Day in the life of
Sales and Finance Manager – Mark Beneke
My name is Mark Beneke. I am the co-owner and previous sales/finance manager of two buy-here-pay-here used car dealerships, Westland Auto Sales, in Fresno, CA. We’ve been in business since 2007 and specialize in providing quality vehicles and financing to people with less-than-stellar credit.
I overlooked the hiring, training, management of salespeople, and desking of deals. Currently, I am focusing solely on marketing for the dealership, inventory purchase, and planning for the continued growth of the company.
My typical day
As a sales manager, I would begin the day with a 10-30 minute sales meeting that would motivate the team for the day. I would then disperse out all leads that had arrived over the night and oversee the team through their calls. While they completed this, I would walk the lot and ensure that everything was in order and review the sales folders to ensure all necessary paperwork from a customer was obtained and sent to the correct department or lender.
I would review some of the marketing and tweak areas or make new ads to put out. By this time, customers would already be coming in and require my attention.
Salespeople would write up their customers and bring me the application, which I would then review and input through our internal scoring system to determine if this was a good candidate for outside financing or if they would benefit more through our own financing. I would find the best vehicles for them based on what they are looking for and their specific situation and have the salesperson present them. I would then secure their financing and have the salespeople close the deal (or close it myself if necessary). I would print out the paperwork and have the salesperson review it with them and have them sign.
After the sale, I would organize all of the paperwork and send off all of the proofs and contracts to the right places.
Much of my job was running reports, continually training salespeople, keeping salespeople on task, adjusting marketing, printing paperwork and keeping it organized, and desking deals.
Can be fast-paced and exhilarating. Each time you sell, it makes you feel powerful and feels great, even if you were not the one who closed it.
Our environment was laid back and the sales team felt like family. They always looked up to me and trusted that I had their back and it felt good to see your people go to war for you.
There is a ton of money to be made for something that is extremely easy to do.
Some customers are very appreciative of you and your team and go out of their way to thank you. This always made me feel great.
The hours were super long and unpredictable. There were days when we would only have one or two customers and have one show up right as we were closing and we would stay until midnight.
Much of my job as a sales manager was about babysitting salespeople. They are adults but can sometimes behave like children and bicker at each other, complain, act like the world is against them, and need pep talks to keep them going. This can be extremely annoying.
Advice to aspiring car dealership sales managers
Many car dealerships will promote internally and they begin from the bottom. I would suggest that someone start at any position they can, but preferably in the sales department. If it is outside of this department like a detailer or porter, make sure that your personality is noticed by someone in the sales department so you can be transferred. From there, learn everything you can about selling, closing, but most of all, keeping yourself on task and efficient. All the skills necessary to streamline a process for a salesperson is what is crucial to know as a sales manager. Offer help to your manager and follow through with the offer. Ask a lot of questions of them when they allow you so you can learn the process and also ask what they feel would make the sales department more effective. Start trying to implement anything they mention in your spare time and make sure you get noticed.
Advice to students interested in this career path
While in school, I highly recommend you take on a sales job, preferably at a car dealership. Sales is something that you can carry with you to any position in life. Even as a doctor, author, or pastor, you will be required to sell people on ideas they may be reluctant about, and the more you understand about the nature of selling, the more effective you will be at getting people to adopt your ideas.
I also recommend that you take advantage of acting, business, and finance courses. These are three areas that can set you up extremely well for a successful career in sales management and will put you above the rest.
What should they think about before considering becoming a sales manager?
You should think about whether it is a temporary step for yourself or if it is a long term career choice. There is a lot of money to be made in sales management and can be very coveted within the industry, but it also requires long hours and dedication. The people who are there already are usually older and have fought hard to get there and keep their position. They won’t leave without a fight.
You should also think about whether you feel you are patient, empathetic (or can at least learn empathy), a strong listener, and ruthless, all when necessary. Sales management requires you to keep your team at peak performance and that will require you to maintain strong bonds with your people. You will have to listen to their problems and help them through them, while also lighting a fire under their ass to continue performing. You will also be required to make very hard decisions at times that are not always comfortable but are the best for everyone.
plan, direct, or coordinate the actual distribution or movement of a product or service to the customer. Coordinate sales distribution by establishing sales territories, quotas, and goals and establish training programs for sales representatives. Analyze sales statistics gathered by staff to determine sales potential and inventory requirements and monitor the preferences of customers.