Motivate, But Be Fair

Most dealership showroom staffs close sales at a rate of 15% or less. Why so low? Attitude. Improving sales performance is all about positive attitude that emanates from and is nurtured at the top by strong, fair and inclusive motivation. Looking solely at units sold as a performance measure is a fast way to de-motivate sales teams. Attitudes shift negatively at every level. Dealers look at their

Most dealership showroom staffs close sales at a rate of 15% or less. Why so low? Attitude.

Improving sales performance is all about positive attitude that emanates from and is nurtured at the top by strong, fair and inclusive motivation.

Looking solely at units sold as a performance measure is a fast way to de-motivate sales teams. Attitudes shift negatively at every level.

Dealers look at their staffs and say, “I don't have good sales people.” Dejected sales people say, “Nothing is working.”

So how does management instill and keep attitudes positive? Take a look at two of the most important practices: motivation and incentive.

Dealership Meetings: Motivation vs. De-motivation

Let's begin with the daily sales meeting. These sessions, intended to be motivational, tend to first focus on issues and problems, such as who forgot to put the demo back or who left the keys in the car out front or why numbers are down for the week.

Then at the end of the meeting, the team is told to go out, have a great day, and sell a car! Not only that, many dealerships hold sales meetings on Saturdays — the shortest selling day of the week, but often potentially the most lucrative.

Not only do these meetings cut into sales time, they focus on the negative. For the most part they are completely de-motivating and a waste of time.

Instead of sales meetings on Saturday, hold motivational meetings. Bring in bagels, cream cheese and coffee. Talk about the positive aspects of the dealership, without singling out any one individual. Focus on the team. Give everyone — not just the “stars” — tickets to the movies. It is a small investment that helps set the positive tone.

Design sales meetings as positive events that give sales people the tools to help them sell and make money. Use these meetings for training — Monday through Friday. Leave the administrative (negative) issues for another time and a separate session.

Reward vs. Motivation

Typically, sales people are judged on how many units they sell. Sales contests are set up to reward top performers (most units sold). Management perceives this as motivational. In reality, it is de-motivating for all but top performers.

A sales person who sells 20 cars in June may win a plasma TV. For “other producers” who typically sell 10 cars a month, this means doubling their units sold to win. A “top producer,” who may typically sell 18 cars a month, only needs an increase of two units.

By design, these contests recognize top producers. They not only sell more cars on a daily basis and take home bigger commissions, but, as a result of the way the contests are set up, they take home the plasma TV. Such contests de-motivate other members of the sales team who figure they don't stand a chance, and take themselves out of the competition.

To truly motivate and create a positive attitude, sales contests must be based on the current performance level of every team member and then reward them for improving performance.

An accurate traffic count is needed to effectively establish a performance baseline. (This process will be addressed in a subsequent article).

Sales contests can be structured to reward an increase in performance — improving close ratios. Not only does this reward the true performers, it motivates the entire team by creating a fair playing field. In doing so, most dealerships will realize an extra benefit: the rebirth of prospecting.

Sales people will work their prospect file box, make calls and bring in their own prospects. Staffers who wait for walk-in traffic will see it is an ineffective way to sell. Sales people need to develop their own clientele.

Motivation and incentives are powerful when used effectively. But they can be just as powerful in re-enforcing negative attitudes if improperly applied.

Richard F. Libin heads Automotive Profit Builders Inc., specializing in customer satisfaction and maximizing profits. ([email protected]/508-626-9200)

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