Category Archives: General Management

Your Sales Management Checklist

Leading your sales team is a complex pursuit with a single objective – to meet and exceed the sales objectives for the dealership you’re managing. The variables that can impact your success as a leader are tremendous.

Below is your sales management checklist. Its purpose is to help you stay on top of the primary issues that should have your attention on a regular basis and to avoid letting the important success factors slip through the cracks. Your particular sales world will likely involve a few more points or slight changes that are specific to you and your sales team and dealership.

Consistently addressed, these are the sales management fundamentals that will put you and your sales team far in front of the pack. and keep you there.

YOUR SALES TEAM

• general periodic discussion/ review of your salespeople’s progress
• goals and expectations of your sales staff is understood
• provide sales skill training on a continuous basis
• provide positive motivation
• provide product knowledge training
• continuous recruiting to look for the right people for your team
• performance reviews at least every six months
• recognition for jobs well done

OPERATIONAL ISSUES

• keep track of all your sales activity numbers
• make sure your sales process is reviewed for continued growth
• make sure your managers are eager to TO and help salespeople close deals
• make sure your ads and promotions are providing your dealership with positive results
• make sure all barriers are removed from your team’s sales efforts

EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS

• make sure salespeople are contacting all their customers
• research your competitors

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

• review your management skills for continued improvement
• what else can you do to help your department grow

Your Leadership And Your People

Just a couple of months ago, I left you with a challenge, “How can you create an EXTRAORDINARY experience for your client when they come to your dealership,” Have you given that any thought?

You must provide your customers the same extraordinary experience — consistently. This means doing the same thing in every way when the customer comes to your store, calls, or visits your Web site. For a second think about when you are interacting with somebody somewhere. Now, say your sales manager is at the movie theater and finds somebody there that bought a car from your dealership. As the customer is approaching to say hello or even to introduce him a potential customer, you’re manager is in a bad mood because he did not find tickets for the movie he wanted to watch, his wife is running late or the parking lot was crazy. The customer does not know that nor should he care, he just remembers the “extraordinary” experience he had a few weeks ago when he got his car and this is the perfect time to “shine” in front of his friend.

As the customer approaches, the manager puts a smile on his face that even my 2-year-old daughter could identify as fake, but the customer still is blinded by the positive experience at your dealership and does not pay too much attention. The friend, however, does, and starts being suspicious. The manager does his “normal” stuff, tells the client to stop by and come see him, gives him his business card and leaves them with an unpleasant experience. What are the chances the customer and the potential referral will go back to your dealership?

What we learn is that an extraordinary experience at the dealership can be destroyed when that experience is not repeated every time. You have created an expectation for your clients and you have to live with it — everywhere. This is even more important if you are in a small community.

Going back to my last article where I mentioned the importance of a complete cultural change at your dealership to adopt a more Latin way of dealing with people. Really there is no secret. You just have to be consistent, and your people must understand the philosophy of your business. Your people will always be the difference between a successful business and a mediocre business. What you do with your people and the way they adopt your vision and mission will ultimately lead you to success.

At G20 we have developed an extra ingredient in the most famous Vision and Mission of an organization — Passion (VMP). You must create Passion with your employees about your business. Our VMP Program centralizes the attention of all endeavors of the organization in the power of the people whether it is employees, stockholders, customers or vendors. In each instance we must find what triggers them into doing business with us. What goes beyond receiving a vehicle or a paycheck? What will make them stay with us for the long run? Think about what makes “fans” for a football team or NASCAR driver or team. If you get your employees, customers and vendors to be your fans, what do you think will happen?

Working with strategies, benchmarking your operation and setting goals are always important. We need to keep doing all these and we must not forget the ones executing such strategies. We must make sure we are at benchmark levels or better. The people in the organization, the managers that can lead their people and you, the dealer, have to see the whole picture and make it happen.

As the leader of your business, you are the person that all employees, customers, vendors’ families and other members of the community will look to. You are the person that will lead by example and make the decisions that will affect other lives. This is a great responsibility, however, if the economy isn’t good or your business is slow, you still must lead. You still affect dozens and possibly hundreds of lives. To get beyond being just good, to get to great, you must concentrate on the two most important things — your leadership and your people.
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Mauricio Espinosa is President and CEO of G20 Coaches and Consultants. G20 provides a wealth of products and services to the automotive dealership industry in North America. He is a trusted respected widely recognized leader in the industry. He is a contributing author for various trade publications and speaks at conventions and for associations throughout the year. You can contact Mr. Espinosa at 913.901.0100. To discover the benefits that G20 provides please visit http://www.g20inc.com.

G20, Inc. – Overland Park, KS
info@g20inc.com
913.341.8022

Your Prices May Scare ‘Em Off

Does your dealership have a retail-pricing policy, or do you just hope the pre-owned department uses good judgment to not scare off an owner base you spent years and dollars developing?

I may be biased toward retail-pricing policies, but it is a real concern. You see, the Internet has changed the advertising landscape and is in the process of changing the long-held concepts of location.

While location, location, location, is critical in real estate, and while it used to be critical in retail automotive, the latter is changing.

The Internet user has the ability to bypass all locations that may offer a vehicle on his or her shopping list if those locations don’t offer competitive pricing on those vehicles.

What this means is the age-old concept of pricing vehicles extra high so that you can come down when negotiating is becoming obsolete.

Believe me, I had a hard time overcoming my age-old bias in favor of this practice; a bias I held at least until I witnessed first-hand what an outdated pricing policy does to a used-car department’s floor traffic, incoming phone calls and Internet hits.

For years, one of the most prestigious marketing consulting companies has always seemed to determine that location was among the top three most important drivers of floor traffic, possibly the most important driver.

This has held true in the new-vehicle department as well as the pre-owned department for as long as I can remember.

By the way, these studies were and are expensive, yet dealers continue to pay what may seem to be outrageous amounts of money to be told that location is a top draw of prospective customers to shop them.

No doubt, in years past this was true. But it is changing and may be changed forever by the Internet.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that location isn’t important. In fact, it is still the source of most traffic in the pre-owned department and likely will continue to be for many years.

It’s just that it isn’t as important as it once was.

Many Internet users will still shop for a good price and continue to give you an opportunity to adjust your pricing to meet their expectations if they visit your store. But why should you, or would you, take the chance that they might not give you the benefit of the doubt and not visit your store.

If you have reason to question the importance of a dealership controlled pricing policy, just ask yourself: “Am I having more difficulty in generating floor traffic or am I having more difficulty in negotiating an agreeable price after the prospect comes to my dealership?”

If you are having more difficulty in generating sufficient floor traffic, check your pricing model to see if it is a reason for the poor traffic.

To check that, all you do is take a recent month’s retail deals and compare the original asking price vs. the final negotiated selling price. This should include an over-allowance or an under-allowance, if there is a trade.

If the spread is more than $1,000, then you may be costing yourself some floor traffic and volume. If you find that, you may be simply adjust your retail pricing to a more market-based pricing model.

Forget what any books or references say the price should be. Using any of the Internet based tools available, verify that all of your inventory is priced competitively in your market.

Cars.com and AutoTrader.com are two examples. Local newspapers can also be used as a good reference for retail pricing comparisons; that is, if your print ad prices are consistent with your Internet prices.

If your print pricing is not consistent with your Internet pricing, you should then check your on-lot pricing. If you find that all three of the prices are not consistent, it’s time for a managers’ meeting.
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Ed Curry is director of pre-owned operations for NCM in-house training and consulting. He can be reached at ecurry@ncm20.com.

Your Future Manager

Your future manager is a multi-tasking fiend. She or he will embrace every form of social media and communicate with staff by email or instant messenger. Technology use will be first and foremost on his or her mind, with an understanding that it doesn’t always work perfectly, but incorporating technology into processes is crucial. They will demand it!

I am the oldest of 6 and also have quite a few younger cousins that I’m very close to. They range from 5 years old to 26. The females spend a lot of their free time on MySpace and/or faceBook and are texting fanatics. The males also spend a lot of time playing XBOX Live. They all play team sports, take lessons for a particular musical instrument, read books, and do fairly well in school if they’re engaged that semester. They all have a cell phone (except the 5 year old), a computer (or three), their favorite flavor of social media, and over 900 channels of television to chose from along with an arsenal of movies to watch & videogames to play.

When I get into conversations with my parents, aunts and uncles about the comparisons of what the younger generation has and does compared to what they did, it always boils down to amazement at how the kids can do so much in so little time. Some of these kids have been wrongfully diagnosed for ADD because they can’t multi-task in school – they don’t have Attention Deficit Disorder! But they do their homework beautifully because they can do their school work while watching TV and messaging friends without worrying about a teacher getting upset. They’re addicted to multi-tasking. I am too….as I’m writing this article, I’m also watching the news, following Twitter & faceBook on TweetDeck, and responding to emails. I don’t find it amazing – I think it is just normal.

When we can’t multi-task, we’re bored.

My parents, on the other hand, focused on one thing at a time growing up. Playing with friends in the neighborhood or doing homework was pretty much all they could do after school. They didn’t have a TV in their bedroom and computers certainly weren’t around. They had to walk into another room to use the phone and they also had to stand next to that rotary dialing thing. They weren’t bred for multi-tasking.

I’m going to take things a step further. Have you ever played a video game? Yes, you probably have. Have you ever played a video game online with other people working together toward the same goal? If you’re over the age of 40, chances are you probably haven’t. The current main-stay game on XBOX Live is Call of Duty 4 where you are a special ops soldier for the US and you take on missions to stop terrorism. It is fast-paced and requires that you know your weaponry quite well in order to complete a mission effectively. There are goals and achievements to be made and you have to pay attention to quite a few different things all at once while playing. Then throw another 20 players into the mix and you’ve got an unpredictable human element compounding all the other stuff going on.

My point is, these kids who are playing XBOX are learning to strategize, memorize, plan, and work with others to achieve a common goal. Sounds like some damn good training to me!

Yeah, there’s that gory video game element, but is seeing something in a video game that you can see on the news or in a movie harmful enough to deny these skills that are being honed? I guess that’s a different topic for a different blog.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that there is a gap of misunderstanding between the younger and older generation. I want to point out the good in what our kids are doing today, and say that you need to be ready for what they’re going to do to the workforce in the next 10 years.
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Written by Alex Snyder
http://www.dealerrefresh.com

When You’re Hot, You’re Hot! But What if You’re Not?

Your sales team’s morale is an excellent indicator of where your business is headed. A bit depressing? You’d better do something – Quick!

But first, let’s take a closer look at the problem. Staff morale is defined as the combination of their confidence and discipline. While poor confidence will only produce a token effort, poor discipline will see them stop even this.

As a rule, what we expect comes from our view of the past and present events. If your business is a little slow, or your dealership is having some internal problems, you’ll need to establish in the minds of your salespeople that whatever went wrong is over, and better times are coming. However serious it was, your staff must put it behind them so you can all move on.

But to where? To start, we need to find something your team can feel good about. Who performed a miracle in the midst of your problems? How can we show that this accomplishment will lead to more in the future?

If you can identify even one person who produced a good result you have established the situation wasn’t impossible, just challenging. And they will become an inspiration. Politicians use this technique all the time. They will even claim a victory when things are still getting worse, but at a slower rate. They know how important it is to find something to feel good about.

However modest your recovery plans, share them. Each positive step to recovery will give everyone a sense of achievement and added confidence in their ability to make it. You don t need a massive success to change their outlook. Every improvement can provide each member with a share of pride in the accomplishment and a little greater expectation for the outcome. A series of small accomplishments will provide more reassurance than a single event.

It really is a simple process to improve the morale:

[list:1qypjlgl]• Change their view of what happened
• Adjust their perspective
• Point out the good news
• Focus their attention on the future
• Share exactly what you are going to do and how they will know it is working
• Ensure everyone feels a part of the result
• Highlight Every Accomplishment![/list:u:1qypjlgl]
Then watch how your customers respond to the change in your team!

Why ‘Lone Ranger’ Managers Are Lousy Leaders

Some leaders turn themselves into martyrs. They think if they want something done they might as well do it themselves. They take pride in making all the decisions, coming up with all the ideas, and doing all the ‘big jobs’ personally rather than delegate them. These lone ranger leaders believe that because they carry such a load they are indispensable and have great value. Just the opposite is true. Leaders who make all the decisions, come up with all the ideas and carry the load themselves are the weakest of leaders and here’s why:

1. One reason a leader would assume a lone ranger mentality is if he or she had not taken the time to teach others to think for themselves, empower them to act and decide, train and mentor them to grow personally. But these tasks are the highest callings of leadership and leaders that shirk them are selfish, limited and weak.

It takes a strong leader to push power down the ladder instead of hoarding it at the top. It takes an unselfish leader to invest time, money and resources in the development of others.

Lone ranger leaders are typically micromanagers and oftentimes they will grow their company – to a point – because micromanagement does produce success, but it is limited and only in the short term. However, because they fail to grow others, they ultimately limit their team, their organization and themselves. They fail to grow and plateau and so do the people and organization they lead.

2. The second reason a leader becomes a ‘one man show’ is because the people around him or her aren’t competent and unworthy of empowering to act, make decisions and share the load. This, too is a sign or severe leadership weakness and solely the leader’s fault since he or she is responsible for building the team, training them, creating an environment where they can succeed, setting expectations and motivating them to become more and do more.

It’s time for weak leaders stop believing that the measure of their success is how much they do, how far they go and how much they get. A much truer measure of a leader is how many people he or she takes with them on the journey.

And if you have one of those bigger-than-Texas egos and think you’re indispensable, just leave. My bet is when you drive by your former workplace in a month, six months or a year from now, it’ll still be there. As Charles de Gaulle said, "The graveyard is filled with indispensable men."

Since you are dispensable, I suggest you build an inner circle of leaders, invest in them and hand off as much as you can to them because great leaders want to be succeeded, not needed. They know the only way to be indispensable is to become dispensable.
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Written by Dave Anderson, President
Learn to Lead
800-519-8224

Your Five Daily Decisions As a Leader

One of my favorite and most-effective business rules is that, “It is your inside decisions more than outside conditions that determine how far you go and how fast you get there in business.” While there are numerous daily decisions you are faced with, I want to narrow your focus down to five of the most important. The quality of these decisions will greatly impact the quality of your life, both at work and away. And in a tougher market with more at stake and less margin for error, making the right decisions is even more essential.

1. Your character choices.
Each day you get to decide character issues like: will you gossip, take shortcuts, give your job 100 percent of your effort, tell the whole truth, persist in the face of difficulties, seek out and listen to feedback, admit your mistakes, give away credit and the like. Keep your character choices in tact, and you’ll protect your talent and be a leader that lasts. Bend your character to fit the situation and these decisions will eventually break you.

2. Where you spend your time.
Each day you will decide whether or not you will engage in the essential or immerse yourself in the trivial; whether you will commit to the important or be chased by the urgent. You will also choose how quickly you return to your priorities when circumstances temporarily pull you away from them. Make the right decisions consistently and you’ll work smarter and accomplish more in less time. On the other hand, poor decisions in this regard resign you to putting in more hours and days to get done what you could have accomplished in the first place had you put first things first.

3. With whom you spend your time.
Each day you will decide how to allocate your time amongst those who call you their leader. If you try to please everyone rather than give your best to the best, you will be more of a diplomat than a leader. While you cannot ignore the weak people on your team, you have to question why you allow them to remain so that they continue to drain your time and passion. After all, it is easier to build a skyscraper where you already have a firm foundation in place than it is trying to work around the pitfalls that mud holes present. Give your best to the best and you’ll gain momentum and accelerate growth. Weaken the strong in an effort to strengthen the weak, and you’ll create a corporate welfare state that becomes renowned as a safe house for underachievers.

4. Your attitude.
Each day you will decide how to respond to what happens around you. You’ll choose to reply with dignity or with rashness; in a manner that will elevate your standing amongst your team or diminish it; in a way that will create momentum or break it. When a leader makes poor attitude choices, three things are likely to disappear: momentum, morale and respect for you as the leader. Make the right attitude choices and everyone around you feels better about you and their job. Choose the wrong responses and you’ll spend a lot of time living down and apologizing for the immaturity of the moment.

5. Your level of discipline.
Discipline is essential because you cannot be consistent in the other four areas without it. The key to discipline is consistency. Anyone can do the right things occasionally, whether it’s saying “no” to low-return activities, or to the second piece of apple pie. But it’s the ability to consistently make and execute the diligent daily disciplines essential to continual growth that separates world-class leaders with wannabes. The good news is that because discipline is a choice, it can be developed, right along with the other four daily decision factors listed in this section. Character choices, where you spend your time and with whom you spend it, attitude and discipline would make a great checklist for daily reflection before you leave work each day.

Evaluate how well you did in each sector and decide what adjustments must be made to make tomorrow more effective than today. These five decisions are also effective criteria to use when evaluating and coaching others. By making them more aware of the power these five decisions have each day, you can accelerate their growth and their contribution to the organization.
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Written by Dave Anderson
The Dave Anderson Corporation – Agoura Hills, CA
dave@learntolead.com
800.519.8224

Dave Anderson is president of LearnToLead. He is an international author and speaker, presenting 120 times annually in 13 countries. Dave has been a car salesman, general manager and director of some of America’s most successful dealerships. He is the author of nine books, his most recent being, the TKO Business Series. Dave has spoken at the NADA Convention for nine consecutive years.

When Is a Spot Delivery Not a Spot Delivery?

While the rest of the nation concentrates on the credit crisis tied to alleged abuses in the mortgage industry; while many states are passing a laws cracking down on mortgage lenders, brokers, and loan originators; while many counties are enacting stricter laws relating to registration of and the standard of care for foreclosed properties, Texas has chosen to concentrate on “reregulating” car dealers.

In the 2009 legislative session, the Texas legislature was kind enough to “allow” retail sellers (car dealers) to finance GAP waivers, increase the documentary fee imposed on buyers, finance negative equity, and engage in conditional deliveries. These allowances, however, were not without a cost. Dealers choosing to take advantage of the new laws must navigate substantial limitations, disclosures, and filing requirements.

Dealers aren’t the only ones saddled with additional burdens. Consumers will now have to read, understand, and sign additional disclosures. And, the Texas Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner is frantically drafting and publishing regulations for comment after the effective dates of the legislation.

So, exactly how restrictive are some of these new requirements? The Texas conditional delivery requirements give us a good example.

On September 1, 2009, Texas law authorized dealers to legally engage in conditional or “spot” deliveries. As most of you know, a typical spot delivery goes a little like this: A dealer and customer enter into a retail installment contract, after which the dealer shops the contract in an attempt to find financing for the deal. If the dealer cannot find financing, he asks the customer to return the car and unwinds the contract. In other words, in a typical spot delivery situation, the customer leaves the dealership with a vehicle and there is a valid sale unless a subsequent condition occurs to unwind the deal.

What is typical in other states is not what is legal in Texas. A retail installment sale contract in Texas may not be conditioned on the subsequent assignment of the contract to a third party. Instead, conditional deliveries are subject to a conditional delivery agreement, which is void upon the execution of a retail installment sale contract. While Texas is not the only state that prohibits a dealer from unwinding the financing upon the occurrence of a subsequent event, the Texas law imposes some limitations that are worth noting.

The Finance Code prescribes the terms that can be contained in a conditional delivery agreement. For example, it limits the term of a conditional delivery agreement to 15 days and prohibits a dealer from selling any trade-in vehicle during that time. It prohibits a conditional delivery agreement from conferring rights of ownership, including ownership of the motor vehicle subject to the conditional delivery. The law details the actions a dealer and buyer must take if they do not enter into a motor vehicle installment sale contract, including the return of the trade-in vehicle or, if the trade-in vehicle cannot be returned in the same or substantially similar condition, the delivery of the agreed value of the trade-in. If a dealer pays the value of the trade-in, which, by the way, is also regulated by the Finance Code, the transaction is subject to the review of the Texas Consumer Credit Commissioner and an administrative penalty.

Are you confused? Don’t hold your breath waiting for clarification from the regulator. There are no pending regulations clarifying the law relating to conditional deliveries. Unlike the other laws under the purview of the Texas Credit Commissioner, we also understand that there will be no plain language form of conditional delivery agreement. So, when is a spot delivery not a spot delivery? When it occurs in Texas.
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Nicole Munro is a partner in the Maryland office of Hudson Cook, LLP. She can be reached at 410-865-5430 or by email at nmunro@hudco.com

What is the Point of Performance Reviews ?

Probably the most misused, abused and disused management tool in the dealership is the performance review. It’s the strangest thing. Ask any Sales Manager whether they think a performance review is an important thing to do, they are almost unanimous. "Of course it is", is the common response. If you ask why it’s important, they will tell you and tell you and tell you.

The odd thing is that they often don’t get done, and Sales Managers and salespeople hate the darned things. More importantly, Sales Managers look for a variety of reasons to delay and delay them. Why is that?

It’s uncomfortable to do performance reviews. But why is it uncomfortable? Because people undertake them for the wrong reasons and wrong perspective, which ends up putting the Sales Manager and the salespeople on different "sides". Appraisals are used for determining pay increases, who gets let go, who gets promoted. Often they are used to focus on what people have done wrong.

So what is the point of performance reviews? Here’s a starting point that actually works. The most important purpose or goal of the review is to improve performance in the future…and not just for the salespeople. Managers can get valuable information from salespeople to help them make their jobs more productive. They can be used to identify problems that interfere with everyone’s work.

If we shift from affixing blame, to identifying barriers to performance we begin to remove the fear and dread people have about these "reviews". When we focus on the present and the future, we change our focus to what’s been to what can be better tomorrw.

A review that works involves a number of things, but first and foremost is the process of identifying what has gotten in the way of better performance (regardless of the level of performance), and how the Sales Manager and staff can work together in the future, to improve it. It’s really that simple.

When Managers put away the "blaming stick" in reviews and move to a cooperative, dialogue approach, the whole process can become more comfortable and effective. Because, it puts the Manager and staff on the same side, and working towards the same goals, getting better and better.

Sure, we do use Performance Reviews for a number of reasons but if we are going to get real value out of the time and energy we put into them, we have to look at the process in a more constructive way. And, bottom line, that’s making performance better.

What Makes a Great Sales Manager?

There’s no single, remarkable secret. In fact, great Sales Managers are many things. Depending on the situation, a great sales Manager is a time-management supervisor, a meeting planner, a contest coordinator, a talent scout, a coach, a trainer and a psychiatrist. All of those roles put together–and executed well–make for a great Sales Manager.

However, there are five key areas in which the best Sales Managers excel. Great Managers:

1. Are passionate and enthusiastic.
These traits are transferred to the entire sales staff. If the leader is negative, everyone else will be pulled down. How do great managers maintain a realistically positive attitude? Great managers are great readers; they read everything they can find about their crafts and industries. They seek out mentors whose wisdom and experience can help them achieve their goals, and they encourage their salespeople to do the same. They surround themselves with high-quality people.

2. Recruit great salespeople.
Many managers don’t start recruiting until someone leaves, which means they often settle for second best in order to fill the gap. Great managers, on the other hand, are always on the lookout for talented people. One way they do that is by carrying two-sided business cards to give out to people they meet at other businesses who demonstrate great sales and service skills. One side of the card contains the standard name, address and phone number. On the other side, it might say, "I was very impressed with your service and professionalism. Please call me if you’re ever looking for a career." The success of a sales manager is in direct proportion to the success of the team, which is why it’s critical to hire the best people.

3. Make their numbers through their salespeople, not for them.
The greatest difficulty a sales team can have is a manager who closes for his people. When that happens, the salespeople don’t learn the skills they need to move to the highest level of self-sufficiency. It’s instinctive for a manager to want to jump in and save a sale, but the message you send is that you may not be training your salespeople enough. Close a deal for a salesperson and you’ve made one sale; teach him how to close and you’ve made a career.

4. Leads by example and develops a strong team.
Great sales managers develop a philosophy of "team". They wouldn’t expect their salespeople to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. They involve the team in decision making processes for the good of the sales department. They work together for the success of the entire team and department, and leave selfish egos at the door.

5. Understand their salespeople’ individual strengths and weaknesses.
They’re able to ask non-directive questions like "What do you think you could have done differently on that sale?" or "What was your objective?" When the salespeople say it, they own it; when the manager says it, they doubt it. Great managers are aware of what motivates each salesperson and know how to get the best from everyone. They expect excellence. If your salespeople know you think they’re capable of reaching greater heights, they’ll strive for them.

Your role as a leader is to encourage your people to succeed. There may be substantial monetary rewards in being a great sales manager, but the greatest reward is having helped others reach their goals. Our material possessions won’t really matter once we’re gone. Our greatest legacy is the people we’ve helped build, who are left to build others in the same way.