I want to take a couple of minutes to discuss with you the phenomenon affectionately known as "The 90 Day Wonder". For those of us unfamiliar with this phenomenon, let me 'splain it to you.

The 90 day wonder is the sales associate, brand new to the business, who starts out like gang-busters. Who, for the first couple of months, lead the field. Then, after about 60 to 90 days, their production starts to dip until it plateaus somewhere around the average.

Now some owners, managers and even trainers believe that this occurs because the new associate becomes "too smart" (as if intelligence were a malady) and they start to take the short cuts the old-timers teach them.

Well, I suppose there's some truth to that theory. As a matter of fact, N.A.D.A. discovered that the average retail automotive sales manager spends only 18% of his or her time working directly with their sales force. So, it stands to reason that if our average performers are doing most of the sales training, our new associates will develop only average skills and work habits.

So as a sales manager, I made a concerted effort to spend the majority of my time working directly with my sales associates. And you know what? ...It worked!!...Sort of...For a while...and then slowly their performance dipped also.

Then I asked myself what are they doing differently? They're getting a different result so they must be doing something different. And then it came to me...like a slap in the face or a konk on the head.

When we first start out in our careers, we don't know much about the product and we don't know many wiz-bang sales techniques. What we do know is that we're excited (you know, new job, fancy dealership, new car smell etc.), we really want to help our customers, and the only thing we really know about is ourselves. Consequently, we end up enthusiastically selling ourselves and our eagerness to serve. Then, with product knowledge, we stop selling ourselves and start trying to sell cars. And with sales knowledge, we stop enthusiastically trying to serve and start aggressively trying to sell.

The distinction is not one of semantics. It's a distinction readily perceived by our customers.

Now, obviously I'm not saying that product knowledge or sales technique is unnecessary, quite the contrary. But what I am saying is that we need to develop the mind set and skills that'll enable us to always approach our jobs with the enthusiasm of a new hire. IT...IS...POSSIBLE, you know. With state management skills and rapport building skills (among others) we can become or go back to being, and stay: a 90 day wonder for the rest of our career!


 © 2016 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved.

Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc. and and My Success Company, which are success coaching firms serving the automotive industry for over two decades. You can find more of his work here: http://bluinc.com/free-stuff/articles/selling-skills/. He can be reached at FacebookTwitterYouTubeAmazon, or e-mailed at mhargrove@bluinc.com

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Comment by tim elliott on April 30, 2016 at 3:36pm

This is why there is a 50 % turn over in Showroom Advocates at more Dealerships. A Desking Manager is just that. He knows how to desk a deal.

Rarely does he or she know how to coach or lead a sales team to consistent success. The skill set is very different for a sales coach and a desking manager. Until ownership decides to hire or re-train thier "managers" to truly manage don't look for much change in the 50 % turn over on the showroom . 

Mt .02c

Comment by WILLIAM BOYD CAMPBELL on April 30, 2016 at 9:51am

You are correct.  90 day wonders are excited and enthusiasm sells.  Also for the first 90 days they are convinced that they are providing a service to the consumer instead of making a commission.  The truth is that a salespersons pay is 100% based on customer satisfaction.  If the customer is not satisfied they don`t buy.  When it becomes about commission rather than satisfaction then sales start to drop. 

Comment by Larry Sherstad on April 30, 2016 at 8:15am


Comment by Myron R Murray on April 29, 2016 at 5:22pm

Well, you have part of the story correct, but you're forgetting that the other salespersons influence the "newbe", telling him "you can't sell cars like that, you're going to make us look bad, etc"... Unfortunately the new guy wants to fit-in with the rest of the guys, now you have an average salesperson selling the same or less then everyone else...I've been in the car business since 1973 and have sold, managed and owned and things don't seem to change much... Just my opinion...

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