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On the Point

Preventing Sales Manager Burnout

Da Man has a few choice words for sales managers who’ve lost the thrill of the position, and his message applies to anyone who fears their career has stalled.

March 4, 2016

For you sales managers out there, I bet you can remember the excitement you felt when you earned that prestigious title. But that feeling didn’t last long, did it? In fact, it probably came to a grinding halt. But not every manager experiences burnout. I know plenty of sales managers who matured into the position to become super performers.

For the rest of you, let me slap a little cold water in your face. If the glamour of the position has faded and your career is paralyzed and stale, I’m here to tell you that you are likely the problem. The good news is you can change that immediately. See, the No. 1 reason sales managers become frustrated and ineffective is they don’t know how to be a manager.

You can quickly spot manager burnout by how these individuals refer to themselves. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a desk manager. I mean, if that’s your dream, then be a desk manager. But from my experience, the desk manager works for the sales manager.

See, if you want to be a sales manager, then you need to realize that nobody is going to give you the respect you need unless you earn it through your performance and demand it from your subordinates. In this business, your education is not a credential or a qualification, because nobody cares about any of that until you perform.

Being a sales manager means you are in charge of your team’s activities and the processes they follow. You are their supervisor, not their pal. When I was a sales manager, my people knew without question that I was in charge. And you will never be a sales manager unless you have that level of authority.

It doesn’t mean you have to be disrespectful. But you need to set the tone early on: “I appreciate the fact you’ve been selling cars for 20 years, and that you may have more experience. Your input is valuable when we are working a deal or making a policy decision, but I am in charge. I will listen to your input, but I will make the decision. And that’s the way we’re going to do it.”

And as a manager, you are in charge of scheduling, hiring, firing, promoting, resolving disputes, training, and inventory management. A manager also tracks productivity and analyzes data to improve the department. In short, being a manager means going beyond what is expected.

But the key to being a good manager is being a great leader. You cannot be a great leader without respect, and respect isn’t earned by being permissive, weak, or laid-back. And you certainly don’t accept ultimatums or conditions.

Your job as a manager also means you’re responsible for the success of your people. That’s right: It’s up to you to make sure they’re making a great living. You also have to be concerned about improving the quality of their lives. And your meetings need to be upbeat and positive. Most importantly, you need to inspire by example.

Supervision, management and leadership make up the foundation of the sales manager’s role, but ultimately, you’re responsible for driving results. That means you need to have sales and marketing skills to increase the business.

If there’s anything my years of success in this industry have taught me, it’s this: If you are not moving up, then you are being moved out. In other words, when your career stops moving up to higher levels, you’re stuck. And when that happens, you’re done.

The best decision I ever made in my career was when I decided I would become a student of the industry. See, what you’ve always done has already become obsolete, and what you already know won’t work in the future. So to become a sales manager, you must always be learning new things and have the courage to let go of what no longer works.

A paradigm is a model for how something is done. A paradigm shift means that model no longer works. I attribute my success through the years to my ability to change and learn new things, as well as create new processes. Like I said, if your career has stalled, it’s probably your fault. The good news is you can change it immediately.

Jim Ziegler is the president of Ziegler SuperSystems. Contact him at jim.ziegler@bobit.com.

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Author Bio

Jim Ziegler

President & CEO of Ziegler SuperSystems

Jim 'Da Man' Ziegler joined the magazine in 2011 to deliver his On-the-Point message about the car business to dealer principals and store managers. He'll offer strategy advice on everything from sales and F&I to marketing in the digital age. Catch him every month at www.fi-magazine.com.

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