Salespeople face a variety of obstacles in their day-to-day work, from customers looking to get the rock-bottom price to slow sales days to no-show appointments. The ability to maintain a positive mindset is crucial to finding success in sales. While the individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own attitude, management can help to create a supportive, positive atmosphere as well. We recently sat down with Jeremy Todd, sales manager of a western North Carolina dealership, to discuss the role of morale and positivity in the automotive sales game.
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AutoSuccess: What are some short- and long-term actions that dealership employees would appreciate from management — actions that would have an impact on the morale of the workplace?
Jeremy Todd: The biggest impact managers could make in the short term is to change the schedule of the salespeople. For far too long, salespeople have been working from open to close. They miss entirely too much family time as well as personal time. I realize this is counterintuitive with “old-school car guys,” but when salespeople work fewer hours, both their attitude and production go up. Nothing is worse than having a burned-out sales staff. That harms the customers they are talking to and erodes the staff ’s morale. For long-term actions, I think having sales meetings off site is a great way to allow the sales team to let down their guard. They are far more likely to share their thoughts and concerns with management when they are in a different environment. It also gives managers and sales personnel a chance to get to know each other outside of the workplace.
AS: What are some ways that leadership contributes negatively to workplace morale, possibly without even realizing it?
JT: I believe the biggest way management negatively affects the morale is “shop” talk. What I mean by that is talking about some of the trips they go on, the cars they own and how big their house is. It makes salespeople think that managers are above them. Nothing is worse for a salesperson having a tough month than to hear the manager talking about how much money he spent over the weekend. Another way shop talk affects morale is when managers talk about other salespeople in a negative way. The first thing the salesperson thinks is, “What is the manager saying about me when I’m not around?”
AS: What are some ways sales professionals can avoid burnout, and maintain a highly functioning level of effectiveness?
JT: It comes back to maintaining a healthy schedule. What I have found is that when salespeople actually take their vacations and days off and work their schedule, they come back more refreshed. One of the downfalls of the car business is that managers are constantly pushing salespeople to work more hours and work their days off. Even when salespeople are off, they are constantly thinking about what is going on at work. Nothing is worse than spending time with your family when mentally you are still at work.
AS: In your experience, what change to your mindset helped you make the turn from a “new” sales professional to a successful sales professional?
JT: The biggest change for me in my career is when I focused on personal development. When I first started in the business, I was just one of the average sales professionals. The first book I really read was John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. After reading that book I was hooked. Another important book to me was Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule. That book helped me supersize my goals. I have continued to read more books about motivation, as well as listening to podcasts every day and watching tons of training on YouTube.
AS: What would your advice be to sales professionals who aren’t getting the results they’d like, or have fallen into a slump?
JT: When salespeople fall in slumps, their biggest problem is themselves. They stop doing the basics. The steps to the sale are extremely important when it comes to working through a slump. After having several tough customers, salespeople begin to think that every customer is a tough customer and start skipping steps. They have to get back to the basics. Another way to get out of a slump is to start role playing. Sometimes it might be an easy fix in our presentation, but we fail to ask for help. Don’t let your ego get in the way for asking for help.
AS: What are some steps — both short term and long term — that a sales professional has to take to see their career grow?
JT: I believe the biggest short-term step to grow your career is to tell upper management what your career goals are. When I first started in sales, the first week I went to the general manager and told him I wanted to be the next sales manager. He had no clue who I was, but I know it made an impact with him. I have found that, when salespeople simply tell their direct manager, it never goes any further than that. You are essentially telling them that you want their job. Not only that, they are not the ones making the decision. Always go the person at the dealership making the decisions. As for a long-term step, for me, it’s easy. You have to lead by example. You have to be the one to do the dirty jobs; straightening up the lot, picking up garbage and helping other salespeople with their customers. By leading, your career path will take off. You will gain the respect of your fellow sales professionals as well as upper management.