In 1997, the late Richard Carlson, Ph.D., wrote a book titled, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff.” I know the book was one of the fastest selling titles of all time, but while the idea of not sweating the small stuff sounds good in a holistic approach, it’s not so great in professional application.

In our business, the small stuff really does matter. And when that small stuff is left unchecked, it can snowball into big stuff. I know what you’re thinking: “Cory, I’ve got talent. I’ve got word-tracks and rebuttals. I’m a closer.” Maybe you are all of those things, but can you tie a tie properly and iron that dealership-branded polo shirt?

Unless you are a high profile person who’s established such dominance in your field that your appearance doesn’t matter (think Steve Jobs), it’s the total package that drives the presentation. And you wouldn’t want all that great training and practice you put into your pitch muted by things you thought weren’t important, would you? Hey, when it comes to customer engagement, everything counts.

Real Life Is the Best Teacher
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was going to lease a new car for my wife and I walked into a highline dealership to discuss my options. I was greeted by a salesperson who, on paper, had a lot of experience selling cars, particularly the brand he represented. He looked like a mature individual who was married with children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t look past the top button on his shirt being undone and the tie he had wrapped around it. It was just plain ridiculous.
So what do you think happened during his quasi-presentation of the vehicle.

Well, instead of listening to what he had to say, my focus was on his appearance. And that impacted my opinion of him, the dealership and, in a small way, the brand he was selling. Could he not notice my irritation? And how could his manager allow him to greet customers looking so disheveled?

During a recent visit to a Ferrari store, I walked through the facility to observe the amenities of the dealership. I was given a mini-bottle of Kirkland water (a Costco brand), and there were some Doritos available for me to snack on. I was shocked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Costco water and I love a bag of Doritos with a submarine sandwich like the next guy. But that wasn’t the experience I expected to receive from a Ferrari dealership.

The water should match the brand and the Dorito’s should have been biscotti. Yes, the small things matter in the purchase experience. If a customer can buy, then the next decision he or she has to make is where to buy.

Small Things Become Big Things
There is a saying, “Success leaves clues.” That’s probably true when  we fail to get it done as well. Logically, the person who doesn’t care about his or her appearance doesn’t care about his or her presentation and customer, and the cycle just continues. At the end of the day, it becomes about mindset and the belief that one thing can be overlooked because of something else. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work.

Self-assessment is a powerful tool because it allows you to be honest with yourself free from outside influence and in the privacy of your own space. So walk yourself down the path you take daily and examine the pieces that make up your presentation to the world. Think about the shortcuts you took, the skipped steps. Then challenge yourself to start doing the things you should be doing but stopped.

I challenge you to raise the bar and your standards. Break from the comfort zone that has become your daily routine and push yourself into unchartered territory. Look, gains in your career and life don’t come from where we have been and what we’ve done; they come from where we are going to go and what we are going to do.

By the way, Carlson wrote another book titled, “Easier Than You Think … because life doesn’t have to be so hard.” In it, he lays out 39 ways in which we can take control of our day-to-day experiences. Carlson’s main message is that rather than embarking on lengthy self-improvement projects, try making smaller, simpler adjustments. See, even Carlson realized that it really is the little things that matter.

Cory Mosley is principal of Mosley Automotive Training, a company focused on new-school techniques. E-mail him at [email protected].

About the author
Cory Mosley

Cory Mosley

Dealer Consultant

Cory is a sales training specialist who brings a new-school approach to automotive retailing. Get his monthly take on the opportunities and challenges impacting today’s front-end departments right here at

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