Burns earns Westown’s annual sales award
by Lynn Colburn
Cierra Burns is Bob Ridings Westown Ford, Lincoln dealership’s 2022 Salesperson of the Year. Burns notes, “I didn’t even know I was salesperson of the year until the last month and they were bringing it to me. I was just doing what I do, so it was a surprise.”
She started at the Jacksonville dealership in June 2021.
“I started right after the pandemic shutdown, and the market rose a lot right before I started. The thing about Westown, I told Kevin [MacKenzie, sales manager at Westown Ford], is that if it wouldn’t have been for Westown actually having inventory, I wouldn’t have succeeded in this career change. And I was scared to do it, just because I had never had a commission-based job with two kids to do something like that by myself,” explains Burns.
Burns has two children. Her son, Camdyn, will be 7 next month and her daughter, Aniyah, will be 9 in July. The family also has two dogs. She has photos of all of them on her desk at the dealership.
Life hasn’t always come easy for this single mother of two, but she has persevered through it all and found a way to keep fighting for the life she wanted for both herself and her children.
Burns grew up in Jacksonville and attended Routt Catholic High School her freshman year before moving over to Jacksonville High School. She says she dropped out her senior year just short of graduation due to issues in her life at the time and moved in with an apartment with a friend. She did get her GED and worked a few jobs. She had her children when she was 19 and 22.
Burns says, “I moved to Missouri after I had my daughter, and my son was born there … had a job in a chemical plant that made seed treatments for the Midwest, and it intrigued me, and I thought that was what I would go to college for … agriculture. But couldn’t do that on my own so I moved back to Jacksonville where I had some support from family here.”
Burns then attended Lincoln Land Community College and received an associate’s degree in business administration while waitressing on the side. She notes, “I wanted to go get a bachelor’s degree in agriculture but couldn’t do that full-time with two kids.”
After she earned her associate’s degree is when Randy Fergurson hired her to work at Fergurson Insurance, and licensed her for property casualty to sell insurance. She worked there until she took a chance on a change of career with Westown Ford with the encouragement of the Kevin MacKenzie, Westown Ford sales manager.
“In the beginning, you don’t know,” says Burns expressively. “When I first started, I felt like I was about ten steps behind. But I can feel an energy from customers when I speak to them and now that I have done well and have the product knowledge and am continually learning. I feel more comfortable and confident.”
So, just how many cars did Burns sell in 2022? Burns says, “I don’t even notice what other salespeople are doing because I am concentrating on what I’m doing. So, I had no idea until December when my boss, Kevin [MacKenzie] came in to tell me I was salesperson of the year! I sold 194 cars.”
One family with whom Burns worked for a car purchase liked Burns so much they kept coming back to the dealership to see her for their other family members. They bought 11 cars from Burns.
“I told Kevin I just want to continually grow because I really love what I do. I know I’m lucky, because not everybody does,” says Burns passionately.
“I am somebody that likes to continually learn, because if things don’t make sense to me, then I can’t explain it to someone else,” Burns expounds on her sales process.
“We do tests and things at the dealership to learn about the cars and more,” explains Burns, “but I learn more from getting in the car, driving it and testing out the different features. It helps with customers because then I can show them how easy those features can be. While I’m with the customers, they tell me about themselves and then sometimes some other vehicle might come into my mind that might even work better for their situation than what they have been focused on during their search. So, I can give them different options, too.”
Burns states, “They have their expertise on whatever they do for a living, and that is what I’m there for. I do all the research and have the knowledge so they can feel more comfortable about things as they search for their vehicle.
“My goal in this job is to create a book of businesses and people who really trust me to help them through this process. It isn’t just a loyalty thing, which granted, is wonderful and all, but just being the one person who my customers trust to do this process for them … because car buying is such an exhausting experience. It is scary and it makes you anxious. So, to have one person to do it for you — it is all about trust.”
Burns says it has been fun because she becomes friends with her customers when she helps them find cars. Many will come in to the dealership and have a coffee with her.
True to her desire to help people, Burns has even assisted people who have bought a car from another dealer, even after talking to her. She tells them she wishes they would have given her a chance to meet the deal they were offered, but still takes the time to explain things their salesperson didn’t explain to them about their vehicle. She says, “That is the reason to not just consider price alone when choosing a dealership. It is salespeople that go that extra step and a dealership and service department that can be relied upon to stand behind their product and service a vehicle correctly.”
Burns says that thanks to Nick Xamis and the Westown Ford, Lincoln dealership, Jacksonville has all of that.
If anyone is exploring buying a vehicle, Burns asks them to consider Westown Ford. She continues that any interested customers can call her at 217-370-2262 or email her at Cierra.Burns@WestownFord.com.