Vehicle sales manager’s roles have become more and more complex of late. They are expected to be all things to all people, and are more accountable than ever for their results.

  • They are measured more than ever.
  • They are faced with more and more onerous factory reporting.
  • The diversity of staff backgrounds and generations present many challenges.
  • And we haven’t even mentioned the internet and changing customer expectations.

Staff churn in the Vehicle Sales departments is as big as ever, even with more reasonable workplace legislation. NADA statistics this year had it as high as 60% in US new vehicle departments – is anyone prepared to suggest we don’t have a similar issue?

After working with many OEMs and speaking with countless dealerships, it becomes obvious what sets the very best apart – vehicle sales managers who understand and focus on consistent coaching of the team no matter how experienced or new the team member.

So what does it mean when we say our sales managers should coach their teams, and what does this look like.

Let’s start with a couple of definitions:

Training – “the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behaviour.”
Mentoring – “Employee training system under which a senior or more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an advisor, counsellor, or guide to a junior or trainee.”
Coaching – “A method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific skills.”

These are terms that we throw around quite loosely, but in essence the difference is:

  • Training is longer term to gain a qualification. (Win the Premiership)
  • Coaching is more short term to achieve a goal. (Win Saturday’s game)
  • Mentoring is the use of a more senior person to guide or advise a more junior person.

So how can coaching by your vehicle sales managers help your sales team improve their performance? This challenge fits within the definition of coaching which is to achieve a short term goal.

Your sales managers should pick a particular skill that needs development, in the same way a football coach may choose “tackling” as the skill that needs to be coached to win Saturday’s game.

At Fusion Performance Consulting we have conducted a significant study on sales processes and found the weakest area of the sales process that is universally not being followed is – Lack of Follow-Up.

It may not surprise many, but the figures support the need for greater improvement.

We surveyed 3,296 new car customers and the major area of dissatisfaction they had with the sales process at the dealership was Lack of, or Poor Follow-Up.

  • 67% of customers who enquired by email and were dissatisfied, said it was due to No, or Poor Follow-Up.
  • 36% of customers who enquired by phone and were dissatisfied, also said it was due to No or Poor Follow-Up.

So if you were toying with the idea of starting coaching at your dealership, then the topic of Follow-Up would be a great way to kick off.

If you are going to have a coaching session for the first time on the quality of your dealership’s Follow-Up, you should start with some data, by sales consultant, that shows their Follow-Up performance.

Your enquiry tracking system should tell you who needs improvement. If you do not have an enquiry tracking system – then you should, as you would be missing sales opportunities.

With the data, sit down and have a one-on-one discussion with each of your sales consultants to discuss the following:

  • Why are they not following up all of their leads?
  • Are there any barriers to them following up?
  • Look at specific examples to understand what has been happening.
  • Find the root cause for the lack of Follow-Up.
  • Create an Action Plan designed to address the issues highlighted.
  • Each week review the Action Plans and the performance until it is at dealership average level.

Try this simple structure for coaching on this topic. Once it is addressed, find another topic (e.g. test drive ratios) and use the process to address this.

Ideally there should be a rolling schedule of coaching in the sales department designed to address various problems and lift performance.

Give it a try, you have nothing to lose. You will probably find that your sales consultants appreciate this opportunity to have some one-on-one time to focus on improving their skills.

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Craig Rowney
Craig leads our Performance Consulting division and has built a reputation for the development and delivery of innovative consulting and training solutions in the automotive and motorcycle industry at both OEM and retail level. Craig spent 7 years as the Director in charge of Consultancy at Deloitte Motor Industry Services and prior to this, 8 years in Sales and Marketing and Dealer Development with Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota Australia. This experience has been supplemented with a stint in retail allowing him to bring a unique perspective to consulting and training. Craig has worked with the majority of brands in Australia and many of the country’s largest Dealer groups and extensively in Asia.