Today’s car company needs a manager!

Sales managers find themselves overly busy with a wide variety of tasks. Unfortunately, the task of ‘managing their salespeople successfully’ does not often make it to the top of the manager’s to-do list. 

The team at our company speaks to salespeople and their sales managers on a daily basis. This is fun, yet sometimes frustrating. Frustrating because we see that the follow-up of leads and proposals has to be stimulated and managed by the sales manager. And it is obvious that this is not happening, or alternatively, it is not happening enough.

Today's car company needs a manager!

Effective managing involves going through the leads, incoming calls, and quotes with sales reps. Good managers should be listening back to the conversations and marking a lead as dead when the customer couldn’t be contacted after extensive and documented outreach.

“What we see is that the sales manager is actually busy with things that do not directly affect the daily sales numbers.”

These are all hygiene issues. Sure, there are some sales managers who perform admirably in managing sales; who will consistently ask what the status of a lead or quote is. But that is the exception. It is not a matter of not wanting to, people are generally too busy with other matters, and managing sales through the sales team does not get the attention it deserves.

Some importers, leading the way in Leusden I’m told, claim the sales managers’ time all week. They want to know what the dealership plans are; their focus is to see sales always increasing. And then there are the weekly, monthly and quarterly closings to be completed, which are also important.

Is the definition of the sales manager correct?

The real question is whether you are still a ‘sales’ manager with all those tasks on your plate. Perhaps the job deserves another name. The sales manager is undoubtedly busy with tasks that absolutely have to be completed, but effective management of the salespeople on a daily basis should be a priority, especially if you want to be more successful.

Today’s car company needs a desk manager!

Any salesperson can document the car the customer wants to buy, but not every salesperson wants to put in the effort to invest their time with the more difficult, long-term customer; making a connection, staying in touch, and ultimately closing the sale. Most sellers are opportunists. That’s fine, as long as that opportunism is managed.

Is there a solution to be found? I think so and it’s called ‘desk manager’. I would use it at stores with more than five salespeople. That’s the scenario that warrants a sales manager with a supporting desk manager. And no, they both don’t have to sell cars. Between the two of them, they have to facilitate, coach, train, guide salespeople, and also ensure that the sales team members have taken full advantage of all available opportunities.

The desk manager

Brian Benstock recently explained the function of the desk manager to me. His desk managers have between five and ten salespeople on the team. Together, they ensure that they are on top of each opportunity. The desk manager knows the status of all incoming leads, telephone calls, incoming appointments, and potential customers. He knows exactly what needs to be done to close a deal and make the sale.

This means that the desk manager marks the lead as dead if he has not seen any sign of life after five attempts to call, five text messages and five emails. Checking off the lead is not up to the seller, but to the desk manager. The desk manager also calls the customer after they have been in the showroom, received a proposal but ultimately still chose not to buy.

Today’s car company needs a desk manager!

It is the desk manager who calls the potential customer to ask whether the appointment has gone as planned. He also immediately asks whether, as a manager, there is anything else he can do for the customer. On calls where appointments were not made, the desk manager listens back to the incoming call via Marktplaats or Autotrack and gives direct feedback to the salesperson so they know how to improve their appointment making conversation on future calls. On calls where the salesperson was unsuccessful, the same customer is called by the desk manager with a goal to set the appointment where the salesperson failed.

Today's car company needs a manager!

Yes it is a lot of work…

These are all day-to-day operational matters that the desk manager can do. He is only concerned with those five to ten salespeople and their deals. He does not perform any administrative tasks, not even for the importer. He keeps the salespeople moving so that they perform in a manner that positively affects the bottom line: generating more sales.

Benstock was clear about it. His sales manager knows how many opportunities the day has brought including the number of appointments, a breakdown of online and telephone leads, and the number of spontaneous showroom visits. Those statistics also tell him how many orders could have been written that day. If there are eight visits, and eventually six vehicles have been sold, then the sales manager and his desk manager work to determine how the real potential of eight sales can be achieved.

The salesperson needs a manager who continuously focuses on converting opportunities into sales, instead of a manager who is busy with delivery lists and other matters unimportant to achieving sales. I dare say that, with most sellers, a doubling of the sales numbers is possible. How can that be achieved? By effectively managing the sales team and the opportunities they available to them.

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