Opinions & Advice

Where Will Your Next Sales Manager Come From?

Cavemen Sales Manager

Currently there are thousands of sales managers manning the towers at car dealerships across the country. Many of them have paid their dues on the floor, worked their way up to the desk and honed their skills as a sales manager.

The question is where will your next sales manger come from?

What will be their pedigree? More than likely they will have been trained to sell cars at your dealership or some other, with the same culture and motivations that have been in play for years.

We have all seen the auto sales industry move towards an ecommerce model in the past few years’ right; or have we? Will the next sales manger that your dealership brings on board or promotes from the floor be cut from the same cloth as those that came before; will they be obsolete by the time they get comfortable at their new desk?

At the onset of the automotive internet world as we now know it, many (too many) dealers shoved the nice guy who just couldn’t cut it on the floor into the internet department. Now I see a necessary turning of the tide. Even at the most ecommerce centric dealerships there remain the old guard at the tower. Yes they’re still getting the job done and many of them are great at what they do, but for how much longer? How many sales managers currently working the desk can truly evolve and keep step with what is happening digitally in our industry? Are they merely leaning on the “internet manager” to handle that aspect of the business?

Our customer is now becoming our network, and like it or not the network has already begun to dictate how businesses operate. The days of businesses pushing their products and processes on the consumer are coming to an end. The rise of online reviews and dealer reputation management are just the beginning, of a major shift in the way all business is conducted, including the auto industry.

Dealers that embrace training and development of their management and sales teams will have the upper hand moving forward. They will have the people in place with the skills necessary to keep their dealership relevant and growing in this digital economy. It is no longer possible to have just one person at your dealership that gets it, and feeds it to the rest of the store.

For many dealers this may seem like science fiction and for some this may hit a nerve, but to all this is a wakeup call. Invest in training your team. The biggest assets that your dealership has are your most educated team members. They are your dealerships future, and will help you to dominate your market now. Consider this; your next sales manager had better have worked their share of deals and “leads” before being considered for the job. If your dealership is going to be successful, it is vital that you invest in education.

The next level begins with a first step; send your two best and brightest team members to the Automotive Digital Boot Camp in Orlando, Florida April 16 – 18. Review the schedule with them before they go and set expectations for what they should take away. Send them with a focus on the areas that you want to see your dealership improve on and help them initiate a game plan upon their return. This will be the best investment that you can make for your dealerships future, guaranteed.

Where will your next sales manger come from?

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    Kevin Frye
  • March 2, 2011
The Internet Managers of today will be our General Managers of the future. I tell my team leaders this every month, and believe in it strongly. Our industry needs bold leaders that are willing to embrace the changes in how our shoppers buy cars and interact with dealerships. Change is never easy, and good leaders know how to make difficult decisions to "adapt and overcome"... Rob - you have been doing a phenomenal job, keep up the great work!
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    Brian Pasch
  • March 2, 2011
Great message for dealers. The strategies that Dealers and Sales Managers need to master in order to market their cars and expand their brand is going through so much change.

Investing in education allows dealer leadership to gain the knowledge they need to inspect the recommendations of their marketing partners and stay ahead of their competition.

Heck, it's hard for industry specialists to keep up with all the changes that Google and Facebook have been rolling down the alley. Normally, only dealer principals go to 20 Group meetings, 3 or 4 times a year. The GSM and ISM are normally left behind.

Dealers can not afford to rely only on the "Internet Guy" for digital leadership. I've seen too many instances when this person leaves and the dealer is scrambling for understanding. Dealer principals and Sales Managers need knowledge to lead their organization's digital marketing strategy let alone best practices for CRM, Phones, and Lead Management.

Thank you for being willing to share your knowledge at the upcoming Automotive Marketing Boot Camp. Your knowledge on video marketing and optimization will make your technology showcase well attended.

Can't wait to see the faces on the attendees when they see just how many places your videos show up for local search in Florida! See you in Orlando!
Rob great article! As you already know I have turned a 0 internet presence at Volvo of Fort Myers to a powerhouse in SEO, Lead Generation, web design and social media. You are 100% right that the Internet Managers of today are going to be the dealerships backbone in the next few years. Look forward to seeing you in Orlando.
I recently made the decision to change career paths from that of vendor to an e-commerce role in a dealership group. Your post sums up the reasons for the move perfectly. There is so much potential for those dealers willing to learn and keep up with the ever changing times; I just had to get involved at the dealership level. My hope is that I will soon be able to learn more from you and other forward thinkers at events like the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp. Again, great post!
Yup! This is good stuff. I watch how managers dip their big toe in the water, but that's as far as it goes for the most part.

" Are they merely leaning on the “internet manager” to handle that aspect of the business?"

I find the above comment intriguing. I am guilty!! I have in the past enabled the entire staff to become co-dependant. Digital Mktg, Reputation Mgmt, SEO, CRM Architect, Social Networking and last but not least please come fix my printer!!!!!! ARRRGH!!!! I need a Red Bull!!

Jarrod, You've really made tremendous strides at your store. Great to hear you're coming to Orlando. Have you signed up for the Automotive Digital Marketing Boot Camp?
Thanks, Michael and I am looking forward to learning from you!
Jeff, Sounds like you need a vacation, could I suggest April in Sunny Orlando Florida with a bunch of great people.
LOL. Already booked for Pasch's Boot Camp and DD. Really looking forward to it. BTW, great post Rob. It's too bad that the individuals that stand to benefit the most from posts such as these rarely, if at all spend time on forums like DealerRefresh
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    Brian Pasch
  • March 3, 2011

That's right on the mark. You bring up the bigger question: How do we reach the unreachable via a channel that they ignore?

For me, it's one 20 Group at a time...like John The Baptist...preaching the Gospel.
I am chiming in a little late. I have to say that this was a great read. I cannot wait to see what kind of General Managers we will have running dealerships in 10 years. I still see some of the same old school tactics being used in some stores while others are embracing change. It is a never ending battle to get people to change their thought process. It will be great to see internet managers become properly trained desk people.

@Jeff Collins, the reason why more people are not on these forums is because they a) don't know or b) don't care

-I discovered this site 5 years ago when I started searching "internet sales training or "internet sales advice". Now I am a proud member of the forum. I even wrote an article on here before. I am thinking it is time to write another one soon.