Being a player. Being a manager. Being a player/manager.

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by @LawsonOwen — the topic, implementing a business development center (BDC), i.e. call center, where you have specialists in a dealership for on-ramp activities (inbound calls, lead-response processes and outbound calling throughout the relationship cycle).  Specialization and technology within the auto dealership continue to re-shape tradtional roles and departmental structures.  That said, unless you can put up with slouches, everyone at the dealership has to make it their priority to provide awesome customer contact, as in being a player/manager, and actually step up to the plate.


Pete Rose not only taught the next generation how-to, once he became a manager.  He stayed in the lineup, got on base and put runs on the board every way he could.  I can’t recite Lawson’s analogy word-for-word, but made it clear that in the auto business, a manager doesn’t sit behind a desk and tell people what to do or say (manage a desk) — he or she gets in the game, and he/she has to account for his/her performance, one-on-one, with customers.  Just saying.

As a matter of fact, I’m certain, the sales meeting — once the hallowed domain of the sales manager and the obligatory motivational speech — is highly over-rated.  Myself, I’ve learned I’m much more effective with sales people, one-on-one.

I come from a long line of managers.

My grandfather had to start over when the depression dashed his hopes of entrepreneurship and became a highly sucessful, highly respected agent for Metropolitan Life and devoted his senior years to benevolent organizations, known by his integrity and descretion in matters of charity.

My father was a research scientist in defense department labs, but rose to senior levels within the National Institutes of Health, known for his ethics and respect for the discipline of science in the review and award of research funds, no matter how politicized the environment.

I’ve got a younger cousin managing on a much more visible stage, known for his wit, intellect, calm under pressure and ability to relate to younger players.  Not precisely a player/manager — twenty years as a catcher takes a toll on the body — but as close as you’re going see to a player/manager in uniform, at least this year, in baseball.




So what’s with all of the sport/car-business analogy?  Last week, I finally watched Moneyball — loved it — so I know why the Internet side of the auto business could relate, inviting Billy Beane to keynote the Driving Sales Exec Summit in 2012.  The tools of technology and their true believers bringing an aging, tradition-bound business kicking and screaming into the 21st century, for starters.  If they just let us show them how it will work, it will work wonders!  And by virtue of Truth, with a capital “T,” therein lies life’s deeper meanings.





I’d be the first to tell you that sports metaphors are just that: metaphors.  Many a lazy sales manager has filled a motivational sales meeting with grafted content from the game of the week.  But I also grew up in a family where said father and grandfather worshipped the Red Sox, and baseball was an excellent way to make conversation that bridged a myriad of generation gaps — as with my own son, a bay-area tatooed vegan who’s allegiance to the San Francisco Giants is unshakable, there’s more life lessons on the road ahead to be modulated by sport.

by Joshua Michael Friedman

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