We all know that the auto industry has faced several headwinds over the past few years. A highly competitive rising-rate environment coupled with inventory shortages and increasing average transaction prices (ATP) required creative ways to keep sales teams engaged and motivated. They need to feel supported on the front line, while also being efficient and disciplined in driving revenue. When I reflect on the challenges that my 100-plus person sales team at Chase Auto has recently faced, I know that clear goals and expectations, customer obsession and human connection have absolutely been the keys to their success.
Control what you can control
It is easy for a sales team to become discouraged in a challenging environment. While there are some things that you can’t change, it is important that your team has clear goals and expectations, and deeply understands the unique value that they bring to their clients.
As a sales leader, it is my responsibility to prioritize and explain the different business initiatives to my team, so they can be used to ultimately help deepen their relationships with clients. Our sales team is made up of trusted advisors, and their jobs aren’t easy. We cannot control rising rates or lack of inventory, but we can educate and bring value to our clients with speed to market, increased automation, enhanced self-service digital tools, one-to-one credit support and better sales alignment.
Understanding customers’ needs
Sales teams need to know how to ask the right questions to really get to know the dealer. Only then can they use the tools at their disposal to create customized solutions. By obsessing about the customer and keeping their needs at the center of your sales efforts, you can build stronger, deeper relationships.
Last year as rates were increasing, I kept the sales team focused on educating dealers on our newly enhanced self-service digital tools, our omnichannel resource and our online finance journey. Educating twelve-thousand dealers does not happen overnight, but consistent messaging and a human touch will bring positive results.
Lead with humanity
Human connection is essential during a challenging time, both at work and personally. In order to be there for your clients you must first be there for your team. I have an open-door policy and encourage my sales team to reach out any time with questions or feedback; good, bad, or indifferent. I want to hear what’s on their minds so I can provide coaching and fix issues, or at least try to make it better. Promoting open communication and collaboration through regular meetings, roundtables and knowledge-sharing will surely foster a positive culture.
Work/life balance is also something I keep in the forefront; as a leader, you must incorporate this philosophy and lead by example. And sometimes, simply checking on someone and asking if they are okay, lending them an ear and connecting with them on a personal level is really the key.
Ultimately, challenging times can create opportunities for success if you can keep your team focused with clear objectives and goals. Inspiring human connection and customer obsession from your team will create success now and in the future. I am grateful for the past few years as they allowed me to set up my colleagues for success, and ultimately become a better leader.
Amy Brooks is the national retail sales executive for Chase Auto, leading over 100 Dealer Services sales managers who work with over 12,000 dealers across the country. She has been with Chase for almost 20 years, and recently spoke at the Auto Finance Summit East in Nashville, Tenn.
The Big Wheels Auto Finance Data 2023 report, the only tabulation of the top 200 auto lenders by outstandings, is available now.