In the auto industry, the general rule has always been, the more sales people, the better.
If you search your local newspaper help-wanted ads or visit monster.com, you will notice auto dealers trolling for, as they put it, “the best of the best.”
When dealers recruited sales people decades ago, their resource for the hiring process consisted of a gut feeling. They hired sales people by intuition and out of desperation.
These days, some dealers take less of a risk. Instead, they have predictive profiles highlighting an applicant's sales qualities, making the hiring process less of a judgment call, and more calculated. So they think. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way.
The objective of all dealers is to build a sales team, a team that will consistently deliver superior results, regardless of the conditions. That often is not happening, despite good intentions and job candidate profiles.
Initially, every sales person is hired based on their potential, but rewarded based upon their performance, and therein lies the problem. Here's why:
Some managers believe it is up to the sales consultant to maximize their potential, while a joint effort is a required. John F. Nash, a Noble Peace Prize winner said, “The best results will occur when everyone does what is best for themselves and everyone else in the group.” Selling is a culture of character, and you can never hide character.
Dealers may use the predictive profile as a tool for hiring, but seldom use a tool to manage, train and develop their sales people for organizational performance (personally and professionally).
Mediocre performance is accepted from individuals that have tenure and cling too much to outdated practices. I have noticed too many dealerships with a high tolerance for average performers. Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock says, “The illiterate of the 21st Century is not the person that cannot read or write, but instead it's the person that will not learn, unlearn and relearn.”
When hiring employees, inevitably you'll fire a few. It's seldom easy. It pays to understand how they failed to succeed before you go on a firing frenzy. First, seek to understand the motivation that caused their failure. Did poor leadership cause it? What are the standards that govern their performance?
Humans are easily influenced. For that reason, the average person consciously or unconsciously makes a decision to adapt or migrate. Make your dealership standards worth adapting to. W. Clement Stone, founder of Combined Insurance, said, “You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective.”
Do you remember the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz saying, “I can't even scare a scarecrow”? Although he wanted to change, he felt powerless, crippled and unable to move. You may have some scarecrows around your dealership.
Sometimes people become comfortable with their surroundings, and consequently are powerless. Here are a few symptoms of “The Scarecrow Syndrome.”
- Storage mode. Just hanging around.
- Mentally wounded. Complaining instead of contributing.
- Crippled spirit. Negative disposition.
- The inner voice of skepticism. “I can't,” “I won't” or “It's too late now.”
- Procrastipidity. Pro·cras·ti·pid·i·ty. This person knows better, but adapts to a debilitating environment.
- Getting dumped on every day.
Although peak performance is a common pursuit, rarely does a person cultivate the discipline to maximize their potential. “It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb. Likewise it takes an entire dealership (including active, supportive managers) to put out great employees. The dealership environment should foster success, not thwart it.
Born sales people are rare. The rest must learn, and a good dealership teaches them how to be successful.
That said, if despite it all a sales person remains un-teachable and unmanageable, it is time for a change. Replace them. If you have a store full of them, reevaluate your hiring and employee development system.
Ron Coxsom of Ron Coxsom Training System Inc. is at [email protected] and 866-269-7661.