You have opinions, I have opinions, We all have opinions. My opinion today centers around the "Turn Over" or commonly referred to as a "TO," which may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of the car business. For those readers not familiar with the process it’s generally a salesman turning over their customer to a manager to "close the deal."
In theory, managers have better closing skills than the average sales person so managers are often times expected to go in for the close. Bear in mind I said "in theory," which doesn’t always hold true.
Many dealers are still running the business with what they believe to be a tried and proven method of negotiating the deal. Dealers who negotiate the transaction most often employ the concept of a "TO" to management. If you’ve read much of my material you know I believe the best business model today is that of CarMax and non-negotiation.
Since so many dealers have not yet, and may never move towards the CarMax model I want to address the "TO" concept. Even if you have moved to the "one price," non-negotiating model, you still may be utilizing a "TO" at some point in the transaction.
There are many things changing in the automobile business these days, but one of the core principles that should not change is a sales person should never let a customer leave without checking with a manager first. That fundamental principle is critical to the success of the business. There is no argument that can be presented that will lean in favor of the sales person having the latitude to decide when to let a customer walk.
The customer belongs to the dealership, not the sales person. Maybe, just maybe the sales person created the lead from friendship, prospecting or whatever, but the dealership has far more invested in the generating of that customer than the sales person will ever have. Thus, management should be allowed to determine when and how the customer goes out the door.
Whenever I hear dealers talk about the type of sales manager they have or want to have one of the things that they seem to want is a "good closer." They want someone who will get off their duff and go in and close the deal.
I’m not sure we are going to agree on all or any part of this, but one of the things God blessed me with is common sense, and to me this is all about common sense and human nature.
I believe the TO can and should take place at any point in the sale, not just during the negotiating process. Managers have to have a keen sense of what’s going on around them. Call it peripheral vision if you may. Far too often they have their head stuck in a computer or better yet stuck in the sand. They just don’t see what’s going on around them.
So, the TO could take place immediately after the sales person greets the customer. No, really I’m not kidding. If you sense there is bad chemistry between the customer and the sales person from jump street then do it right away before the deal gets all screwed up and you never have a chance for the sale. In Tommy’s little world the "TO" could occur from that moment up until the customer is "put out the door." (Getting a little old school talk here.)
So, let’s fast-forward to a "TO" being utilized to "close" the customer. Many dealerships operate on the theory of the sales manager going in to close the customer. Let me say this as nice as I can. As long as you continue to follow that practice you will never develop a strong sales force. You just won’t.
I’m sorry to report that the average sales person is lazy. (Don’t get testy, I said average.) As long as you keep closing their deals for them they will continue to let you do so, and all that does is make them weaker and in your mind makes you stronger. And of course in the dealer’s mind you are a strong sales manager because you close deals. (Kind of like the Government giving handouts, the more they hand out the stronger the Government. Yikes, I don’t believe I stuck that in here.).
I believe the first "TO" should be handed to another sales person not the sales manager. Of course the manager makes that decision as to who, when and how. The manager decides who they are going to send in on the "TO" and that person is introduced as the Assistant Sales Manager.
If you’re a sales person, doesn’t it stand to reason that if you know you’re going to have to give up a half a deal that you are going to work that much harder to close the customer as opposed to running to the desk asking the manager to do your job for you? The more you do for them the more they want you to do for them. (More political message here.)
Sales people will never get any better at their job as long as you keep doing it for them. Is there still a time and place for the manager to go in on a "TO?" Of course there is, but the first point of attack should be to send another sales person in, not the manager.
If the manager is running around closing all the deals who’s running the desk and managing people and processes? Don’t take this to mean that the manager shouldn’t have good selling skills. They should, because they are always selling something, cars, concepts, ideas, processes, etc. just like I’m doing right now. I’m trying to sell you on my way of thinking. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs