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When do you AXE your TOP Sales Pro?

Discussion in 'Automotive News, Press Releases, and Events' started by Jeff Kershner, Jan 12, 2016.

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  1. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    Joe Webb just published an article over on the blog titled "Can you Kill a Sacred Cow? The Best of the Best." You really need to read it.

    Most dealers have a "sacred cow". You know... that sales pro that's responsible for 25+ sales each and every month.

    Typically they've been at the same dealer for years. They've stuck around and worked hard to be where they are. They have seen so many come and go, including management and new processes over and over. They gain a sense of entitlement. Rightfully so. Especially in this business. BUT... they don't log UPS. They for sure don't the use the CRM. Utilize an ipad on the showroom floor? NOT happening! The only way they answer a lead is by phone, and if no one answers, the lead find it's way to the trash can. They tend to be the rebel, somehow sacred.

    But with 30 cars out the door a month... who's going to say anything? They BRING the PAYCHECKS!! However, too often They ALSO bring about a level of contamination that carries down through the ranks... "If they can get away with it, why can't I?". You know exactly what I'm talking about!

    The question that Joe may be asking is.. are these Sacred Cows worth having around?

    What tools (that could really take your dealership to the next level) are IGNORED due to this contamination on the showroom floor?

    If they ARE worth having around, what tactics have you used to change their thinking?

    How did your dealer overcome it? If at all? Did they wise up and get rid of this sacred cow(s) for the better of all or they (still) waiting for them to retire?

    WTH... WHY???
     
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  3. Sunny

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    This is such an interesting topic, because clearly it is an issue that everyone is aware of but no one has properly addressed. I've seen this happen at every dealership I've worked at, and unfortunately ownership/management will overlook it.
     
  4. derrickwoolfson

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    To answer the question, NO - they (the sacred cows) are not worth it. Sure, I will be the first one to say that in a meeting I will *surrender* saying - yep, let's keep the 30+ guy. Letting 1-2 good *new* sales consultants leave. At least, I say that in a sarcastic tone. BUT, that does not mean that I do not continue to argue against their clouded judgement.

    That is that the *sacred cow's* have more power than the GM's (maybe even the owner). Being that they largely dictate and influence turnover, sales processes, and their own work schedules. You see, management becomes weak in the knees when they have a guy selling 30+ cars. It's like that dream diet pill that sheds off the water weight.

    Sadly, the results are not permanent. I know. It sucks.

    The dealer I work for has had two sacred cows which affected the sales force. During the course of the first sacred cows run we lost 5 good sales people (I define good as selling 12-16 a month). Sadly, not long after they quit the sacred cow moved on to a greener pasture. We were left with disgruntled cattle which was utterly chaotic. (sorry had too).

    The cattle calmed down. BUT, just a few months later the new diet pill arrived. This new and improved diet pill completely revamped the sales processes (AGAIN!!), and who knows how long this one will last.

    All that to say, YES - there will always be a small percentage of people that have drive and will work harder. That does not mean, however that dealer GM's should not stand their grounds. And develop the staff adopting the newer technology. BUT, again, that requires work. I mean, seriously, it is much easier to just try a new diet pill each cycle!

    Here is one solution to this problem that I have integrated this past month:

    1. Look at your sales force. Map out where s/he stands in so far as experience & performance. Understanding that each sales rep have different strengths/weaknesses. At that point, after mapping out where s/he stands you can phase in and integrate more efficient ways of handling things. Such as lead volume, response quality, etc.

    One of the newest items we have since added (and the sacred cow uses) is texting - One day I went to the cow and said "hey - you already took the time to book the appointments, right? To which he said "Yes."

    I could tell he was getting frustrated saying "Can you get to the point."

    So, I told him if he sat down for just 5 more minutes a day and texting his customers reminding them of their appointments (using the template) it would increase his show rate, which means that he would sell at least 5-6 more sales a month.

    He agreed, and well his show rate was at 72% - bottom line, you just have to talk reason with them in a way that translates. At the end of the day they are human. I am not saying it will work every time. It does not hurt to give it a shot, though.
     
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  5. Tallcool1

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    This is an interesting topic @Sunny@Sunny.


    We have all had the pleasure of dealing with this type of employee. The post talked a great deal about the iPad story, but we all know this goes much deeper than embracing a little bit of technology. These people kill morale if they are put in situations in which they can be vocal. They absolutely destroy change. They are unmanageable.

    So what are we supposed to do with these employees? Embrace them. Be thankful that we have them. Do our very best to compliment their skill set to help them sell 35 cars a month rather than 30. Befriend them on a personal level. Get in their corner, and tell them that you are willing to do whatever you can do to help them break last year's record year. These type of employees can be slightly and gradually changed. They just can't be re-shaped. Why would we want to change them? They sell 3 times what our average salesperson sells. They not only generate tremendous gross profit, they cut expense as well!

    We sell vehicles to a very diverse group of people. Some of our customers are all about the internet. Some of our customers prefer to pick up the phone and call into the store. Some of our customers prefer the way that vehicles were sold 20 years ago. Not every customer fits into the mold that we perceive to be our demographic. Why should all of our salespeople have to fit that mold?

    There was a day when these salespeople and their methods were mainstream. They were successful then, and they developed tremendous skills. They embraced the technology of their time. They worked and trained to become very good at what they do. They bought into the Tom Stuker telephone system, and worked it to death. They didn't change or evolve. They didn't have to and we didn't need or want them to. We prayed that they wouldn't! What can we learn from these people? If our shiny new system is so good, why hasn't it produced a whole bunch of guys just like Mr. 30 cars a month?

    I spent a significant number of years in F & I. These type of people drove me nuts. They couldn't fill out a worksheet to save their life. They didn't believe in F & I. They wouldn't turn their customers over before they sent them to their own bank. It was just total chaos. However, I quickly figured out that these people were selling the majority of the cars. I had to figure out how to get them in my corner. So, what I did was sat these 2 guys down in my office with a pizza and drinks. I explained to them that I appreciated their skills and the fact that they had a system that worked well for them. I explained that I had no desire to change anything that would jeopardize their success. I asked each of them to be sure that I got a good turn on every single deal that they either couldn't get outside financing for, or that they believed were not able to borrow money anywhere. Just work with me on the ones that you already know can't buy a car. Of course you know what happened next. I got deals done for them. Deals that they thought could never be deals. Then we started doing meeting every single day. I started helping them with call backs. I started mining our data base and helping them identify customers that could be ready to trade. Soon I was getting the first shot at every deal.

    Why do we have to do all of this stuff if Mr. 30 cars a month doesn't? Because he is Mr. 30 cars a month. Doing all of this stuff is how he became Mr. 30 cars a month. When you get to 30 cars a month, you can stop doing all of this stuff. I will help you get there.

    Make damn sure that the things that we ask our salespeople to do are in the best interest of the bottom line. It is hard to work your way into this industry. Be sure that we are helping our people succeed, and not just weighing them down with a bunch of stupid tasks that ultimately just look really good in a Management meeting.

    These employees are a pain in the ass. I wish I had more of them.
     
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  6. kevinfrye

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    First - well written piece that expresses the frustration that so many of us have. And why do we have that frustration? We are trying to guide our dealerships through the greatest change this industry has ever seen, and will likely see, and wherever you find great change, you will find great resistance. From my perspective, there is no simple answer, but there is an established solution. Strong leadership guides people through great change.

    We have built a culture that embraces the willingness to change, and we nurture that culture on a regular basis. Our leadership starts from the very top and is clearly communicated to everyone, including the 30+ car folks. Does that mean you "shove change down their throat"? That is certainly not an effective approach. Great leaders are also great teachers that take the time to explain why we are making changes, and more important, we share how it will directly help our folks sell 30+ cars a month. In this example, is there any better motivation to change than seeing some 15+ car folks jumping to 20+ by using the iPads or other relevant change?

    Bottom line - it will never be easy. Hence the great challenge. And I love to see folks like Joe Webb and so many of my peers that rise up to this challenge every day, and never stop working to make our industry better.
     
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  7. Doug Blankenship

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    The real question is, how much business am I missing by catering to this sales person?

    Is he/she creating a defeatist attitude amongst the rest of the sales staff, because they feel they could never be "salesperson of the month?" Is he/she claiming some repeat customers after the sale is made, further hurting attitudes? Does he/she use their sales volume as a threat in order to not adhere to dealer processes? If they don't have to follow current processes, why should anyone else?

    If this person wasn't there, could we still sell the same volume or more?

    If the answer to these questions is "yes," then we will need to create a strategy to maintain the current flow of business without that person.

    The dealer needs to have the courage to manage the salesperson and not the other way around. Only then can you answer the question, "Could we do without him/her?"
     
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  8. derrickwoolfson

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    Agreed. The problem, though, is that there is an irrational fear of losing the sacred cow. There are managers/owners that rule out of fear. So they will do anything to keep that cow. There are some other posts in this thread that convey what you, too, are saying. Let's develop a strategy to that allows management to influence their staff developing a team.

    That leaves the question who is responsible for training? And how the dealer is going to implement the strategy? We used DSU lead management training as well as their scoring sheets. We have been using their scoring sheets too, which has increased sales.
     
  9. shaun kNIFFin

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    You can't force change on those who are already successfully doing what they do. If Mr. 30 Cars doesn't want to use an iPad that doesn't mean that you need to force them to use it. It's appropriate to initiate new associates to the technology and create a transitional change within the dealership but nobody is going to move Mr. 30 Cars to Mr. 40 Cars by using an iPad. It's all about the relationships they have formed and the experience they provide. People have always bought vehicles from people ... not from iPads. Now, if Mr. 30 Cars doesn't have a Facebook account let's help them master the connectivity of social media of all of his customers that are most likely using Facebook and see how effective that would be in garnishing more relationships and sales and sharing great customer experiences. Someone could make fortune writing and teaching a "Facebook For Dummies" book and showing Mr. 30 Cars how to expand his network exponentially.
     
  10. Sunny

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    Obviously this is about more than just an iPad lol.

    Normally I would agree with the consensus here--if someone is selling 30 cars a month, why fix something that isn't broken? Certainly they're doing something right. But here's my thing. Mr. 30 doesn't 100% self-generate his own leads. In this day and age, it's rare to find someone who can sell 30 cars from floor ups alone. I think if anyone is going to use the store's resources (i.e. BDC appointments, equity software, etc.) that they should at least follow the basic process put in place for those programs.

    Major props to Mr. 30, because no matter how easy he makes it look, it's tough selling cars. But personally if I was a dealer, I'd rather have a staff of 10 salespeople who can average 15 cars a month each by applying the techniques they were trained on, than a staff of 1 rock star who can sell 30 cars and 9 salespeople who struggle to hit their 10-car quota.

    If your top sales pro is the reason you're pushing out 120 units a month and not 150 units a month, you should probably reevaluate your priorities.
     
  11. Tallcool1

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    In theory, you are right.

    In reality, stores that have a sales force that average 15 units a month are few and far between. Most will average 10.

    And the 30 car salesperson that is being referred to in the article will typically not only generate 100% of these sales himself...he will also refuse any assistance from the BDC and may even throw a fit if anyone messes with his customers.

    You make good points, but I am not certain if you are talking about the same person the article is talking about.
     

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