The fastest path to increased sales is to match your sales staff to your clients. All consumers want to do business with companies that most resemble their community. A type of neighborhood feeling.
Matching to the community can be having someone on staff that speaks a second language for clients that are more comfortable using a native tongue. Some dealers in very diverse cities have as many as 40 languages spoken in their showrooms. Gender and racial diversity can also have a large impact on customer comfort level. Potential clients that come in to your store may not need to specifically deal with a person of their race or gender, but they feel better about doing business with a company that employs people that are like them. So a woman coming in to a showroom is fine being helped by a man, but would be more likely to purchase from a dealership that has a representation of women in its showroom floor.
With the obvious benefits of hiring diverse staff, why aren't dealers hiring from different community bases? The answer is simple, we like candidates that are most like ourselves. The same principal that makes selling easier with a diverse showroom, makes it harder to hire with diversity.
Here are three ways to break the cycle and get the new blood we need:
- Use phone interviews to initially screen candidates. Remove appearance bias, by evaluating candidates on communication skills and previous experience first. Face to face interviews happen after you like everything else.
- Have standardized interview questions and objective scoring. Keep interview sessions about the job with preset questions. It is great to connect with candidates about outside interests after you know everything relating to job performance. For each question have a grading scale. Numeric grading makes it easy to compare multiple candidates.
- Every candidate gets a minimum of two interviews from different departments. The best way to ensure you hiring with an open mind is to have more than one perspective viewing the applicant. Use at least one person from sales to interview, and then someone from another department such as HR or fixed operations.
Talented diverse candidates are applying for our positions, it is time to start leveling the hiring field and turn up our profits.
Greg Gershman - Managing Partner - Recruitment HQ