Let’s get to the point, the argument that many dealers make against having a Modern Sales Floor (closed or managed floor) is very basic – the aggressive guys will be stifled and the dealership will lose productivity (sales) while the mediocre guys may get more chances but may lose some deals for lack of natural sales ability. The facts are that many managers at dealerships are sending their employees mixed messages. On the one hand, salespeople get yelled at if the sales manager sees a customer on the lot wandering with nobody helping them and, on the other hand, sales managers see the “to-dos” in the CRM piling up because the salespeople aren’t making follow–up calls. So what is a salesperson to do? Given that most pay plans at dealerships revolve around commissions on sales, most salespeople would rather take the immediate sale – the one standing on your lot – than nurturing the prospects they already have. Why? Because that’s how they make a paycheck. Immediate gratification isn’t anything new. It’s much more exciting to have a customer standing in front of you than making 25 follow-up calls to people who, more than likely, won’t even answer the phone. But there’s more to the story.
When you get a group of people whose livelihood is directly attributed to that car pulling into the driveway, dynamics change. We can yell “Go Team!” all day long but the fact is that, at many dealerships, some salespeople actively seek to give themselves advantages over the others. We used to call this “taking them off the market.” Think about it. There’s a group of salespeople standing outside all calling “ups.” The unspoken rule is that whomever calls the “up” first gets to help the customer and potentially get a sale. There are lots of tricks that salespeople use to take each other off the market – from as simple as engaging the other in conversation and ensuring the other salesperson’s back is turned so that the they can have an edge on calling the “up” to arguing with the other salesperson so that they leave to get away from the argument thus eliminating the competition. For those that have been around, many of which are now the managers, you know this happens. It probably doesn’t happen in front of you, but it still does.
That aggressive guy? You know, your eagle. The one who is selling 25 cars a month? Perhaps it’s only because he’s good at taking others off the market. Maybe it’s because he’s quick at identifying incoming cars? Do you really know WHY they are your eagle? Maybe they’re burning ups. Cherry picking customers. TO’ing customers after they’ve determined – in their minds – that they aren’t “now” buyers. That paper log in your office won’t tell you that. Neither will your CRM as the average compliance in logging customers hovers around the 40 percent range. Maybe you have more eagles than you think you do but the only reason they aren’t succeeding is for lack of opportunities.
The whole purpose of a Modern Sales Floor is to figure this out. Not only does this system identify the strengths and weaknesses of each person on your sales floor but it also satisfies the two demands you have on your salespeople – covering the lot and making follow up calls. You can’t wait until the last 3 days of the month to start scouring the CRM for missed deals and holding inquisitions with your sales staff on why this person didn’t buy or what would it take to make a deal. It’s simply too late.
We know that salespeople don’t have customers an average of 5-1/2 hours per day. There is ample time for them to make their follow up calls, respond to customer questions and nurture those sales that WILL come – if handled properly. In this era of transparency and instant information, the customer isn’t going to wait days or even hours for information. They will simply either contact another dealership or – if you’re lucky – another one of your salespeople and then you will either lose a sale or find yourself arbitrating two upset salespeople fighting over a half deal!
A Modern Sales Floor isn’t meant to stifle aggressiveness nor will it. Your aggressive salespeople will still be aggressive. They will simply transfer some of that aggressiveness away from standing out front and towards following up with previous customers who didn’t buy. The salespeople who don’t get many opportunities will be able to show you what they can REALLY do. I addition, you’ll have quantifiable data on what, where and how customers are interacting with your dealership, where the weaknesses are in your sales process, salespeople as a team and as individuals. Only then can you effectively manage your team and take the necessary steps to improve each person as well as the department.
Stop being scared of change. Technology isn’t here to prevent success, it’s here to help your dealership succeed. A Modern Sales Floor not only solves all of your pain points but it also provides for a better customer experience – and that is imperative in today’s consumer-driven world. There was a time when dealers didn’t think they needed websites. Then came the transition from Rolodexes to CRMs. Now, we couldn’t live without them.
Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Get away from that “We’ve always done it this way” mentality, use an open mind and you’ll see that a Modern Sales Floor offers more benefits – and opportunities – than an Traditional Floor ever will. The only thing standing in your way is you.
Author: Clint Burns
With more than two decades of expertise in every area of dealership operations, Clint has championed the push for excellence in guest services across the automotive industry. From his early involvement as the Founder of Dealer Development Solutions, one of the first CRMs in the space, to his current role as the CEO of Nextup, Clint is a leading expert in the retail sales process (RSP) nationwide.