The Chicago Region, though, flipped that tried-and-true sales meeting formula on its head. In February, some 100 salespeople representing the more than two dozen Toyota dealerships in the greater metropolitan Chicago area gathered at the Chicago Auto Show.
Their mission? To focus on the employee engagement rather than the end result.
“The rallying cry of the meeting was, ‘Culture is Everything,’” says Joe Lacefield, district sales manager. “The emphasis was on the culture of the dealership and how that drives the sales associate engagement. After all, if you’re not engaged in what you’re selling, odds are you’re not going to connect with your customers. And you’re not going to give them a great sales experience.”
Two guest speakers set the tone for this unusual sales rally. Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division, led things off with an impassioned speech about the strength of Toyota’s current product lineup and its future as a mobility company. He was followed by Ryan Dempster, former pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. He shared how the baseball club rejuvenated its fan base in part by reaching out to the communities that surround Wrigley Field, the team’s iconic home.
Next, sales consultants were challenged to apply Hollis and Dempster’s words to their specific situations. First, they came up with a list of ideas to improve their customers’ sales experience. Then they cast the spotlight on themselves, suggesting ways they could bring a higher level of engagement to their day-to-day activities.
“It’s the little things that make the difference,” Lacefield says. “Like having a car ready and in position when a customer has an appointment to come see it.”
Elyza Garcia, customer relations manager at Oakbrook Toyota, was one of many who came away from the meeting with a renewed sense of purpose.
“When I got back to my dealership, I asked our sales consultants to come up with changes to our process that could lead to happier customers,” she says, “And I talked about just how exciting Toyota’s future is going to be. It really was awesome that Toyota took the time to acknowledge us.”
Based on the positive feedback, Lacefield says it’s highly likely the Chicago Region will stay with this unconventional sales rally format next February.
“Any time we have a chance to talk directly with the people on the frontline who sell our cars, we’re going to take advantage of it,” he says.
To learn more about a Chicago Region team member click here.