The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 523 · 1 month ago

Michael Cirillo: How Sales Pros Can Thrive In A Slow Economy

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In this episode of The Dealer Playbook Podcast, Michael shares his thoughts and ideas on how sales pros can not only survive, but thrive in a slow economy. The world hasn't exactly stopped before; there may have been a few pauses along the way, but they only lasted as long as it took for someone to think outside the box and find a solution—to go on by taking the next logical steps forward.

What Michael discusses in this episode:

In business, especially in the automotive industry, the economic climate is always changing. For much of the time, the changes that take place are caused by outside factors we are powerless to control. In that case, do we need to fear or panic?

No! We need to be prepared to take action and do whatever is ethically necessary in order to. Take the opportunity and seize the opportunity that is in front of us now.

The key to Ali Reda's success as a top car sales professional is what we'll refer to as "relationship selling." Relationship selling is a method in which the salesperson puts their relationship with the customer ahead of everything else about the sale. They develop trust, usually by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects before attempting to close.

Compare and contrast Ali Rita’s interview with mine and think about what he's saying and how you can apply it to the context of your circumstances. You're not in the same city, you're not selling the same product, you're not in the same market or community or whatever it may be. There's going to be some nuance and subtle differences. So listen and say, "Okay, so what am I doing currently? What do I think I could be doing differently to strengthen these relationships? What's that one crazy idea that I've always had that I want to try to build a relationship with somebody that I haven't done it yet?

It doesn't matter if you're selling super luxe cars or used Saturn ions. What matters is what kind of relationship you build with people, especially during this period of time that we're about to embark on - and that, frankly, we're already in, but nobody is willing to admit it yet. It's on us to stand out.

We’ve been here before. Times have been tough. We’ve survived and learned valuable lessons along the way to make us better people, smarter salespeople and stronger business leaders. If you believe the depressing and negative news, you'll struggle through difficult times. But if you take a break from the news and concentrate on what's positive in the world and the principles we talked about in the episode, you'll soon come up with innovative solutions on how to thrive in such a slow economy.

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The car business is rapidly changing, and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo, and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is The Dealer Playbook. Hey, Hey, welcome to this episode of The Dealer Playbook podcast. So excited that you are here with me, Man, I don't know what has been going on, but over the last few weeks, in particular, so many of you reaching out on Instagram and linked In and YouTube, UM and Facebook telling me how much you've appreciated did listening to the show and that it's been a part of your regular routine for so many years. I can't tell you how much that means to me. Um. It shocks me actually every time. I don't know if the shock wears off, just how much I love hearing from you and that this show, going into its tenth year pretty quick, UM, has been a part of your routine. I still feel like we're just getting started. Like I don't feel like I've turned on the engine. Yet I feel like we've just like primed the pump, so to speak. UM, lots of lots of cool things that we want to be able to do with the show. And UM, I guess you know, just from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for being a part of it. It's it's just the best You've You've blessed my life in more ways than I could articulate. I want to talk about something in this episode today. UM, a few episodes ago, you can go back and listen to it. We talked about, UM, how preparation removes fear. And of course at time of recording this, we're headed into a really interesting time. I was scrolling through TikTok the other day and I saw Gary vs video where he's like, Yo, now is not the time to be making big purchases. Now is the time to kind of hold off. If you're the whole five dollar cup of coffee person and you don't have an extremely big savings account, maybe maybe it's time to rethink some of your bigger purchases. And do you really need fifteen different streaming service subscriptions? Could you get away with two? Uh? And I pay attention to that kind of stuff, not from the fear perspective, but from the the lens of like, am I the only one seeing it this way? Are there others that are cautioning and and saying, hey, be prepared? Um? And so we're headed into a season of course, in the automotive industry, we're seeing lots of reports about how sales are starting to soften. Interest rates, of course are going up and up and up, and the Federal Reserve keeps h pumping those suckers up uh several basis points over and...

...over again. We've seen it two or three times just in the last few months. Of course, they have to do this to try and combat inflation, and they have to do they have to combat the inflation because wages have not also gone up in proportion to the inflation, and so things are getting really difficult for people out there. And so in that episode I talked about the importance of preparation and how preparation eliminates fear. If there's one thing that I learned as a boy scout, it was the motto be prepared, Be prepared. And so you know, I really want to hop back on here and really speak to the importance of that because we are headed into a season. Do I believe we need to fear or panic. No, I believe we need to be prepared to take action and do whatever is ethically necessary in order to take the opportunity and seize the opportunity that is in front of us now. I was on my Instagram the other day. If you're not following me on Instagram, I would love to connect with you there at Dealer Underscore playbook. UM and I got a message on Instagram from a sales professional. Let me read this to you, and then I want to kind of just break it down here and give you some suggestions. I thought it would be fun to to call out some past guests, Uh, not call them out in a negative way. Spotlight them is probably what I should be saying. Spotlight them as part of the solution. UM and suggestion that uh this individual asks for. She says, I'm selling Ferraris and I see a similar trend that the rest of the automotive industry is seeing. Interest rates are extremely high and people who can buy cash are still buying, but this puts many buyers on hold for the moment. I'm doing well through all of this, but I want to be prepared in case it really starts to slow down. What do you suggest? I love this question, and I love that this individual is specifically calling out wanting to be prepared. I think too often, if I, if I can be so bold, too often are human nature kicks in. The comfort zone kicks in and we go, Ah, that's a tomorrow problem, recession that that's not yet here. Yet. Things are still people are still buying cars. It's okay. And I don't know why we do this to ourselves. It's like we're we're premeditated torture, and we make decisions predicated on trying to make ourselves feel good in the moment that we forget. But it's still gonna happen, and there's gonna be a lot of things out of our control. But if we can be prepared to anticipate and make moves and take action, I really believe that it will soften the blow. We will be able to thrive through the next five four months instead of merely surviving. So she's like, she's she's asking, like, what do you suggest? So the first person that came to my mind that I want to...

...call out in this episode is, of course Ali Rita I've had the pleasure of interviewing him twice on the show now, uh, once kind of at the just pre pandemic, like before everything shuts down and everybody's getting furloughed and before all the market crazy stuff, and then interviewing him kind of in the tail end later part to see if there's any change in his approach. Now. Of course, Ali Rita stands out because Guinness Local World Record dispute holder. In my mind, he holds the Guinness record he sold a plus vehicles in a year, absolutely insane, Like do the math on that, over a hundred a month. This guy's pumping out and he stands out in my mind because he's all about what relationship. He's not the car sales professional that just sits there and and it's for people to walk through the door and has a stack of papers on his desk that he knows he should be following up with the people who are in those files. He's not just waiting for the opportunities to come to him. He's saying, you know what if if I accept that this is a people business. Because we're slinging that term around people business, car business, people business. We're sling that around. If I accept that, then it is incumbent upon me to go and make this the people business that I need it to be. And so what Ali Rita does part of one of the keys to his success is what will will refer to as relationships selling. Now, I've I've got another screen open here. I just want to read this. If you haven't heard the term relationships selling, let me just read this real quick, okay. Relationships selling is a technique in which a sales rep prioritizes their connection with the customer over all other aspects of the sale. They developed trust, usually by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects before attempting to close. Well to this individual's question saying what can I do to be prepared, I have to I have to shout out Ali for the tremendous example that he's said in what relationships selling looks like? You see, if it's going to be more difficult to use historical sales tactics and word tracks and negotiation methods, if it's going to get more difficult to separate people from their money, I would anticipate that it will get easier for those who you're ready for this, like and trust you. And the only way to get somebody to like and trust you is not through negotiation tactics. Okay, maybe they might respect you for it, but that's not the way to get them to like and trust you. This isn't an FBI...

...hostage negotiation any longer. Right, It's gonna be by building a relationship for them. And it's not beyond Ali to go out of his way to build relationship and prioritize that connection above all other things in the sales process. In fact, I bet you if we called him right now, which he wouldn't answer because he's always distinction busy, But if we were to call him right now, he would be like, I don't I don't sell anything. Um, I remember some of the standouts, and then and then I'll move on to another individual that I want to bring some attention to as part of this answer to this individual's question. Um, when Ali goes to a restaurant, he's popping into the back and saying, you know, finding out if he can just go say hi to the chef and pay his respects to the chef and congratulate them on a delicious meal. He's going to potential clients and clients, kids baseball games during the pandemic. On the tail end, when I got to interview him, Look, he's a car sales professional. He was furloughed like everybody else, but he didn't sit there and sunk. He went back into his community and thought of ways that he could build the people in this community. He was going door to door delivering ppe equipment and supplies to people. He saw it as an opportunity. He paid out of his own pocket to make that happen. For those of you that are perpetually feeling stuck wondering what can I do so differently, I'm just a car sales person after all, No, Ali says, no, I'm not a car sales person. I am a human being who happens to earn money from selling cars. Big difference. And so when he places that human factor first, it opens up his mind to what can I do to build relationships with the people in my community? How can I actually serve them? It's like it's laughable to two guys on his level. There's others Frank CRANNITTI, um, you know, Glenn Lundi, um, Sean Hayes. There. There's there's too many to like. And the person I'm going to mention in a minute, they're not like, oh, so happy to serve the community by by what selling us cars? That's not service. I mean it is providing a service, but it's not service the way these individuals think about service. So obviously I'd love for you to be able to listen to those those episodes. UM, if you go to the Dealer Playbook on your favorite podcast app, Apple, Spotify, my Heart wherever, wherever it's listed Google Podcasts, and just search or go to Google. Probably the easiest go to Ali Rita or sorry typing the Dealer Playbook Ali Rita, his episodes will pop up. The first one is how to make Selling Cars Sorry. The first one that he did with me was titled how to Sell a Hundred Cars a Month and then and that was kind of just pre pandemic or as things were really starting to kick off.

And then the second one, uh that we had him back for is titled how to make Selling Cars More Natural, which takes place about a year and a half later. Really really interesting, UM conversations with Ali Rita. As you listen to those, my encouragement is that you think about what he's saying and how you can apply it to the context of your circumstances. You're not in the same city, you're not selling the same product, You're not you're not you know, in the same market or community or whatever. There's gonna be some nuance and subtle differences. But listen and say, Okay, so what am I doing currently? What do I think I could be doing differently to strengthen these relationships? What's that one crazy idea that I've always had that I wanted to try to build a relationship with somebody that I haven't done yet, But I'm gonna do it now. Now. Let me just cross reference back to this individual who messaged me on um on Instagram because she's asking, you know, for the moment, I'm doing well through all of this, but I want to be prepared. And she's selling super Lux when she's selling Ferraris, it's got to be more difficult, right The sales process is probably longer, who knows, But she's asking, what do I suggest? In my humble opinion, it doesn't matter if you're selling super Lux or used saturn ions. Okay, it doesn't really matter what you're selling. What matters is what kind of relationship you build with people, and during this period of time that we're about to embark on and that we're already in, but nobody is willing to admit it. Yet it's on us to stand out. My um, my thirteen year old son has he was telling me about this Dr Seuss. I think it was Dr Seus's poster hanging up in their middles cool that says something like, um, why why try to fit in when you were born to stand out? And I love that because it applies to this. Why get a job in the auto industry just to fit in and be home another sixt eight car guy? When you have every capacity, potential, um, an opportunity to stand out, do the things that make you stand out. Relationship building is how you stand out. So the next individual that I want to reference and her episode, is an individual by the name of Heather Balantine and I had her on the show back several years ago. I'd love to get her back on the show. She sells super Lux and she's built a phenomenal personal brand around selling super Lux vehicles, like really stand out.

She's got an amazing Instagram presence. In fact, while we're here, I want to just quickly, um, look her up we're gonna go Heather balance tie um, and we're gonna look her up on INSTA. Will link to it in the show notes. Um. But she does so many cool things. Oh man, she's got several several accounts. Um. One looks to be a little bit more family oriented. One's a little bit more automotive. Yeah, Heather Lamborghini Gal. Will link to it in the show notes. Um. Like you know, just shy a fifty thou followers on Instagram. She's not thinking of selling cars the way we typically do. She's not in it to sell eight cars. She's in it to make these massive deals. And believe it or not, in my experience, it's more difficult to it rich people to separate from their cash, like you know, because these are big purchases. This is two thousand dollar vehicle, um. And so what's the population for people that can actually drop that kind of cash? Um. But Heather realized early on that she needed to be an entrepreneur, She needed to think entrepreneurial, she needed to think about owning a business within the business. And so I wanted to give her a call out because it's hyper relevant to this individual that reached out to me who's also selling, you know, a high luxury vehicle super Lux Ferrari. Because the answer is the same. The answer is the same. She goes out of her way to build a personal brand and build relationships of trust with people. And I know that's not what people want to hear, because we're like, ho, look, that's that's That's the one thing. I can't give you a tactic. You have to genuinely be in a place where you are, okay, doing something really great for other people without the promise of any return. And when you do that, compounded opportunities flow back to you. Doors open like crazy. Now we are the car business and we love KPIs what could the KPI of b RT build relationships of trust be? What could it possibly be? How do we put a number to this? Well in my organization, here's how I look at it. Um, If we really need to put a number to to these types of activities of being a good person, it's how many doors did it open? Not only mean literal doors, um, though we could probably boil it down to that. I'm talking about how many opportunit tunities...

...came as a result of this behavior that I put out, These activities that I do you know, I don't do a podcast because I think it's going to generate one to one business for me. That's not what has kept me doing this show for almost ten years. What keeps me doing this show is that I know it has blessed my life. I have seen the opportunities that have come from it. I e. Open doors, and then it is my responsibility once the door is open to walk through it well. Building relationships of trust can be looked at with the KPI of how many doors did this open for me? How many opportunities did doing this bring to me? If I decide to drop off coffee to a customer who I can never get on the phone and never book an appointment to to to book an appointment, and I decide that I'm going to show up to their workplace and just say, hey, I was driving by. I was thinking about you. Who doesn't like a warm cup coffee. It's it's called out. I thought you'd enjoy this. I hope you have an awesome day. See where we screw up in the auto industry, in sales in general as we go, I hope you have an awesome day. And I just wanted to make sure while I was here. If you could tell me when you you were thinking about coming in and test drive the Highlander, don't do that. I hope you have an awesome day. Catch you soon. Love to see at the dealership by bye, like no holds barred, here you go boom. I wanted to do something nice for you. You don't think you don't think that they're going to remember that come home. So to recap, you can be prepared. You don't have to react with panic. You can be prepared for whatever comes in good times and in bad times, ups and downs, you can be prepared. Preparation removes fear. And I wanted to get in here and answer this question with to really stand out guests that I've had on the show. There's been more, I mean, go through the catalog, so many amazing others. Nathan Hayes like given a ten ten ways to really break out into the community. All of these principles that we talked about on the playbook hold true today and I wanted to bring that to you. If you're feeling like a little bit discouraged or overwhelmed or how am I going to tackle this? I want you to know that I believe you have what it takes. I know you do. I've seen and met some of the best people I've ever gotten to know within the retail automotive industry. Chin up, look up, Start exploring those bold ideas in that beautiful brain of yours. Be prepared and start standing out. Build your personal brand. Think of it as a business within a business. If this was your business, what would you do to get out there and do that? At Basically, as wit Nor add on,...

...my team will say, do the thing. I hope you've got a ton of value out of this episode. Man, I care so so deeply about this community and about you. I want to see you succeed. I want to be here as the resource. If you haven't yet, subscribe to the podcast, obviously, I'd love if you do that. Follow me on the socials. I'm on LinkedIn at Michael Cirillo, on Instagram at Dealer Underscore Playbook. Of course you can find me on Facebook, uh, and of course subscribe to the pod wherever you get your podcasts. I hope you found this helpful, and of course, until next time, keep the playbook open and dominate. I'm Michael Cirillo and you've been listening to the Dealer Playbook Podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, leave a rating or review, and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. M.

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