On my travels as a trainer and recruiter, I’ve met many amazing sales managers and some who should not be within a country mile of the sales staff.
Some have no idea of how to train, motivate and nurture a great salesperson and team. Bad sales managers are easy to spot. Most salespeople don’t want to bring them a deal and are afraid to ask them a simple question.
Conversely, top salespeople rely on their sales managers all the time. They know he or she works for them.
I became a sales manager at 26. A reason I was hired was that I created a 25-page sales process manual, customized for the dealership. It’s now 250 pages.
I respect sales managers. I know they do a hundred things at once. The job description is long and demanding.
Though I have been somewhat removed from the trenches for about 15 years, I have been assisting some of my dealer clients with closing customers on the showroom floor. I almost forgot how much I love it.
It feels great to help customers buy a new vehicle and close the sale. I thought I was pretty good as a young salesperson and manager, but closing deals now seems easier. Maybe it’s because I’m now in my 40s. There really might be something to the age and experience thing.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is the need for dealers to ensure they have a top-notch professional sales manager running the show. Having an effective manager is vital to increased sales and a professional team.
If your managers don’t get it, you probably don’t have any really good salespeople. The best salespeople will not work for an incompetent manager. Would you?
I’ve created two profiles that highlight the traits of a good and bad sales manager. Let me know if you recognize things.
The Good Sales Manager
- Steady demeanor and personality.
- Motivates salespeople who love bringing deals to him or her.
- Gets involved with every salesperson and customer.
- Works with salespeople, not against them.
- Has a consistent sales process that’s written down, believed in, followed and used for regular training.
- Can teach a training session on the spot.
- Has great timing and knows when to close a sale.
- Exhibits genuine desire to help salespeople make money and succeed.
- Naturally good with all people.
- Won’t yell or talk down to employees.
- Is well-liked and has a staff that wants to come to work.
- Is a person you would buy a car from?
The Bad Sales Manager
- Up and down personality, very inconsistent.
- Demotivates salespeople.
- Salespeople dislike bringing deals to him or her.
- Uninvolved with staff and customers.
- Talks down to salespeople.
- Has no written sales process; it’s supposedly all in the head.
- Cannot teach an effective sales-training session on the spot.
- Claims to train people, but rarely does.
- Holds meetings full of complaints instead of positive motivation.
- Know-it-all personality; won’t take advice.
- Not a people person.
- Staff has high absenteeism.
- Is a person you might not buy a car from.
- Staff dislikes.
Now that you know the different sets of attributes, let’s look at what a dealer principal or general manager should do.
Start by individually asking salespeople what they think of the sales manager? You might be surprised at what they are having problems with.
Ask your managers to produce, on paper, their own sales-process manual. You might be surprised that they all have a different process or will ask you to give them a week to create one.
Let them know that yelling at the sales team at meetings is not a process. Nor is it a sales meeting.
Ask your managers which salespeople need training and which should be let go. Managers who recommend termination usually do not know how to train or motivate people. These managers are most likely the ones who can’t close deals well and are disliked by the team.
Privately ask managers what they think of each other. You may be surprised by who gets thrown under the bus.
Do a confidential in-store survey of managers. Ask simple questions of your sales staff and review what your salespeople think of their managers. I don’t automatically suggest firing named bad ones. Knowing what is wrong with a person’s management abilities usually can be worked on, though sometimes it can’t be.
A great management team is critical to success. If your sales managers are not doing a good job, your entire sales staff will be all over the map.
Make sure your salespeople are professionally managed and respectfully treated.
Darin George is a sales trainer and recruiter for ASC, www.visitasc.com. He is the Author of Sales Training – Automotive Edition and Sales Process - Can You Sell Me a Pen? available at www.barnsandnoble.com He is at [email protected]