Article

Is Your Sales Team Calling Audibles?

Convert your sales force into a playoff team by following the pattern set forth by perennial NFL contenders.

September 2018, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Phillip Hellstrom

Aaron Rodgers is the latest in a long line of Pro Bowl quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers, leading to a legacy of pass-happy offensive attacks. Photo by Mike Morbeck via Flickr
Aaron Rodgers is the latest in a long line of Pro Bowl quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers, leading to a legacy of pass-happy offensive attacks. Photo by Mike Morbeck via Flickr

There are thousands of dealers across the nation, but only a select few are operating at a high level. Some dealers are not equipped for volume, while others can flip inventory but can’t do it profitably. Only a small percentage of dealers consistently excel in both areas. Their sales managers and staff operate and execute like winners.

Since the NFL season is finally upon us, let us compare: Only 12 teams out of 32 will make the playoffs. Interestingly, a handful of teams tends to dominate the postseason picture. In the past 10 years, we have seen multiple playoff appearances by New England (eight times), Baltimore, Green Bay, and Seattle (six), Atlanta, Denver, and Pittsburgh (five), and New Orleans (four).

Why is this? Upon further review, each of these teams are similar in five very specific ways. Let’s explore how they can work together to help your dealership make a fourth-quarter push.

1. They Have an Identity.

Great NFL teams approach the game in a uniquely consistent way. Their identity is engrained in their schemes and play-calling. The Packers have always had a great quarterback, which allows them to operate a pass-heavy offense. Following Green Bay’s example, dealership sales consultants and managers must possess:

• Individual skills that match the demands of your process.

• The ability to work with others to execute with precision.

• An attitude that embodies the dealer’s identity, whether it’s low prices, a family atmosphere, or great service.

If your sales force does not complement your dealer’s identity, then the dealer has no defined offensive scheme, which hinders your play-calling.

2. They Have Effective Coaches.

The NFL has allocated coaches into certain areas of focus. Each team has a running backs coach, a receivers coach, a defensive backs coach, and so on. Each manager needs to coach their sales consultants on what they do well:

• If a manager is great at qualifying customers, they should train others on qualifying.

• If a manager is great at leases, they need to train on leasing.

• If a manager is great at handling phones, they need to train on phone ups and follow-up.

Basically, if your managers are not training on specific areas of focus, your sale consultants will remain one-dimensional.

3. They Play to Their Strengths.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt can run between the tackles or bounce outside to catch a pass. Teams lacking a dynamic playmaker at that position must turn to a running-back-by-committee approach. The same is true in the showroom: Versatility creates options. Count the number of your consultants who:

• Can excel in several positions — a “plug-and-play” type.

• Specialize in one specific role.

• Are better off riding the bench.

Ideally, your playmakers will outnumber your specialists and backups. If that’s not the case, be sure the team you put on the field can handle any situation.

4. They Know When to Call Audibles.

Sales managers and sales consultants will always need to improvise and make judgment calls during negotiations. New England quarterback Tom Brady calls out several audibles at the line of scrimmage for one specific reason: He is reading the defense, looking for gaps along the line or in coverage. Sales and desking managers know that:

• No two deals are the same.

• It pays to stay alert and engaged.

• Controlling the process closes deals.

Good offenses take the yards they’re given. Great offenses chip away at their opponent’s defense and capitalize on their mistakes.

5. They Start With Good Scouting.

Talent is hard to come by. Some NFL teams build through the draft and others tend to rely on the free agent market. Both rely on good scouting. Here are two factors to consider the next time you have room on your depth chart:

• Look in-house first, because it’s easier to find a porter than a consultant, and it’s easier to find a consultant than a sales manager.

• Sit down and review the résumés, because automatically filtering candidates based on predetermined criteria is no way to find talent.

Dealership managers and HR directors need to explore new and creative avenues in finding and onboarding sales staff, including candidates who have never worked in a dealership.

The small percentage of dealers operating at a high level understand these areas of focus. They might not have mastered them all, but they are constantly working toward mastery, and that is what separates them from the rest. Follow their example to coach your team into a perennial contender.

Phillip Hellstrom is founder of Phelcan Group LLC and a 17-year automotive retail professional with expertise in sales training and customer relations. Email him at phillip.hellstrom@bobit.com.

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