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Guest opinion: tough market requires a relentless focus on sales

David Boyce, managing director of enquiryMAX

Motor retailing is in a state of flux with more pressure on new sales and more competition in the used sector. The consumer has never had more choice and data to inform those decisions.

In this world, every sale must be maximised and to do it, a strong sales culture needs to be built. A relentless focus on the customer will boost profits.

While the latest technology will provide software that will track the sales process and report the numbers, a successful sales team will build a culture where they live the numbers.

When everyone from the CEO to the sales trainee lives the same numbers, it is remarkable how sales performance can be transformed.

The most successful companies embrace the idea that they are first and foremost a sales organisation. The focus on the customer and the sales data that each customer creates must come from the top and be lived by everyone in the team.

An effective sales culture is built on a clear mission. The best are free from corporate gubbins and set out where the company will be over time and what the team need to do to get there. By making a mission statement simple and easy to remember, it is more likely to be used.

Data will support transparency and communication across a team. The tools that enquiryMAX build are available online and on mobile platforms for a reason. Users need to use them and believe in the process. It needs to be easy, or people won’t use it.

The sales data should be used every day and at every customer interaction. When did the customer enquire? Was the test drive followed up? Did the sales process follow proper procedure? These are important questions that provide more than sales rigour; they build a culture.

Experts at enquiryMAX have identified that salespeople should have no more than 20-25 active prospects to handle at any one time. Any more than this number and opportunities usually begin to slip.

All good things in sales come from good communication both with the customer and with each other. Information is captured, used and circulated to create the transparency that drives a high-performance sales culture.

Change in any team requires focus and resilience, but the data tells the story. On average teams that create a data led sales culture see a 20% uplift in sales. Data empowers a team to hit their goals. 

A good sales team will put in the hard work because they can see the fruits of their labour. The success should be rewarded and celebrated. It is clear that dealers have improved this immensely in recent years.

Understanding the numbers will also create a more accurate vision of the future. And good forecasting is a fundamental element of profitability. When a sales team knows the metrics between the number of enquiries to sales, it can more accurately manage the levers between marketing spend, offers and sales income.

There are wider benefits to create a company wide sales culture. Sales focused companies tend to perform highly in every department. Good sales teams lift other departments through necessity.

And finally, data will help to improve the customer experience. Nothing annoys a customer more than an unreturned call, email or tweet. Good technology will help salespeople respond more quickly and be better armed with insight.

Let’s be clear in a 24/7 retail environment; customers no longer accept a call back in a couple of days.

It is also important to integrate mobile and social retail data to ensure that enquiries are responded to, and trends are tracked. The goal should always be to provide a seamless experience to the customer, and that goes for the person running the Facebook page to remembering how they take their tea.

If a busy sales team is truly passionate about putting the customer first, then technology is essential to enabling the team to work optimally.

In the next couple of years, the industry will see some seismic changes with new entrants to the market and new ways to own a vehicle. If dealers want to hang onto their customers, they need to put them at the heart of a high performance, data rich, culture.

Author: David Boyce, managing director of enquiryMAX

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  • Anon - 18/08/2017 13:35

    Some good points here, although I would argue that engendering a 'sales culture' is probably putting the needs of the salesperson first vs a 'customer service' culture where the customer is at the heart of the process. I think we need to realise we are in a service industry. We are here to make it easy for customers to walk away with the right product for them. Not us.