It’s around 8:30 pm on a cold, snowy, Thursday night. The parking lot lights and neon bulbs are glowing on the tinted glass windows, and inside the showroom on the computer screens are beginning to power-down. It’s been a long day, 12 hours since the employees arrived. A young man, 22 years in age, nervously walks to the sales tower. The sales tower occupied with five seasoned sales and finance managers with a combined seven decades of experience in the car business is about to lose a deal for this young salesperson. The salesman started just six months ago and is more than a tad nervous. He’s been under fire in the past for taking customers just before closing and keeping managers past closing time. The desk manager lowers his glasses from his head and beams at his new salesman and barks, “So what
The sales guy frazzled and struggles to find the words and begins to tuck in his shirt in and loosens his tie.
“Uhh…I have this couple out here, and we just got back from a test drive, and I think my customers like the car a lot. Their problem is they have been comparing it to…” The manager impatient and irritated snaps.
“Save me the details! Do you have anything? These people show up 1/2 hour before close and expect everything?” The customer is looking for some help, and the salesperson knows his managers don’t like working late, so he rushed through his normal sales process. All he needs is one of the five managers to help him finish the deal. Feeling defeated
already, the salesmen saying with difficulty,
“I guess I can ask them to come back tomorrow?”
The customer, feeling bad for the salesman, leaves after a short conversation and never returns to the store. A tale all told too often inside dealerships. Statistics show us prospects now visit an average of 1.2 dealerships before they pull the trigger and purchase a vehicle. This is why the front lines of our showrooms need to be incredibly impactful and involved. Sales managers #1 job is to be the support system for salespeople. Today’s management spends almost zero time working on developing their sales teams skills and prefers working on more “important” stuff. Managers have to understand that sales teams have two primary job functions. 1. Create opportunities, and 2. Win those opportunities.
The situation described above happens every day in many dealerships I visit. Customers ignored, salespeople live in fear of their managers, and ultimately, these feelings get transferred to the customer. Long hours, complicated processes, stress, lack of skills, and salespeople not feeling safe in their positions are often too much for salespeople to tolerate. Our business model hasn’t changed in decades. Our processes, if known, are not followed. Processes change from manager to manager. How does a salesperson manage the political dealership environment? The world of retail is rapidly evolving; we are presently looking to the future. Manufacturers will figure out how to sell cars without salespeople, and possibly without dealerships if we do not adapt our sales teams into dynamic, compassionate, industry experts who feel safe in their positions.