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I had a new salesperson in a dealership call me and the main thing that we talked about was how training was nonexistent at the dealership that he worked at. It reminded me of how years ago when I joined the automotive industry I was sat in a room with four other people and the sales manager told us to watch VCR tapes on sales training for the next 2 days. Now on the second day there was a guy that sold 6 cars a month with plenty of free time on his hand that was in charge of showing us the ropes. Once this madness was done on day three we each got a desk and was told to sit at the "up" desk and grab a customer.
I'm sure this story unfortunately sounds all too common to people that started in the business years ago and the worst part is the fact that it's still happening in 2014. This situation made me think about something that I was reading in Forbes magazine a couple weeks ago as follows: Bill Marriott, Marriott International: “I think the biggest thing we do is training. We have a tremendous training program and we just work on it, and work on it, and work on it! At Ritz-Carlton for instance, at the end of a 90-day period for a new employee they come in and they’re tested as to how much they’ve learned, how much more they have to learn, what their goals and ambitions are. And with the training and teaching comes a level of confidence on the part of the employee where they feel comfortable in serving the guest in a restaurant or the front desk operator or clerk. And it’s really I think about helping them progress and grow and provide opportunities for them to move ahead. And this works because 50% of our hotel general managers started in the hourly positions in our company.”
Wow!! 90 days of training before the new hire is allowed to begin work at the hotel and then tested to verify that he/she understands. What's so amazing about this is that the salesperson is now supposed to go out and sell a product that ranges from $5,000 to $90,000 and even more depending on the brand with less than a week of training!! I've seen stores that don't place empahsis on training complain in manager's meeting that the salespeople don't have a clue on what's going on or product knowledge. Equally relevant stores that don't train normally have the lowest CSI scores and grosses are below market average.
The good news is that I network with alot of GM's that I admire that truly understand the importance of training and their stores have the right culture and turnover is always below industry average. New salespeople that are reading this your mission must be as follows:
What I love about the automotive industry is that one can go from being in sales to eventually having their own store and that is what gives me the drive and passion to also study the industry as if I'm studying for a PHD. Good luck and good selling.