If you ask one of The Others about car salesmen, one of their chief complaints about us is they don’t like to see us standing around upfront “like a pack of jackals” or something to that effect. In this observation they are both right and wrong. It’s just a matter of perception.
One thing that people don’t understand about car salesmen (and I’m surprised how many managers have forgotten it) is that standing around and talking is both natural and necessary to the sales process. I’m not kidding about this. The banter that goes back and forth while waiting for an up is the Car Man equivalent to warm up pitches for a baseball player. A Car Man’s mind and his tongue have to be kept loose and ready for action, and bullshitting is the best way to do it.
The problem is where they do it. Many managers can’t stand salesmen in the showroom unless they’re making phone calls or writing someone up. Some dealerships won’t even let the salesmen in the showroom unless they have a customer with them! So they have no choice but to outside and stand around in clusters taking about things you don’t want to know about—trust me on this.
To make matters worse, T.O. (turn over) houses force their young salesmen to stand outside and hawk for ups. They chase cars down. They call colors. They do all kinds of crazy crap to get an up. Trying to earn a living on the lot becomes as primal as lions chasing down their prey. It’s humiliating for the customer and it’s humiliating for the salesmen alike.
That’s why I want to make a case for the “up system”. The up system for those of you who are Car Man lingo challenged is basically taking turns waiting on people. An actual list is made up and you wait your turn to take an up. Sounds reasonable, but it’s fraught with controversy within the car sales community.
Closers and their sales managers (I refuse to refer to a closer as a sales manager) hate the up system. They don’t consider it aggressive enough. After all, it’s not them running around the lot trying to tackle an up. They don’t think of the image they are projecting to the public or the possible result on their CSI. They just want their guys to get a buyer at all costs.
The solution to all this requires a delicate balancing act between being aggressive or working in what we used to refer to as “an old lady store”. I urge anyone out there who is in management to take a look at how your dealership handles this most important issue.
You know, one of the reasons a salesman is supposed to drive the car first on a demo ride is because the customer’s first impression of a car is the one that lasts. It’s the same thing for the customer’s first contact with the dealership itself. How many customers pass your dealership by because they don’t like what they’re seeing on the point?
But on the other hand you have to let the guys have a place to bullshit without The Others thinking there’s conspiracy going on. Going back to my baseball analogy, I envision modern car dealerships with a bullpen area, just like in baseball. Coupled with the up system, a bullpen would give the guys a place to go and discuss the issues of the day, like climate change for example, or pussy depending on their mood, until they are called upon to wait on a customer.
A case for the up system. A case for bullshitting. Let’s face it. You’ll only read about these things here. Don’t you feel lucky?
Talk to you later,
P.S. If I offended anyone with the pussy reference, my job here is complete.