Monday, March 10, 2014

Holding Your Salespeople Accountable

When I sold cars I remember multiple times when the sales manager would tell the salespeople to make their daily follow-up calls and some salespeople would simply respond that they had completed their calls, even when they hadn't. It became a constant battle. Apart from not making the calls, these particular salespeople were notorious at finding ways to cut corners and cheat the system. I know not all salespeople are like the ones I worked with but how do we encourage our salespeople to be accountable for their daily, weekly and monthly activities? 

In today’s dealership, 80% of the leads received come through the phone and/or internet. That means that 80% of your business is dependent on your salesperson’s ability to schedule appointments that drive people into the showroom. CRM utilization becomes critical when managing these processes that are attached to your leads. A CRM tool should allow salespeople to achieve new levels of production with unsold AND repeat customers, thereby increasing their personal incomes. CRM enables salespeople to work more efficiently, be better organized, and better manage time and relationships. The benefit to the dealership is that managers have access to reports that enables them to monitor all activities and can help coach and motivate each salesperson.

The reason accountability was low at the dealership where I worked was because the managers weren’t doing their job of monitoring what was going on every day at the dealership. What they thought was being done in the dealership often wasn’t and they had no concrete way to show that it was or was not happening.

In order to help improve accountability I suggest utilizing these reports to track the number of new opportunities that your salespeople are entering into the CRM. Nothing is worse than seeing someone take multiple ups and not having any of the customers entered into the CRM. A rule many dealers have is “if it isn’t in the CRM, it didn’t happen”. If everything is not getting put into your CRM, it throws off your marketing and ROI reports.

The second key metric is phone calls. It is important that your CRM is integrated with your phone system in order to track outbound phone calls. Having your salespeople mark all of their calls completed is one thing, but it’s better if there is proof that they actually made the call and how long they were on the call. Looking at the data that I have compiled, the top salespeople are constantly those who take the time and make the most calls. If your state allows it, I suggest recording your calls. This is great for managing quality and training. Make sure you are also monitoring inbound calls. It is easy to think since the customer is calling you that it might not need to be monitored like the outbound calls, but most customers are calling multiple dealerships and this is often the first contact the customer has with your dealership. If your salespeople don’t handle inbound and outbound calls correctly it will ultimately affect your conversion rate. E-mail and weblead tracking is also important. You need to know how many e-mails the salespeople are receiving and sending out, as well as how long it is taking them to respond to their webleads. Salespeople love people that come in and buy, but what about those that don’t buy or those that they talk to but are hard to get in touch with afterward? Are they reaching out to them? Make sure you are looking at reports that reflect this data. 

Pipeline Management is a key for success. When salespeople get busy, the first thing thrown off their plate is prospecting. When sales people stop prospecting, the pipeline eventually runs dry. Make sure when you are tracking calls that you know what types of calls the salespeople are making and that there is always a focus on prospecting. Salespeople also have a tendency to move people to Lost. Often, this is a way to get the CRM follow-up to stop or to hide those customers they did badly with. Do you have a review process in place for a manager to look at each lost deal and try to “save a deal”?

Some CRM tools have a daily activity report or check out report that shows everything the salesperson has done for the day (ups, appointments, calls, talk time, e-mails). One dealership with which I was working had a problem with accountability, so they instituted a new process: before a salesperson left for the day they would print out a report and give it to their manager to check out. The report told the manager everything they had done as well as all of their calls (Daily To Dos) that they didn’t complete. Quickly, managers were able to see what had been done and what had not been done. Often, the manager would send the salesperson back to make more calls before they left. Salespeople began to feel ashamed when they handed a manager their sheet that said they didn’t do anything which motivated them to make more calls. The dealership drastically improved their follow up process and began to see an immediate increase in their sales. 

Having a plan and setting goals is also an essential part of improving accountability. It is crucial for salespeople to establish a set of daily, weekly and monthly benchmarks that help them measure and manage their ultimate goal. If the goal of each salesperson is to sell X amount of cars, don’t focus on the end goal, but actually the activities that will help them reach that goal. It also helps if the salespeople are included in setting the goals. If you do this, they should have a personal stake in the outcome. Without inclusion, salespeople will figure out the best excuses in the world why they can’t achieve. 

If you have a salesperson who isn’t taking responsibility then you may need to mentor them individually. Focus on their behavior and the problems it is causing and not on the person. They need to be held accountable for their actions which can include low prospecting activity, not meeting sales targets, or low margin sales. As accountability grows, your salespeople will form a good habit of doing the things they must do on a regular basis and will help them on their way to becoming a top producing salesperson. 

About Hunter Swift
Hunter Swift is the Director of Sales Development at DealerSocket and has been with the company since 2005. In addition to his current role, he has fulfilled the responsibilities of customer support, consulting, training, and sales. Hunter specializes in helping dealerships improve sales and follow-up processes through the use of CRM technology. He is known for his ability to connect with people and demonstrate his knowledge to help others solve their problems. Hunter honed his dealership skills as a salesperson prior to joining DealerSocket. He has earned a Business Degree from Pepperdine University. Hunter can be reached at and on social media at @HunterSwift.

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