Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is Your Front Line Offensive?

This is a car dealership and three salesmen outside the front door. What is your impression of this business? What is right about this picture? What is wrong about this picture? How does this picture make you feel?

These are questions that people are answering in milliseconds as they drive by or drive up to the store. Do you dealers know what their answers are?

Having been a sales manager and sales trainer most of my life, I can tell you what I think about this photo. Here is my take:

  • I never let salespeople wear sunglasses on the lot. If their eyes are too sensitive, they can work in the dark somewhere else. Cool is not the rule.
  • It is my own experience and that of most customers that if I can't see your eyes, I can't build any trust. I just don't have a good feeling. It's fine if the customer wears sunglasses, but not the salesperson.
  • It looks like these salesmen have nothing to do. They aren't proactive, they are non-productive. This is typical car business however, and that is a sad notation of what can be a great business.
  • Salesmen complain that people drive in and look around and leave. Some dealers even go so far as to block off certain areas to try to force people to stop and get out of their car. When a customer drives up and sees this, why would they want to get out of the car?
  • The salesman with the unique goatee may please his girlfriend, but to many people, he looks mean. Facial hair is okay, but it is better to not look like the bad, nasty rock group photo. It is better to look like someone who is very approachable and that someone would want to talk with you.

The front line is the first line of defense. The manager and business owner needs to be fully aware of the front line at all times.

And, it is not just the car business, although it is so hard to pass up such a great example. . .

A couple of days ago I went into a clothing store and the only salesperson was a seriously obese gentlemen who was dressed so poorly that it looked like he slept in his clothes, nothing fit, and it didn't even look clean. He's working in a worldwide brand name store, selling clothing. Manager? The person running this store is more likely called a Mangler. What a sad presentation to the public when you first walk in. It was pitiful. What are they thinking hiring this person? Desperation? I just don't get it. Is your front line offensive? Business owners: need a real manager?

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