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Sales Management

October 20, 2003
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Best practices for sales managers
It’s easy to think that the term “best practices” applies only to business operations at your dealership. But “best practices” really applies to you and your job. What is the best way to accomplish your goals? Here are three best practices to think about in your position as sales manager.
First, make yourself available to close deals when your salespeople have exhausted their own closing skills. As sales manager, you should coach salespeople to improve the customer’s offer. When they have gone as far as they can go, you might:

  • Accept the deal and tell the salesperson to congratulate the customer on his purchase.
  • Choose to introduce another salesperson to improve the situation and the gross profit, if there is some distance to go to complete the deal.
  • Personally visit with the customer to strengthen the commitment, if you’re very close to making the deal.
  • Often, it is important to have a second person talk with the customer. Even if someone goes in and says the same thing, a “new face” usually improves your chances and your gross profits.
    If the customer has good rapport with your salesperson, it’s okay to allow the salesperson to stay with the customer and the “new face” who is taking the turn. Just remember these three rules:
    Rule #1: Make sure the “new face” always is introduced as the manager or senior person.
    Rule #2: Make sure that salespeople remain quiet unless the “new face” asks them a specific question. They shouldn’t even give words of affirmation or approval. They should just keep silent and let the “new face” handle it.
    Rule #3: Make sure that salespeople sit with the customer. When they sit next to the “new face,” it looks like they’re ganging up on the customer. When salespeople don’t have the necessary rapport or bond with their customers, they should introduce the “new face” and get out of the area completely.
    Some dealerships feel that having two people talk to a customer is too aggressive; they think it reduces customer satisfaction. But don’t forget that every customer wants a good deal. A good deal is a perception — it is whatever the customer perceives it to be.
    Sometimes the harder customers work during the negotiation process, the better they perceive the deal they are getting. The only thing that must be kept in mind is that the process has to be fun and the customer has to be smiling.
    Sales Managers Need Empathy
    When we do an assessment for dealerships, we sometimes call former employees (with the dealer’s permission). These people tend to tell us all about their past dealership’s shortcomings.
    A former employee at one dealership shared the following story. “I asked for a day off to go to my best-friend’s wedding. I even offered to exchange my day off with somebody else. They said it was against dealership policy. I quit because management was totally insensitive to employee needs.”
    We heard a different complaint from another past employee.”My manager never had time for me. When I brought him a customer deal, he was always preoccupied with something else. Sometimes he would be eating his lunch and other times he was on the phone and wouldn’t get off. Meanwhile, my customers became impatient and restless. I left the dealership because the Sales Department’s priorities were all screwed up.”
    As sales managers, sometimes it has been too long since we were in the shoes of a salesperson. We forget about the anxiety we felt when a manager just didn’t care.
    Go to School on Other Dealers
    It is important that you consistently provide new and dynamic promotions to stimulate floor traffic. One way to gather new ideas is to visit a local dealership whenever you travel.
    It is especially a good idea to visit a dealership that is known for its promotions. You can find out who the best dealers are by contacting the district manager for the area you are visiting.
    Next, call these dealers and tell them that you are traveling to their community from a non-competing area. Ask if you may stop by while passing through and visit with them. Let them know that their district manager recognizes them as one of the best dealers and promoters in the district. Ask to just chat for a few minutes or maybe even take them to lunch
    You will be amazed how receptive these dealers are in assisting you. Going to school on other people can make you a savvier sales manager and maybe even a promotional guru.

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