople, and believes that his methods have made a tremendous difference in the success of the organization.
He wrote Non-Confrontational Power Selling because he believes that building a foundation of quality salesmanship is the start to the development of an industry that everyone can be proud of.
"We have an absolutely horrible reputation and unfortunately it's justified. And I believe that there is a way if people are trained correctly that the whole industry can be brought to another level of professionalism."
Mr. Jacobson relays his experiences and methods working in the industry in his book with the hope they may be applied to improving the quality and performance of the dealer industry.
He says improving a dealership's performance is simple.
"There is no magic here," he says." You cannot sell if people are putting their defenses up. It's that simple."
He adds, "So non-confrontationally you are going to get to where you need to be without all of the stress and abuse that salespeople and customers give each other in the negotiating situation."
The book goes over the paths to a non-confrontational approach, through which the customer and the salesperson are able to avoid the stress of the sale.
To reach this "comfort-zone," the salesperson needs to relate with the customer as a friend. Empathizing with the customer shows them that the sales-person understands the experience of making a large purchase like a car and demonstrates a willingness to work with them to make the experience as comfortable for them as possible.
Mr. Jacobson says that when a customer is indecisive about what they want, changing the conversation's direction can make the negotiations go smoother.
Instead of trying to force answers he says, "you say to the customer, 'It's funny isn't it, it's not as easy as you thought shopping for a car? I can really understand some of the stress involved in it so let's take our time, sit down find out what's important to you and we'll go from there.'
"The customer thinks, 'Finally someone understands the stress I'm going through.'" And when the customers feels on an equal level with the salesperson, the power struggle they are expecting disappears, and with it the wall they've put up to protect themselves.
Suddenly, Mr. Jacobson says, they are more willing to discuss the purchase and their needs, and therefore, more likely to complete the sale.
"The confrontation is removed from every question that you ask a customer," he says. "If you ask a customer how much they want to spend per month, the customer is saying to themselves, 'Why do you want to know that?' They are afraid to give that price range because they are afraid of what's going to happen if they do give up some of their ammunition."
Rather than struggle with the customer, Mr. Jacobson works with them to best find out what they are comfortable with. He shows them the benefits of revealing information and believes that in such a situation, people are more likely to come forward with answers to his questions.
He believes his book will give salespeople the systems necessary to empower them to succeed in simple and realistic ways. And since it has worked for him and his organization, he believes it will work for others. The biggest problem Mr. Jacobson sees in the industry is the quality of the sales staff. But with affordable, consistent, and quality training, bringing the level of the sales staff up is possible.
"If every dealer had their management trained and focused on the task, forget about the fact that everybody would make a whole lot more money and customers would be happier, but the industry would start to come up."
He envisions this cycle not only improving the current level of the industry, but, as the quality of the industry goes up, also more quality people being attracted to a career in auto sales.
He hopes that one-day people will no longer be afraid to say they sell cars, instead they will looked upon as respected professionals.
Non-Confrontational Power Selling has been successful enough for Mr. Jacobson to start writing another book, Non-Confrontational Power Management.
He says it will show managers how to train their sales staff, become better motivators and better closers.
Non-Confrontational Power Selling can be purchased through the web site www.bookabuy.com or by mail. Send check or money order of $16.95 + $3.00 shipping and handling to Capital Results, Inc., 414 West Sunrise Highway, Patchogue, New York 11772. Add sales tax if you are from NY, NJ, or CT.
"Let's try to decode the customer's language for a moment.
"If a customer says, 'I just want your best price,' what he most likely means is, 'I am afraid of you and your sales tactics. I just want to be treated fairly.'
"Some sales people will immediately become defensive. Others will immediately use a sales pitch. Neither works effectively.
"Let's decode another common phrase: 'I just want to look around for a while.'
"What he probably means is, 'If you stay with me, you will try to sell me something, and bother me the whole time, just like the last guy did.'
"Let's make one thing clear. A customer is thinking one thing to himself throughout the whole process, 'What's in it for me?' If there is nothing in it for him then you lose. (Otherwise) if a customer is listening, they are probably only patronizing you. If they are walking with you, it is most likely only physically there. Unless they have something to gain, you are wasting their time, as well as your own."