Welcome to “Peak Performance,” a monthly look at the principles and disciplines that enable you to grow consistently, avoid burnout, and amaze customers! Everyone wants to reach the peak, the top, the pinnacle of success. However, not everyone is willing to pay the price or make the hard choices necessary to get there. My mission each month is to challenge you to stretch yourself, turn loose of old habits that no longer fit the new economy and develop your natural talents and gifts to move you upward, one step at a time!
Before building any structure, you must first lay a solid foundation. Here are the three principles we will use to establish a solid foundation:
1. Acknowledge That Your Journey to the Top Will Last a Lifetime.
The study of the “half-life” principle is an eye-opener! Simply put, this is the time it takes for half of the information we learn about something to become obsolete. The half-life of a learned skill is now considered to be five years. This means that much of what you learned 10 years ago is obsolete and half of what you learned five years ago is irrelevant.
As Henry Ford once put it, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
We must schedule learning into our busy lifestyle. We’re learning all the time. Every customer interaction is crucial part of that learning experience. However, our minds appreciate regularity and rhythm. So, carve out time every day to devote to specific learning activities. When serving in the F&I office I developed relationships with most other F&I professionals in my city. We would talk at least once a week to compare notes. Some of the most insightful things I learned occurred during those times.
2. Make Change Your Friend.
True growth does not take place just because we embrace new ideas. Renouncing old concepts is just as important — and much more difficult. Change demands that we take regular assessments of ourselves and get feedback from others on how we can improve.
Peak performers are never afraid to learn the cold, hard truth about themselves. And they use what they discover, the good and the bad, to grow and change for the better. This is a never-ending cycle for them.
There are many timeless principles of selling that are unchangeable: Listen more than you speak; diagnose before you prescribe; and help customers, don’t sell customers. Those principles fall into the “why” and “what” we do category. The “how” of selling is where we get entangled and the death grip of refusal to accept the transition from one model to another sets in.
Change is always driven by the demands of consumers. And that demands we think like a customer. What process would they like most? How would they feel most comfortable discovering their need for our products? And how would they like to buy the products we offer? The answers might be surprising!
As our industry continues to evolve, we must develop processes, technology, and sales techniques that are driven by the customer — not by us! We must be led by those who will take us down a path of constructive and commonsense change that provides amazing experiences for customers and retains our ability to get paid for our expertise.
Yes, we can do both!
3. Solidify Your ‘Why.’
It is critical you be consumed by why you do what you do during times of transition and change. Simon Sinek says that it’s not enough to know what you do and how you do it. At our essence, we are most motivated by knowing why we do things. And it’s through that awareness that we can best connect with (and sell!) to others.
One of the most important factors that enable us to help customers buy the products they need is the depth of our connection with them. The deeper the connection, the higher the level of trust. And when trust goes up, everything else goes up with it! Customer satisfaction, profits and income all rise in direct relation to the level of trust. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The readers of this column will vary from the seasoned veteran to the newcomer. The one thing we have in common is the journey we are taking. We may be at different stages of the journey, yet we all have more terrain to cover and we all need the help and insight of others. I hope to share some of those insights in the coming months. Keep climbing!