Today a manager's ability to answer the question, “What stopped the sale?” relies on identifying, assessing and responding to situations as they happen.

Equally important is a commitment to coaching, educating and training sales people and to changing processes to prevent similar situations from recurring in the future.

In management, this is often called Quick Response Management. Yet developing the QRM skill is often one of managers' biggest challenges.

They must develop skills in monitoring sales people's ability to follow and use a sales process. Without following through or using those skills, the sales people will be the ones who stop the sale.

At APB, we find that the challenge in developing QRM skills typically stems from three factors.

‘I'm Too Busy Managing!’

Once promoted to management, many individuals tend to stay in their offices like their predecessors, whom they learned from. They no longer interact with customers as they did before being promoted.

There's always a reason to hole up in an office: inventory management, marketing plans, dealer and manufacturer reports, financial matters and more.

Managers should not be buried in paperwork; they should be buried in people work. Those who stay in their office to “manage” the operations lose touch with the reality of their business and more important, with their people, and ultimately lose sales and control.

Micromanaging vs. Managing

A common problem is that many managers don't understand the differences of micromanagement, management and abdication.

To avoid the trap of micromanagement (a style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of their employees) many managers go to the opposite extreme, abdication (giving up or evading responsibility).

Managers who go to this extreme simply hire sales people and put them to work with no input, training, coaching or feedback. It's basically a sink or swim mentality.

Management (the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively) is a finely honed skill that requires understanding the fine line between micromanagement and abdication, and how it applies to each individual person.

In Theory, It Works

When managers grasp the importance of continuing education for themselves and their sales people, they work diligently to provide training and tools that will help drive success.

But it is not enough to gain knowledge without ever putting theory into practice, evaluating progress, providing constructive feedback and resetting goals. Even the best-educated in sales won't be effective if their education remains theoretical.

“In Theory, It Works,” often has the greatest impact. Do you have a process? Do you have the tools needed to make the process work? Do your sales people know about the process and understand how to apply it?

With educational opportunities, tools and a clear sales process in place, managers are equipped to identify, assess and respond to what's going on in their dealerships instantly.

While a quick response is helpful in putting out fires, an overall plan is required to change behavior and attitude and to improve long-term, consistent results.

Managers must continually think about the type of training needed, how and when to observe, assess and provide feedback, and how to gauge and improve results. Training improves the bottom line. Think what it costs not to train and educate.

Richard F. Libin, author of “Who Stopped the Sale?” (www.whostoppedthesale.com) is president of Automotive Profit Builders, with more than 42 years experience of fostering customer satisfaction and maximizing profits through personnel development and technology. He is at rlibin@apb.cc and 508-626-9200.