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Heather Haynes

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Within automotive dealerships, the sales desk usually plays a vital role in the overall success of a sales department. Since all deals pass through the desk manager, he or she has the ability to influence and impact the customer experience, the sales process, and the number of deals that actually close.
 
But with the numerous changes that have taken place in the automotive industry in recent years, has the desking process changed as well? Yes and no.
 
The technology has certainly changed. New computer programs and technology advancements allow desk managers easy access to information they need and offer the opportunity to present vehicle information to customers in new, clear-cut ways. Instead of using handwritten documents that are often difficult for customers to decipher, desk managers can now use computer-generated worksheets, such as JM&A Group’s Purchase Option Worksheet, to present customers with all of their buying options.
 
Customers have changed to an extent as well. They are more informed and demanding than they were a few years ago, especially with the increased popularity of social media sites that allow customers to rate and share their buying experiences with others. In order to provide a sales process that meets and exceeds the customer’s expectations, desk managers today need to be able to respond to these more informed customers. .
 
However, the basic premise of desking a deal has remained the same. Desk managers still need to be able to help salespeople present numbers that are agreeable to customers to close the deal.
 
So what makes for a successful desk transaction?
 
A successful dealership in Wisconsin requires all of their salespeople to provide the desk manager with the following information for every deal:
§ The customer’s name
§ The make, model and trim of the vehicle they are interested in
§ The customer’s reason for selecting this particular vehicle
§ The customer’s dominant buying motive (what aspect of a new vehicle is the most important to them: safety, performance, appearance, comfort/convenience, economy or dependability)
§ The customer’s current vehicle payment
§ The customer’s trade cycle
§ The trade information
§ Their level of excitement about the vehicle based on the demonstration ride
Salespeople in this store cannot approach the desk without all of the information listed above. Without this information, the desk manager is simply throwing out numbers to the customer, resulting in back and forth negotiation that often goes nowhere.
 
With all of this information, how can desk managers avoid mistakes at the desk?
 
Desk managers need to review the manufacturer’s programs (rebates, incentives, subvented rates, etc.) daily and also use a Rate Matrix so they don’t quote the wrong rebate or APR when working with a customer. Desk managers should also review these programs with the sales staff during the daily sales meetings.
 
Desk managers should conduct regular training sessions with the salespeople, emphasizing the importance of following a consistent sales process and providing accurate paperwork. They must also make sure the salespeople understand not to interrupt a deal that’s in progress. When a deal is in progress, the salespeople need to respect the desk manager and allow him/her to focus on the task at hand. Once the deal is complete, the salespeople can have their turn with the desk manager.
 
Along with this, it is important to convey to everyone else in the dealership not to interrupt a deal in progress. Assign a backup person to handle urgent situations that may arise when the desk manager is working on a deal. Also, make sure the dealership operator and members of upper management know that if they attempt to call the desk, and the manager doesn’t answer by the third ring, it means that he or she is working on a deal with a customer.
 
So despite all of the industry changes that have occurred over the past few years, the role of the desk manager and the desking process have not changed significantly. This key contributor still plays a significant role in a dealership’s sales department success. By implementing a solid sales process and policies that allow a desk manager to fully focus on his or her job, dealerships can increase the desk manager’s effectiveness, thereby maximizing sale profit for that store.
 

If you have any questions about today’s desking process or want additional information about JM&A Group’s desking philosophy, please contact the Performance Development Center.Write your post here

Bart Wilson
I feel the most important thing for a salesperson is patience. It takes time to desk a deal properly, and often the salesperson "thinks" they know exactly what the customer wants to see and will say yes to. Shortcutting the process leads to a sloppy deal and missed gross. It could also lead to mistakes. Whenever I made errors in a deal on the desk it was always because I was going too fast.

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