Sales Person Retention

Did You Hire Em Dead or Kill Em After You Got Em?

By September 22, 2010 April 9th, 2019 5 Comments

Ok, so you have run your automotive salesperson help wanted ads, you have scheduled the respondents for an interview, you put them through your physiologically based interview, and they have passed personality tests, background checks, drug tests and DMV. You initially “trained” them either in house or used an outside source such as AutoMax Recruiting and Training to do all that for you. Now they are ‘Plug and Play Professionals” Now comes the job of retaining who went through the training.

They are now on the floor ready to take “ups”, first customer comes in, new salesperson greets them just the way they were trained to do, customer grabs a brochure and leaves. You call the salesperson over and ask what happened and he or she says something like "Oh they were just looking, on lunch hour, wife was next door shopping, asked for directions, car was getting oil change, killing time while his partner robbed the bank next door”, and he heads to the coffee maker for a cup of joe, you get the picture. In your frustration of this being the 15th customer that visited your showroom today without one sale, in your best Alex Baldwin voice from Glengarry Glen Ross you tell him in no uncertain terms “Coffee’s for Closers, kid” and he cowers back into his office.

Near the end of the day you remember yelling at the “greenpea” and you go sit down and tell him “I have great news, you are going to be trailing Five Car Fred the rest of the week” “Five Car has been here 13 years and has a lot of time on his hands” {He only sells Five a month] “He will show you the ropes and T.O. all your deals and only take 50% of your commission of every sale, isn’t that great?” The salesperson says “ok, Boss”

Fast forward 3 weeks from that wonderful decision and only a couple of things could have  happened, one he has settled in nicely due to the ‘Training?” of Five Car Fred and has become Four Car Frank or… look around and he has blown out and gone on to become the CEO of Burger Doodle down the street. Retain who we or you initially train!

Did You Hire em Dead or Kill em After You Got em?

This can all stop, it’s just a processes problem and process’s can be fixed. Have a very specific plan and have different people that are SUCCESSFUL get involved in the new hire's initial and ongoing training. Whether it is done in house or using the talents of an outside vendor like AutoMax this all just needs a little tweaking and care.

Make sure the ad says what the job really is and attract the career minded people you want and need, not just people looking for a JOB! Have a person designated to handle all the resumes and initial screening to save you or your manager’s time and effort. Make 100% sure the initial training is motivational in nature and is designed to change the new salesperson's perception of the car business

Craig Lockerd

Craig Lockerd is the founder and CEO of AutoMax Recruiting And Training. He has nearly 50 years of experience in the auto industry. You can find Craig on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • aaron kominsky says:

    First and foremeost dealers create 5 car fred and ringleaders of negativity I can only say salespeople quit because of mgrs not helping their cause just like athletes if they fail it’s the coach and his staff . A fish rots at the head.It’s the mgrs responsibility to willingly prepare his people to handle customers of all age groups and different personalty styles ADAPT OR DIE is my theory or I call thethree t’s Train em, Transfer em or Terminate them If you come to a dealership to be hired as a salesperson it’s no longer the days I went there because of the 3 d’s Desk, Demo and Day Off. Customers do not buy vehicles because of the 3R’s anylonger either Ride Room and Radio , so if you want to succeed you gotta have drive and make sure your mgmt staff don’t play the my way or the highway game and train you to become a professional salesperson

  • Good topic Craig! I agree with Aaron on the fact that managers need to champion their sales staff. They have to embrace and encourage that same as an athlete coach does to get in just one more rep, push to be the best.

    If a manager is wanting to create an environment of accountability, they MUST let the new salesperson know what is and is not acceptable. for example walking a customer who is “looking” is never acceptable. I was trained early on that in a sales environment, I should never be the last point of contact for a customer; always get someone else involved.

    There is a responsibility for the salesperson as well. They have to be receptive to fast and accurate feedback, if they cannot take criticism, regardless of how it is presented, sales is probably not that individuals strong suit. Regardless of how you hired ’em, half dead or otherwise, in sales we get “shot” at on a regular basis from all sides; sales people need to be prepared to get some thick skin, body armor or a pretty good sized flack shield.
    One key to note, is hiring the right people to begin with (such as through AutoMax), and getting them in the right seat with the right processes, right from the beginning.

  • OOOOOOOOOOOOO….Yes,Mike! My youngest son brought that back into mind about having that thick skin not to long ago. He was selling at a GMC Pontiac Store…yea I know, yikes.He called me and was all pumped up about this $1200 commission he was getting [I was pumped as well, not having to help him with rent] 3 days later he calls and is HOT…..$1200 turned into $150 flat….He asked what to do ,I told him to go to his team leader first , he did,didn’t help and then go to the GM.He did that and called me ,I asked what happened, what was said etc. He proceeded to tell me that he told the GM he knew the numbers, ACV,invoice ,backend and wasn’t going to stand for getting screwed.He got all that was due him and that gross got him an additional $500 month end bonus as well!

  • Dan Davis says:

    Good article!