As I say, not as I do
I’ve often wondered what makes salespeople go from optimism to pessimism in such a short amount of time. (i.e. 30 day wonders) When they first hit the pavement, they are full of optimism; I mean they believe every customer is a buyer. Eventually, they become pessimistic; their speech begins to change; all buyers are liars and all of them are buried or idiots. As managers, we stand in front of our people each morning and remind them to “Stay positive; it’s a numbers game!” After the Rah, Rah’s we release our troops into the wilds of the blacktop and wait to see what they drag in. The reason salespeople become cynical so quickly is due in large part to our managerial philosophy of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” We preach to them every morning, we cut out magazine articles, we print out emails, we show videos, we read short passages in books, all in an effort to lift their spirits before hitting the blacktop- only to crush them as soon as they come to the desk with a deal. Why should the salesperson be positive when the manager is not? As a manager, are you looking at what’s wrong with a deal or looking for something-anything positive? Have you ever blown a customer out-telling the salesperson you can’t help them only to find out they bought somewhere else? (My hand is raised) As managers, we are guilty of pilfering through a deal looking for the payoff, asking questions like, “What are these people wanting to do;” “How much do they owe;” “How much money do they have?” We ask the very questions we don’t “allow” them to ask while on the lot. In a few seconds we have destroyed what little hope the salesperson HAD in a deal. Stay positive though!
If a salesperson has been out in 100 degree plus weather, bobbing and weaving through objections, working for the past hour (plus) in selecting, demo’ing, and writing a customer up, don’t we owe it to them to work the deal in a positive manner giving them options instead of opinions? Sure I realize the guy is $15k upside down; I realize we are only $300 per month away from what the customer wants to pay; I realize the customer’s car is a ragged out P.O.S. (not point of strategy). My point is your salesperson brought you an opportunity to try to make something happen. They did their part, now we as mangers must do ours. Do you understand your salesperson’s family is counting on this deal? You get paid on all of the deals-he gets paid only on the ones he can convince to buy-and he needs your help.
Every football play is designed to be a touchdown; every one of them. Just because one play doesn’t work, do the coaches give up on the entire game? No, they re-strategize, regroup, and make the necessary adjustments. Give your salespeople options; if they customer needs $10k down, give them that option; if they need to be on a different unit, try that. Work a deal all the way through-don’t make a public spectacle out of the deal they brought to you. Salespeople become cynical because we crush their spirit; we do it every day, on every “impossible” deal. I have lit credit apps on fire and have flipped my chair backwards after pulling credit-all in an effort to get a laugh. I now realize how much internal damage I was causing to the psyche of my salespeople. Yea, he may chuckle on the outside all the while we as managers are weaving layers of cynicism each time we shortcut a deal. Just because we are managers does not give us the right to be damagers; and we wonder why our pride and joy salesperson has lost his shine; because the head——you Mr. Manger injected him with a lethal dose of cynicism.
It is hard enough to convert lookers into buyers; there are plenty of salespeople in the Humbug Ring who stand around pissing in each other’s pockets about the last deal they had-giving their expert opinion of “what they woulda’ done;” they don’t need a manager to cosign the negativity- trust me there’s plenty. Whatever we expect of them, they expect of us too-they just don’t say it to your face; they display it through their speech and through their productivity. I recognize we have to work with brevity on deals, we too have to fight through the clutter, but we owe it to our people to maximize their opportunities. Try giving your salespeople more options and less opinion, saying what you do and doing what you say.