Career Salespeople - do they still exit?

Craig McPherson
I Australia we are having trouble attracting and retaining good sales people. The days of "career minded" sales consultants seem to be over. I am a new member to this site (which is amazing by the way) and I have read with interest about some of the traits of successful 20+ per month sales people. We find it difficult to instill these traits in our people because they are only short term players. I guess this is a long winded way of asking 1. Do you guys have the same problem in the USA and 2. Do you have any good ideas regarding attracting and retaining "career minded" sals people? Ie working conditions, pay plans, advancement options.
Allan Cooper
It is a common problem throughout the USA as well. As an expat Aussie that landed here in 1986 and fell into the Automotive Industry with the necessity earning of a quick paycheck it is easy to see why we, as an industry, attract and promote transitory employees. I had no intention of being car salesman, nor spend any length of time employed in the industry. Needless to say, 25 years later I am still here in Southern California, firmly entrenched in a career, a seasoned veteran of the USA retail dealership world and allied industries. It has been an exceptional experience, rich in great friendships, financially rewarding, and a business education that would be hard to replicate in any other vertical. My pay plans and processes were focused on longevity of a salesperson tenure, repeat sales to existing customers and fixed ops engagement, however, that was in the 90's. I am sure you will get plenty of posts with suggestions on working conditions, pay plans and advancement options from my peers that have very successful retail operations in the current marketplace. As a side note, Maroochydore is my hometown these days when I visit the family. I will be there in late February or early March most likely. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let's chat offline. Regards, Allan
Craig McPherson
Thanks Allan - make sure you look me up when next back in Maroochydore. Google Pacific Motor Group to find our contact details.
Heather Haynes
Yes, career salespeople still exist, but they are far and few between. Why? They are lacking primarily because of training and development. In today’s economy, many dealers are searching for ways to save money, and more often than not one of the first areas they cut back on is training. While this does save money immediately, it often ends up costing the dealer in the long run because it will result in a sales staff that is not only inexperienced but also underdeveloped. This in itself results in frustration, and eventually salespeople will leave the dealership. Most individuals in our workforce are looking for guidance and development. The automotive industry traditionally has had a sink or swim mentality, and therefore turnover remains high. This also reduces the number of career automobile salespeople. In order to develop career salespeople in the automotive industry, the focal point needs to change in regards to bringing in new talent. While money is an important motivator for new hires, younger workers are now placing a much higher importance on training, development and positive work environments.
Allan Cooper
While training is an important factor in providing sound fundamentals and guidance there are a number of underlying factors that impact the enormous turnover of salespeople. Primarily the lack of incentives for longevity of tenure-ship at a single dealership or group, poor pay plans, long hours, lack of quality leadership and 7 day trading in some states. When we, as an industry, can demonstrate a career path that encourages further education, advancement based on talent, a work environment conducive to a reasonable family life and management stability we will have a professional workforce. We still appear to operate in a lot of dealerships where the salesperson that sells the most vehicles is promoted to a closer, the best closer with a sales team selling the most vehicles is promoted to the desk, the highest grossing desk/sales manager is promoted to GSM and there he stays until someone recruits him as a GM or offers him more money. That has typically been the case in the past few decades, how often do you see a decision based of someones ability to lead and manage people, understand the financial correlation of repeat sales,consumer loyalty and a dealerships profitability based on the fixed operations interaction with the existing customers of the store. Rarely do you hear of a front end retail Sales Manager/GSM understand that if you sell a person a vehicle, and can get him to service that vehicle at the dealership from their first scheduled appointment throughout the ownership cycle the likelihood of them buying another vehicle at the dealership increases by immeasurably. If the average salesperson sold 12 cars a month, stayed at the dealership for 3 years, nurtured those customers with consistent and professional communications, by the beginning of the fourth year they most likely have a customer base of over 650 people. Those numbers are based on an ever expanding referral network from satisfied customers, new customers and most likely, given they have been there three years, a number of house deals from management..because I guarantee they are most likely the most senior salesperson in the dealership. Given that scenario, you now have a salesperson selling 20+ vehicles a month, earning a healthy paycheck and generating loyalty to both themselves and the dealership. Unfortunately, it is still a rare situation, because most people don't remain as "professional" salespeople. The loyalty starts with the Owners of the dealerships, there are some great organizations that have figured this out. It would will be interesting if any of them are going to share their secrets!
Grant Gooley
I'm a brand new Sales Professional in the car business, selling for 1 month. I work in Toronto, Canada. I'm 27 years old and im looking at this job as something I will make a career out of. Here at Boyer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC they are working with me on a different pay plan that is allowing me to get a pay check but learn the ups and downs of commission based salary. Here it is in a nutshell. 10% of Gross and $12 an hour. 40 hrs per week. Once I begin out growing that plan, meaning it makes more sense for me to be strictly commission based because of my sales volume, ill go to the regular plan that is commission based only, with draws etc. As a newbie I feel comfortable with this plan. Im enjoying the biz, I seem to be learning everything the hard way, but hey...Im learning and that's what is important. I hope this helps, Grant

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