The Top Two Things Every Sales Manager Should Do: Getting the Most From Your Sales Manager

March 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Michael Rees - Also by this author

Do your sales managers do what you hired them to do? Do they know what you hired them to do? Do they know how to do what you hired them to do? Do they have the time to do what you hired them to do?

To answer these questions, you must first have an idea of what a sales manager should be doing. If you are like the majority of car dealers, most of your dealership’s income comes from the sales department. You have a sales manager who was hired to run that department. As this department is the highest revenue generating department in your dealership, it stands to reason that this position is of the utmost importance. Let’s look at the role of a sales manager.

Their role consist of two things: a sales manager should either be working with a salesperson to help him close a deal or talking with a customer to try to close a deal.

Right now you are probably thinking how crazy I am. If you were to ask your sales manager to write down all his job duties, I imagine the two duties just described will not be atop the list. Nevertheless, your sales manager has the opportunity to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your bottom line if you not only allow, but make sure he/she does just those two things. 

Many sales managers spend countless hours doing dealer trades. Why? I know that dealer trades are necessary, but are they a function only a sales manager can do? Have an employee who is paid hourly do the research, call the other dealers and work out a trade. Let the sales manager approve the trade then the hourly employee can take care of all the paperwork. How much extra time would this give your sales manager to take care of your sales team and customers?

Your sales manager should welcome the opportunity to speak with every customer that visits your dealership. Instead, I have seen them decline because they were too busy with dealer trades or organizing balloons and helium for the weekend. Talking with customers should be your sales manager’s No. 1 priority.

Just imagine if your sales manager was introduced to each customer right after the interview stage. They would start up a relationship with your customer that would be conducive to them buying from your dealership. Your salespeople will have the sales manager’s assistance from the start, so they can be held accountable for that customer. Your sales manager just needs to be introduced by the salesperson, and then they can say something like this: “Mr. & Mrs. Customer, Jason (the salesperson) is going to bring a vehicle up for you to look at and drive. We both think it will be perfect for you. I’m glad to see you are working with Jason. We are proud to have him as a valuable member of our team, and I know he will take good care of you. When you return from your test drive, Jason will show you our award-winning service department. Then, I would like for you to come and get me, so you can let me know what you think of everything you see here today.”

How do you think your customer will react? This will no doubt make then feel a lot more important than the other dealership they just visited down the street.

How do you think your salespeople will react? Now they are looking up to the sales manager as someone who is genuinely trying to help them do their job.

Your sales manager should be doing this on a full-time basis. One mistake I have seen is a salesperson introducing his customer to the sales manager more like this: “John, this is Mr. and Mrs. Customer, they aren’t ready to buy anything right now, they are just in the looking stages, but I wanted you to say hello to them before they leave.” What can a manager do with that kind of turnover? Not much!

To get the most out of your sales manager, you must allow him/her to spend time with salespeople and customers. They must be allowed to coach, mentor and train your sales team. This should be accomplished by allowing them to role play while working on the floor and demonstrating how things should be done.

I recently had the experience of replacing my wife’s vehicle. It was the dealership management team that helped me in making my final decision on what to buy and where to buy it from.

It was no easy task for any of the salespeople I worked with in the process, especially after they found out who I was and what I do for a living. One dealership stood above the rest though, Ferman Mazda of Brandon, Fla. The reason was due to the management team and their involvement. Our salesperson, Star, did a great feature/benefit presentation and demo with my wife. When I arrived and she learned about my background, she introduced me to one of her managers. A few minutes later, another manager introduced himself to us. They treated us with utmost professionalism and care. We felt as important as every customer should be made to feel. They knew this was not going to be the most profitable deal for them, but they did not act that way.

Once a deal was struck, I was introduced to the business manager, Paula, who had a menu already printed on her desk. It was the only thing on her desk, so I invited her to give me a full presentation. It was as if she had been through our training, as she did everything by the book. It is no wonder she is so successful!

If it hadn’t been for the managers, I seriously doubt that we would have bought from this dealership. Make sure your managers have the same effect on every customer that visits your dealership. They can, and will, make a difference.

Vol 5, Issue 2


  1. 1. tony george [ January 14, 2014 @ 10:06AM ]

    I have been a sales person since 1989. I have worked at several dealerships. I have worked for quite a few sales managers. I believe that some dealers are entirely ignorant of the scenario you have laid out. I worked as a fill in desk manager for a while at a Nissan Dealership here in Akron, just on monday and thursday evenings. I introduced myself to customers all the time, (this was actually the managers idea, he did the same thing) this article is right on the money. To many sales managers I have worked for are either so busy, or uninterested in their roles and they cost the dealer money. Why these types of people are hired, I still haven't figured out.
    I know many dealers look for a degree of some kind before considering hiring a manager.....bad idea. This business has to be learned from the ground up. Customers are full of variables that a business management degree doesn't even come close to addressing. I know because I was 2 credits short of a bachelors degree in business management myself.
    Sales managers make or break a dealership, I am convinced.

  2. 2. Jay Saulsberry [ August 22, 2014 @ 02:10AM ]

    Great common sense moment! Sometimes we forget the basics.

  3. 3. John Serafin [ October 08, 2014 @ 06:32PM ]

    I love this article. It really is so true. Let's not forget the most important word in the term "sales manager"...SALES!

  4. 4. B Venkat Krishna [ November 08, 2014 @ 03:25AM ]

    The best things of a Sales Manager to do for the business growth.

  5. 5. Jesse [ June 29, 2015 @ 08:10PM ]

    I am thinking about going to college, but I for some reason want to get a job at a dealership and try to sell some cars.... any advise?

  6. 6. Vito Goldfarb [ July 15, 2015 @ 09:15AM ]

    Great article!! You hit the nail on the head It truly blows my mind how many people are given the title sales manager and have no clue how to motivate and train their sales team and no desire to roll up their sleeves and make it a personal policy to be involved with every customer that walk in. Every sales manager needs to be thoroughly trained to understand what leadership is and trained how to create implement and enforce a sales process built around
    1. Accountability
    2. Communication
    3. Comprehension
    4. Consistency
    with daily sales training on role play, steps to the sale, overcoming objections and closing techniques. the GM or owner that does not support any and all efforts to close more deals really cant succeed today

  7. 7. Slim Meliani [ November 01, 2015 @ 09:28AM ]

    I worked as a service advisor for many years. I learned so much from customer feedback. I believe that any dealership can succeed into growth with exceptional customer satisfactory lever is by introducing the roll of the service department as a point of an advantage to the customer. Customers must feel that the dealership is there to help them with their automotive needs at a timely manner. Failure to acknowledge this fact may turn a customer to another dealership or another car brand.

  8. 8. Mahesh Salvi [ December 02, 2015 @ 12:42AM ]

    Excellent article. Nice to get a different Perspective on things.

  9. 9. Ken Reilly [ January 05, 2016 @ 09:41AM ]

    We're in the people business, "Car Industry" but with out Good Folks to buy our vehicles, we would have no business at all. Indeed the most important part of any sales, is the customer, and from the Lot porter to the Sales rep/Closer to the Sales manager and General Manager and Owner - we all work together as a team and should all be on the same page when it comes to the Proper focus on the Customer and making them feel, wanted and important! Great (2) points made above!!

  10. 10. Rodrigo B Leynes Jr [ February 28, 2016 @ 06:29PM ]

    I definitely agree that manager should work hand in hand with his sales team instead of asking for a sale help him or her how to sell. Manager is like a basketball coach you have to prepare your sales team by constantly training and have a good marketing plan to achieve your quota. for the Top Management GM and Principals should gave value in the your sales people they are the people in the fields how suffer thousand of rejections and prostrations.

  11. 11. Terry McCoy [ March 02, 2016 @ 10:54AM ]

    I agree totally the sales manager has to get involved in the process early reason being how do you train when you don't identify with the mistakes we all make the little mistakes are critical the are the ones that put you out of control of the sale and into the hands of the buyer.the sales person has to maintain a level of confidence no your inventory every day every day with that in mind you want be wearing the customer out on the lot they need to be leading the customer rather than following behind if there not on the car or truck that fits needs and budget the is what you will get let us go home talk about it the manager has to train on process if not everyone stays aggravated sales manager burns out and king kong can't close the deal, sales manager never try to close a deal with salesperson in the office you wouldn't be in there if he had got the true objection from customer. the sales staff has to have fun sale the product trust the sales management if you don't have a positive sales environment the turn rate on the used inventory will be horrible when you have to buy the deals.inventory has to be dead ready to sale.

  12. 12. Brian [ April 27, 2016 @ 05:18PM ]

    I agree

  13. 13. Kamal Bhatnagar [ June 23, 2016 @ 03:10AM ]

    I have been a sales person since 1990. Almost i have completed 26 years i this Automobiles Industry. I started my carrier as a sales executive and now i am working as a Head retail sales and corporate sales. It dose not matter what is the position in the company but it matters a lot that how the revenue is generated in the company for the future growth. Instead of running after sales, the best part is to run to solve the issues and problems of the customers which will help to generate the new customers and revenue. The best thing which we can learn in sales is the best tool which can be used at the time of dealing. Start imagining the feeling of the customer in you. Be indulge in his behavior, his nature and his communication. Let him feel that he is right and that right feeling will give you the solution to solve the problem. Solving problems in sales is the best tool to generate the revenue and to retain the customer. Retaining means more customers in the showroom more revenue generated. This is what any car dealership wants.If you have a solution of each problem than you are the winner and asset but not liability for any company.

  14. 14. Chad wilson [ July 13, 2016 @ 11:39PM ]

    This is great info that everyone already knows. The question is.... Are you going to talk about it or are you going to do something about it?

  15. 15. Reid Richards [ November 30, 2016 @ 05:31AM ]

    "Your sales manager should be doing this on a full-time basis. One mistake I have seen is a salesperson introducing his customer to the sales manager more like this: “John, this is Mr. and Mrs. Customer, they aren’t ready to buy anything right now, they are just in the looking stages, but I wanted you to say hello to them before they leave.” What can a manager do with that kind of turnover?

    NOT MUCH!" WHAT that is the sales manager job to have trained the salesperson correctly not for that to happen and when it does be prepared to handle it and save the deal. Get another person involved its called a TO.

    That manager needs be trained how to get up, get out there, and go ask for the business! I had a customer "come back" (I know I was "desking" and got sold the first time they were there by the sales person, "they are just looking." I believed them and let them leave. Now the second time (thank god for follow up) they came back, well same story, but this time I wasn't going to be the one sold...I sent my sales manager in with full sticker and guess what? Yep, came back with a down payment check and a signed contract for full sticker.

    So many times I come back from lunch (yes I take a lunch) to find a sales person selling the desk manager why this customer isn't buying....."Hand me the paper work," ... "people don't go to the grocery store to look at milk they go there to buy it."

    Me -"Good afternoon I am Reid Richards one of the sales managers....I just got back from lunch and over heard the salesperson and manager in there say your not interested in buying a car right now is that true? No we never said that. He never asked. So let me ask you if we can come to agreeable figures on this vehicle right now right here I can earn your business?

    Customer, "Yes"

  16. 16. Jason [ March 15, 2017 @ 03:03PM ]

    * dealer trades
    * wholesaling inventory
    * buying inventory
    * advertising
    * training
    * reconditioning inventory
    * interviewing potential employees
    * scheduling
    * management meetings
    * aged inventory management
    etc, etc, etc.

    Good luck finding more gross profit to afford to pay more hourly people to do all the things a sales manager does.

    What you're describing is a good floor or team manager or closer. Sales managers do a whole lot more than simply sell cars or help sell cars.

  17. 17. mintly [ March 17, 2017 @ 02:40AM ]

    3 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Your Sales Team.To visit many details

  18. 18. ben [ November 27, 2017 @ 03:18PM ]

    stay away from dealer ship they put old dogs to sleep ie sales people get fired alot


Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  



Jim Ziegler
Stupid Is as Stupid Does

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg charts the brief rise and long fall of Johan de Nysschen, the recently departed president of Cadillac and author of the business plan that effectively crowned Lincoln as the new king of American luxury.

They Finally Killed Somebody

By Jim Ziegler
Ziegler believes Uber’s directors should face criminal charges for their role in an Arizona woman’s violent death.

20 Things a GM Must Do Every Week

By Jim Ziegler

All Things Must Pass

By Jim Ziegler

Opening Observations

They Took Cadillac for a Ride

By Tariq Kamal
Hindsight is 20/20, but at least one industry member saw GM’s latest mishap coming a mile away.

Stand Up and Be Counted

By Tariq Kamal
The Dealers’ Choice Awards are the Yelp of vendors and finance sources.

Over the Curb

This Is Us: Dealer Edition

By Jason Heard
Heard knows delegation and outsourcing are the quickest path to a work-life balance.