Work Smarter, Not Harder

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Craig Colender - Also by this author

Many of us in sales will use the beginning of the year as a springboard. We will resolve to not accept the same mediocre results of the past. We will set stretch goals that will bring us the rewards that we truly deserve and desire. We may even chart the course, putting in place a step by step plan of attack. This will be the year!

I have approached just about every new year that I can remember with similar energy. When I was working in dealerships, I would write out each salesperson’s previous yearly results, set aggressive goals for the coming year and then apply the math necessary to get the job done: how many phone ups per day, floor ups per day, be-backs etc. I would review the game plan with each salesperson, enthusiastically emphasizing the financial reward at the end of the effort. Occasionally, it worked. More often, it burned out some time in early February. Even to a pumped-up sales team with the mathematical game plan in hand, the message was basically the same: work harder, work longer and talk to more people.

Soon after being introduced to ProResponse and their structured customer relationship management strategy, new and achievable stretch goal opportunities began to emerge. Instead of pushing my salespeople to talk to more and more prospects, we targeted the most predictable prospects and focused our attention on them. It wasn’t long before we had the improved sales volume, higher grosses and better CSI scores we had been looking for. We had simply replaced rah rah goal setting with fundamental processes that helped us better capitalize on every opportunity.

Try this as a test. Ask your salespeople what that goals are for. Most will project a 20 to 30 percent increase over results. Now, ask them how they plan on achieving their goal. If the answer involves coming in earlier, staying later and working on off days, the plan is sure to fail. Work with them on finding 2 or 3 prospects that will come into the dealership asking for the salesperson by name. Everyday. Whether these prospects are be backs, previous customers, friends or fellow church members won’t really matter. The fact that your salespeople have prospects visiting your dealership for reasons other than your advertising, will ensure better results.

Dealerships that have embraced this philosophy, support their sales team with CRM solutions that provide the tools necessary to automate much of the customer contact process. Customer and prospect information is compiled, constantly updated and enhanced. Daily prospect follow up, long term customer follow up and targeted marketing campaigns are easily and consistently accomplished. Instead of price oriented newspaper advertising, CRM savvy dealerships market directly to their prospects and customers with every dollar spent tracked and quantified.

An effective customer relationship management process marries new age technology with old school values. Salespeople that do the best job building and marketing to their customer bases, win. They always did. So if you ask your salespeople how they plan on reaching their goals and they say, “work harder,” show them how to work smarter. 

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