Back in my tech company days, seemingly no-brainer type agreements often times got caught up in the legal department. Sometimes months would go by before we’d get a yes or no. Despite many of these deals having the potential to move our program (and revenue) further by galactic proportions, meeting after meeting would pass, and we still wouldn’t have an answer. It was during one of these marathon waiting periods, a time where we were just burning money by the truck load, the term “Business Prevention Department” was first dropped. It’s something that has stuck with me since.
Today, I see and hear dealerships doing the exact same thing. The business development center keeps lining up deals, and the opportunities start piling up on a sales manager’s desk. Sometimes whole days go by without the slightest movement. Despite many of these deals being able to contribute revenue, boost CSI, increase allocation, or dump an old unit, they somehow are not important enough to be touched. The Internet opportunities are treated like political refugees by the showroom floor. In the meantime, the lights are still burning, health insurance is being paid, vehicles are depreciating, interest is accruing, and people are bitching about being bored. The very same department which has SALES in the @$%&ing name, is acting like the business prevention department.
All across the country sales managers are giving up before trying. If you are reading this, and you are the person who crunches the numbers on every deal, constantly looking for alternatives, talking to banks, suggesting cosigners, brokering trades, and giving every single deal, no matter how thin it can be, 100% of the time it deserves, then this totally doesn’t apply to you. You already have my respect, and I’ll defend you until the day I die. Then there are the others who, in less than 22 seconds, make a brash declaration like:
- No gross
- Too flipped on their trade
- Sell what’s on the lot
- Who are you again?
Here are a few real life examples from just this week. A call to confirm availability (on a 2015 unit, so it’s totally justified) at sister store took a day and a half for a response. I’ll give you one guess if the customer has responded to any subsequent calls or emails. Another involves a first time buyer who, as you guessed it, doesn’t have credit established. Despite the customer’s stepmother being very well known to the dealership, the showroom sent the customer along on her way without the suggestion of a co-buyer. Finally, a sales manager told an agent to send details on a crossover instead of the sedan that was requested. Why? Because they didn’t have any on the ground (a quick search on the consumer-facing OEM website confirmed nine in the immediate vicinity). It’s as if it was just too much effort to deal with at the time (vomit).
Does your dealership have a business prevention department? First off, sorry. Please have a drink on me. Next, document everything (this why you have a CRM). If it’s a pervasive issue, keep written notes in case things, uh, “disappear” inside the computer. Meticulously track the times, as well as what type of activity was necessary from the manager (dealer locate, appraisal, etc), and log the results. Then set performance goals with the offending sales manager (X activity should take 15 minutes, Y activity should take 30 minutes, etc). That way these expectations can be passed down to the customer. If the sales manager is not amicable, don’t be afraid to involve a general manager or dealer principal. Everyone has a job at the dealership, and accountability is a two-way street.
Too many sales managers still measure their personal worth on the amount of gross they can make on a single deal, while at the same time blowing tens of thousands of dollars of dealership revenue in the process. All of those small transactions add up to lost service revenue, along with ruining any chance at repeat and referral business. It’s flatly robbing the future of the business. Instead of managing the progress of sales, many potential deals are terminated before they have a chance of generating any sort of profit. Every opportunity to sell, regardless of the source, origination, or effort, deserves the utmost attention by ALL those with SALES in their job title. Don’t let the business prevention department get in the way of your success.
You know I love my sports analogies, so here you go:
How many games were won with an opening kickoff return, a 360 dunk in the first quarter, or home run the first inning? That’s the stuff of legend. The other thousands of games are won by field goals, layups, base hits, defensive grit, and the sheer desire to prevail. All those little things add up to wins, to championships, to dynasties. With the exception of Allen Iverson, all those players are showing up to practice, learning the intangibles, nursing injuries, getting dirty, and leaving breathless. They don’t do it for the 86 yard return, the tomahawk jam, or the grand slam. They do it because it’s their job.