In my lifetime I have visited hundreds of dealerships. I have seen sales teams that are crushing it and sales teams that are performing dismally. Over time, I have noticed common denominators in both groups. I won’t bother sharing what those are for the latter group because a dismal performance is not something you want to emulate.
However, for the first group — the ones crushing it — the common denominator boils down to empowerment. The most successful dealerships empower their salespeople with these three tactics:
- Coaching, not managing
- Simplifying processes
- Providing salespeople with technology for communicating effectively and transacting deals in a customer-centric manner
Coaching vs. Managing
First, let’s address coaching versus managing. A traditional management style in many dealerships I see is ‘managing down.’ Managers telling their new salespeople how many phone calls to make every day, how many people they must o talk to every day. Couple that with the number of appointments they are expected to set and the new employee has a list of “cans” and “can’ts”as long as my arm.
Then, before the sales meeting, the manager runs a report and looks at the numbers. If something’s off, they call out the salesperson during the meeting.
Remedies to problems are typically given with advice like “You shouldn’t have said that. You should say it this way,” or “You did that wrong. You need to go back and do it this way.”
There are a couple of problems with this approach. First, these remedies manage the deal, not the person. Managing a person requires coaching, and telling someone what to do and how to do it is not coaching. Managing down makes the salesperson feel like they have no say in how they do their job, which can lead to frustration.
I realize some of you out there may be saying, “But we’ve managed this way for 30 years! What’s wrong with that?”
New Technology, New Management Style
Your dealership has had to adapt to many changes in the last decade. The Internet and technology have changed the way you sell cars. Now, a generational change is requiring a new style of managing, which I really believe is more like coaching.
Thirty years ago a young salesperson was willing to sacrifice much to be successful. They were willing to work long hours, weekends, holidays and miss family events for years to become successful. Today, not as many people are motivated by money, and they are not willing to sacrifice as much to get it.
Instead, the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves and what they do matters is highly important. They value their time, and they want to feel valued by their employer. They want to be heard and understood.
Successful Management Techniques
Enter the coach. Coaching and counseling are really a lost art, but it’s a very successful management technique. Instead of managing down, coaching relies on managing up. Let the salesperson set their own goals, report their own KPIs, and come up with solutions to their own problems. Getting the entire team involved gives the individual a sense of purpose and motivates them to be accountable, not to the manager, but to their team members.
Before a meeting, the manager still prints a report, but it’s just to verify the numbers given by the salesperson. If there’s a problem, don’t tell the salesperson how to say or do something. Instead, offer feedback that prompts the salesperson to come up with a solution. Asking “What do you think you should do differently?” provides your sales team the opportunity to discover the solution themselves.
This approach forces the salesperson to become involved and acknowledge the consequences of failing to do something, like making those phone calls.
A coach offers ideas and a knowledge base of what works based on real-world experience. Ultimately, it’s up to the salesperson whether they decide to listen or take your advice. But here’s the thing: when you empower your salespeople to make their own decisions, they have to own the results of those decisions.
Better Performing Sales Teams with Technology
Another common denominator I see among successful salespeople – their managers empowered the team with the use of technology. Specifically, mobile technology and multi-channel communication tools that allow them to transact deals in a customer-centric manner.
Most importantly, your technology should allow your salesperson to transact deals anytime, anywhere. With mobile tablets, they can look up information, make offers and transact deals wherever the customer is most comfortable — whether that’s in the showroom, on the lot or even at the customer’s house.
The Right Communication Tools
Additionally, salespeople need the appropriate communications tools to realize success for themselves and for your dealership. You already know half your customers prefer to communicate with text. Do you have an integrated texting system yet? Many car shoppers prefer watching videos over reading text. Do you have inventory videos and virtual test-drive videos to send to these customers?
Your salespeople are already at a deficit if they can’t communicate with customers in the way those customers want or expect. The ability to build rapport with customers is an important part of the sales process. The more emails, texts, phone calls and videos you send — the more likely the customer will connect, engage and buy.
The most successful sales teams I have seen have embraced a new management style and with technology. They streamline their processes to remove as many unnecessary steps and people as possible. The end result is a better experience for your customers, which translates to a better bottom line for your dealership.
Editor’s Note: What is your management technique? In a market where educated consumers have more and more power, your sales plan is only as good as your team – and your leadership style. Check out Bill Wittenmyer’s educational session at the Digital Dealer Conference September 18 at 10 a.m. in Chablis Room at the Paris Casino-Hotel Resort in Las Vegas. This fast-paced session will challenge your philosophy on management with unique, competitive strategies for building and retaining a high-performing sales team.
To sign up for your VIP demo and receive a special discount to Digital Dealer, click here.