By Tianna Mick, Business Development & Industry Relations, Dealer Synergy
My first job in the auto industry was working on the showroom floor at my local car dealership. Prior to becoming a salesperson there, I was a full-time college student, full-time restaurant line cook, and I was full-time losing my mind. Drowning in debt, I knew something needed to change – and quickly, so, I decided to leave college, quit flipping burgers, and grab my pickaxe to start mining for gold in the auto industry.
When I stepped into the dealership, I was prepared and determined to dominate the showroom floor. I was ready to go on test drives, perform walkarounds, and meet new clients, but my manager thought watching the dealership lot door would suffice for my first couple of weeks. Every day would be the same routine. I would watch that lot for hours, which felt like an eternity. Until… I would see headlights turning towards me… and the car would pull up. It’s FINALLY my chance to sell! I fling open those glass doors, stick out my hand, and say, “Welcome to ABC Motors, my name is Tianna, and you are?” Then you hear those dreadful words, “Is Mr. Johnson working today?” You try not to break your smile or show the disappointment all over your face. Instead, you say, “Of course, follow me.”
After the same interaction day after day, I realized. What if I could have people asking for me — instead of just counting on being the first salesperson to greet them? I kept asking myself, how can the salesperson who spends the least time watching the lo get the most customers? Then it hit me, what if I invested all of that lot-watching time into prospecting — messaging on social media, calling clients, etc. If I wanted customers to ask specifically for me when they arrived at the dealership, I knew that, first, the customers had to get to know me.
I realized that to be successful in my role, I had to develop a brand and market that brand as if I was running my own business. After spending a good amount of time researching how to do that, I noticed each business/brand had three similarities:
- A memorable logo/name
- Specific branding colors and
- An audience.
You want to look at your dealership as a shopping mall; your desk is a little kiosk in the middle of the mall. So, just as any successful business would, you too must have a memorable name. I picked TGotYourKeys.com because it was simple, it rhymes, seemed like it would be easy enough for people to remember! Notice how I didn’t pick a car brand? You do not want to attach your brand name to a major manufacturer, just in case (although I know you love your current position) you end up somewhere else. You want to be seen as your OWN brand!
Secondly, pick your colors! Did you know certain colors make people feel different emotions? Red and yellow = Demands immediate attention, happiness, and even hunger (ex. McDonalds, Wendy’s, Subway, etc.) Purple and Blue = Loyalty, Trustworthy, and Openness. (ex. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, American Express, TGotYourKeys, etc.) You would never see a blue Target store or a red Walmart store. Make sure you choose your colors and STICK to them! You need to be recognized like the “Golden Arches”. You don’t need to see the name to know a Big Mac is nearby. (FACT: McDonald’s’ iconic golden arches are recognized by more people than the cross. A survey by Sponsorship Research International found that 88% could identify the arches and only 54% could name the Christian cross, according to Fast Food Nation.) #NowThatsBranding
Lastly, you need an audience. I am a young female, so my ideal customer would be other young females; however, that is only 50% of the buying market. Same for males, they have a harder time connecting with female clients. In order to expand your audience and appeal to all walks of life, you need to create strategic marketing strategies and campaigns to entice the audience you wouldn’t naturally be connected to. An effective way to do so is through “Why Buys.” You need to create a “Why Buy” for everyone in the market. Why should college students buy from me? “I know what it is like working with a budget and limited credit history, luckily we have over 40 different financial lenders to assist.” Why should senior citizens buy from me? “Get your car serviced without even leaving your home! I will personally pick up and drop off your vehicle after service is performed.”
Most salespeople neglect the most obvious and vital audience… their community! Use your community to help build and solidify your brand. For example, you should attend as many community events as possible (you know, when you aren’t working those bell-to-bells). If you can afford to, sponsor the local little league team, or school functions, as this is an amazing way to not only show your support as a fellow community member, but also to be seen as the “Friendly Neighborhood Car Salesman.”
Effectively building your brand isn’t about immediate gratification, but rather the long game. Get your name out there so that when people are ready to buy, they will think of you. For more of an immediate gain, consider running Facebook/Instagram paid ads. This is actually an affordable way to instantly build an online audience within and outside of your local community. Think about it… not everyone watches TV, or listens to the radio, but more likely than not, they will have a Facebook or Instagram.
Remember, YOU are your own brand and at the end of the day, you don’t want to rely on the dealership to eat. It’s your responsibility to create your own opportunities. So, let’s recap… you need to look at car sales as owning your own business, brand yourself (and stick to it!), build your audience, and work your community. Imagine, if you could generate an extra three to five sales a month, and then an extra 10-20 sales a month, soon you would work by appointment base only.
About the Author
Tianna Mick aka TGotYourKeys is FRESH off of the showroom floor. She was consistently the top grossing salesperson, averaging 18+ units and generating $9-10k in personal income each month, at only 19-years-old. Tianna is recognized globally for her award-winning TGotYourKeys.com website, which was voted as the number one personal website in the automotive industry. She is an Internet Sales 20 Group speaker, and is an expert at showroom sales, lead/referral generation, and personal branding.