Evolution of the Sales Manager role

Looking back on the good ole' days

We've all known some great desk managers in our day.  For me it was a guy named Scott back in 1996 when I started in the car business at a Toyota store.  Scott was amazing, probably still is.  Scott could close anybody.... and it seemed like he closed everybody.  He could also pencil some great deals, I made a lot of gross with Scott.  Oh the good old days; with worksheets, difference figures and maybe sometimes a four-square.  I used to love his notes to the customers; "One choice YES or NO, which is it?" or one of my all time favorites "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here."  Those where the days!  Scott was a killer desk manager.

You reap what you sow

Of course the way we desked deals back then increased customer mistrust of auto salespeople and created the opportunity for services like TrueCar to grow.  While I do remember Scott fondly for all the money he helped me make, it's really a couple of other Sales Managers, John and Ted, who I credit with helping me start a very successful career.  They took the time to train, coach and mentor me during my early formative years in the business.

Consumer demands - technology enables - easier buying process

With consumers flocking to TrueCar and dealers focusing on transparency and ease of doing business, they are telling us it's time for a change.  Time and again, I'm hearing consumers are just not putting up with the games we used to play.  New Vehicle market-based pricing is trending across the industry and website vendors are offering online desking tools for the consumer!

  • Guaranteed sight-unseen online trade appraisals
  • Specific payment quotes on finance and lease based on your credit and including taxes and fees
  • Real lender pre-approval not just an online credit app

What's a desk manager to do?  "If the trade and payments and credit are all worked out before they get to the store, what's my role?"  Throughout 2016 these online tools will become more sophisticated and widespread.  By 2017 salespeople will be able to do get pricing, trade appraisals, quote specific payments and get most customers approved without going to the "Sales Desk" or talking to a sales manager unless they need to.

Elimination of the Sales Manager role?  .......  NO

Sales Managers are experiencing this already.  In the last couple of years I've literally talked to hundreds of them about these changes and how their role is evolving.  Certainly some are naturally afraid of change.  "Desking deals" has made them successful and a lot of money.   Fortunately many realize their real value is not in desking deals, it's in growing and developing a talented sales team.  They look at these changes from an optimistic point of view.  "Now I have more time to do one-on-ones, set goals, train, coach and mentor my staff."

Doing the work of 10 people or getting 10 people to do great work

Sales Managers work hard, long hours and too many days per month.  Harder than they need to or should, partly because there are so many things in the course of selling vehicles that only they can do.  Or so they think.  And partly because they don't have enough time to hire, train and develop top performing salespeople who are capable of more.  Or so they perceive.

One old adage frequently told to salespeople was "the less you know the better."  As sales managers, we convinced ourselves there was a special skill needed that was too complicated for most salespeople to learn.  It certainly made us more valuable.  The internet helped create customers that often knew more than our salespeople, at first about the product but now even about pricing, their trade and purchase options.  Yet some sales managers still want to try to maintain "control" still trying to hide invoice/cost and gross; and don't spend enough time developing their salespeople.

High Performing Teams

Imagine this:  Having a sales team that truly trusted each other.  No one had any hidden agendas.  They were open with each other about both their strengths and weaknesses.  They engaged in healthy conflict and competition.  Unafraid to bring up better ways of doing things or challenging the status quo.  They really felt they had a voice in how things were done and run.  They had real committed buy-in to all final decisions of the team and/or of the leader.  No more "water cooler" discussions undermining the direction you wanted to go.  They hold each other accountable; for both behavior and results.  Everyone wanting to pull their own weight.  Their focus was on the store reaching it's goals and their whole team succeeding. Aggressively going after their own goals out of a motivation to ensure the team meets it's goals.  Helping and coaching each other when not achieving the results needed.

Too good to be true

I know it sounds too good to be true but I have seen teams like this in action.  There's a method to achieving this but it takes commitment and hard work.  The simplification of the desk manager's role will give Sales Managers more time to develop their teams.  The question is; do they have the tools, knowledge and skills to be effective "leaders of people" rather than desk managers?

A call to action

If you need help

  • Adapting your process and training for the new way customers want to experience the purchase process
  • Helping your sales managers adjust to these changing times
  • Figuring out how to hold gross and make money in this new vehicle margin-compressed environment
  • Developing your managers into people leaders and giving them the skills to develop these High Performing sales teams

Just call 800-851-1584 or email us at KenGregson@NexusConsultNavigations.com or visit our website to learn more Nexus Consult Navigations