Bob, I am sorry to hear you feel that way. If I were you, I’d also feel this way. However let me ask you a question. Looking at the bell curve, 20% of the salespeople at any dealership are probably selling 20+ units a month, while the bottom 20% are probably selling fewer than 8. The vast majority of those in the middle can be trained and developed to be top performers, so they too are underperforming.
Are you saying the dealerships should just keep looking for new hires to cover up their ineffective training and development programs, which fail to motivate and inspire their staff? As I point out in my article Do-You-Know-the-Cost-of-Sales-Employee-Turnover? the cost of turnover is extremely high both financially and in human terms.
Let me offer another solution to the issue of the underperforming sales person. Research shows that you only perform as well as your motivation, confidence, and self-image allow you to perform. So let’s do the right thing and assist the under-performer by doing the following:
• Sit down with them to find out if there is anything either inside the dealership or in their outside life stopping them from being the best they can be. Work out a solution together.
• Motivate and inspire them by setting high expectations, letting them know you believe in them, and encouraging rather than criticizing them. Offer them motivational training and suggest that they take advantage of motivational CDs, books, and seminars as well.
• Help them deepen their product knowledge and train them on the key steps to a sale. Above all, teach them how to build strong, trusting relationships with their customers as these are critical.
• Provide ongoing support through training, modeling, coaching, and feedback. Make sure that you use praise for any improvement, no matter how small.
Teaching by example is another way to enhance someone’s performance without generating anger, resentment, and loss of face. For instance, let’s say that your salesperson is losing sales because he or she is either unwilling or afraid to ask for a TO. Try this, “John, when I was a sales person in this business I would let some people walk. I really didn’t think that a TO would work. It cost me a lot, until I let my manager TO a deal that seemed hopeless. I actually did it to show him I was right—there was no way that this customer was going to buy. Well, you know what happened? My manager worked hard to turn him around, and I got the sale. That was the end of my ‘no TO’ attitude. I am sure you will do much better the next time.” Isn’t this better than saying, “You should have let me TO that customer, or, “If you keep letting customers walk out without even asking for a TO, you’re out of here?”
Bottom line: Top performers aren’t just born, they can be developed with ongoing training and support. Motivation and self-confidence are prerequisites, and people respond well to managers who set high expectations, respect their sales people, manage through praise and constructive feedback, and understand that coaching goes a lot further than commanding.