We have the expectation that our sales, BDC, and internet teams will perform at the top of their game, yet we offer them none of the tools to succeed. A professional soccer player runs an average of 7 miles per game. In order to achieve this level of physical prestige, an athlete must train for hours every single day. They were not just hired, handed a playbook, and sent on to the field. Just as we wouldn’t expect a professional sports team to win without proper training, we shouldn’t expect our dealerships to either. Yet, when it comes to the very aspects within the industry it feels that we are becoming less and less willing to give our teams the adequate training required for high performance.
When was the last time you did training at your store? How long did it last? Was it something you did for a week and that was enough? Is access to that same training still available today? Do you actively promote, encourage, and expect your teams to participate in ongoing training? Just like any professional sports team you should be training your employees.
Now, let’s be clear, when we are talking about training, we are not talking about the desking manager or the general manager coming into a Friday morning meeting and writing on the whiteboard. While these conversations are vital, they should be seen more like a playbook overview before the game than a comprehensive training regimen. Certainly, your managers have experience and were most likely—at some point in their career—the top performers, but that doesn’t qualify them to be trainers. In fact, in sports, the majority of top players never transition into coaching.
Just because someone excels at a particular skill does not mean they should be qualified as a teacher.
Early in my career, I watched bosses use training as an opportunity to throw a phone book on a new employee’s desk and say: “Start at the A’s and keep going until you hit Z.” This may have been a great way to weed out your sales team, but it’s not going to cut it in 2022. The industry is evolving faster than we can keep pace and often times consumers are better prepared to talk about products than the people hired to sell them.
If we expect our sales teams to step up, we need to give them the training to do so. If our industry is ever going to get away from the stigma of shady business practices then we have to have the expectation of excellence.
Excellence is a mindset and we have to choose it every day.
One of the things near and dear to my heart is a desire to irradicate the negative reputation of car salespeople in our industry. By offering the tools and resources, and by spending the money to get these tools and resources we have the opportunity to leave the automotive retail space better than we found it.
A significant portion of the training I have received happened on the vendor side. That training has allowed me to become a student of the industry and business. It has made me more passionate and more involved in my chosen profession. Should we not be instilling this same work ethic in our sales force?
The strongest dealerships among us understand this concept. Often times we find that the groups already winning are the ones interested in growth and development. These dealerships support a strong baseline of training in order to foster a team of professionals capable of running those 7 miles.
The mentality of training-first needs to permeate our buildings. From managers to team leads to sales staff to the receptionist we should hold our staff to the highest standards of excellence.
We have been talking about data lately, with articles such as Why Data Entry is Costing You Money and Hindering Your Process, and 5 Crucial Elements of Data Organization in the Automotive Industry, we see the importance of proper processes, but what good are marketing and data if the customer reaches a sales team ill-equipped and poorly trained.
If marketing is the message, then how confident are you that once that message has been received and answered in the form of a contact, lead, or a visit that it won’t be fumbled at the 10-yard line?
Marketing strategies are only going to close the gap between customers and sales by so much. Stores with true sales professionals are always going to beat stores that rely solely on marketing strategy.
And how do you get true sales professionals? You build them. You find the best available to you and you train them over and over and over again. Relentlessly until it becomes part of their DNA, and when you build that team then the word spreads and trust in your dealership grows—both from an employee standpoint and a customer one.
Nothing goes wrong with proper training. Everything can go wrong without it.
Herb Anderson / Charity Ann