In today’s economic environment the division between success and failure is as clear as it’s ever been. Having the right people, processes and products are essential for a dealership to be competitive. Being a single-point, family-owned business is no longer a unique proposition for consumers in today’s automotive climate. To stand apart from its competition, a dealership needs exceptional processes combined with exceptional people. Sales Manager’s are integral in the processes of the front line sales team.
While nothing assures success; there are some detailed guidelines to employ as a sales manager in a dealership of any size. Hiring the right employee is only one part of the components essential for building a solid foundation.
Process development: A clearly defined and measurable process will serve as the instructional basis for every new hire. With the objective in mind, a process is developed, refined and mapped with input from every member of the team. The process map lays out in precise detail why the objective is desired, what the benefit is, who is responsible for each aspect and how it is to be completed.
Training: Laying out a processes map alone isn’t sufficient. The process has to be coached, counseled and conditioned. It is the sales manager’s responsibility to train and re-train on the steps to bring about the objective. Each day, the sales manager’s should have a 15 minute, content driven sales meeting. Coaching on the basic skills set reinforces the behaviors that are necessary to produce the results. Counseling the salesperson on the performance measurements augments the actions required to produce the objective. Conditioning is the step necessary to reaffirm the objective with the salesperson based on clearly defined performance requirements.
Management: Because accountability management is critically-needed, but rarely well-practiced, discipline within the automotive industry, there are checks and re-checks required to ensure compliance. As a simple reinforcement we can revert back to an old training proverb – “One cannot manage results, just activities. Manage the activities, and the results will follow. Managers must measure what they intend to manage, inspect what is expected, and let everyone know the score.”
Consistency: The most successful dealerships measure all of their key performance indicators and monitor the actions producing the results – good or bad. They regularly inspect these indices and review the performance with key personnel. These dealers set specific, measurable and tangible objectives that are shared with all the members of the team. Expectations are reinforced daily so that the objective is at the forefront. The general rules for expectations are as follows: sales associates are to perform the processes on every deal, every customer, and every day…without exception.
Productivity: The sales manager’s responsibility is to monitor measure and enforce productivity requirements. The daily task is as simple as five productivity requirements; the salesperson is either (1) with a customer (2) preparing for a customer (3) prospecting for a customer (4) following up with a customer and/or (5) building product knowledge so that they can present to a customer.
Building a solid team requires exceptional leadership, having clearly defined processes, management of the expectations and reinforcement through consistency.