The ABCs of Hiring Salespeople – for Car Dealerships

Hiring salesperson

Business managers, especially small business owners and entrepreneurs, have a terrible track record when it comes to hiring and retaining sales talent. Hiring the right salespeople in a car dealership can give you instant and amazing results. On the other hand, hiring mediocre sales talent will drain your business, as you shell out paycheck after paycheck for no real results.

So, why is hiring salespeople so hard?

There are many things that create challenges during the hiring and selection process. First, most sales candidates are adept at selling themselves in the interview. They know what to say, what to do, how to act, and how to get you to like them, but they can’t actually do any of it, unless they have a record of it, for the past couple of years.

Second, even the top performers in one dealership may not necessarily perform well in another. A recent study revealed that 50 percent of top sales performers, who leave their companies to work at another venture, are considered top performers by their new employers less than 50 percent of the time. This is attributed to the work environment. Providing great marketing support and business processes, and working with referenceable customers can bring out the best in motivated salespeople.

Third, great sales talent is always in demand. Good sales people are a scarce commodity, and even in times of downsizing, the top sales staff is never laid-off. When it is difficult to get great people, you are left with two choices as a business manager: the first is to up your recruiting and interviewing game in order to locate, attract, and hire the best salespeople from your competitors; and the second is to look for mediocre sales talent who are desperate for work and easy to motivate.

The first option is what many car dealerships would rather go for. But what exactly will you be looking for, and how do you find it?

How to find good sales talent

We are hiring

It is easy to post an advertisement online, plus you are assured that many candidates will see it. However, online ads are not very effective when you are looking for quality. A recent survey revealed that the best places to start looking for new employees are your current employees and customers. According to the survey:

  • 50 percent of the highly successful companies have given up using job boards.
  • People hired through referral are about 47 percent more likely to remain with the company after three years, compared to only 14 percent for job-board applicants.
  • Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are not only cheaper, but also more effective for recruiting.
  • The best way to motivate current employees to refer qualified applicants is by giving them cash bonuses.

So, when you are planning to hire, you should start by notifying current employees. Reason? If your employees are happy about their job, the pay, or the benefits, they will brag about how happy they are to their friends, and in the process, attract them to your business.

If your dealership business has great social media presence, you can use your contacts and fan base to inform people that you are looking to hire salespeople. You could even offer a bonus to customers who refer to others. After all, everybody knows someone looking for a job.

Local newspapers provide a great way to supplement your online advertisement. Once you know the various channels you will use to advertise the position, you should design your advertisement.

Some of the aspects of a successful dealership ad include:

  1. Fantastic display – this includes a positive upbeat subject line that makes the ad stand out, and eye-catching artwork
  1. The position you are looking for – sales talent
  1. Earning potential – you could indicate the earnings of your top performers, assuming it is over $100,000
  1. How much experience is preferred – some dealerships prefer to hire people with little or no experience so they can offer the training themselves. Also, great salespeople don’t leave a job where they’re earning a lot.
  1. What education level and skills you are looking for – to show whether you want to work with uneducated but talented salespeople, or those with relevant higher education
  1. Indicate the qualities you are looking for in your salespeople
  1. 5-Day work Week – let the applicants know whether they will be expected to work from Monday to Monday, or they can have the weekends off
  1. Use bullet points – lists are easier to read, especially if you want to highlight what you are offering your applicants, like:
  • Paid vacation
  • Paid training program
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Long-term employment
  1. Make it seem like working in your organization is the best way to help them build a professional career
  1. Date of the interview and the requirements – setting an interview date and asking for a resume or coverletter lets applicants know that you are serious about filling the position
  1. Contact person – include the email or other contact information of the person who will be receiving the applications.

If you employ a good hiring process, you will be able to attract quality applicants, so you won’t be wasting your time during the interview process.

Running a Sales Interview

Salesperson interview

To ensure that you ask the right questions, it is important that you prepare a pre-defined interview script outlining everything you want to know about the candidates, before you sit down with them. A script will ensure that you get critical information, keep track, and remain calm enough to listen to your candidate’s responses. What should you ask in a dealership interview?

You want to gauge their competitiveness, aggression, problem solving skills, how they overcome obstacles and their personal weaknesses, and what motivates them. So, you could ask:

  • Why they are interested in the position
  • For a brief work history and why they left each job
  • Whether they were involved in sports? To access their competitiveness and team work skills
  • Their greatest accomplishment in life to help you gauge their passion and excitement
  • Their weaknesses in the past job, and how they addressed them
  • How much money they need to maintain their current lifestyle
  • How they would handle different sale situations

Choosing the Right Candidates and Retaining Them

If you are fortunate enough to find several great candidates in the first interview, you can schedule a second one with only those candidates, where you conduct role play sessions. If you still like the candidate, you can make him/her the job offer.

It is rare to find salespeople who can produce immediate results without requiring any form of coaching or training. And since prior experience and track records do not necessarily guarantee performance, you should be willing to invest time, money, and effort to train and develop your new sales hires, to cultivate a success mentality from the start.

March 6, 2015 - Written by

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