Managing salespeople in any industry is difficult. Managing automobile salespeople can be a nightmare.
Today, dealership managers are wearing more hats than ever. They are desking deals, appraising vehicles, producing reports, forecasting, handling upset customers, mentoring their Millennials, monitoring and adjusting digital and traditional ad spends, keeping up with the CRM and trying to stay on top of the training and development of their staff. As most of you reading this would agree, far too often the training and development of our people takes a backseat to the plethora of other fires burning in a manager’s office. Unfortunately, a lack of training often becomes the hottest-burning and hardest-to-contain fire if left too long to smolder.
Turnover plagues our industry and can have a major reflection on our customers’ satisfaction level. One major cause of turnover is a lack of consistent training and career development. Automotive salespeople are expected to work long hours and deal with customers who can be cruel. Add a feeling that management is working against them — or, at best, indifferent — and many salespeople are driven away before they have a chance to learn the skills needed to succeed. Managers need to be held accountable for the development of their sales team. A revolving door for salespeople is not a recipe for success. The days of tossing 12 green peas at the wall and hoping a few stick are gone.
Each salesperson on the floor needs something different from management. Salespeople who are new to the dealership need a lot of attention. They need to learn the process, the technology, how to handle the phone and, most important, how to build rapport and sell cars. More experienced salespeople who have a handle on the process and the technology, while needing less attention, still need refresher training and continued development. Finally, let’s discuss your “A” players. The most effective and experienced salespeople in your dealership need to be given more freedom and autonomy, but still need to feel the love from management. Micromanage these most-valuable salespeople and you’ll drive them straight to your competition. While they may not need the daily handholding, they still seek approval from above. It is important that your “A” players know they are appreciated and you have their backs.
Who has the time for all of this? If you do not, consider adding a manager who focuses on training. If this option is not financially viable for your store, in-house trainers and a whole suite of technologies now exist to assist you. Traditional in-house training is giving way to more economical digital alternatives.
There are curriculum-style online training courses — where each salesperson is assigned video training and takes tests to confirm understanding — that have been around for more than a decade, but just have not really caught on. The new trend that is the most promising is situational-diagnosed one-on-one training. Technology now allows for a salesperson to be flagged when a situation arises where they either don’t know how to best proceed or are proceeding in an incorrect fashion. Next, a trainer contacts the salesperson and works through the proper next steps to take with the customer. At this point, the salesperson can proceed alone or with the guidance of the trainer on the phone with the customer. This new blended process shows a lot of promise and has been extremely successful for dealerships around the country.
The old days of treating them all the same are gone. More than just Millennials want to be treated like individuals today. A manager needs to manage each salesperson differently. Today, there are many trainers and technologies available to help you do this. The most important step is the first one — and every one that follows. Choose to make 2018 the year that you develop an effective sales staff who will stay with you and help your dealership reach its goals for years to come. Don’t just sign up for something and then forget about it. Even if you have hired a trainer or signed up for a technology-enabled hybrid training, your supervision is needed. Stay the course and hold your trainer, technology provider and people accountable for their development.
For a free copy of “Training: What Option is Best for My Store?” please send me an email to the address above with “training” in the subject line.