Posts tagged conferences
How often is it that your non-automotive friends want to do something related to your automotive career? Besides helping take a few layers of rubber off a new Camaro SS, probably not that often. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when some of my non-automotive friends enthusiastically asked me about going to the Driving Sales Executive Summit. That’s right: the same folks that silently plead for me to shut up about the car business actually want to attend a conference for the car business.
Despite the fact that this will read like a commercial, it’s not intended to. The fact of the matter is that I support any retail automotive event that seeks to help dealer personnel become better at what they do. While some events cover the basics, and others seek to introduce new solutions, DSES always offers a glimpse of the future. Moreover, it seems to take into account the consumers’ angle. Since I’m pushing a decade in the car business, and my experience is 99.9% digital, I don’t like being stuck in the echo-chamber. It’s one of the few automotive conferences that get me excited (and oddly enough, doesn’t have a military theme).
What makes it exciting? Two words: thought leaders. While other conferences take pride in featuring automotive legends, DSES consistently features up-and-comers from the business community at large. Although some may call it highbrow, it’s a place where you might get social media advice from someone with 900,000 followers versus someone with 900 followers. You might get business advice from leading business school faculty versus someone who inherited a turnkey operation. You might get technology advice from those who work in Silicon Valley versus those…who are, um…really good sales people. It offers the perspective of business professionals speaking about automotive versus automotive professionals speaking about business.
As you start to plan the fall conference season, and you are forced to pick & choose, evaluate what you need to get better at. Do you need to get a broad spectrum of basic concepts? Do you need solutions that can be implemented today? Do you need to evaluate new tools? Do you need to learn more about changing consumer habits? Do yourself a favor, and evaluate the speakers and their content before you decide which conference to choose from. Better yet, ask your non-retail-automotive friends (I know you have a few) who would they rather see. After all, you are not selling cars to car salespeople: You’re selling cars to real people.
Post script: I have to give a shout-out to the folks at the OTHER conference for cajoling Erik Qualman into being the keynote speaker. Since you are probably like me, and will be attending both conferences, you’ll get to see Gary Vaynerchuk, Aaron Strout, Jason Falls, and Erik Qualman speak (along with the usual suspects) in the same week! Who needs SXSW?!
Like some of you, I am just getting caught up from nearly two weeks of conference action in Vegas. After attending and participating in three conferences (I only know a few who stayed for four!), my head was left full of charts, graphs, concepts, and ideas. Beyond the sensory overload from all of the content, one thing became abundantly clear to me: I was surrounded by people with passion. Pure, unbridled, go-tell-it-on-the-mountain, passion. Hearing people tell their story, wildly gesticulating with their excitement. The enthusiasm was contagious!
Many of us have passions in life. For some, it’s the outdoors. For others, it’s sports. Still for others, it’s working in the garage. You can debate for hours about the best way to rebuild a carburetor. You work tirelessly on your fantasy football team at all hours of the night. You spend weeks scouting out the best place to put a deer blind. You have rooms dedicated to mounted fish, classic Fords, and the New Jersey Devils.
I’m one of the guys who’s extremely passionate about his career. I love what I do! I rarely ever stop thinking about how I can improve processes, discover efficiencies, or make people more productive. I’m bouncing ideas off my friends in the industry all of the time (and they are always bouncing ideas off of me). I know my wife wishes I’d take a break in the evening, but she tolerates it because it’s what I do. I feel like the car business found me and I’m going to give a 100% back.
I know many of you, however, don’t feel that same passion. Maybe you feel like you are stuck in a dead-end job or someone around you constantly drags you down. Well I have bad news for you: your customers can hear it, see it, and feel it. How are they going to tell you “yes” when all they see is ‘no’ ? Unfortunately, the car business is not one of lateral moves. You’re either productive or you’re packing.
If you’re lacking that passion, you don’t need to get a prescription. I’ll leave the pills to Pfizer, Glaxo, and Bayer. I’m merely suggesting you change your outlook on what you do for a living. When asked, I’m guessing most of you would say that you sell cars for a living. I would argue that the sale is the end result of what you do. Before that vehicle puts rubber to the road, rolls over the curb, and starts killing bugs (did I miss any?), you need to sell yourself first. If the customer is not buying what you’re saying, then you have a tall hurdle ahead of you.
So how do you change your outlook? It’s actually pretty simple. Start thinking about what you really do every day. You’re not some robot that picks up the phone, pecks away at the computer, and shuffles papers around. You’re a cheerful voice after a hard day at work. You help people save their hard earned money. You are your own business. You assure people that they are making good decisions. You’re solving people’s problems. You make lasting friendships. In some cases, you’re even helping people achieve their life’s aspiration. You’re not selling cars: You are changing people’s lives!
Now I can hear the skeptics out there now saying that I’ve read too many books (and some other things that can’t be written here). To the naysayers, I say give it a shot. Talk to your customers with the same energy you would talk about college basketball during March Madness. Remind yourself that you are providing a valuable service to people. Sometimes it’s simpler than metrics and technology. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make all of the difference. What do you have to lose?