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Top Salespeople: The Helper

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  • | 2:56 p.m. March 4, 2012
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Jim Blevins says one of the popular personality assessment tools revealed he has none of the attributes of a great salesman.
But the man known as “Jimmy B” at the Harley-Davidson Motorcycles dealership in Naples sold more than $700,000 of bike gear in six months last year.
Blevins boils down his success to this: “You want to be That Guy.”

An outgoing former Detroit paramedic, Blevins wants to be your buddy by being the expert you can go to for advice. “My biggest thing is I want you satisfied, happy and content,” he says. “If you feel cheated, you're not going to come back.”

Blevins is a Chrome Consultant. He's the guy you see after you bought your Harley to customize it.

But Blevins won't try to sell you anything the first time you meet because in all the excitement of buying a new bike, he knows you won't listen anyway. Plus, you might get turned off if you have to pay more for accessories you may not need.

Instead, Blevins will give you a catalogue, two business cards because he figures you'll probably lose one and he'll tell you to go ride your bike. When you feel comfortable, give him a call and he'll help you customize your ride.

Blevins won't try to sell you anything at first also because he wants to be your friend. “You first got to plant the seed to make it grow,” he explains. On any given day, as many as 20 bikers will come visit with him and have a cup of coffee in the dealership's cafe while he dispenses free advice. “I don't have to push anything,” he says.

“What else can I do to make it better? I always want to be That Guy.”

Blevins, who's been riding motorcycles since he was a child, says he always takes special interest in a customer's motorcycle. He compliments customers on their ride and finds what's missing. “I don't throw a bunch of stuff at the bike,” he says.

Sometimes, he's brutally honest. He recently steered a male customer away from a “bling kit” made for women. “You've got to help them out,” he chuckles. “It's like their children.”

Blevins is always on the lookout for new products because customers are just as knowledgeable because of the Internet. “I need to know everything that's new,” he says. “I always have my nose in the catalogue.”

Blevins has credibility because he's got his own bike shop at home where he builds motorcycles. He also participates in drag races at local tracks. “That's my passion,” he says.

Blevins says he overcomes objections by always offering customers three choices. “One option makes it easier to say no,” he says.

While most of Blevins' business is from repeat customers and word-of-mouth, he says biker gatherings are great places to network. Bikers often clamor to ride with him because he's developed so many friendships.

“When I go to bike nights, I chat with the guys,” he says. He hands out business cards to those who he thinks need help. “Come see me,” he says.

•Small purchases can lead to big ones. Jim Blevins says he's sold motorcycles to people who walked into the Harley-Davidson dealership only intending to buy a T-shirt.

•Avoid judging first impressions. A prospective customer may not look like he wants to buy an engine, but he could be your biggest sale.

•Use the power of three. Give customers the choice between three things to reduce the chance they'll say no.

•Look in the mirror. Remember the bad service you got from a waiter at a restaurant? Ask yourself: “Is that the kind of person you want to be?”

•Don't talk money. “I'm building your dream,” says Blevins. “I'll work to make it happen.”

Jim Blevins once maintained an elaborate spreadsheet with details about his customers. “I used to do that, but it was too much work,” he laughs. Now, his best sales tool is a list of past work orders. Using that as a guide, he recognizes all current and former customers by the work he ordered for their bikes, which now total about 2,000.


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