(An article by Joe Webb as seen in the June 2014 issue of CarBizToday’s magazine)
Pete Rose, for all of his shortcomings and misdeeds, is still a heckuva role model when it comes to dedication, tenacity, and HUSTLE in one’s job. Pete Rose the man had flaws, as all in our industry do as well. Pete Rose the athlete had very few. How many salespeople reside on your showroom floor with the same high-level qualities that he brought to the baseball diamond? Well you need to find one.
You cannot be lucky enough to have a salesperson be an all-time hit leader in sales. Those come once in a lifetime. You can only hope they take a lot of swings, make good contact with the customers, and consistently improve their batting average. Without making this a Moneyball analogy (which has been beaten to death) there really is a benefit to having sales members focus on making contact every play, every call attempt, every text sent, and every email shot out. It’s about finding people willing to be consistent during every at-bat versus those only looking for that one grand-slam a month.
Salespeople don’t need to be home run kings. This is 2014 and those mindsets are exactly what online shoppers are trying to avoid. If you have people sitting on your bench that think they are Barry Bonds, trying to swing for the fences on every customer, you’ll see your CSI tank, and your negative reviews skyrocket. Customers will see a big swinger coming a mile away in our industry.
Pitchers didn’t expect the 5’11” 200 lb, switch-hitting scrapper with a bowl-cut to end up being the all-time leader in triples. As dealers, we need to fill our sales team with the type of consultants willing to consider every single opportunity they’re given as a potential base hit. Your dealership needs salespeople who try to turn singles into doubles with nothing more than extra effort. We need employees who are willing to slide headfirst. To bowl people over for the run, not with strength, but with will power. Not with the intent to smash a customer, but with the intent to win them over.
Pete Rose won Rookie of the Year. We know sales greatness from Year One. If a newer hire hasn’t been dominant early in their career, it is unlikely they’ll ever be the best later.
He won two gold gloves. The ball just seems to roll to him. Which hustler on your floor sees their previously sold customers keep coming back and coming back? An individual’s customer retention rate shows a lot about their versatility and commitment to all aspects of their career.
He played five different positions on the field. You need to find a salesperson who can wear many hats, perform multiple tasks, and become more than what their job description entails.
He won three batting titles, one MVP, three World Series rings, and made 17 appearances in the All-Star game. Who is your sales volume leader year to year? Who is the individual you’re scared to take off the floor? If you’re going to keep someone with unbridled talent in the minors, I have a suggestion. Change up their pay plans. Update their job responsibilities. Turn them into your own Pete Rose.
Growing up in Cincinnati as I did, we kids looked at the man they called Charlie Hustle as a God. He was born and raised in Cincinnati and was the city’s chosen son. What made Pete Rose exceptional, though, didn’t have to do with stats. He proved his greatness when he had the willingness, ability, and skill-level to become a Player-Coach. We rarely see it in professional sports, and we seem to be seeing it even less in our dealerships. Your store needs a Player-Coach. Someone willing to not just walk the walk, but talk the talk. Someone who cannot just greet customers properly, appraise vehicles, tailor vehicle presentations, desk deals and close customers, but can teach others those skills as well.
[blockquote name=”Joe Webb” organization=”@zonewebb”]Do you have a salesperson on your floor good enough to be a Charlie Hustle?[/blockquote]
Do you have a salesperson on your floor good enough to be a Charlie Hustle? Might they have the desire to take on the daunting task of being a leader of others, yet retain their superstardom on the floor? You need someone able to set an example with their actions, as well as willing to train others. A Sales Manager who actively trains their staff is important to have too. All Sales Managers should be training regularly already though. (If they don’t, rethink your current Sales Managers). A Player-Coach, on the other hand, influences others due to respect rather than authority. A Player-Coach can have an outstanding impact on the morale of the team. You’ll see you sales team mimic the hustle, mirror the determination, and learn from the movements of a Pete Rose.
While in retail, another salesperson and I (even back as an ISM) took it upon ourselves to round up our coworkers and walk them through product knowledge training and process training on a bi-weekly basis. We became Pete Roses. It was in us. If you don’t have that person already assuming that role, you need to help mold them.
Salespeople get a bad rap. Pete Rose got one as well. Some choices he made cost him a love of a game that few in this world share. Days after Pete Rose was banned from baseball, I accidentally bumped into him as he walked out of a downtown Cincinnati hotel. Even though I was young, to this day I remember the look on his face. It was if his entire soul had been yanked out of him and his world was stolen. He loved his sport that much.
We need to champion the best of us. We must celebrate those that are role models for others. Pinpoint who the hustler is on your team and allow them the opportunity to flourish as a Player-Coach. Reward them for it, financially and with added authority. Finding the Pete Rose at your dealership has the potential to elevate your entire team to perennial playoff-caliber all-stars.