It was not his love of cars that moved Chris Saraceno, vice president and partner of the Kelly Automotive Group – which purchased INFINITI of Melbourne in January – into the industry where he has built a nationwide reputation as a business trainer. It all started when a friend and mentor told him he would do great in car sales, to which he responded, “I don’t know anything about cars.” His friend replied, “That isn’t the point, you know and understand people.”
It is a priority that Saraceno still infuses into the dealerships he works with today. “Most of the sales team members we have at INFINITI of Melbourne don’t have a background in car sales, which was intentional,” he said. “If a sales consultant genuinely cares about a guest and finds out what their desires and expectations are, in other words, treats them like a friend or family, we know we have a product that people desire.”
He doesn’t even like to use the term, “Closing the sale,” among their team. “To me that implies that someone won, and someone lost,” he said. Explaining, that unless both parties leave the transaction feeling like they have a win-win agreement, he doesn’t consider the transaction a success.
That combination, of transparent relationships and an iconic brand, has resulted in solid growth in a community with the highest percentage of engineers anywhere in the county. “What convinced us to purchase INFINITI of Melbourne,” Saraceno shared, “was the number of engineers who came to us and said, ‘INFINITI is the best engineered and best value of any car in the world.’”
It may also be one of the most innovative. In January 2018, INFINITI’s chief executive announced that all new models of the INFINITI brand, introduced after 2021, will have an electric powertrain, which can mean pure electric vehicles or what most people know as hybrids.
To accommodate the popularity of INFINITI in the area, the dealership is planning to move from their current location, on Apollo Blvd. in Melbourne, out to US 1. The dealership is part of the Kelly Automotive Group, which has been in business since 1934, and owns five dealerships in Pennsylvania, as well as the Kelly Ford in Melbourne.
The Theory of 5
When he joined Kelly Automotive Group in 1989, he became their youngest general manager, before transitioning into one of three national sales trainers for Saturn Corporation, which was a division of GM. He worked for Saturn for five years before being invited to come back to the Kelly Automotive Group as their vice president in 1997. Then in 2008, they offered him to be a partner in all their stores. Though Saturn was discontinued in 2009, Saturn became a model of how a dealership could and should operate. It was formative for Saraceno.
In the course of his career and the inevitable ups and downs that life throws at you, Saraceno developed a personal and professional strategy he calls The Theory of 5. This has also become a best-selling book. According to Saraceno, we are shaped by focusing on five key areas of life and surrounding ourselves with five key relationships.
“All of us would like to surround our kids with the kind of young people that will motivate them to pursue positive goals and make good decisions. But that principal of influence, that the kind of people you are around, you will become like, is true if you are eight, 18, 28 or 58,” Saraceno explained. Mr. Robert Kelly and his sons Greg, who is now president of Kelly Automotive Group, and Tim, who is the dealer/partner of Kelly Ford here in Melbourne as well as a partner of INFINITI of Melbourne, have been that to Saraceno, along with many others throughout his life.
The five key areas are business & finance, fitness and health, spirituality, parenting and marriage. For Saraceno, if any of these are not harmonious in life, we will not realize the full potential. It is obvious that they are principles he lives by, which are shaping the dynamic and the success of INFINITI of Melbourne.