Hiring, Keeping Staffers

A human-resources manager in charge of hiring sales staffers for a dealer group of 12, asked if I could direct 60 new people to him every month. I asked why so many people. He said they have a 21-day turnover of sales staff. I asked him what they were doing and why it wasn't working for them. He quickly went into how much money his managers and top sales people were earning, big dough of course. He

A human-resources manager in charge of hiring sales staffers for a dealer group of 12, asked if I could direct 60 new people to him every month. I asked why so many people.

He said they have a 21-day turnover of sales staff. I asked him what they were doing and why it wasn't working for them. He quickly went into how much money his managers and top sales people were earning, big dough of course.

He then explained what a great organization and pay plan they have for people who produce.

I asked him how many people in his group work on recruiting and training sales people. He said they have five full-time recruiters and trainers. They also have an in-house training program.

They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on recruiting, training, advertising and on the five recruiter-trainer salaries.

New hires are put through a three-day sales course, then put on the floor.

There, it's sink or swim.

They're on a sales employee program that says if you can't sell within 30 days you'll never make it. So be fired or quit.

I asked him how he expected a new salesperson to work effectively with customers after a three-day crash course. What are he and his dealer group expecting from these people? Miracles?

We discussed the most common mistakes of sales managers when interviewing, and if he felt his managers committed those errors. Were they over-promising big money to experienced and new sales people? Did they say their pay plan is the best in the city, that they don't pencil deals, that they have in-dealership training and the best management support, that they have the highest grosses in town and are better than any other dealership in town?

The following points are ways to hire and create a team of sales “professionals.” These tips are also how to retain people who want to stay and do good things in automotive retailing.

  • Don't tell your new hires that you expect them to make $50,000 plus their first year in the business, but if they do, great. The pressure to perform from day one will be too great, and your hopes and theirs will dwindle.
  • Hold daily or weekly organized sales training. Do lots of role playing. This should include experienced sales people as well.
  • Give your new sales people a fighting chance to become top performers. It's going to take longer than 90 days. Take a look at your top sales people and how they got where they are. Some of the best in the business had terrible beginnings. They can tell interesting stories of how and why they got to the point of selling hundreds of vehicles a year. Usually, their successes revolve around repeat business and referrals. The trick, they'll tell you, is to get there first.
  • Don't burn them out by making them work 14-hour stints with few days off. Burnouts on the sales floor are bad for you and your customers.
  • Give them a paycheck every payday, and don't charge them back for it.
  • Quit telling everyone they'll quickly earn a fortune selling cars. Yes, lots of people make great money in our business. But the average person starting out doesn't. It takes time. Don't over promise.
  • Treat new hires as humans, not gear.

Darin's Wrap Up:

Not everyone is a born salesperson. Most people need the right amount of invested time, training, practice, self control, a positive work environment and a professional management team to take them to the next level.

There's one thing worse than a well-trained, motivated employee who quits. It's an untrained, unmotivated employee who stays.

Darin George is founder of the Automotive Sales College for dealer services (1-888-681-7355, ext.225/www.visitasc.com

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