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Dan Akerson and General Motors - Time to Start Asking the Right Questions!

Posted by Frank Belzer on Sun, Mar 04, 2012 @ 03:25 PM
Frank Belzer is the Sales Archaeologist and Author of Sales Shift.

Chevy VoltPerhaps you had a chance to read this article about GM missing their sales forecast on the new Volt.  Their solution is to stop production rather than discount the car.  Although I applaud the effort to avoid discounting, I have to believe there are some alternatives that nobody seems to have considered.  For example, could you improve the sales skills of your people and improve your overall sales strategy?

The car or automotive industry has been resistant to getting help with sales for decades.  They continue to use the same horrible and outdated methods of selling that have created the “car salesman” persona which has scared more people from their locations than it has closed deals.  Like banking and residential real estate, they are in dire need of the help we offer, but they continue on their own path and avoid or reject suggestions that could change the way they do business.  It would seem like this is a great car at a great time (environmental issues are pressing and gas is high.)  The problem must be the interaction with the prospect!

Here are some interesting questions for General Motors CEO Dan Akerson:

  • Are ALL the sales people or ALL the locations struggling to sell the Volt or are only some salespeople and some locations struggling?
  • What are the differences between the ones that are and can sell and those that don’t?
  • What skills might it take to sell this car that it didn’t take to sell others?  Is it a more consultative sale given that this is the first all-electric car?
  • Is there even more resistance to the electric idea itself? (Does an entirely electric concept work?)
  • Is there more resistance to the brand? (GM hasn’t made this before.)
  • Is the Toyota Prius still selling?

Why do realtors, bankers and the car salesperson resist the idea of getting help? What is stopping them from raising their hand and simply saying, “I would like to learn what other salespeople are doing in other industries and apply it to my market?”

Probably the same issues that stop anyone from getting a clear picture of why their sales organization isn't functioning:

  • Ego – I know it all and don’t need help.
  • Peer Pressure – Others in my industry are not raising the bar, so why should we?
  • Complacency – Who cares about it?
  • Ignorance – Are there are people who can help with that?
  • Head Trash – That is just how it is, always has been and always will be.
  • Excuses – It’s not me or us, it's the economy.

Your initial reaction might be to say, “I don’t feel any of those ways.” and then list something else that is preventing success.  Does it really matter?  Whatever is standing in your way, or the way of your sales organization, should be seen as the enemy and you should be driven to smoke it out and remove it.

If you need help identifying or fixing something like that, just let me know and we can talk.



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