“There’s nothing more effective and rewarding than showing a genuine interest in other people.” — Dale Carnegie.
There have been several wonderful and striking people who have had an impact on my life — both within and outside of the automotive and marketing world (shout out to Rich Handler, Kati Suominen and David Schembri). I strive to surround myself with positive people who motivate me to grow and ultimately, I hope, help me become a better manager and leader in the process. I mention this because I wanted to explore the above Carnegie statement and the significance of showing a sincere interest in those you work with — most notably the people you manage and who have some level of accountability to you.
While you might not be able to offer a raise every quarter, or a bonus as frequently as you might think is owed, you can do a plethora of things to make your team aware of their significance and importance, both to you and the rest of the team. In fact, it is the ongoing responsibility of management to ensure that employees know they are appreciated, they are doing a good or great job, their work and efforts have a positive impact on others and their contribution to your environment is both recognized and appreciated.
My first boss told me that every employee was replaceable. Not only will I never forget this — how could I? — but he was not the last person to make this fact known to me. No employee wants to hear this. This statement — true or not — does not need to be impressed upon the minds of your employees. Not only is it significantly demotivating, but it brings little positive impact into the work environment.
Speaking with first-hand knowledge of the sales world and having experienced a multitude of diverse work environments, the automotive space is, without a doubt, the most challenging. Feedback and how one is treated within the automotive world by their client base is not comparable to that of any other environment. Having progressed into management over the years and having spent more than my fair time in sales, I feel that I can speak to and represent the role of a salesperson within the automotive world accurately. It is beyond brutal. Whether you work in a dealership, for a vendor or are an employee of an OEM, it is essential you take extra good care of your people.
Create a positive work environment. Train your people. Invest in them. Use your advertising dollars wisely. Do what you need to do to bring the best possible customers in the door. Do your research on what it takes, given the specifics of your environment, to give your salespeople a fighting chance. Management is responsible for training — which leads to your team knowing how to prospect, follow-up and close — and for creating and attracting leads.
Hire wisely. Not everyone can handle sales, let alone sales within the automotive world. Make sure your potential hires can or have handled significant levels of rejection in the past and have a history of bouncing back quickly. Do your due diligence. Hire people with either a history of sales success or no history at all (but if this is the case, hire people with an extremely positive attitude.) Both have a fighting chance at succeeding. Just keep the latter away from any existing negative influences on your sales team. Better yet, get rid of these people if they exist, as they just bring everyone down and have a negative influence on the entire team; they do more damage than they are worth.
Upon facing rejection 98 percent of one’s day, and with a typical three- to six-month ramp up period before one begins to reap the rewards of establishing their own customer base, the positive impact that management can have on employees is essential and irreplaceable. Be kind, take an interest in your employees’ personal lives, know their interests and dislikes, and be aware of how they like to be rewarded (time off vs. bonuses, etc.).
Encourage each employee to seek mentors who complement their backgrounds and interests. And don’t just verbalize these positive reinforcements. Be proactive and mentor others. Continue to do what you have to do to grow. Take a class, volunteer or get involved in your community.
My point, as Carnegie said, is to take a sincere interest; by your doing this, your impact will reach lengths you’ve never before known possible. Try to lift someone up every day. Continually do something positive for others. This impact will come back to you tenfold. I promise.