More than 100 dealership managers and industry executives traveled to Industry Summit 2014 in September to attend my super-intensified sales management event, dubbed “Profit Masters.” Bear in mind that the event occurred the day before the magazine’s annual conference. In other words, the people in the room flew in a day early to attend my all-day seminar.

Through the years, I’ve developed a reputation for helping dealers achieve the “big numbers.” And based on the enthusiasm, commitment and intensity of the managers in room, it was obvious there’s a need for meaningful and effective management training.

Truthfully, I don’t know of many dealerships that couldn’t increase profits by $100,000 a month overnight. To be clear, I’m only talking about the variable sales department and F&I gross, not service or peripheral sales. Now, there are only four ways to increase profits: sell more units, make higher front- and back-end gross profits per unit sold, sell additional products and services like F&I protections and aftermarket accessories, and increase the frequency of sales to the same customer (i.e., leasing).

So how do you do that? Well, there’s a reason why my sales management seminars center on process and productivity.

See, car sales today are more about appointment setting than about working a customer that just showed up on the lot. Keep in mind that less than 15% of incoming calls are related to sales, with the bulk of call traffic being about service. So why is it so difficult to get a sales professional on the phone? And why is it that managers don’t think they need to take phone calls?

And don’t get me started on those annoying automated phone systems. Problem is, if you’re lucky enough to reach a live receptionist, most of them, at least from my experience, think it’s OK to simply dump customers into voicemail. The problem with that is most people aren’t going to leave a message.

Folks, those inbound sales calls are critically important to your success. And we all know we don’t get enough of them. That means your people need to be on the phones setting appointments. We can debate at a later time whether that task should be handled by the business development center or the Internet department. I’ll just say it doesn’t really matter to me. All I need are dedicated appointment-setters making 100 outbound calls a day.

In all of my speeches and seminars, there are two sayings I often repeat about dealership leadership. The first is, “We don’t have a what problem; we have a when problem.” The other saying goes like this, “We don’t have a knowing problem; we have a doing problem.”

Folks, we spend way too much time getting ready to get ready, but we never get around to pulling the trigger and executing the things we say we’re going to do. We know what we’re supposed to do, but we tend manage crises rather than process and priorities. And as we all know, average people with great processes can achieve incredible things.

What you need to do is marry your CRM before you define your processes. After that, do what you say you’re going to do.

Now let’s talk about the sales manager. The individual who holds this title is critical to the success of your store. So does your sales manager manage the sales department by fear and intimidation? Or does your sales manager try to be every salesperson’s buddy? If it’s the latter, let me say right now that your salespeople don’t need a new pal; they need effective leadership. If it’s the prior, then you’ve probably got the wrong team and the wrong sales manager.

The secret to achieving the big numbers is a defined process that is followed by all, a CRM that is used, effective appointment-selling skills, a website that coverts leads into sales, and, finally, constant sales and management training.

By the way, effective management starts with the dealer. And if you’re good, it will trickle down to your management team on down to the salespeople and lot attendants. That’s why I’m critical of dealers who send their managers to my seminars but don’t attend them themselves. I mean, how can you manage your managers and measure your operation if you don’t know the processes being taught?

Bottom line, every level is accountable and should be measured and rewarded for performance. If you pay peanuts, you’ve got monkeys. So put an elite team together, get them trained and be sure to challenge them. Keep those phone calls and emails coming.

Jim Ziegler is the president of Ziegler SuperSystems Inc. Email him at [email protected]


Jim Ziegler
Jim Ziegler

President and CEO of Ziegler SuperSystems

Jim Ziegler ranks among the industry's most recognized and honored trainers, consultants, authors, speakers, and forecasters.

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Jim Ziegler ranks among the industry's most recognized and honored trainers, consultants, authors, speakers, and forecasters.

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