(This article was written for the Winter 2021 edition of Tennessee Dealer News.)
The Cure in Any Market: Attitude + Activities
Depending on who’s providing the forecast, vehicle sales in 2021 are projected to be somewhere between up and down. Given that we know so little about what the future holds, what can Tennessee dealers do today to ensure they grow market share regardless of the conditions they face?
While I generally write about how culture and processes drive real market share growth, these can mean different things to different managers. Moreover, when your sales are moving up in an up market, managers tend to think they’ve already got great processes driven by a great culture. Often, they’re just rising with all the other boats in the same rising tide.
So, instead of harping on these, I thought I’d deliver two concepts many find easier to understand than culture and processes. Plus, these concepts can be applied to any team – even those who believe they’re already equipped with a great culture and great processes. These are attitude and activities.
Simply put, a manager’s attitude affects their sales team’s attitude. In fact, managers’ attitudes affect everything. Stores that are successful in any market have managers that share three common principles that drive their attitudes: They love what they do, they believe everyone is a buyer, and they want everyone on their team to succeed.
When managers live these principles every day, their salespeople are motivated to do more without the need for threats, written warnings, or insincere rah-rah meetings.
Of course, attitude is important, but it’s only half the equation. I’ve worked with owners and managers who have terrific attitudes, yet their dealership is still just treading water. Why? Simple; they’re afraid to drive the activities that deliver results.
Basically, they’re a bunch of really nice guys and gals who allow mediocrity.
Look at any true top seller – those who sell twice what the average salesperson in their store sells – and you’ll see someone who is always active. Simply put, if they’re not in front of a prospect, they’re on the phone, they’re writing an email, they’re mailing a birthday card, or they’re generating new business through other means (social selling, for example).
The biggest difference between top sellers and bottom dwellers is how they fill their days. Superstars work on moneymakers; average sellers enjoy timewasters.
Here’s a hint: Keeping salespeople active is best thing a manager can do for his or her team. Furthermore, if you already have the attitude that you want everyone on your team to succeed, then driving productive sales activities will be natural to you.
But driving activities is not the same as running a sweatshop. Driving activities is also not ensuring your team is busy – I mean, everyone’s “busy” in the car business, right? Driving activities means ensuring your team is constantly and consistently productive, efficient, and effective.
It’s not about screaming, “Everybody better make 50 calls today!” It’s about making sure they complete their “money” calls for the day, and that they’re using their time wisely in (and sometimes out of) the dealership.
Driving activities is the best thing you can do for your sellers.
When you drive activities, your salespeople sell more cars, they make more money, their workday goes by more quickly, and you keep them engaged. The opposite? Well, salespeople who are not productive or engaged only think about survival and about how much this place sucks.
Productive and engaged employees, not surprisingly, don’t quit.
Good News / Great News
The good news is that if salespeople always did what we needed them to do, we never would’ve invented sales managers. The great news is that as a sales manager you only need to train and reinforce best practices every single day for the rest of your working life.
You see, not everyone on your team will progress at the same speed. Most will take one step back for every two steps forward. It’s your job to keep them moving in the right direction; growing their skillset; increasing their sales; making them successful.
When sales managers have a great attitude and drive the activities of their team, great things happen. The greatest, of course, are that turnover declines while sales and grosses increase… regardless of what the market is doing.