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What Should Your Sales Manager Really Do? Part 1

Visiting a medium-sized dealer last week was a really stark reminder that it is not always clear what sales managers should do or what their manager’s expectations are. Of course, the sales manager is in charge of the final result for new and used vehicle sales of the dealership, that is a given. But as a Dealer Principal do you care how they achieve that? Do you know whether they drive their sales team to deliver excellent service? Do you know how leaky your sales funnel is? You should, and here’s why.

Who trains your sales managers?

Your Sales Managers are probably your best-paid staff in your dealership. They lead the front line (along with Service Advisors) of how customers feel when interacting with your dealership. They are drivers of front-end volume and profit for new and used vehicles, and they are leaders of teams. Yet how much support and training have they received?

Board game characters representing team and manager.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

There is often little training or support for sales managers, especially for smaller brands. Furthermore, their knowledge of how to achieve the sales volume is often relatively narrow. It’s not uncommon to talk about the deal and the trade value, or getting a car underwritten. Of course, this is important, but this is the minimum that a manager should do (some would argue that the sales consultant should do this). Many Sales Managers get promoted to the role of being a good sales consultant; but who then upskills them to become a leader and mentor? At least help is at hand from a couple of resources.

For structure and sales management, AutoPlay now has a dynamic dashboard (called Analytics Reporting) that supports sales managers with a daily morning meeting. This report shows all activities that are due on a given day from follow-up calls, handovers, deliveries, test drives, and any other outbound overdue calls. Even consistent use of the morning meeting tool within AutoPlay (look for the Coffee Cup icon), will hold the sales team to account and improve sales performance.

The main dashboard now has a much-improved sales funnel measurement this is now programmable by the yard, by the team, by brand, or by the overall dealership. By looking at the sales funnel (this month versus last month or month to date, or brand versus brand) a DP or Sales Manager can see how the teams are tracking.

The key issue here is to apply the rule, ‘All leads in AutoPlay, all the time’. It's likely that you have quite a bit of leakage from day one in AutoPlay with sales teams self-selecting which leads go into the system. This causes a whole heap of issues. Your data is poor, the leads you have paid for (even if they become lost leads) never get captured and you can't reach those customers again, and most importantly your sales conversion figure will look better than it really is.

Switching to applying the rule ‘All leads in AutoPlay all the time’, will initially make your lead conversion ratio fall (because now you are measuring all leads, not just salesperson-selected leads). However, over time the data will become more valuable and your ongoing sales performance can be measured more accurately, and will therefore improve.

A typical new dealer sales target is between 12 and 15 new vehicle sales per month per sales consultant. This should be reflected in AutoPlay. As every DP knows, ‘bums on seats sell cars’. Therefore, your salespeople should have test drive targets and lead targets loaded into AutoPlay. One might argue that a salesperson should convert 50% of leads into test drives or 50% of test drives into sales. Your dealership has the data to tell you what these conversion rates are for your team, your brand, or your group.

Calculating conversion rates is easy. Gathering the data used to be hard, but Autoplay’s updated Lead Conversion funnel is a powerful tool. Challenging habits however is hard. If every lead is entered into water play every time then your conversion rate from inquiry to test drive will fall temporarily, (assuming that before your salespeople were selective in which leads they entered into AutoPlay).

So now you've set up a chart that shows how many inquiries and how many test drives you need to deliver your target sales number this is a step in the right direction.

Within the AutoPlay are some best practice tips for sales managers (and sales consultants). Every Sales Manager should review these (they can be found under Support Centre / Best Practice), and they cover off daily, weekly, and monthly actions to improve sales performance.

The next most important feature in AutoPlay in my view is the Lost Lead data. Lost leads are the holes in your sales funnel. A Dealer Principal or Sales Manager needs to understand why a lead is being marked as closed. They need to understand the reasons and the trends. There are some key pointers here for the quality of sales consultants' interaction with customers. For example, if a lead is marked as closed due to the vehicle being unsuitable then it's possible that your sales consultants are not spending enough time with the customer in the first place to fully understand their needs. Consultants often undervalue time spent with the consumer to build a report and to understand their needs. If a proper needs consultation is not correctly done, then there will be a strong correlation with leads being closed due to vehicles not being suitable.

Sales Funnell Conversion Ratio - AutoPlay Analytics Reporting

How many leads that are closed do you review or call as a Dealer Principal? How many leads does your sales manager review to check the reason the lead has been closed in AutoPlay is the reason that the customer says? There is valuable information to be gleaned from making a couple of calls a week.

Outside of the tools and best practices available within AutoPlay who teaches your Sales Managers about leadership and coaching?

Does your Sales Manager encourage your sales team to reach out to existing customers to provide them with opportunities to drive new products, to try and make a real connection with them to improve their customer experience?

Have you seen your Sales Manager undertake product training, review the quality of trade appraisals, do role plays around greeting, or set the tone for the level of professionalism you want to be displayed in your dealership?

Your Sales Managers deserve support and clear standards. It might be time to check what they do.

Image Credit: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Boost Auto is an automotive consultancy working in seven main areas.

• Sales Training

• Sales and Marketing effectiveness for brands and dealers

• Market Insights & Trends

• Business planning and facilitation

• Operational Effectiveness

• Get Ready Automations

• Go To Market strategies for emerging brands

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