Recruiting & Training issue

While I realize you don’t care all that much about my history, I want you to know I’ve tried it all when it comes to recruiting and training. In the early 80s we had an off-campus training facility with two full-time recruiters and trainers for our three-store group.

I wish I had a perfect fix for you. I can get you close but, in the end, you have to deal with the issues surrounding a major cultural shift.

That’s what it is, a major cultural shift when it comes to today’s recruiting and training of salespeople.

If you’re building a new store from the ground up, you have a much better chance of making it happen. You can write the new rules, hire the right people and change the game.

You can lay out an achievable game plan that will carry you through the next 20 years. I didn’t say it’s not going to change over the next 20 years, just that it will put you in a position to build on as you move forward.

Since you’re probably not building a new store it’s going to be a little more difficult, but if you have some discipline you can do it. It’s going to be expensive but if you think about what you might be investing in a new store given the chance, then it’s probably a bargain.

And, if you think about the cost of turnover, you’re going to win big time. Nothing you can do will eliminate turnover, but how you deal with it and how you restock your shelves can make a big difference.

The size of your store certainly can change the equation, but at some level all of this is doable.

When it comes to training, you have to get committed to something more than “Johnny the new car manager/GSM will handle it whenever we hire someone.” Johnny can close deals, but he ain’t no trainer.

As a matter of fact, it’s a burden and pain in Johnny’s butt to have to deal with it. His lesson plan consists of making sure they know the selling process.

Hiring outside companies to come in and do your recruiting and hiring is a short-term fix at best. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but the end result doesn’t change much of anything.

If you have 10 salespeople or more, you need to give serious consideration to having a full-time trainer and you need to invest in their teaching skills and not just base it on “they know what to do.” You have to continue to educate the trainer.

Here’s the secret sauce:

1. Hire a trainer. Give him/her the tools they need to be successful, as in equipment and training for them. (Why do this? Because the way you’ve been doing it isn’t working.)

2. Pick a specific week each month that you are committed to a new recruiting or training class. (Why do this? Because it shows you are committed to building a different and powerful organization. When you only recruit and hire when you need someone, you end up hiring people you shouldn’t. There’s always a need to upgrade and improve your sales team. Stop protecting non-producers and hang-ons.)

3. Require other managers to sit in on various phases of the training. Be flexible but do it. With the supervision of your trainer, you can assign them parts of the training to lead. (Why do this? Because they need to know what you are teaching and what to expect when the salespeople hit the floor. And, they might learn something.)

4. Every manager in the front part of the store will be required to personally recruit a person for class each month. They cannot run ads. They have to find them in the wild. If the person they recruit makes it 90 days, pay them a $500 bonus. If I was doing it, I’d fine them $500 if they didn’t have a butt in the class each month. (Why do this? Because when someone personally recruits someone else, they will take a personal interest in their success. You’ve seen it happen over the years where a sales manager takes a liking to a salesperson and helps them succeed. Same deal magnified a bunch.)

5. Change your pay plan to salary and volume based. Do not pay on gross. You can hire a lot of quality people who are happy making $50,000 to $70,000 a year. (Why do this? People today don’t want to be paid on gross. And, the sales people today have very little control over gross. The deal is already a mess because of the prices you’re putting on the Internet for both new and used.)

6. Don’t hire anyone that’s ever sold a car before. (Why do this? If I have to explain this, you’re in a lot more trouble than I can help you with.)

7. Hire some part-time salespeople to help out at peak times. (Why do this? To give you the coverage you need and so your full-time people don’t have to work 12 hour days.)

8. Commit to a 40-hour work-week. (Why do this? People think differently than we did in generations gone by. They don’t want to work 12 hours a day regardless of what the income potential might be. They are willing to earn less if they can have more time off. Their value system is far different than what we have seen in the past. Deal with it.)

9. Incorporate an up-system into your selling process. (Why do this? So, you don’t have the mob standing at the front door waiting on an expensive up. One of the reasons you lose quality people is they hate standing around doing nothing. Keeping them busy should be part of your daily mission. You need to lead the charge for them to be productive and generate their own customers.)

10. For at least 30 days all new salespeople’s deals will be desked by the trainer. (Why do this? Because they can’t say to the trainer “that wasn’t taught to me in class.” Your trainer and your salespeople will become better and better.)

Understand that people are going to come and go. It’s the nature of any sales business. One of your goals is to give them the tools to be successful with your organization or whatever they end up doing in life. When you help others to be better, you become better.

Be aware of your current staff saying they are all in on the outside and sabotaging your new direction on the inside.

There will be current salespeople and sales management that want to see your new direction fail. They will undermine you and point out all the reasons these are bad ideas. Some of them are simply protecting their own turf and will try to make you believe they are looking out for you.

They aren’t.

You have choices to make. Stick with what you’re doing or make major changes. The longer you wait, the more pain you will have and at some point, the pain will be so great that you have to change. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs