The sales game is constantly changing. New products, marketing ideas and technology solutions continue to flow into the market, pulling dealership decision-makers in several different directions. There are the short-term and long-term issues to contend with, which oftentimes puts “right now” strategies and long-range planning in conflict.
The “right now” plans are often hatched in brainstorming meetings dealers hold with their management teams, ad agency or 20 Group. But coming up with a plan (or the idea of a plan) is just the first step.
What happens next is critical to the success of the idea, as how that plan is executed will ultimately determine the level of success that can be reaped from your strategy. Some pretty smart guys over at the consulting firm FranklinCovey have drilled down the four key disciplines of execution and I would like to share them with you.
- Focus on the wildly important: Ultimately, execution starts with focus. Without it, the other three will no longer matter. In the dealership environment, think about taking on a task like changing your pricing strategy or your road to the sale steps. Or just think about your business development center (BDC). Change is constant in that department, right? And when change is required, we have to figure out how to make several pieces fit together before we can make changes and realize any type of ROI. The best attack strategy is one that focuses on one or two goals that will make the most difference, rather than dividing your efforts among a dozen objectives. Now, this doesn’t mean setting aside the things you must do on a daily basis to run your dealership or department. You just need to narrow the number of goals you are attempting to accomplish beyond the “day today” demands.
- Act on the lead measures: The easiest way to drill down on Discipline Two is to think of it as the discipline of leverage. Lead measures are defined by the activities most connected to achieving a given goal. How many times have you called your team in to discuss the status of a new initiative but find out that one person thought the other person was handling one of the tasks?
- Keep a compelling scoreboard: This discipline is about keeping your team engaged in the goal at hand. And the way to do that is to make sure everyone knows the score at all times. Everyone involved in the effort should be able to tell whether or not they are winning. Most dealerships have a sales board listing the month’s objectives and the latest individual stats. The same holds true across all dealership departments and initiatives. Great teams know their status at any given moment. If they don’t, they can’t know what they need to do to win the game.
- Create a cadence of accountability: The final discipline requires the establishment of a frequently recurring cycle that accounts for past performance and planning to move the score forward. Only at this stage can execution actually happen. Disciplines One, Two and Three set up the game, but your team won’t be in the game until you apply accountability. But there’s more to execution than simply displaying an ability to set a goal and achieve it. You must also account for the raging whirlwind of daily life. To go one step further, the odds of successfully executing a strategy decrease when more people become involved. Got any “old-school” thinkers at your dealership? Yeah, they can make it harder to succeed, too. Ultimately, true accountability means making personal commitments to your entire team: first to move the scores forward, then to follow through in a disciplined way.
My mother used to love the term “buckle down” when she’d kindly encouraged me to get focused or get it together. It’s safe to say that no matter which department we represent in the dealership, we sometimes need to buckle down and take a more systematic approach to getting things done.