How well do you retain sales staff?  The average annual turnover rate for salespeople in our business is 67 percent, according to Automotive News.


That’s an alarming statistic when you consider it can cost upwards of $10,000 to replace one salesperson. This figure accounts for recruiting fees, on-boarding costs and potential lost revenue from missed deals.


The good news is that there are proactive steps you can take to stop, or at least slow down, the revolving door of sales employee turnover. These five tips will help reduce the likelihood that your sales team and your profits will disappear.  


Invest in digital training

Training isn’t an expense. It’s an investment. And it pays off in a number of ways, including lower turnover, better customer relationships and more sales.


Poorly trained sales staff can’t succeed in volume selling. When you set your team up to fail, it leads to frustration and often means they quit before they reach their full potential.


An efficient and cost-effective way to help train your employees is by utilizing online courses in addition to your in-person training efforts. Online courses can be taken at the employees’ own pace and schedule and is a great remote option for dealers. You should provide at least a couple of weeks of additional online training before allowing new salespeople to greet prospects on their own.


Training should focus on soft skills (such as problem-solving) and technical skills like CRM training and certification programs. Your CRM partner should have remote and in-person training and certification resources available.


Get serious about phone handling skills

Don’t skimp on phone training. A single 30-minute session or a one-time visit from an outside trainer just won’t cut it in today’s market.


Up to 61 percent of vehicle shoppers make initial contact with dealerships over the phone, according to the Local Search Association. You only get one chance to impress those callers. That first impression could mean the difference between a buyer visiting your dealership or choosing your competitor down the street.


Phone training should be on-going, managed and monitored. Practice effective voicemail messages and appointment closing techniques with your team every day.


Invest in a call recording and analysis solution and listen to a couple of calls every day with your team. Identify the most challenging phone calls and make those the focus of your meetings, using peer collaboration and feedback to brainstorm what could be improved. This will create a thriving culture of continuous improvement make your team feel more connected and boost morale.


Create a collaborative culture

 It doesn’t help anyone when you pit salespeople against each other. Everyone needs to work together to reach the common goal of a thriving dealership – and that’s not going to happen if your team is competing with each other.


Create a collaborative culture by encouraging salespeople to share techniques that work for them. Include winning strategies for converting customers over the phone, via text, and on the floor. 


Promote mentoring. Pair a newbie with a seasoned veteran for at least 30 days and encourage collaboration by compensating the veteran with a bonus or a percentage of the mentee’s sales. This helps build relationships within your team by giving your veterans a way to earn more and refine their skills while giving newbies a mentor who can provide guidance and advice.


Encourage your managers to prioritize staff development and team cooperation by tying a portion of your sales managers’ compensation to sales staff productivity. That way, when the team wins, everyone wins.


Let data drive your sales goals

 Having specific goals increases motivation and drives better results. Salespeople who stick to a goal-orientated plan perform 30 percent better than those who don’t, according to a Harvard Business study. 


Lean on trend and tracking reports in your CRM to set precise and attainable goals for every salesperson. A good rule of thumb is to have a 90-day sales plan based on each individual’s 90-day rolling average.


For example, a salesperson who sells 10 cars in January, eight in February and five in March has sold a total of 23 cars, divided by three months, for a rolling average of 7.6 cars. Thus, it’s reasonable and fair to set a monthly goal of seven cars for this salesperson.


When you forecast goal attainment you can identify and flag those salespeople at risk for attrition. This allows you to offer more training before they throw in the towel and cost you money as a result.


Commit to helping employees grow

 Not all salespeople want to remain in the same role forever.  Some may want to climb the corporate ladder, and it behooves you to encourage their ambition.


When these high-achievers don’t have a clear advancement path, they start to question their place in your dealership and may set their sights on new opportunities.


Be a “scale-up” dealership. Help employees grow and find advancement. It’s important to encourage your sales and human resources leaders to work together to develop career advancement paths. Share these paths with salespeople to demonstrate that a career at your dealership can be long-lasting and fulfilling.


You can also share success stories with your team. If someone has taken the path of advancement a salesperson wants for him- or herself, connect the two employees so the junior can learn what the senior did to get there.


Your dealership can buck the trend of high sales staff turnover by taking the proactive steps outlined above. You have the ability to make changes that encourage employees to stick around for the long haul and reward them for doing so. When you invest in training and execute retention strategies, you’ll reap the benefits of a thriving dealership today and far into the future.


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