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Sales Managers - Stop Lighting Your Own Hair On Fire!

Ever notice how the sales manager job can seem like a day full of lurching from one crisis to another with our hair on fire? Some describe the job as hopping in the washing machine and running the spin cycle all day long. It's no wonder we can feel burnt out. The pressures come from all angles; upper management, sales forecasting and reporting, constant interruptions by salespeople, advertising reps, vendors, used car reconditioning, appraisals, upset customers, dealer trades, the list goes on...

Many sales managers let their day get away from them when they could take back some control with a better structure. It starts at the beginning of your day. Here are some strategies you can use:

Get in earlier than the sales staff. The quiet hour before staff arrives is golden.

Have your coffee and walk the lot. Replace the scratch pad and use your phone to record clear verbal notes regarding your New and Used Inventories. E.G. "2015 Hilux Stock# P4466A - repaint the hitch receiver, scratched rusty, Remove damaged mud flaps and replace". This is much faster than writing and easier especially in nasty weather. Now transfer to your lot grooming personnel and they are productive out of the gate.

Log in to SalesSmart or whatever sales activity management software you use. Look at the Dealership Performance report and Team Listing report for an overview of the month's skills, production and pace. Note anything you want to review with salespeople during their one-on-ones.

Conduct your one-on-ones. Take each salesperson in turn for 10-15 minutes. Reception should already be aware that you are not available for calls until you let them know you are free. Shut off your mobile phone set the office phone to DND and ask sales people that during their one-on-one they shut off their phone. This is uninterrupted time. Other sales people know that they are not to interrupt. The only acceptable interruption is if a client requires immediate attention and no other manager is available.

Review the Sales Person Performance for the current month. This breaks out their complete performance for the month, compares against the individual goals and calculates their pace or projected month end. Review the performance data and discuss how to improve the benchmarks that are below target. In coaching this person we need to explain what they need to do differently to get a better result.

Give the focus for their day. Discuss yesterday's prospects, progress to close, hottest outstanding prospects and determine a course of action to get them back in. Review the Appointment log and phone contact target for the day. Give the sales person a specific focus in their selling pattern for the day then progressively discuss how it is improving. Focus on the positive and be very specific regarding the effort required to stay on target with outgoing calls and appointments confirmed.

This basic framework will invest some time up front in the day that will pay off with maximum dividends later. Each sales person is productive at an earlier point in the day with good direction. The questions you answer and the clarification you give means that 6 or 8 people will not be sticking their heads in your office 5 times sporadically over the course of the morning to get questions answered. Control the things you can. Have faith and stick to the plan; you may have to break an old routine to take advantage of these new benefits.

"You will gain as much control as you are prepared to take, and
You will quickly lose as much control as you are prepared to give up."