Businesses that have a product line for sale have sales managers to manage their sales personnel. Motivated sales personnel who are persistent and have the “the right stuff” sooner or later somewhere will earn the title of sales manager. In my opinion an automotive sales manager is among the most elite professional positions in the worldwide free trade market today.
In many cases, high-level corporate positions are obtained through seniority built solely by company longevity. That just does not happen in our industry. You have to earn the privilege of wearing a sales manager badge. I should know. My positions over the years as pre-owned manager, new car manager, F&I manager, general sales manager and general manager, were all earned through my productivity. Productivity that was achieved through good old fashion hard work and leveraging of my experiences so that I would not repeat my mistakes. So, I take the title of sales manager very seriously.
I will share with you something that helped me have a successful career. It should help you understand just how important sales managers are in our industry. Early in my career as a sales person on an independent dealer’s lot I knew that if I wanted to excel in this industry, I needed to be selling new cars. I pursued and landed a job interview with Mr. Wayne Schmidt, a new car dealer in my little hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Mr. Schmidt had come up the ranks and had just put everything he had on the line to open a new car dealership. When I sat down for the interview Mr. Schmidt said, “Tim, before we start, I want you to tell me what sales manager means to you?” I probably came up with the longest drawn out explanation of sales manager anyone has ever vocalized. After I was done, he looked at me and said, “No son, that’s not it. Being a sales manager in the car business means you are responsible for the success of your sales people and you will never get a raise until they get one first. In this business money is made from the black top up, not the owner down. How well they do, how well you do, and how successful I am with my business is going to depend on your ability as a sales manager to manage sales.”
Ladies and gentlemen that was the smartest advice I’ve ever received. I knew that a huge responsibility came along with my sales manager title. My ability to excel as a Mr. Schmidt’s sales manager would predicate his success and my future success. Now, I hope you understand the true meaning of “sales manager.”
Mr. Schmidt now owns Suncoast Chrysler Plymouth Jeep in Seminole, Florida. His two sons, who run that dealership, were my porters when they were in high school. Wayne Schmidt, thank you. I am proud to say that without that opportunity I wouldn’t be writing this article today.