There are few positions as important to a dealership as the Sales Manager position. A great Sales Manager can have a profound impact on how the entire dealership operates. With that said, it is obvious that a good majority of Sales Managers in our dealerships aren’t up to the task. So I ask, “what’s your sales manager’s deal?”
I’ve gone on record before to say that the responsibilities of a Sales Manager, while not easy, are simple to define. In my opinion, there are only five primary duties in which a good Sales Manager should focus their efforts.
1) Hold the sales team (and each other) accountable
2) Train the sales team (and themselves)
3) Motivate the sales team
4) Crash T.O.s
5) Close deals
These five steps should be on their minds at all times. Yet, they all seem to shy away from these tasks. Sales Managers seem to find a way to make themselves busy with superfluous tasks. Whether they are in meetings that won’t add value to the month’s end or they are focusing their efforts on time-intensive errands or menial projects, they aren’t focusing on what’s important. They don’t perform these necessary job functions for one of two reasons. Either they feel entitled or they’re simply scared. And THAT is their “deal”.
Many Sales Managers have worked hard on the showroom floor. They’ve earned their stripes. They’ve served their time. They’ve upped customers for years and delivered hundreds of cars. They did a lot of things right (with the help of their own Sales Managers) to be successful. So once they get to that big, cushy chair at the desk, they believe it is a reward. “Take it easy. You’ve arrived”, they tell themselves.
Sales Managers often feel entitled when they achieve their designation, so they sit back and get lazy. They don’t get up and greet customers with the same fervor. They willingly pencil a deal four times before getting out of their comfortable chair, walking out from behind the sanctity that is their tower, and close customers. They need to sell. Instead, Sales Managers tend to lose their edge because they feel as if they did the face-to-face thing long enough back when they were salespeople. They can’t be further from the truth. They need to be active, attack, lead by example, and be more involved with customers than ever before. Not less. It isn’t the time to sit back on your haunches, but rather a time to prove your worth. Is this your Sales Manager’s deal?
Or are they scared? Let’s face it. Some Sales Managers were better soldiers than leaders. They were great at executing the tasks asked of them by their previous sales managers, but didn’t necessarily have the capacity to think for themselves. For this reason, they are scared. Some Sales Managers don’t have the natural skill set to train, motivate, or close deals on their own without reciting what had been taught to them at the tower minutes before. Or, quite possibly, they find the technology around them too daunting to learn. New systems scare and confuse them so they don’t hold salespeople accountable for their own actions, including following up or embracing the store’s technology. Or, even worse, they are from an era where customers weren’t as equipped with information and access to pricing so they’ve never trained themselves how to combat today’s researched clientele. For this reason, they’re scared. Is that your Sales Manager’s deal?
Sure, there are a few other duties that may be assigned to Sales Managers above what I listed. Working with the service department to ensure vehicles are healthy enough for sale, monitoring gross profit and inventory age, or executing dealer trades can be others, but those are perfunctory.
Let’s look at the duties I believe should be on the plate of today’s Sales Management team:
Hold the Sales Team Accountable
This requires the use of technology to ensure tasks are executed properly and thoroughly. If your Sales Manager doesn’t actively use their CRM and doesn’t have the CRM dashboard up throughout the day, they simply are not doing their job. Today, it is the only way to monitor whether or not your sales team is doing what is asked of them. Look at your Sales Manager’s monitor. If nothing is ever showing beyond their desking module and Youtube, they need to get on board with the program. This means holding themselves accountable, as well as their sales team.
Train the Sales Team
Sales Managers must be the Renaissance men/women of the dealership. They must be steeped in the art of product knowledge, process, customer service, and negotiation skills. Moreover, they must understand how to communicate these skills to their team. If they aren’t training their team to improve, the store will never grow. If they don’t have the skills themselves, they’re too scared to train. If they feel too entitled to hold trainings, they’re the wrong person for the job.
Motivate the Sales Team
Not all Sales Managers have what it takes to motivate others, though they should. It requires they listen to their employees, understand their needs, emphasize the salesperson’s strengths while minimizing their weaknesses, and caring. The last one, “caring”, goes a long way toward motivating others. Moreover, I believe motivating takes regularly performing one-on-one check-ups with the sales team so they can stay on the right track, which allows sales managers to guide them down the most fruitful path for themselves and the dealership.
Taking a “turnover” should not be considered a chore, but an opportunity. Yet, while training dealerships nationwide, I see Sales Managers who seem to be glued to their swivel chair. It would take a crowbar to get them out of their seat to take over on a negotiation. They feel more comfortable relaying information through a mouthpiece salesperson rather than getting up and taking over the deal before it is too late. A good Sales Manager should jump off the starting line at a chance to work with a customer. Many are just too scared or entitled.
This is a no-brainer. Almost all Sales Managers are paid on the gross profit of the showroom floor, so they should stop entrusting the salespeople to do all the sales for them. Writing numbers on a sheet of paper and handing it off isn’t “closing”. Your Sales Managers were brought into the position because this was a strength of theirs, yet they let their sales muscle atrophy behind the desk. Or maybe they never liked the confrontation of a close in the first place. Either way, it is a priority and they cannot hide behind history or salespeople to stop from executing their job to the fullest.
Through my travels, I’ve seen Sales Managers that are hands-on, dedicated, educated, and enlightened. I see Sales Managers that understand the showroom, their team, and their product. I see Sales Managers that care about, motivate, and champion others. Unfortunately, I don’t see it as often as I should. Instead, I see Sales Managers that ask for all of the control, yet have none of the expertise to demand said control. This is especially true with Internet Sales. Most Sales Managers simply don’t have the understanding to make educated decisions regarding Internet sales process, structure, templates, or anything else, yet they expect to have power over it. They expect to be the General for something they don’t understand. This cannot happen. Their desire for control over things beyond their knowledge can hinder Internet sales (and Internet/BDC team morale) greatly. Don’t let this be your Sales Manager’s “deal”.
Owners and General Managers should keep a close eye on their Sales Managers as they are one of the most important determining factors to your profitability. Sales Managers can make or break the success of a sales floor (or Internet department). Demand more from your Sales Managers or your store will pay the cost. Are they entitled? Are they scared? Are they reaching beyond their expertise? I see a lot of Sales Managers out there, but I see very little management going on. It’s time to figure out “what’s their deal?”