If you’re an auto Sales Manager, a large chunk of the dealership’s success is resting on your shoulders. Your department generates the highest revenue for the dealership, so a there is a lot of pressure on you to succeed. You’ve always got too much on your plate, but one of your most important responsibilities is to lead your sales team to success.
Good leadership skills are the key to managing a sales team. Dealer Marketing Magazine highlights two profiles: the good Sales Manager and the bad Sales Manager, with distinguishing qualities of each. Some qualities of a good Sales Manager include “Motivates their salespeople everyday,” “Works with salespeople, not against them,” “Is well liked by all dealership staff.” These qualities are important, but abstract.
What concrete steps can you take today to become a better leader?
In The Harvard Business Review, Larry Bossidy writes about the “CEO compact” – the expectations a leader has from his people and their expectations of him. Here’s a break-down of 7 practical tips for becoming a more successful leader:
- Motivate through clear direction: take as many opportunities as possible to interact with customers so you can show your sales team how it’s done. Set up role-playing situations to teach your team how to react to every situation. Lead by example.
- Define specific goals for your people: any salesperson knows they’re being judged by numbers, but being upfront about goals and expectations will help them succeed.
- Give frequent, specific, and immediate feedback: Don’t wait for an annual review to evaluate your salespeople. If they handled a customer well, give them fair dues. If their performance needs improvement, let them know today. And don’t mince words – being vague in order to spare the awkwardness of giving frank feedback will not help your team member succeed.
- Be decisive and timely: No matter what you have on your plate, if a salesperson approaches you to help close a deal, drop what you’re doing and go close it. In fact, Auto Dealer Monthly says your number one priority should be talking to customers and closing deals. Don’t push them off until the customer is on their way out.
- Be available: Encourage your employees to come to you with comments, problems and suggestions. This will help avoid a problem spiralling, and can also be a source of creative new solutions from your team. When your sales people know you’re there for them, they will have more confidence and do their own jobs better.
- Be honest and candid: When there is news to be shared or a tough decision to be made, be a straight shooter. Spending time worrying about how you will come across with bad news or big changes will lead to wasted time and frustration. Also, be true.
- Compensate fairly: Make the compensation process crystal clear. Your employees should know what kind of bonus to expect at the end of the year, based on their performance. The less mystery and confusion, the better.
Being a good leader means upholding high standards while being fair, approachable and transparent. It’s not about being everyone’s favorite guy, or being a dictator. Set clear expectations from your team, uphold their expectations from you, and you are likely to succeed.