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I arrived roughly 10 minutes early to train a new dealer client last week.  I meandered around the showroom trying to get a feel for who they were as a store and how they presented their dealership brand.  That’s when I came across a salesperson sitting at his desk with a very familiar CRM open.  To my wide-eyed amazement, I got to see him complete ALL of his scheduled calls for the day (roughly 30) in the 5 minutes before the store opened.  All without picking up the phone.  This guy was gifted.

“Left message, LM, LM, LM, LM, Flip to Lost, Flip to Dead, Flip to Bought Elsewhere, LM, LM, LM”. 


Essentially, this gentleman had no desire to call a single customer back, but was more dedicated to simply getting his workload off of his plate for the day.   He was throwing away opportunities to both interact with his current clients and, in some cases, sell a car.  This is happening at your store too.


There are three things I know about the majority of salespeople in our industry.

1)  They will work their pay plan.  Whatever it is, they’ll work it.

2)  They won’t follow-up with their customers

3)  They won’t follow up with their customers. 


I see managers hypocritically hold BDC and Internet teams to a high standard of number of calls made, number of appointments set and shown, but I find it amazing how they don’t hold their own sales team (those that they actually manage) accountable.  In my experience, the lowest probability of accountability happens on the showroom floor.  Your sales managers are around your salespeople so often, they easily overlook everything they aren’t doing.  You could almost remove the word “manager” from their title at all.  This needs to stop.


Salespeople won’t make their calls on their own.  They just won’t.  Even if you ask them nicely or schedule the call for them in the CRM and demand them to make the calls, they will find a way to push off, put away, hide, falsely complete, delete, bury, or kill that action scheduled for them.


You MUST actively train, track, and hold accountable your team to ensure they are making all of their follow-up calls, unsold calls, sold calls, lease retention calls, birthday calls, anniversary calls, bird calls, cat calls, or any other calls you have scheduled in the CRM for them.  Otherwise, without being held accountable, they will almost always take the path of least resistance, cycle through their day’s tasks and eliminate their opportunities to connect with a customer.  They simply don’t have their feet held to the fire enough. 


There are systems out there (PBX boxes, call monitoring/recording software) that can increase the likelihood that accountability will become part of your showroom (and management) process.  Whether you invest in the technology, the people, or the training, you must demand that your entire sales team performs the duties asked of them in the CRM.  It is not just your livelihood; it’s theirs as well.  They just aren’t held accountable enough to realize it.


Written by Joe Webb

Views: 664

Tags: CRM,, dealerknows, joe, management, probability of accountability, sales, sales training, training, utilization, More…webb


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Comment by Tony Rhoades on December 6, 2011 at 6:11am

Anthony, I like your idea of engaging the person who uses the tool daily in the process of refining the tool.  I would imagine having done this, the saleperson is also more interested in seeing their tasks completed appropriately?

What have you seen?

Comment by Mark Tewart on December 5, 2011 at 6:55pm

In two series of articles I wrote titled "Death of the Traditional Salesperson" and Death of the Traditional Dealership" I outlined these very problems and a potential fix to these problems. First of all, decide that as an owner of a dealership there are several things you have never been able to accomplish and its absurd to think you ever will. I am talking about something like getting salespeople to call customers back. Decide that you won't ever fight that fight again and take that job away from the salesperson. Only have the salesperson do about two or three things that you know you can get them to do and do well. Narrow their focus. Don't fight human nature. Or, decide to do whatever it takes to find, hire and pay for exceptional people that get things done. Most dealers will not do the second alternative so they had better be prepared to do the first. The challenges have not changed in my 30 years in the business but for the most and neither have the way the challenges are addressed. There is a true lack of overall leadership, management and forward thinking implementation in most dealerships.

Not negative but reality. The good news is that dealers who are truly on top it, can dominate their marketplace. 

Comment by ANTHONY BARTOLI on December 5, 2011 at 2:11pm

Does that really still happen in dealerships?  Just kidding. 

Another big piece of this puzzle is to make sure your processes that our set up in your CRM are correct, valid and what should happen next.  I see too many CRM processes in dealerships that are set up from the install without any tweaking.  The sales staff then seem to look at a system task phone call that pops up right after one is made.  I hear from salespeople things like "Our system here, tells me to make another call tomorrow right after I contacted the customer and scheduled my follow up for a few days later."  There are sales people out there that will take the short cut of costing themselves and the dealership money/sales but also it is how the CRM tasks/daily planner conditions them as well. 

 Managers must ask this question first, when have we actually looked at our processes and do they make sense.  If not, then change them.  Who better to ask and get input from than the person doing them on a daily basis.  Wouldn't it make sense to have input on what hammer to use to get the job done successful from the guy who uses the hammer all the time. 

When is the last time you sat down with your team and coached them through the processes?  Coaching is always better.  Do you inspect what you expect.  It amazes me that dealers and managers still drive the lot and then give out job directions to people such as straighten this car, put tags on that, remove this trash BUT they don't "drive" through the CRM where the majority of action is happening looking at what emails are sent and recieved, phone calls made and appointments set, kept, etc.

I think the Path of Least Resistance would be a by product of having the right tools and expectations in place. 

Also, if you do not understand your CRM, then you need to.  Get trained on your CRM on how to make sure it is being utlized correctly.  So many CRM's offer this type of training. 

Comment by Tony Rhoades on December 5, 2011 at 12:30pm

Thanks Joe.

I have one question.  Given that accountability is a dirty word to many people, how do we as managers make the Path we want followed, the Path of Least Resistance? 

Comment by Gary Jon Prough on December 5, 2011 at 12:26pm

No David there is nothing wrong with that strategy and I have used it in the past. I think dealers now have gone away from it because of cost to pay someone to make the calls. Trying to cut cost in a tough economic period. I think a champion in your BDC can do all that and more. 

Comment by David Ruggles on December 5, 2011 at 11:20am

We did some research on sales person follow up about 20 years ago and confirmed what we already knew.  The best time to follow up with prospects is exactly the same time that showroom traffic tended to be highest.  I suspect the Internet has changed some patterns, but how much?  We used to hire a woman to call the logs at night in a carefully scripted CSI kind of way.  She called on behalf of the dealer who wanted to know if all the customer's questions and issues had been answered and addressed and if they were happy with their experience in the dealership.  It was NOT a sales call and was completely un-threatening.  Amazing things were revealed when the caller is not perceived as a sales person. 

Has the Internet changed the validity of such a strategy?

Comment by Cathy Nuccio on December 5, 2011 at 11:09am

100% on the mark Joe!

Comment by Melissa Roberts on December 5, 2011 at 10:44am

So very true. Even the best salespeople out there seem terrified to pick up that phone! (p.s I currently hold the GM award for best bird call)

Comment by Gary Jon Prough on December 5, 2011 at 8:40am

I have been in the car industry for over 25 years. This problem has always been an issue. An active BDM and all sales managers have to be on the same page with this and share the same paradigm of what to expect and do. With all my experience I have found only one way to make this happen. Focus on appointments. It is far easier for a sales person to set an appointment than it is to sell a car. A daily goal is to set 2-3 appointments per day, with management calling and confirming them ASAP. Bonus' for previous customer, orphan owner, referrals, service customer, personal friends and family, appointments set and sold. Tracking software is great, and in most cases takes up a lot of time for the person or persons responsible for evaluating, and listening to calls. The info can be a lot to manage. If all the focus is on setting appointments from all sources to the dealership funnel, crunching the numbers and having meeting about what the sales people are not doing wont be needed. Instead setting the positive tone of what they do by helping them set their daily goal of setting appointments. I promise you if your staff comes to work every day, and finds a way to set 2-3 appointments a day, he can't help but sell cars.

Comment by Doug Davis on December 5, 2011 at 8:30am

"There are systems out there (PBX boxes, call monitoring/recording software) that can increase the likelihood that accountability will become part of your showroom (and management) process."

Most managers spend the majority of their time waiting for a salesperson to bring a deal to the desk.  Salespeople take the direction of least resistance.  Doing it the right way has to be that direction. 

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