Growing up in the automotive industry, I have experienced a lot of different management styles and have come to the conclusion that some of our top sales people are not necessarily the best choice for sales managers. Sure, hiring within your dealership is honorable and of course the industry may need to improve in this arena, but just because your salespeople have a great track record for sales, it doesn’t mean they are fit to lead people. On the flip side, do they even want the position and can you provide the proper training?
Unfortunately, we sometimes lack in leadership training resources necessary to transition from sales to management. Without the proper training, are your salespeople cut out to “lead” a team? In this article I’ll cover three reasons why it may be better to consider a professional from the outside.
- Competitive personality– One of the most sought out traits of a great salesperson, is their undeniable competitive personality. You have to be competitive in this industry, at least to a healthy degree anyway. It’s simply required in order to survive, especially if you work in a dealership that promotes an open sales floor. But how does the competitive person manage a sales team? Not to say he is incapable, but in order to be a great leader you have to put your team first. You have to be passionate about developing, motivating and training your team to achieve goals. Sometimes the competitive personality of a top sales performer gets in the way of helping other people shine. Don’t get me wrong, being competitive as a manager is not a bad thing if you’re teaching your team how to use that trait as a way to stay motivated. While there are situations where a sales pro can transition into leadership, overly competitive people often find it hard to handle the diversity of a team with unique personalities.
- Multi-tasking skills– Not to say we can’t multi-task, some more than others, but as a sales manager, it’s no longer about the sale directly in front of you. When you lead a team you have to focus on the 10 other situations going on with 20 different customers and the ability to accommodate all of them. In other words, the responsibility is a lot greater. Plus you have to help everyone stay accountable for their goals. You are an endless resource of knowledge and they all rely on you to follow through. It’s not about the book of business you created for yourself anymore, it’s about helping your entire team create a book of business of their own. It’s about accountability, mandatory meetings, vacation requests, financing questions, complaints, resolutions, advertising decisions and a whole list of things that you didn’t need to think about when you were a sales person.
- Established relationships– Your dealership and the people you work with know you. You have created long-lasting impressions on your teammates. Some you have even visited in their own home, went out with on the weekends, perhaps even dated on occasion. You know their children’s names and their spouse. You have shared personal struggles and built friendships. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are some people we like better than others. Some people we just click with. Of course over time, even with an outside professional, relationships will be established but the benefit of the doubt seems to be given up front. Of course none of this would matter if you never communicated with your peers, but that seems very unlikely.
In closing when it comes to hiring managers and team leaders there are some situations where it may be better to consider someone from the outside. Unless your dealership is completely drama free and all of your salespeople are 100% selfless, you may be missing out on excellent candidates to fill management positions. There are so many different recruiting companies who specialize in the automotive industry, it would almost be ridiculous to overlook them. Maybe your best salesperson has the potential to lead or maybe not, but without the motivation, passion and training that it takes to be a true leader, they might be better off selling 40 cars a month and if that’s the case, everybody wins.