Many commercial sales managers can get caught in a dilemma I refer to as “the disparate sales team.” A disparate sales team includes both new and experienced sales consultants. The novices, those who are new to commercial sales, are often millennials in their 20s and 30s and bring with them an awareness of new, innovative ways of connecting and an enthusiasm for trying new strategies and methods. The old pros, those who have been around the sales block a few times, are often in their 50s and 60s and offer classic sales lessons that can stand the test of time.
Each team member, the novices and the old pros, each bring helpful knowledge and abilities to the table. But without guidance, they may not learn from each other. This is a big risk, as there are more dealerships than ever getting into the commercial side of the business. I know, because we are contacted constantly by retail dealers interested in pursuing commercial sales. Clearly, it’s incredibly important that commercial sales managers unite their novices and old pros, and together develop relevant skills that can keep your dealership productive and competitive. That’s why today we’re breaking down 7 Steps for Creating a More Productive Sales Team!!
*As a quick note, you’ll likely need to provide proper motivation for some sales members, including some of the old pros who are set in their ways. Many have likely developed solid accounts over their career that provide a comfortable commission, meaning they fill their days with paperwork and processing, and they may not have made an outside sales call to a new customer in years! Their track record of success is impressive, and you appreciate what they’ve contributed to your dealership, but they need to know that the increasingly competitive market will spare no dealership or sales consultant that cannot keep up. Encourage them to actively participate in the team’s ongoing learning process and to contribute their wisdom even as the team works on new approaches to sales. You need every member of your team to succeed!!
Here are our 7 simple steps to proactively preventing account attrition and growing new sales:
Step One: Leverage your greatest asset, your current loyal customers! How? Through a vendor referral system in which you ask current customers to refer you to their vendors. Using this program, we routinely see salespeople gain an average of 10-20 referrals per request (the longer the existing relationship, the better it works!). I have personally been on over 200 sales calls that asked for referrals and have never heard a client turn down the request! You can review the focal points of our vendor referral system HERE, and can look over our simple, proven word-track HERE. And, of course, if you need further information, you can always send me an email at [email protected].
Step Two: Develop both a sales plan (on a per-salesperson basis) and a marketing plan. Together, these plans — which should complement and support each other — form your dealership success plan. In our sales manager training we provide “One Sheet Planners” to all the sales managers who attend, in order to keep everyone on the same page. If you need help formulating a strategic sales plan, revisit our comprehensive breakdown of an ideal sales day HERE. Remember, without a plan, you’re just guessing, and that’s no way to earn sales.
Step Three: Create a way to communicate with your new customers and long-time customers on a monthly basis, at least. One of the most successful tools we have used is a “Commercial and Fleet” newsletter. This is a powerful tool that keeps you “top of mind” and most manufacturers will co-op the cost. We do this for dozens of dealers across the country with great results. You can email Will Brogan in my Commercial Truck Training office ([email protected]) for samples. You can also sign up for Commercial Truck Trader Newsletters HERE.
Step Four: Develop your social media accounts, especially 1) a Facebook business page, 2) a YouTube channel, 3) a department/business LinkedIn page, and 4) personal LinkedIn accounts for your sales consultants. Social media should be a key tool for both your old pros and new hires if they are going to be successful in the new technologically-connected age. Developing a social media presence can mean an extra 1-2 sales per month, per salesperson!
Step Five: TRACK! Look at the sports section of any daily paper and you will see statistics. Professional teams know that metrics can offer status reports and project areas of improvement. Commercial Truck Trader offers essential tracking services too. You can read a full breakdown of our new inventory and market analyses reporting tools and features HERE. In the meantime, here are a couple mathematical formulas that emphasize the complexity that you need to keep track of:
Contacts + Initiative = Referrals
Referrals + Appointments = Sales
If you can take the initiative to connect with existing contacts, you will gain valuable referrals (see Step One). If you schedule appointments with those referrals, you can achieve sales!! And here’s another formula for you: Sales = More Contacts! A new customer is now a contact from whom you can gain more referrals. This system of networking is constantly expanding, and you need to track your progress in order to know where your areas of improvement are, and to make sure no contact slips through the cracks!
One of my favorites sales managers, Andy Burns of McGrath Auto Group sends out a weekly tracking report to both management and sales. It shows, in detail, the sales calls made, the stage of each sale, and the final sales numbers. Simple but powerful! Sales are up over 200% since implementing effective tracking at McGrath, which isn’t really a surprise.
Step Six: REWARD! Napoleon Bonaparte, the French General knew what he was talking about when he said, “Men will die for pieces of ribbon.” Rewards, even simple ones, are powerful incentives. At your dealership, I recommend you not only reward sales consultants who reach or exceed their activity goals through their paychecks, but also announce their achievement for everyone to hear. Perhaps you should establish a monthly award certificate that is framed and that the salesperson can hang on their office wall! It doesn’t have to be much, but knowing that your boss and your peers respect you and appreciate your work can go a long way toward greater motivation and success.
Step Seven: REPEAT! One of the most difficult things to achieve in sales is “consistency.” You do something that works, but suddenly you get too busy to keep it up. Consistency is the mark of a champion, so be sure that with intentional planning your success may breed more success, and avoid complacency!
If you are a sales manager reading this article, I would advise that you share this article with your sales team and have a deep discussion on what you will do as a department to not only grow sales but maintain long term success. If you live by these seven steps, your team — even a disparate one with novices and old pros — can find that success no matter how competitive the industry becomes!!
About the Author
As the Founder and President of Commercial Truck Training, Ken has consulted, coached, and trained commercial dealers on individual, regional, and national business levels. Known as an industry leader, Ken has worked with companies like General Electric, General Motors, FCA, Ford, Commercial Truck Trader, and Equipment Trader.
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