On my travels as a sales trainer and recruiter, I’ve met many amazing sales managers and others who should not be within a country mile of the sales staff. Some of them really have no idea of how to motivate, train, and build a great sales team and salesperson. They have power in title only. The best salespeople use their sales managers all the time. They understand that the sales managers work for them, not the other way around.
I became a sales manager at 26. One reasons I was hired was because I had made a 25 page auto sales process manual, customized for the dealership, it’s now 250 pages. I have a lot of respect for all auto sales managers, I know you are all doing one hundred things at once. Your job descriptions are long and demanding. Though I have been somewhat removed from the trenches while working as a trainer and recruiter, I have been assisting some of my dealer clients with closing customers on the showroom floor. I almost forgot how much I love it.
It feels great to help customers buy a new vehicle and close the sale for the sales staff. I thought I was pretty good when I was a salesperson and manager, but closing deals now seems much easier for me. Maybe it’s because I’m in my forties now and there really might be something to the age and experience thing.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is the need for dealers to ensure they have a top-notch professional sales manager running the show. Having an effective manager is a key factor to increased sales and a professional sales team. If your managers don’t get it, you probably don’t have any really good salespeople. The best salespeople will not work for an incompetent manager. Would you?
I’ve created two profiles that highlight the traits of a good and bad sales manager. I know these profiles have not been conducted by Harvard or Yale but at the very least it will give you something to think about. Let me know if you hear things you recognize.
Profile#1: The Good Sales Manager
A steady demeanor and personality.
Motivates their salespeople everyday.
Manages as if everyday is month end.
Has salespeople that love brining them a deal.
Gets involved with every salesperson and customer.
Works with salespeople, not against them.
Has a sales process they believe in and follow.
Has a hard copy of their own sales process.
Can teach a four hour plus sales training session, on the spot.
Trains salespeople regularly on a consistent sales process.
Has great timing and knows when to close a sale.
Exhibits genuine desire to help salespeople make money and be successful.
Is naturally good with all people.
Won’t yell or talk down to salespeople.
Has sales staff that want to come to work.
Is a person you would buy a car from?
Is well liked by all dealership staff.
Profile#2: The Bad Sales Manager
Has an up and down personality, very inconsistent.
De-motivates their salespeople.
Manages like a dictator the last 3 days of the month.
Has salespeople that do not like bringing them a deal.
Does not get involved with every salesperson and customer.
Talks down to the salespeople, not with them.
Has no written sales process they follow, its all in their head.
If asked, can not produce their auto sales process or anyone’s.
Can not teach an effective one hour sales training session, on the spot.
Says they train their salespeople, but rarely ever does anything.
Holds meetings full of complaints instead of positive motivation.
Has a know-it-all personality, won’t take advice.
Would not be considered a people person.
Has power in title only, without it they will not be missed.
Has sales staff that are always calling in sick.
Is a person you might not buy a car from.
Is unknowingly not liked by dealership staff.
Now that you know how to spot a professional verse a know-it-all sales manager, let’s take a look at what you as a dealer principal or general manager should do. Start by asking your salespeople, one on one, what they think of your sales managers? You might be surprised what they are having problems with.
Ask your managers to produce, on paper, their own sales process manual. You will be surprised that they all have a different process or ask you to give them a week to make one up. Let them know, that, yelling at the sales team in a 10 minute Saturday morning meeting is not an auto sales process, nor is it a sales meeting.
Ask your managers what salespeople need training or should be fired. The managers who recommend termination are usually the ones who do not know how to train or motivate people. These managers are most likely the ones that can’t close very well and are not liked by the team.
Ask your managers what they think of each other, privately. You will be surprised at who gets thrown under the bus. You should do a confidential in-store survey of your managers. Ask some simple questions to your sales staff and review what your salespeople think of them. I don’t always suggest firing the bad ones but you should let them know what everyone feels. Knowing what is wrong with a person’s management abilities can be worked on, though sometimes it can’t.
A great management team is critical to your stores success. If your sales managers are not doing a good job, your entire sales staff will be all over the map. I can only remind you of a few critical things, make sure your salespeople get all of your best attention, professional management and treat them as Respected Professionals.
Darin George is an auto sales trainer and recruiter for ASC www.visitasc.com. He is the author of Sales Training – Automotive Edition and Sales Process – Can You Sell Me a Pen? available at www.barnsandnoble.com. You can contacted Darin directly by email at [email protected]for your comments on this article.