Managing salespeople in any industry is difficult. Managing automobile salespeople can be a nightmare. Today, dealership managers are wearing more hats than ever. They are desking deals, appraising vehicles, producing reports, forecasting, handling upset customers, mentoring their millennials, monitoring and adjusting digital and traditional ad spends, keeping up with the CRM, and trying to stay on top of the training and development of their staff.

As most of you reading this might agree, far too often the training and development of our people takes a backseat to the plethora of other fires burning in a manager’s office. Unfortunately, a lack of training often becomes the hottest burning and hardest to contain fire if left too long to smolder.

Turnover plagues our industry and can have a major reflection on our customers’ satisfaction level. One major cause of turnover is a lack of consistent training and career development. Automotive salespeople are expected to work long hours and deal with customers that can be cruel. Add a feeling that management is working against them - or that they are indifferent at best - and many salespeople are driven away before they have a chance to learn the skills needed to succeed. Managers need to be held accountable for the development of their sales team. A revolving door for sales people is not a recipe for success. The days are gone of tossing twelve green peas at the wall and hoping that a few stick.

Each salesperson on the floor needs something different from management. Salespeople that are new to the dealership need a lot of attention. They need to learn the process, the technology, how to handle the phone and most importantly how to build rapport and sell cars. More experienced salespeople that have a handle on the process and the technology, while needing less attention, still need refresher training and continued development. Finally, let’s discuss your A players. The most effective and experienced salespeople in your dealership need to be given more freedom and autonomy, but still need to feel the love from management. Don’t micromanage these most valuable salespeople or you drive them straight to your competition. They may not need the daily handholding, but may still seek approval from above. It is important that your A players know they are appreciated and that you have their backs.

Who has the time for all of this? If you don't, consider adding a manager that focuses on training. If this option is not financially viable for your store, in-house trainers and a whole suite of technologies now exist to assist you. Traditional in-house training is giving way to more economical digital alternatives. There are curriculum style online trainings that have been around for over a decade and have just not really caught on, wherein each salesperson is assigned video training and takes tests to confirm their understanding of the material. The new trend that is the most promising is situationally diagnosed one-on-one training. Technology now allows for a salesperson to be flagged when a situation arises where they either proceeded in an incorrect fashion or didn’t even know how to proceed. At that point, a trainer contacts the salesperson and works through the proper next steps to take with the customer. The salesperson can then proceed alone or along with the guidance of the trainer on the phone with the customer. This new blended process shows a lot of promise and has been extremely successful for dealerships around the country.

The old days of treating them all the same are gone. More than just millennials feel like snowflakes and want to be treated like capable individuals. A manager needs to manage each salesperson differently. Today there are many trainers and technologies available to help you do this. The most important step is the first one... and every step that follows. Choose to make 2018 the year that you develop an effective sales staff that will stay with you and help your dealership reach its goals for years to come. Don’t just sign up for something and then forget about it. Even if you have hired a trainer or signed up for a technology-enabled hybrid training, your supervision is necessary and needed. Stay the course and hold your trainer, technology provider, and people accountable for their own development.

Training and acccountability. Move past the perception of difficulty and move on to understanding the pieces that fit together to build a successful team, from step one.