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From: Jared Hamilton
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H Gregory Gershman

H Gregory Gershman Managing Partner

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Why are dealerships still hiring the digital inept?

Automotive manufacturers are investing billions of dollars into technological innovation.  Cars are connecting to mobile devices, running on electricity, and moving towards becoming autonomous.  Companies like Google and Apple are running head first into the automotive industry.  Where are the salespeople to sell the cars of the 21st Century?

Just recently I was running a sales training class and a student had to be pulled out of training to help a veteran sales rep pair bluetooth between an Iphone and a client's new car.  Almost every car on the market has bluetooth connection, and has for the last decade.  How can we still have salespeople allowed to sell products they cannot operate?  

In a different class on business planning for salespeople I asked for a volunteer to create a spreadsheet for forecasting.  In a group of 20 newly hired sales representatives not one person had used Excel previously.  What are the odds for long term success for a person earning a living on commission that doesn't have the basic skills necessary to track their productivity?

The Auto Industry asks for the least educated people desperate for money and that is exactly what they get!

Read the ads for sales representative positions.  They promise high income with no needed skills.  Employment ads tell candidates that the only responsibilities of the job are to greet and sell customers.  There are no educational requirements, and no value given to previous training.  We ask people to show up with a smile and speak well.

We have an industry that has a bright future, with great benefits and income.  It is time to ask for the right people to join it.  Stop hiring a volume of desperate candidates, and start attracting smart applicants.  Many people avoid applying for dealership positions because they feel their skills and education are not valued.  

The next ad you place for sales reps ask for:

  • Prior training or experience creating and maintaining a forecast
  • Communication skills backed with college level courses or previous experience handling both in person and phone conversations for sales
  • Digital skills using a CRM, multiple social media accounts, Microsoft office, and email marketing software such as MailChimp or Constant Contact
  • Ability to make 30 to 50 outbound calls daily to clients

If the auto industry starts showing it values technological understanding and education we will have sales representatives coming to us with skills to match.

H Gregory Gershman - Managing Partner - Recruitment HQ5e398137ec4c0392fd158e1e27ee4b16.png?t=1

Jim Jackson
Greg - As I read your post I immediately started to form an opinion about you and your recruiting firm. I want to point out and re-iterate some of your points that I believe to be flawed in thinking and not very substantiated. Ultimately I feel your "opinion" is completely off base and here is why. #1 – ALL sales and service people need to be the industry expert on every working component in a vehicle, our customers expect to receive this knowledge when they come to the dealership. Your flawed thought is if someone can operate excel they would be able to keep up with the ever changing innovative automotive industry. The correct thought process would have allowed you to realize that this dealership has not emphasized the importance on regular training and mentoring. In addition if you have spent any time on the floor you would realize that in any dealership there are usually people that will take a lead in on certain products and become the expert and others will lean on them. I don’t necessarily agree with this process and would recommend the entire staff to be able to do an entire active delivery going through all working components of the vehicle. Again this is a training issue #2 – “The Auto Industry asks for the least educated people desperate for money and that is exactly what they get” This is a stretch… I see the ads as well and I do see “no experience needed.” From over 30+ years experience of hiring, training and mentoring people in the automotive industry I have come to one conclusion. Your level of success comes from how much you invest into their growth by training and growing your human capital. This is not something you can hire, this is something you build and grow yourself. So rounding back to the employment adds that say “no experience needed” I believe dealers are looking for someone with the right attitude and the dealer will invest in growing their aptitude. #3 – “Stop hiring a volume of desperate candidates and start attracting smart applicants.” Thank god 30 years ago someone took a chance on a starving college student and showed them life lessons of how to run a business and how to build leaders. The metaphorical dealership classroom has taught me more than I could have learned in any college classroom. Again this is not something I feel is the best direction for all nor is it the direction my kids will follow but a huge blanket statements that are condescending such as the ones you put out there are more damning to our industry than judging ones path. Finally, if you haven’t noticed this has hit a major nerve for me. Right now I can give you the Name and phone numbers of numerous Owners, Dealer Principals, General Managers, Service Directors, Parts directors and others within the dealership that have been able to provide for their families, achieve great success, own and operate other business all without a piece of paper in a frame that implies they are smart. One person comes to mind of who I have had a chance to meet was the late Larry H. Miller. I would recommend you pick up his autobiography Driven and you will quickly see that he started from a humble beginning, exposed to a great industry, worked hard and had an exceptional mind and the rest is history. Keep in mind that this man self admittedly had a hard time graduating high school. Parting thought – the recruiting industry values degrees and certifications and in the technology industry this is critical but in the automotive industry it is a people type business. Regardless of someone’s ability or past I know I need to invest into their growth and show them the way I want them to perform the tasks they need to complete. I have hired college grads that fail miserably, I have also hired those that do quite well, just at the end of the day its up to the manager being a leader and teaching those around them to lead as well, and that is not something you can hire for you have to train it!!!
H Gregory Gershman
Hi Jim, thanks for commenting back. I believe highly in training new employees, and giving opportunities. You are right that their are other factors in hiring employees than education and background. Unfortunately the auto industry has been hiring to exclude those with education. We need to have employees that have people skills and technical skills, not decide that they are mutually exclusive. I am not advocating strictly selecting candidates based on prior skills and training, but they do matter. When a sales rep cannot even track how many ups they take, or a service advisor has no understanding of effective labor rate it has an effect.

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