With the month of June in the books and half of 2012 behind us, and record sales on the horizon I feel that this blog is well over due. I have recently heard many people in our industry say "Where has all of the good sales talent gone?” "It's just so hard to keep good sales talent." We might as well put a revolving door in for as much turn over as we have." I have heard these quotes from many different dealers, managers, trainers and even other sales consultants. I am quick to tell them the talent tree is still producing and talented sales consultants haven’t gone anywhere, they are everywhere! In our industry it is amazing the lack of training, coaching and overall respect that is given to the new green pea sales consultant. Let’s be honest and face it setting them in front of a computer learning product knowledge and sales skills thru a virtual training program is not the answer to creating great sales consultants. Do not get me wrong these virtual platforms are great but their sales foundation must be built within the dealership’s management team. With that being said I see the problem as a lack of training on the management end of our business.
Let’s think about how we generally promote a sales consultant to a manager. We take our best sales consultant and promote them to the role of manager without any management training. Let’s take a second and look at professional athletes and managers. In almost every case the best coaches were great teammates not the superstars. Great coaches and managers understand the importance of coaching and training individually and as a whole team. Tony Dungy once said “We are all drawn to leaders who are right there in the trenches with us and who are willing not only to stand with us, but also to stand against others on our behalf – leaders who are not above the fray, watching from a distance.” There is an enormous amount of truth within that quote. Are you as the dealer or your managers willing to get into the trenches with your staff?
Just recently I stopped in a large Chevy store in Cleveland Ohio to discuss some training. The sales manager told me that he would be interested in some training for a couple of really promising sales consultants that he had just hired. He asked me to stop back in in a couple weeks to firm up the details for the training. Needless to say, I stopped back exactly two weeks after our conversation and the really promising sales consultants where already gone! I couldn't help but to think where did they go? Was the manager really interested in their success? Where they set up to fail from the start? This manager was really high on these new consultants so what really happened?
Let me share with you some tips to building an outstanding team that will plant roots with you and relieve the cost associated with high turn-over. My management career started out over sixteen years ago where my mentor Earle Hart taught me the meaning of serving not only the customers but more importantly the staff. I have over the years created a list of rules when it comes to the teams that I lead. Some of those rules are; I will commit to each person I hire as if they were the greatest talent ever, I will honor them with the professional leadership that they deserve, I will build upon and grow their individual talents, I will teach and train them to become successful leaders, I will build them up and restore them when they fail and I will always put them in a position to succeed. When you are a manager of people your team must know that without hesitation that you are there to help them succeed. Remember the old saying "You are only as good as the people who you surround yourself by." Believe it! Believe in it!
Managing and training your people is the most important thing that your managers they do. As a dealer or manager you must have an ongoing training process in place that will give everyone the opportunity to succeed. Your managers must always be involved in a daily one on one training with your staff, that’s right daily. If a sales consultant makes a mistake address it immediately for this is the greatest time to revisit, redirect and coach. Your managers must always congratulate in public and redirect in private.
A great way to judge the success of your managers and to see the buy in on the direction that you would like your dealership to go, is to ask your staff to give you as the manager, dealer or dealership a confidential quarterly review with an attached idea sheet for dealership improvement; you will be amazed at what you will learn. You must also set clear and concise monthly objectives and visit these objectives with each staff member at least once per week. Finally, understand that they come to work to make a paycheck but rewarding them with praise that is up lifting and training them to become better within their position will gain you a better team and rewards much greater than a paycheck.
In closing, I do understand that not every sales consultant will work out. Just remember before you do your exit interview ask yourself this; did I give this person every opportunity to learn, grow and succeed? If your answer is yes, then it's time to part ways. If you did not completely and I mean completely help them learn, grow and succeed then you need to make sure that their failure is not in fact your own.