Every high-performing sales organization is led by a manager who has the answers to 10 common performance questions that separate the strong from the weak. Your answers to these questions will be your compass for action and execution. They are your roadmap for improving sales.

1. Which lead source generates the most gross profit?
Every sales organization uses leads to generate sales. Whether it’s door-to-door knocking, sitting at your desk waiting for the next up bus or launching a large, multimedia ad campaign, salespeople need prospective customers to sell their product or service to.

Top-performing sales managers know which lead source is generating the most leads. They know what their cost per lead (CPL) is for every source, but more importantly, they know what their cost per sale (CPS) is. CPS matters most because it is this cost that represents your true investment. Top managers maximize their ROI instead of dickering over the CPL. If you want the good leads, they’re going to cost more. It’s up to you to decide if they are worth the investment.

2. How well does your Web site convert unique visitors into actual sales leads? The Internet is replacing the yellow pages and newspaper for today’s consumer. To remain competitive, you need a strong presence on the Web, and prospective customers need to be able to find you among the clutter. However, that can be very costly, especially if you’re just learning about SEO. What’s even costlier is driving traffic to your site that does not convert to leads. You have to know what your conversion rate is to continue improving your sales process. You can have the fanciest site in the world, but its sole purpose is to generate sales leads.

3. Are you eliminating good lead sources because you lack the tools to convert them? Just like visitors to your Web site, at the end of the day the only thing that matters is your ability to convert these visitors into leads and the leads into sales. If you don’t have the right balance between process and product, your sales conversion is going to be low, or if you lack the ability to effectively capture prospects’ attention and inspire them to buy, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and money.

Top-performing sales managers know the importance of converting prospects into leads and leads into sales. They also know what tools they need to make the sale once the customer arrives at the store. Does your inventory match what your customers can afford to finance? Is it what they want? Are you partnered with the top finance companies in your market that will finance those customers sitting in front of you?

4. What process is your best salesperson using?
Every sales team has top performers. They also have wannabes who probably won’t make it in sales. Top-performing managers know the secret sauce their aces are using and set the bar for performance based on their results. These managers inspire the rest of the team to pay attention to and mimic the work ethic and processes of top-performing salespeople. Most importantly, they understand the processes that work and train their team on best practices from which the rest of the team can benefit.

5. When they are away from the dealership, do your salespeople have the ability to respond to prospective customers?
We live in the information age where virtually everyone has a cell phone with the capability of e-mail and text messaging. Every good salesperson knows the importance of constant customer contact and uses the latest technology to achieve top-of-mind awareness. Have you seen Facebook and MySpace lately? These social networking sites are loaded with prospecting sales teams and businesses promoting their livelihood.

6. Where is your sales team stalling in the sales process? Is there a common theme to address?
Total quality management is built on the principles of Kaizen – continuous improvement – and the strongest business leaders are constantly looking to reinforce the weakest link in their sales chain.

7. Is every lead being followed up on in a timely manner?
It costs money to generate and purchase sales leads, and it absolutely kills me to see dealerships have 40 or 50 percent of their investment fall through the cracks due to a lack of process or accountability. Top-performing sales teams treat every lead like a potential sale and understand that other dealers can beat them to the punch. They manage every lead with 100-percent accountability.

8. Does your sales team have immediate access to up-to-date brochures, product information and competitive data?
Point-of-sale material and testimonials are critical keys for success in sales because they give the less impulsive prospects something to read and think about outside of the sales environment. They turn shoppers into “be-backs.” Top-performing sales teams are proud and want to tell people why they should buy from them. They also want to share success stories and understand testimonials are great tools to help build trust.

9. Which competitors are you losing business to and why?
Top-performing managers and their teams know the score in the game. They know what down it is and they know what they have to do to win. They don’t assume anything or ever chalk up a competitor’s success to factors that are beyond their control.

10. How do you know when to hire more salespeople?
Top-performing sales managers are business leaders. They know when their team is underperforming and when they’re overstressed. They live by the one-third rule—they let the top third run with the ball, focus training on the shortfalls of the middle third, and are constantly looking to replace the bottom third.

Vol. 6, Issue 4