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One of the things that I have struggled with the most as a sales manager is when to be a good cop and when to be a bad cop. I know the stereotypical sales manager in the car business is a power driven A-hole that thinks the best way to manage people and get them to do what they are supposed is to yell and swear at them until they see results. I don't want to be that guy for sure, but I also don't want to be a pushover and let the salespeople walk all over me. The problem that I have faced in the last year being a sales manager is where to find a happy median between good cop and bad cop.
I face some challenges that most of the sales managers out there probably don't have to deal with as a manager. First, I sold with a lot of our salespeople for many years so I am very good friends with them. Second, I am only 29 years old and am trying to manage guys that have been in the business for longer than I have been alive! So when my buddies in sales aren't doing what they are supposed to, I feel like I have to be extra cautious on how I treat them so they don't think that I have let my position go to my head. It is hard with the "veterans" as well because they think they know everything and do everything perfectly because they have been in the business for so long, but they really don't in most cases. I find that I can hardly tell them what to do when in the back of mind I am rattling off every superlative under the sun because it frustrates me how lazy they get and how many corners they cut. Then there is the new guys. For the sake of time, I won't even get started on the new guys. Anyone who has worked in the car business can sympathize with me on that one!
So what is the best approach? I have tried the good cop approach most of the time and tried to be 100% helpful and supportive with our guys but I feel like that isn't always the best route because they don't take you as serious as they should. I have also tried the bad cop approach from time to time but that one inevitably will backfire because every salesperson is extra sensitive right now and I always feel like I am walking on eggshells when I discuss issues with them. Not to mention, I usually get in trouble with the GM when I piss off one of our salespeople. I would imagine somewhere in the middle would be the best route to take, but I am struggling to find that sweet spot. Any ideas?