The four-step management process

The essence of management is the process of getting things done through the efforts of others. Virtually everything a successful Sales Manager does is geared to getting their salespeople to perform the way they want them to. The things they do to accomplish this can be broken down into four professional management functions or skills: Plan. Organize. Direct. Control.
These four basic skills break down into a number of duties. For example: Planning may break down into setting sales objectives, assessing budget needs, making schedules, preparing advertising and promotional programs, etc.
But what exactly is it that you’re managing? The answer is resources! There are six resources a sales manager works with:
– PEOPLE (Salespeople, F&I personnel, customers, Parts and Service Department personnel, etc.)
– MONEY (Budgets you allocate as well as the money your sales department brings in.)
– INVENTORY (The products you offer for sale. It may also include depreciable assets such as office furniture and machines.)
– FACILITIES (Showroom, building, the lot, your offices, warehouse, etc.)
– INFORMATION (Reports, product brochures, training materials, etc.)
– TIME (Always in short supply.)
With the four basic management skills and these six resources, you should be able to accomplish everything necessary to become a successful sales manager.
In this article we’ll begin a multi-part series that will show you how planning, organizing, directing and controlling can be applied to managing your most important resource…people.
The first step in a project is to set objectives and develop actions plans to accomplish these objectives. Objectives are goals. As the sales manager, you have a responsibility to establish departmental objectives as your goals.
Managers often assume that, since the objectives are so obvious (to sell product), everyone knows what they are and how to accomplish them. But general objectives are too obscure. To ensure that your objectives are clear and understood by all, you must accomplish the following:
– Specifically state the objective.
– Clearly set a deadline.
– Describe how the objective will be measured or verified.
Here are three examples: “Our objective is to increase this year’s total unit sales by 5%, while keeping the increase in cost of sales at 1%.”
“We are implementing a training program for our salespeople. They must score 80% on a product knowledge test within the first week and 100% within two weeks.”
“For the next month, our goal is to increase overall kept appointments by one per day.”
By creating defined objectives, you will:
– Establish standards. Accurate measurement of performance depends on standards.
– Provide motivation. When you set an objective and really commit to it, your creative juices begin to flow. Succeeding becomes the most important thing. When difficulties arise, you seem to find new ways of meeting objectives. The same holds true for your salespeople.
n Provide direction. With objectives, you know where you want to be, when you want to be there and what you need to accomplish each day in order to succeed.
It’s important to create realistic, attainable goals that force you to stretch in order to achieve them. An objective that’s too high is as bad as one that’s too low. It’s also important for objectives to be flexible. If conditions change, you may have to revise your objectives to keep them realistic.
Think about how many units your department can sell this coming year. Factor in such things as present sales staff, new models, economic trends, etc. Then consult with your dealer principal to set an annual sales objective that’s in line with the dealership’s overall goals.
Seasonality can impact sales, so it is important to break down the annual sales objective into monthly objectives. Then you can discuss each month’s objectives with each salesperson.

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