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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Bryant Gibby

Bryant Gibby Used car manager

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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?

Jared Hamilton
Leading people, especially well, is NOT easy. (managing people is easier than leading them IMHO) I think being a nice but firm leader is the answer. You want to connect with your team, they must trust and respect you. Its important to listen, support and be there for the team. You can be nice about it, but in the end you must be firm on what your rules/policy/processes are. NIce is not giving in, nice is showing empathy. (Very different distinctions) It helps if you have communicated clear expectations up front, and have the proper mechanism for altering/correcting mistakes later. That way everyone knows where you will be firm, knowing what to expect takes the edge off situations. Peter Drucker, one of the greatest manager instructors ever, said, "A leaders job is to learn to say "no" gracefully." Remember you are there to keep everyone on track. Be firm. Nice, but firm, your team may not like that (or be happy w/you) in the short run, but they will respect you for it in the long run. Respect, not popularity will get results in the end. Earn their respect by serving them. Remember you are there to lift them up and make them perform. ... about your GM getting mad at you for making sales people mad, well... dont get me started. Are the monkeys running the zoo?
Tom White Jr.
Bryant, Its not called "Show Friends," its called "Show Business." Friends are Friends and Business is Business... Having said that, I agree with Jared that there is a MAJOR difference between "managing," and "leading." If you will lead your team, you will gain their respect and MOST (not all) of your challenges will disappear. The easiest way to endear yourself to your sales team is to help them sell more cars and increase their personal incomes. Once they realize you care about them as individuals they won't mind you challenging them to improve their performance. Leading isn't easy - if it was, someone else would probably have your job (one of the guys or gals that started selling cars before you were born). Sounds to me like you are on the right track simply because you are on this forum looking for answers to improve yourself. A final thought - as a leader, your job is to work on yourself as hard as you work on everyone else. If you aren't getting better every day, how can you expect your people to? just sayin'
Eric Miltsch
Bryant - Love this question... The people you are leading are seeking your leadership - whether you know it or not; they're watching your every move & taking those moves to heart. Confident, decisive leaders who can see several steps ahead while appearing rock-solid under pressure situations will get the attention of those you're leading; the opposite will let the crazies soon run the asylum.
Bryant Gibby
Good comment man! (especially the part about my GM getting mad). You are dead right man. I learned quickly that you have to do things that aren't going to make you popular with the sales guys. It is what it is, right?
Bryant Gibby
Thanks Tom. Point well taken. I think I do a good job leading and doing everything I can on every deal to help the sales guys to succeed. You are right that it is a daily battle and it is important to work on yourself constantly.

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