Nobody stole the cookies from the cookie jar but we all know that when we played that little game as kids the purpose was passing the blame to others. Eventually we ran out of people to pass the blame to and the game was over.
In spite of the many training resources, and tracking tools available to dealers today, the blame game is alive and well. Unfortunately the blame game is preventing your team from reaching the success they’re capable of so let’s talk about why it happens and how to fix it.
First, let’s tick a few people off and say that the problem starts at the top. Yep, I’m talking to Dealer Principals and General Managers with this one. Now, before you send me a bunch of hate mail (which I’m happy to receive and you can use the email address at the end of this article) I’ll remind you that the sh…. ahem… the stuff, does roll down hill.
Many of us worked our way up from sales, to management and that means we learned how to ‘lead’ from the guy or gal who came before us. While they may have had many good qualities, most of us will agree that there has been an obvious shortage of leaders who know how to train, implement that training, and then hold their team accountable for what they were trained on. Because of that, each new generation is still lacking those core fundamentals and what results is a cycle of missed goals by many, and an equal amount of blame shifting.
It typically looks something like this: Sales manager pulls their people aside, whether as a group or individually and says: Bob, you sold 10 cars last month, I need more from you, how many can you sell this month now that we have truck month going on? Bob doesn’t want to get into any argument or discussion so he says I can do 12 this month I think. Then the manager says to the next person, Bob can do 12 for us, what about you Tina, you did 12 last month so you should be good for at least 14 or 15 right? Tina knows that she has a week of vacation but doesn’t want to look bad and figures she’ll ‘push a little harder’ so she says yeah I think I can crank out 14 this month.
By the time this ends everyone in the room is saying they’re going to be selling 25-30% more than they did the month before…but why? All of these ‘goals’ were based on ego, and what the manager hopes will happen. Why would any decent sales manager do this crap? I’ll tell you why: Their GM did the same thing to them! The GM pulled the sales managers aside, said that they needed to push harder, and the sales manager doesn’t want a conflict so they commit without any logical reason for growth either. Enough already, I think you get the picture of why this problem is happening so let’s talk about how we can fix it for the long term.
It starts with not setting goals. By now you’re probably ticked off because I just said you’re screwing up your entire sales team with bogus goals but I promise, if you read the rest of this, you’ll have information that will make you money and then you can use my email address to send in a thank you. Heck, you’ll probably want to send me a gift because you’ll increase sales so dramatically. Note: I really love Amazon so a gift card there would be great. In all seriousness, here’s how you set better goals, and eliminate the blame game.
For the next 90 days throw away all of your goals. Yes, I said throw your goals out and what you must do is track the activities in relation to results. Your CRM will do it but that actually requires honest input so I’m going to give you four areas that you can track from the desk and use to make a real game plan. Here are the minimum four areas that you need to track for every single sales person: 1. Greetings 2. Test drives 3. Write-ups 4. Deliveries.
Sales is more than a numbers game but until you understand the baseline skills of every single person on your team you can’t lay out a plan for proper training so track the basics, and use the numbers (data) to put together your plan for improvement. For example, if your average person Greets 50 people, and gets 40 test drives, then gets 20 write-ups and ultimately delivers 10 cars, you now have a foundation to work from mathematically. Using these numbers, a 10 car person sells 1 out of every 5 people they Greet. So, for Bob, who sold 10 cars and needs to sell 12 cars, he would only need to greet 10 more people this month. This math also shows us that Bob sells 1 out of every 4 people he test drives, or one out of every 2 people he writes up. How does this apply to coaching and training?
Teaching Bob to prospect can get him in front of more people for greetings. Want Bob to get more people behind the wheel? Have him greet you and walk you through everything leading up to the test drive. Bob has a pretty big gap between the number of people he test drives to the number he writes up. Have Bob take you through a test drive and see what ‘trial closes’ or transitions he uses at the end of the drive to bring you inside.
Understanding this helps us see that, maybe it’s hard to get Bob in front of 10 more people to greet overnight BUT if we see an obvious issue during the test drive that’s preventing people from coming inside to the write up, we can coach Bob in a way that will help him sell extra vehicles without any extra customers. If we can help Bob write up just 4 more people by tuning up his test drive to write-up transition, that will get him the extra 2 sales he needs!
None of this will happen if you don’t have the courage to take the next few months to track the activities.
Once we track, and have a baseline to lay down realistic and achievable plans to help them grow, we can finally help our sales team set proper goals for themselves. Equally important, we will have finally earned the right to hold them accountable for those goals and virtually eliminate the blame game.