What drives your salespeople -- the future of your dealership or their future paycheck? Ideally, the answer would be both. But all too often, the fact of the matter is they’re focused almost exclusively on selling the next deal.
That can be a problem, especially when it means salespeople aren’t taking time to do some of the things necessary for a dealership to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s economy. But before pointing the finger of blame at them, dealers may want to ask themselves this question: “Is my pay plan undermining the success of my dealership?”
Yesterday’s Pay Plan, Today’s Marketplace
Today’s business structure is much more complex, with a completely different set of dynamics. Unfortunately, many pay plans haven’t been updated to reflect this new reality. They’re still tied entirely to revenue.
But business is no longer just about walk-ins and what happens at the dealership. It’s about what happens before customers get to the dealership and whether they walk through the door at all. That’s why dealers may want to consider expanding their pay plan’s focus, incorporating rewards for strategic activities that serve the long-term viability of a dealership.
It Pays To Do Things That Don’t Pay
While it’s the job of salespeople to sell; it’s the job of dealers to sell salespeople on the value of performing tasks that aren’t in their pay plan. Dealers need to communicate the necessity of devoting time to activities that build a dealership’s business and reputation, and lead to long-term, and not just short-term, payoffs.
In last month’s article, I discussed the importance of reaching customers before they reach the Internet. And that how failing to do so, can threaten and lose deals without salespeople even getting the opportunity to speak with customers.
The truth is, consumers aren’t kicking tires anymore; they’re clicking tires. Ten years ago customers visited 6.7 dealerships before they bought a vehicle, now they visit 2.1 dealerships. That’s why it’s so critical for salespeople to be proactive (and for your pay plan to reward them for it). Specifically, dealers can stress the significance of online reviews and customer relationships.
Salespeople spend their days talking to customers and potential customers, the very people who will determine your cyber reputation. Unfortunately, people are much more likely to write a review when they feel as if they have been treated poorly or unfairly.
Dealers are wise to urge their sales team to prompt satisfied customers to write reviews on resources such as Edmunds.com, Google Places and DealerRater.com. They can also ask customers to “Like” the dealership on Facebook and follow it on Twitter, sharing their experiences with other consumers. This will go a long way in counterbalancing any negative comments or reviews.
Dealerships pay good money for CRM software, so it’s in their interest to make sure salespeople are taking advantage of the tools designed to strengthen and maintain relationships with customers.
Dealers may also want to encourage salespeople to visit customers when their vehicles are in the service bay. It’s an ideal time to touch base and ensure salespeople are the first to know if a customer is considering purchasing a new vehicle or upgrading their current one.
Also, dealers may want to reexamine and reinforce their partnerships with salespeople, with the ultimate goal of increasing retention rates. High turnover can definitely affect profits -- customers want to establish relationships with a person, not a position.
Plan On Rethinking Your Plan
In this economy, it’s more important than ever that dealers look at their pay plan with critical eyes and ask themselves: “Does this trigger the activities my dealership needs to succeed?” If the answer is, “No,” they may want to consider some of the suggestions below:
Rewrite the job description for salesperson to include those “no pay” activities that pay off in the long run.
Reward salespeople for generating a predetermined number of customer reviews via spiffs or a bonus program.
Educate the sales team, stressing the importance of proactive prospecting, online reviews and the dealership’s cyber reputation.
Establish penalties for not securing online reviews, particularly if positive reinforcement isn’t effective.
In the end, a pay plan is more than just a method for determining the salary of your salespeople. It’s a factor in determining the future of your dealership – and it definitely pays to make sure your plan keeps pace with our volatile and ever-evolving economy.