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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Characteristics of a Pro

Written By: Tom Hopkins
Posted on August 18, 2015

There are many traits or attributes common to those who can be called professionals in the field automotive sales. A particular quality that separates the average from the great can be expressed by one simple word: discipline.

Years ago, I used to teach that one of the top qualities separating the average from the great was desire. However, I have since met and observed many students who had the overwhelming desire to succeed, but lacked the discipline required to lay out the specifics of their paths to success, stay on track, and ultimately fulfill their potentials. So, now I teach that your desire to achieve must be tempered with your ability to discipline yourself to do what’s necessary at all times.

Most of the great ones in business and in life have an overwhelming desire to prove something to someone. They know they can be the best in their fields and are out to prove it to the world, or maybe just to themselves and their families. This desire burns so strongly within them that it keeps them moving in the right direction. It keeps them positive on days when things don't go just right. It keeps them cheerful to their clients and fellow salespeople. It makes them more efficient and professional in their day-to-day activities. It's the fuel that keeps their personal engines running in top condition.

The desire they have to succeed is not wholly selfish. In their quest for success, they sincerely want to find those people looking for dependable new vehicles and fulfill their needs in owning them. Their success is brought about by delivering happiness to those people they come in contact with and serve.

I can't tell how much desire you have to make it in this field. Only you know that. The answer comes in knowing how much stress, anxiety, and pain you can tolerate before you call it quits. Are two rejections and three No's enough to send you looking for another profession? If so, you have a low threshold of desire and a high one for rejection. Think about what you're willing to give or do to achieve what you really want.

Desire without discipline leads to disappointment, disillusionment and despair. Don’t let yourself be disappointed. Develop the discipline you need to succeed.

Professionals pay close attention to details.

They ask questions that help them get a better understanding of exactly what their clients are looking for in a vehicle. They have their paperwork in order—properly filled out, recorded, and filed. They return phone calls promptly—even if it’s just to leave a quick message that they’ll be in touch later. They keep their promises and have answers ready when questions are asked. They never say, “I don’t know.” When they don’t know the answer to a question, they say, “I’ll find out for you.”

They are highly goal-oriented.

They are striving for a certain number of vehicles sold each month, a certain income, a trophy or an award. They know exactly what they're working for and have a plan detailing when and how they'll achieve it.

Do you have your goals in writing? If not, you are a wisher, an undisciplined dreamer. You haven't really committed yourself to achieving anything. You're like those average people in your office who say, "Sure, I want to make more money, but after the day I had yesterday, I'm not calling anyone today!"

You see, the successful ones, the true professionals begin where the failures stop. They do what the failures are afraid or too lazy to do.

The great ones understand that they must strive daily to improve their skills.

They have jumped in with both feet and are willing to pay the price of learning what they have to know to be successful in this business. They've committed to the automotive industry as their career path. They are constantly striving to improve themselves by attending training, listening and reading auto industry material and staying abreast of new technology that will assist them in serving their clients more efficiently.

They live by this motto: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”

Those twelve simple words literally changed my life and my sales career over 40 years ago. Whenever I felt doubt about what I was doing, I would glance at these words hung by my desk, get re-focused, and do the next most important thing.

I hope you're not one of those people who is "just giving sales a try." People with that attitude have a plan of action for when they fail. You've heard it, I'm sure. "If I don't make it in this, I can always ..." They have a plan for failure. They're anticipating it, and will probably get it. Planning to succeed is so much more exciting than planning to fail.

Another characteristic of the top people in sales is that they deliver excellent service.

They know they are paid in direct proportion to the amount of service they give to their clients. They understand that they are in the people business. They don't sell cars and trucks. They get people happily involved in owning vehicles that satisfy their needs.

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