Becoming a Great Leader

Consensus is Great, But Where Does the Buck Stop?

By: Alan Ram

I am a believer that people want and need to be led, whether they admit to it or not. They crave structure and direction in their daily lives. However, over and over again I see leaders who don’t necessarily lead. Understanding real leadership is critical to a dealership’s success.

The first step in moving your dealership from good to great is implementing management strategies for training to give purpose and direction to your dealership and sales staff.

Let’s Talk About “Buy-In”

As a telephone and management trainer, I talk to plenty of Dealers who have never effectively trained anyone on anything or held anyone accountable for their performance. These are the Dealers that want to get consensus from their staff, and “buy-in” from their management team in order to make a decision. Think about this; when you send your children to school, do the teachers come by and get buy-in from the children? No, you make the decision that they are going to go to school, regardless of what the children say. Why would it be any different for your sales staff? In most cases, the Managers that these Dealers want to get buy-in from have never been trained themselves. Whatever it is you’re wanting to see consensus on, if your managers had something better, they probably should’ve executed it by now, right?

If you haven’t trained your people or held them accountable for anything in the past 10 years, it is ridiculous to expect them to agree that they now need training and accountability. If you are in a leadership position, you cannot be afraid to make a good decision.

The bottom line is that leaders lead. It’s okay to have discussion amongst your management team about a change you’d like to make, but at the end of the day someone needs to step up and make a decision, and enforce that decision. Remember that the best organizations move with speed and purpose.

So What is Real Training?

Great managers train their people to do the jobs that they hired them to do. That may sound basic and obvious, but many managers are still struggling with making this a reality in their dealerships. If you will not train your people, how can you expect to have a top performing sales staff? The answer is that you can’t.

I have seen many dealerships buy into a lot of nonsense that’s being passed off as “training,” but really isn’t. Sending your salespeople to sit in an eight hour seminar at the local Marriott is not training. That’s like expecting to become good at golf by watching other people play. That is only education. While education is part of training, it is only one element. You cannot excel at anything simply by watching it.

For training to be effective you need to have education, simulation, and accountability with consequence. These three elements constitute the training process; missing any one element will make training ineffective.

Think about professional football. Professional football players don’t just watch the game on TV and expect to play well. They go to training camps and practice daily. They simulate plays over and over again, and ultimately are held accountable as every player is graded by their coach in every play, in every game. That’s some serious accountability. What about consequence? If they don’t perform, they don’t play, or they get cut from the team. It’s that simple. If this formula works on a professional sports team, it will most certainly be effective for a sales team.

Effectively Implementing Training

As a manager, understanding the importance of continuous training is critical. Knowing how to implement the elements of training is even more critical. Here’s how you can incorporate those three elements that constitute the training process to train your people once and for all:

You must educate your salespeople. They need to not only understand what to do, but why you want them to do it. An important part of educating your salespeople is making sure they understand the ‘why’, and that they internalize and memorize what they learn.

You must simulate. This can be done through simple and effective role-playing exercises. Simulation must be done on a consistent basis to achieve maximum benefit. The goal is for your salespeople to get good, and stay good, at what they are learning. Think about this. In professional baseball, whether you are the rookie on the field or last year’s national batting league champion, you still take batting and fielding practice every day. The same should be true with your sales team.

You must hold your people accountable. Great managers hold their salespeople accountable for what they have learned. One example of an accountability tool in the telephone training space is call monitoring. In order to have accountability on inbound sales calls, your managers must actually listen to these calls. When salespeople know that they are being listened to, and that they will be held accountable for their performance, their effort level naturally rises. The concept is simple. Train your people and then hold your sales staff accountable for what they have learned.

You must have clear consequences. If people are not performing, if they fail to meet your standard, your salespeople need to know that there will be immediate consequences. For example, if you are monitoring your sales calls and one of your salespeople repeatedly mishandles calls, a consequence could be him or her losing the privilege of taking sales calls.

Take The Next Step

While many Managers are great at desking and closing deals, they don’t all have the skills necessary to successfully manage a sales staff. Being a great manager and leader means being willing to step up your game and take the initiative to train your team. Stop talking about “buy-in” and consensus, and be a manager that is willing to make good decisions and direct your dealership with efficiency and purpose. Create top performing salespeople through real training using education, simulation, and accountability with consequence. Take charge and move your dealership and sales staff from good to great.