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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development Manager

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Do You Really Let Your Sales Managers Make Decisions?

One phrase we often hear is, "I want to empower my managers to make their own decisions if they cannot make their own decisions than they are not the right manager." This is a powerful statement; one that should be the case on the dealer level when it comes to sales managers making decisions. However, is this really the case? In that, while it is the right frame of mind - do the GM' s/Owners really allow their managers to make the decisions? Cause if not, then why do we have sales managers if they cannot make their own decisions? 

Mean What You Say. Stop Micro-Managing. It is Not A One Man Show. 

I have often been in meetings where the GM would offer that they want the sales managers to make their own decisions. Everything regarding inventory purchases, trades, and/or deals. Yet when it came time to make those decisions, the GM would backtrack, and get involved in almost every deal. In which case, they'd disagree with the sales managers' train of thought. In doing so, as one could imagine, it made making those decisions that much more difficult as they'd worry about whether or not the GM would approve. Of course, if the sales managers are making bad decisions that could wind up being incredibly costly, then, yes, you need to look at your management team. However, if the decision is a good one, just not your style, then you are dismantling your team, and discrediting them to their employees. All of which can send the wrong message, and in some cases can wind up, meaning that their respect is lost if they realize that the sales managers cannot make decisions. 

Teach Them How to Approach the Decision Making Process. But Do So Privately. Have Respect. 

There is nothing wrong with explaining how to approach the decision-making process with your sales managers. In fact, it is encouraged - in doing so, you can confidently allow your sales managers to make the necessary decisions. Otherwise, your sales managers will not be on the same page with you or with their other managers. And while not all decisions will be the way you would have approached the situation, you can use them as an opportunity to train your managers. But if you do not take the time to work with your sales managers - working with them on how to approach the decision-making process - you cannot expect them to perform. And if you make all of the decisions and or undermine them, it will only create a chaotic, unproductive department. 

Bottom Line: making deals, purchasing inventory, or appraising trades is not easy. Even with all of the tools we have available, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen managers call their friends at other dealers asking them what they should appraise the vehicle for. In which case, that might not be the best way to do it. And while data is not always one hundred percent accurate, it can help you in making those tough decisions. Lastly, if you genuinely want your sales managers to make decisions on the dealer level, let them. Micro-managing them in their every decision sends the wrong message. A message that can - as mentioned above - wind-up losing their respect with their employees. In that, if the employees realize that the sales managers are otherwise unable to call the final shots, they will just go to the GM for every deal bypassing management. As for how the decisions are made, as a leader, you need to get with your sales managers, privately and have a united front in how the decisions are to be made. This way, you are all on the same page, collectively. 
 

Martins Ville

Sales managers typically try to follow through with what guidance their given at the GM and dealer over level. As the digital director, the sales managers don't have my skills, and for pencilling desks, I'm not at their level. Can we both close deals? Yes. Bottom line is we have to work as a team and hopefully compliment each other's skills. GM's run the show.

Dave Tingle

As a 36 year veteran of sales and current digital manager, I agree with this as I have seen it time and time again. The digital world is different and better understood by those who deal with it every day, all day. At the end of the day, we all need to work as a team.

Derrick Woolfson

@Martins, agreed - though, often on the Dealer Level, I have seen GM's wanting their managers to make decisions, but micro-manage the way they approach the decision-making process, which creates a high level of indecisiveness. 

Derrick Woolfson

You also bring up a great point, in that - lets each work on what we are good at, no need for us to do each other's jobs, period. 

Derrick Woolfson

@Dave - if only there was a way of channeling this idea on the dealer level - I would offer that their intentions might be well, but the execution is not. Sometimes we spend to much time splitting hairs on digital marketing, etc. when too many people are involved in the process. Make a decision. Own it. And move on! 

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