The Only Answer to Retaining Salespeople

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We’ve heard it time and time again –  the turnover amongst sales people in the car business is abysmal  – at times as high as 80%. What’s more, a bad hiring decision can end up costing your dealership a lot of money.  According to The Society for Human Resource Management, the  total costs associated with a bad hire can be up to 200% of that person’s annual salary. Just think, all the resources that you invest in inventory, advertising and your dealership’s perks, are not leveraged properly when your sales team is weak.  

Yes, it is a challenge to find and keep good sales people, but it’s not impossible. As a GM, owner or principal, there are steps that you need to take so that you’re not bleeding money from lost talent.

By following these 3 Rules of Thumb, you’ll be able to onboard the right people and instead of constantly working a revolving door, focus on managing a strong, successful sales team.

1. Hire motivated people.

This seems like it’s easy enough, right? However, time and time again we hear from our clients that the hardest part is motivating their staff.  Would that mean that you’re hiring unmotivated people? You should hire people who are joining your dealership because they want to be successful and they’re driven to do what it takes to get there.  Whether they’re motivated by money, or like many in the younger generation who are motivated by lifestyle, they should be motivated to work hard to achieve results. Now the magic question is how do you identify the motivated?  That is the tricky part since it’s very hard to ascertain during the interview process.

Firstly, make sure that you have a clear definition of the job description.  People will naturally gravitate and excel at things they like to do. With clear expectations set at the get go, your candidates will have a sense if this is the right job for them.  

There are several things that you can do as a manager to identify a motivated candidate. First, ask the right questions. For some of the major responsibilities that you’ve outlined in the description, ask them to describe an accomplishment in a like area. For example, if you want to get a grasp on how someone will do with prospecting, you may ask them their accomplishments that they had in their last job to get more clients or if they don’t have experience what they would do. Based on their response, you can evaluate their thought process and see if they have a proven record of showing initiative and/or if they are creative in their approach.

Another way to evaluate is to present the candidate with a task to complete at a later time. One of our clients will provide candidates with a script that they use internally, asks the candidate to learn it and come back and show how proficient they are with the material.  Some candidates they find are amazing and have clearly put in the effort, others have put in minimal effort which shows and another group won’t even come back. I know you know which to hire!

Finally, you may want to look at where you’re finding candidates for your sales team. If you live near a military base it’s a great idea to visit base separation events. Veterans make great employees and are looking for an opportunity to succeed in civilian life.  Also, don’t overlook your star employees who could refer people to come and work at your dealership. A players attract other A players and if you build upon that, you’ll have a solid team.

2. Train them.

You can hire the most motivated staff but if you don’t provide them with the tools to succeed you are setting them up for failure.  Let’s say you hire the best contractor to build your house but you only give him some wood, hammer and nails. Can they build you a house? Maybe. That builder would be a lot more successful if they were given some power tools. You should have a clear process for new hires and a timeline that is followed for each. Many companies will start out with an orientation period where the recruit gets to know the company culture, product info and the basic workings of the dealership.  This includes training into your phone systems, CRMs and any other technology that you have, like an up system.

Next they’ll need to understand the day-to-day of their job. This should be tied to performance metrics. Be sure to inspect what you expect.  Perhaps this includes making a certain number of outbound calls or setting a number of appointments. Whatever your metrics are, make sure they know what is expected of them.  

Provide them with training so that they can be the most effective at their job,  It’s important that each team player that you have is learning the same playbook to ensure a consistent customer experience. Don’t think that changing your training regimen is a good thing. NFL players do the same drills repeatedly. Why? Because it works. Train your people consistently and you’ll see consistent results.

3. Provide a good working environment.

Many people don’t survive in a dealership because of the grueling hours. Not only does this cause burnout of our staff, it’s also  a deterrent for women, single parents or those with small children, all of whom make great employees. We’ve also heard over and over that more than ever millenials care much more about life balance then they do money. While they often get a bad rap, this demographic can also make some of the best salespeople.  Treat your people well and they’ll be loyal to you and your dealership.

How you hire, and who you hire, are imperative to your success as a dealership. As a trusted advisor to car dealerships for over 30-years, we want to see you succeed. Schedule a demo with one of our team members and take the guesswork out of the equation.  


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