Do your salespeople really suck or do you?

After 20 years in this industry it's amazing how in some areas, namely sales management,  so little has changed when it comes to the manager/salesperson relationship. If you've ever said: it's hard to find good people. or... My people suck. THIS IS FOR YOU!

Disclaimer: If the below info doesn't pertain to you, don't be offended. If you leave a pissed off comment, it's likely that I'm speaking directly to you so grab a mirror after you complain about the post and fix your internal issues.

Recently I was talking to a client and friend and like many people he said to me: "Do you know anybody that's looking? I really need to get some good people in here man, these guys are lazy."

I said, not right now but, what are your salespeople doing when you're sitting down with them for your one on one's everyday?

He looked at me like I had a 3rd eyeball in my forehead. It was obvious that he hadn't done a one on one with his people since he learned about doing them in 1995.

I'll spare you the entire conversation but the gist of it is below. My manager pal is in parenthesis.

If your people aren't selling cars, and you're unhappy with them, do you think they are happy with themselves when they can't make a good living? (Probably not)

If they're unhappy, they can't sell cars, so they go broke and so do you right? (Yeah, pretty much)

Ok, well, as a leader, isn't it your job to care about their success so much that you won't allow them to fail? (Dude...I can't control them, they have to want it, they have to be hungry, I can't make them be motivated.)

Bullshit...[me pretending to sneeze while calling bullshit]. 

Seriously though, if your job isn't to help them get their attitude in check and to teach them how to prospect what the hell do you do all day besides sit on your ass behind the desk? (Come on bro you know I have to deal with the advertising and putting out fires and all the other stuff. Really though, you have to know some good people that aren't happy man. Can you help me out?)

I do know some good people who aren't happy bro, look over there [pointing to his showroom] and since we're friends, I'll say this as nice as I can. I wouldn't refer someone to work for you because they will be unhappy, untrained and looking for a job just like your people are within about 6 months because you don't care about them enough to help them. I'm not being a dick, I'm just being honest. [Then I hit him with my favorite Steve Jobs quote] I'm not here to make you feel good, I'm here to make you better.

He then said: Dude you're such a dick, seriously though, let me know if you know of anyone good.

Why did I share this story?

Many managers are just that; managers. They manage problems but they don't lead people to success, solutions and victory in their career!

If you feel like saying my people suck you MUST ask yourself:

Who hired them?

If it was you, then maybe it's your lack of good hiring skills.

If it was someone else, maybe it's your inability to properly train and motivate.

Maybe the issue is that you didn't do a good enough job with training the basics of the sales process, asking good questions, presenting in a feature advantage benefit method.

Maybe you're not consistent when you desk deals, maybe you're not consistent with your attitude at the store.

Maybe they don't suck at all...maybe you do?


Maybe that's not entirely your fault because, maybe just maybe, you got promoted to management because you sold a lot of cars but nobody taught you how to be a leader so you're doing exactly what you learned from watching the manager you replaced....ever wonder WHY you replaced them and they're no longer there?

Listen up friends, whether religious or not there is a lesson we can learn from a name you may have heard once or twice in your life. A Jewish fella from Nazareth that was born in a manger. If you don't like the biblical reference then you can say you read it on a bathroom wall but Jesus said this: (BTW the translation is from The Message)

“and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their he...

The takeaway for Managers who want to be Leaders?

Your salespeople don't serve you. You serve them. You must care more about their success, their life, their family and their well being than you do your own. If you do, they will succeed, they will sell, they will be successful beyond your expectations and guess default, you will be too.

Got questions, want help figuring out how to do a quality one on one with your staff? Reach out to me directly at or on my company website at and I'll be happy to give you the info that I used when our dealership increased sales by 67% and gross profit by 42% without turning over the staff and without increasing advertising spend.

Helping the best get better,

Mat Koenig



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Comment by Mathew Koenig on May 28, 2014 at 1:00pm
Thank you for the comment Marty and thank you Roger. Roger I understand your frustration, after 20 years in this industry I've come to realize 2 things: 1. nothing will change if we give up. 2. we can never give up.

Yes there are many managers who don't take the time to do one on ones because they feel like they're too busy, or some of them just flat out don't care, but there are some amazing leaders in this industry who put their salespeople first and really take the time to help them be successful. Those good leaders will be the ones that train the next generation of good leaders and hopefully its generation will produce more and more of them.

I would suggest that any sales person who wants to get better, who doesn't have a manager that is proactive, should take action and ask their manager to sit down with them and role play. If you're at a dealership where your leadership team is not willing to do that, I'd start looking for one that will.
Comment by Roger Sowers on May 28, 2014 at 12:52pm

I can count on one hand the number of times I've been given a one on one with the sales manager in an auto dealership. 

I hear what you are saying but your advice is going to fall on deaf ears. Dealership principals have little incentive to change. From their perspective the system works. The sales force can complain but they have no power to compel change.

I have met very few managers in the car business who have had any actual management training apart from how to desk a deal and how to appraise a trade.

It is simply amazing how little things have changed in the car business in the last 30 years. 

Comment by Marty on April 1, 2014 at 9:49am

Excellent Mat. 


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