During most 20 Group sessions or training meetings, the subject of salespersons' productivity, turnover and compensation comes up.
I mean no disrespect when I note the goal of these conversations is to find the elusive magical formula that will allow the salespersons to be highly productive in terms of gross profit and volume, be fairly compensated and remain with the dealership for an extended period of time.
After being in this business for 35 years and seeing thousands of dealership statistics, I am convinced there is no magic formula, but there is a common message from those dealerships that have a handle on sales productivity.
I, like many of you, started in the car business as a salesperson right out of college. My goal was to sell vehicles until I found a “real job in my field.”
My first day, I spent 30 minutes with the sales manager who told me a few basics. I was then told to go sell cars and make money.
Fortunately, shortly thereafter a veteran successful salesperson took me under his wing. He really taught me the business. Being handicapped, my mentor couldn't compete with our large sales force for ups. So he had to depend on his ability to generate leads using referrals, the mail and the telephone.
He had an appointment system long before those became popular. I was amazed to watch him work his process each month, always finishing on top or darn near. We would eat lunch together daily, discuss my goals, accomplishments and failures, and then discuss methods of improvement. Was I ever fortunate to have him as a friend and mentor.
Today, our training is much more sophisticated and we have all of the tools and technology to provide a base for a newly hired salesperson. What I find, though, in many cases, that's the extent of it. Most of you have a weekly training schedule/session on a critical area of sales techniques. But what is missing? In my opinion, it's the personal attention.
Repetitions, one-on-ones, role-playing, showing and leading by example, are essential in helping a new-hire achieve success. Do we fail to teach them, or do they fail to learn and whose fault is it? It might be the system's.
Sales managers' daily responsibilities most often include inventory control, dealer trades, preparing internals for we-owes or due bills, handling customer issues and meeting with the dealer or general manager to discuss month-to-date accomplishments.
Notice anything missing? How much time does your sales manager spend with the sales personnel teaching and coaching them? (Another question: how many sales personnel can a sales manager effectively manage? According to our benchmark dealers, the correct number is four or five. The only way that number increases is though tenure. Obviously with a veteran sales force, a sales manager can manage more people.)
Closely review your processes. As my friend Jeff Sacks notes, “We have to stop treating the symptoms and start curing the illness.”
By increasing the tenure of our sales force, we reduce payroll taxes and other expenses associated with turnover. Plus, the biggie: we will see our average salesperson's volume and gross profits increase.
Look at your organization and take the steps necessary to increase productivity. There's no magic to it.
Tony Noland ([email protected]) is the president and CEO of NCM Associates, Inc.