Best Practices

Middle Management is Killing your Sales


This doesn’t hold true for all, but it will hit the nail on the head for many.

Your middle management is killing your Internet sales.

Not like “Wow! You guys are killing it!”. No. They are hurting your online sales efforts.

How? What they don’t know, WILL hurt them. DealerKnows fields many calls from dealers, but even more from their Internet personnel. What we continue to hear is the pushback your Internet Sales Managers and BDC teams are receiving from the sales managers in your stores when trying to fulfill their job duties.

I previously detailed one of the primary ways in my blog titled “The 4 Words That Make Sales Managers Sound Stupid”. Those four words? “Just get ‘em in.”

Without preparing your BDC agents and ISMs with any information, they are expected to coerce a researched, interested party into the store with no value to give them. Needless to say, the “hallelujahs”, “thank you’s” and “TESTIFY’s” we got through email was great. That is just one way your managers are hindering your online sales. Many have no willingness to (or understanding why) give out information to the customers before coming in.

This tactic is killing you.

Another way? If the sales management insists on handing over a new Internet price for every…single… lead… rather than a researched, validated price structure for all models that the ISM can be trusted to speedily calculate and hand over, then they are hurting your online efforts. Timing is key. If your Internet team has to go for them every…single….time they have a new lead and want to give out a price, you are slowing down the response time and likely giving the manager the ability to choose the Internet pricing they give that day, on that car, off the top of their head. This is killing your response time.

Want to hear more?

Micro-managing. Who do your sales managers think they are to brow-beat an ISM over their closing ratio, their pricing, or worse off, their customers when they are letting the salespeople run wild on the showroom floor?

If your sales managers are constantly asking your ISMs “What is going on with this lead?” or “Whatever happened to the folks interested in the…?”, but are not enforcing ANY of the sales folks to call back ANY of their customers that have been in, then they are hypocrites and they are killing your Internet team’s motivation.

What are some other ways your sales managers are destroying an online foundation in your store?

  • Demanding to handle inbound calls/leads/etc for your store, rather than your BDC team, so they can remain in control, yet are unwilling to call to confirm appointments.
  • Not demanding the sales team to make appointments as well.
  • Not reinforcing the use of the CRM on the showroom.
  • Not requiring the sales team to source customers properly.
  • Not forcing the sales team to obtain a customer’s email address.
  • Taking their sweet, old time to get pricing, availability, truthful spec info and more to their Internet team so they can then pass it on to the interested party.
  • Not getting pricing up on the newest pre-owned cars that hit your lot.
  • Not supporting new digital initiatives in the store that might help them win ZMOT, while at the same time, not listening to how their sales team handle calls.
  • Allowing the salespeople to handle calls.
  • Not training the salespeople to handle calls.

The list goes on
And on
And on…

I know I am preaching to the choir here because there are more ISMs and Internet Directors reading this than there are dealer managers and owners likely. (Sad that the group most thirsty for information and willing to learn and progress are often the ones with the least amount of power to do so. As is in life. Still shameful.) However, if you are a dealer owner or GM, I strongly urge you to open up the blinds, let the light in, and ask your Internet team what they NEED and WANT from the middle management at your store to improve their job performance and the numbers.

Too many great people in eBusiness positions are scared of speaking up for fear of causing waves in the water, but if prompted and protected, they will give you the keys to untold sales. Look at the hierarchy of the people in your store and make sure the sales managers are not stifling the productivity of your Internet team. Or keep the blinds closed and watch as they kill your Internet sales one by one.

What is middle management doing at your dealership to kill sales?

Automotive trainer and consultant. I'm also a writer, speaker, movie buff, and Dad. --President of DealerKnows--
  • C
  • November 15, 2011
Good article Joe!
Amen Brotha...
  • D
    Darrin Smith
  • November 15, 2011
sad but true. great article Joe
  • M
    Mccoy Ric
  • November 15, 2011
Straight forward & right between the eyes... As always. Thx Joe.
What's the phenomenon that's happening which causes these people to reach middle management in the first place?

Great article Joe.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • November 15, 2011
Now thats a great question. Answer: because they "survived" the sales floor.
E they "survive" middle management? Or simply move on to another store?

If so - there's the opportunity for trainers.
  • J
    Joe Pistell
  • November 16, 2011
WTG Joe! Great info,  I am passing this to my Dealer! 

IMO, we got the cart before the horse.  From my seat, we're spending $$$$ to train the reps to make more sales, but many managers are NOT leveraging the training, they're stuck in a rut, stuck in their comfortable place (they don't like change).  

Cash spent on Manager Training will have 1000x more ROI than sales rep training.  AND! when it comes time to train reps on new sales techniques, the newly trained managers should be far more effective at helping their players work the new techniques!

Joe, your article has been very helpful to me.  This has been bothering me for months and it looks like you've got the key I'm looking for!  I wrote a Forum post on this

The Black Hole in Sales Training
Question.Who's training the managers to be leaders?

Thnx again!

  • D
  • November 16, 2011
If you worked for one of these specimens and happen to get someone in a whole new world of pain would open up to you too. Your deal is not a priority, the middle manager pays no attention to your attempts to explain all that's been discussed with the customer prior. He doesn't nod with agreement, he doesn't tell you good job, he doesn't even look at you when he tells you to go present a pencil which reflects none of it and then, as if it is a code word to dismiss you, he yells, "next!"
Another middle manager tells you to tuck in your shirt on your way out.
And 20 minutes later you hear, "why did you let them leave? Go get em' back"
The phenomenon is the Peter Principle, which states that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. 
  • M
    Mike DeCecco
  • November 17, 2011
Great Post Joe... You're completely spot on.  I remember way back in the day when my Sales Manager at my first internet job would say "Don't show me an e-mail, show me a customer.. then I'll give you a price."  I would just bypass him and give out prices because I was more savvy than he was in the DMS and wasn't going to leave customers hanging because of his ignorance. Man, that guy was terrible... So glad you wrote this and I hope some GMs and DPs read it!
or kissed the right @ss 
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • November 24, 2011
I was reading a sent email just the other day inside of our CRM. The email had been sent out from one of the BDC reps.

Within seconds of briefing over the horrid response I knew exactly who was to blame and it was NOT the BDC rep. The words in the email oozed the words of a middle manager conveying to the BDC agent "tell the customer if they want the best price they need to come in" and this was NOT the first response to a 3rd party price quote email either. This was after a few exchanges and building of rapport.

This happens all day long. Middle management has been conditioned to work the pay plan. Many times the pay plan dictates the reaction - especially in the used car operation.
  • S
  • March 24, 2012
There is a reason why I wrote this article "It's the internet manager's fault..."
Everything that you mention in this article is exactly what this BDC Manager had to deal with.  What is even more amazing is that after turning the BDC around in a super short time this person was still thrown under the bus by a middle manager who thinks he is a GM.
Check out the article right here