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The Train Game Is More Important Than Ever

Successful salespeople need to know a lot more than basic manufacturer training. Here are some suggestions for ongoing training.

Phil Spagnoli currently serves as regional sales director for Elead. Phil has worked his entire career in the auto industry, including as a fixed ops director and service manager for a dealership in Washington State.

As an industry, the car business has come a long way in many areas, but employee retention is not one of them. Turnover in the sales department is still high. 

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When I bring up the topic of sales training and how important it is to employee retention, I get one of two responses. Some managers believe their current training process is adequate, because that’s the way they learned. The “process” may be basic manufacturer training and a manager teaching the road to the sale for a day or two. After that, the salespeople are left on their own. 

The other response is that training is a waste of money, because why invest in employees when there is such a high turnover rate? I understand that thinking, but I also believe that lack of training, guidance and mentorship is one of the primary reasons why there is such high turnover.


To be successful, salespeople need to know a lot more than basic manufacturer training, the road to the sale and how to overcome a few objections. Comprehensive training programs should cover the following.

Product Training

In-depth product knowledge is so important. Most car shoppers spend hours researching online. Salespeople need to know more than basic make/model features. Make sure your salespeople get an opportunity to test drive all your vehicles and learn how to operate the entertainment and navigation systems, how to hook up phones to Bluetooth, and how the adaptive lane assist and self-driving features work. The more they know about these features, the more excitement they will convey in their vehicle presentations, which in turn will make the customer more excited about the product.

Professional Demeanor

I refer to this as the “Disney experience.” There may not be a red carpet in your showroom, but all customers should feel like they get the red-carpet treatment. Salespeople should not talk to customers the same way they talk to friends, use slang or curse words, or get defensive in the face of hostility. They should always be friendly and courteous. Remember the phrase, “The customer is always right”? A professional sales trainer can help salespeople who need this type of training.

CRM Training

Most CRMs have a learning management system (LMS) and optional training courses to take. Learning how to use the CRM truly makes a salesperson more efficient. Becoming a CRM expert means you can follow up with leads more quickly, mine for new leads, stay in touch with customers and get referrals, and deliver a better customer experience.

Social Media

In this day and age, I recommend social media training. If you are a sales professional in any industry and you’re not using social media, you’re at a disadvantage. Period.

Training Resources

There are many resources for sales training; here are just a few. I recommend trying some or all of these:
• NCM: 20 groups
• CRM vendor
• Sales trainers
• Facebook groups.

Occasionally, a dealer may get lucky and hire that rare superstar who doesn’t need training. For most mortals, however, a successful sales career doesn’t magically happen. It takes time, hard work, perseverance and a willingness to learn. Success is a lot more likely to happen to those who receive ongoing training.

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