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Limbo Isn’t a Management Strategy: Is Your Bar for Sales too Low?

Dustin Kerr
Written By: Dustin Kerr
Posted on February 16, 2016

I get inquiries all the time for BHPH sales training. When the call comes, I generally ask about the current training for salespeople, and what they have received in the past. And, to no one’s surprise, the answer is usually, “None.”

My next questions are, “What are your expectations for salespeople? And what do you expect to get out of the training?” This is the answer that surprises me.

Here are the top three tasks dealers want their sales staff to accomplish:

  1. Get the customer in the door
  2. Record a little information
  3. Turn them over to a manager or underwriter

Wait, that’s it?

How did our expectations deteriorate to such a point?

Our standards are astonishingly low considering the tough state of the market right now. Let’s be honest: It’s hard to attract quality customers. It’s even harder, I think, to attract good sales people.

I believe a major reason for the lack of good BHPH salespeople is the lack of good leadership and accountability management within our management team, but that’s another topic for another article.

Setting the bar right

As a moderator with NCM Associates and former dealership operator, I have seen that people rise to the standards we give them. So, let’s expect the best from our employees. Here are some recommended guidelines for your sales staff.

Salespeople should be able to conduct a great customer interview that gathers all the pertinent information, builds rapport with the customer, finds out the wants and needs of the customer and sets the stage for product selection without it seeming like an interrogation.

Our sales staff should know how to conduct a personalized vehicle presentation based on the needs and wants discovered during the interview. This skill is critical for BHPH salespeople—most of the time we’re putting the customer in a car that may not be their first choice, so we have even more work to build value in the product than a new car salesperson. Too often this step is skipped completely.

A quality trade evaluation should be completed on every write up that has the possibility of a trade in. Sales staff should complete this trade evaluation with the customer, along with a ride and drive. And yes, this involves whoever is evaluating the trade to actually walk outside and put in some effort; a trade evaluation form also should be completed with every appraisal.

And, once the sale has happened, our staff should complete professional follow up. I feel so strongly about this, that I believe follow up isn’t an expectation, it’s a condition of employment. (If you are afraid of having your salespeople do post sale follow up because you don’t want to hear about your car breaking down, let’s acknowledge that you may have bigger problems than sales training. Call me, and we’ll work on that.)

Lastly, I fully believe our salespeople should be able to generate 50 percent of their own business. It is much easier for BHPH salespeople to generate repeat and referral business than it is for new-car salespeople.

Prepping for new sales heights

We must do a better job of training our salespeople to do the job we want them to do, not the bare minimum to survive.

My approach is to invest in good training. For example, teach your staff how to do a quality demonstration drive with a predetermined route where the salesperson drives first and then allow the customer to drive. More and more often I am seeing salespeople just slap a tag on the car and not even go on the test drive with the customer.

And, while I don’t recommend that salespeople do the closing of the loan, if you are going to leave it in their hands, you must train and drill them on the closing and make sure it is done correctly every time. No exceptions. A proper loan closing engages the customer and covers dealership policies on breakdowns, late payments and collections. A properly closed loan is half-way collected, and that is why I believe it is actually a collection activity and should be done by someone that has a vested interest in how the loan performs.

Don’t lower the bar—improve your employees

If you are having a hard time finding quality customers and growing your portfolio right now I challenge you to raise your expectations of what you expect from your sale people. Clearly define and communicate your expectations, measure the results and let everyone know the score. While you invest in improving your current staff, take the time to recruit talent when you find it … and then invest again.

And remember, a properly trained salesperson can recoup the money you spend on training several times over each and every month.

Blog originally published in the November/December 2015 issue of the BHPH Report. Be sure to check out the full issue.

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