You could say Baron Washington Jr. took to selling cars like a duck to water
Not everyone sells 15 cars their first month in the business. He was also named Sales Person of the Year two out of his four years at his first dealership: Dennis Sneed Ford, near Kansas City, Mo. One month, he sold 34 cars. Not bad for a Green Pea – or anyone.
Was it luck? Perhaps, if like the saying goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Coming from a service background, Washington Jr. had worked for over a decade at one of Kansas City’s best fine-dining restaurants, Trezo Mare – first as a waiter, then as a bartender, and finally as a manager – before being recruited to join the Dennis Sneed team. His extensive customer service skills certainly paid off at the dealership, but he also spent months researching every aspect of the business.
“As long as you take care of people, everything else will take care of itself,” he says. “Most of [your customers] know what they want anyway. You just have to be there to help them and give them guidance, not try to sell them something.”
After four successful years at Dennis Sneed Ford, Washington Jr. got the opportunity last year to join the team at another Kansas City dealership, Gary Crossley Ford. His strong service background would continue to play a role in his success, but going from one of six sales consultants to one of 20 or so meant that he was going to need to make some adjustments to his day-to-day approach. For one thing, customers consistently came into the store asking for someone by name, which happened much less frequently at Dennis Sneed.
Social media was one way Washington Jr. thought more people could learn his name and get to know him.
This was not familiar territory
At Trezo Mare, he never saw a link between his work and social media.
“I thought Facebook was a waste of time,” he says. “I’d see my friends on it at the restaurant, and it was like, you’re at work – why are you playing around on Facebook?”.
At Dennis Sneed, most of the business came in through internet leads, making social media less of a solution. But at Gary Crossley, he saw the value of social as a sales tool. So just like he did when making the change from restaurant work to selling cars, Washington Jr. got down to researching. He learned everything he could about social media marketing and sought out those who were successful at it at the dealership level. Right away he recognized that some of the very best weren’t really selling cars, but were using the platform to share and inspire. Two of his favorites remain Shawn Hays and Bill Hav.
“Consumers do enough research. We don’t need to talk about cars,” Washington Jr. says. “People buy from people they like and can trust.”
Interested in growing your own personal brand? Here are Washington Jr.’s four tips for getting started.
Baron’s Tips to grow your brand
1. Get Inspired
“I came across Shawn Hays, who’s part of the ‘Sales Hustlers’ Facebook group that I’ve since become a part of, and I just immediately found real value in what he’s doing, with Facebook Live and videos. Every day on my drive in, I listen to him. Bill Hav’s ‘Dashboard Diaries’ is awesome. He gave me the idea to make a video of people’s reactions, not just post a picture of them with their new car. It’s more impactful. People really respond to it.”
3. Work Hard
“I don’t keep track of my hours, but I easily work over 50 hours a week. Even on my day off I come in. If you’re not at the store, you tend to miss deals. And as you’re working deals, you don’t know when they’re going to buy. I personally give customers my cell phone number, and a lot of them will reach out to me on Facebook. If they tell me they’re ready to buy, I come in. I’ll also invest in myself by turning my spiff money into giveaways. The last thing I gave away was a $50 gift card, which you could win just by sharing my post. Every week, I do a business spotlight. It’s a good way to create community and increase exposure. You can be the best at what you do, but if nobody knows, what use is it?”
2. Be Yourself
“You’ll be your own toughest critic. Don’t be afraid of what people might think, or that you won’t know what to say – just start. The first videos I did, I thought they sucked, but people really liked them. And the more you do something, the more confident you get.
I’m pretty laid-back, and there’s room for every type of personality, not just people who are loud and high-energy all the time. I really like being inspired, so I started posting inspirational memes, and I’d get great feedback: ‘Hey man, thanks, I really needed that today.’ I love selling cars, and I love helping people, and I think that does come through.”
4. Have Patience
“Success isn’t going to happen overnight. And if it does, it probably isn’t going to last.
I got great advice from my mom. One thing she said was, ‘Always listen.’ You don’t have to jump at every opportunity, but you can always listen. That has a lot to do with patience.
If you follow these steps–get inspired, be yourself, and work hard with consistency, commitment, and a game plan–you’ll do great. It probably won’t happen overnight, but once it takes off it’s hard to stop! Just have some patience and keep working.”