OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE Illinois Automobile Dealers Association

2021 Issue 2

A-Training-Plan-That-Matches-the-Team

A Training Plan That Matches the Team

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This story appears in the
Illinois Auto Dealer Magazine 2021 Issue 2

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When you construct a sales forecast and build a training plan around it, you need to consider the talent level on your team. The entire talent and experience level will dictate how complex you can make your plan and what level of execution you can expect. Many times, keeping it simple is just better.

Recently I was reminded of coaching a youth football team made up of third graders — yes, that’s a team of eight-year olds. Football requires a lot of teamwork, and each player affects the others’ ability to do their job. When children are eight, they don’t know much about the game. They are lucky if they know their job let alone what someone else’s responsibility is. They for sure don’t know why they are being asked to do what they are being asked to do. On TV, they see throwing, catching and running, for sure not blocking.

The coaches in youth football usually played at some level and they have a love and passion for the sport. They can’t wait to share their knowledge and passion with their child. Commonly this passion and enthusiasm is directed at winning or having a kid make a big play. At the beginning of the year, the coaches vow to make it fun, educational and safe for the kiddos. Winning will be a secondary goal and success will be measured by how many children come out for football next year.

When the first practice comes around, we were overwhelmed by what it took to get a group of eight year old’s to do anything in a coordinated effort. Regardless we ran drills and repeated the same plays over and over. The coaches maintained their focus on safety and having fun.

Then the first game came around. The old ball coach has his adrenaline kicked into full gear and we want to win! Having fun and safety is out the window. Patience and understanding are lost virtues. Grown men could be heard screaming at third graders for someone to make a block or save a touchdown by chasing down a ball carrier from behind. Patience is tested, tears fall, mothers get upset, and some children lose interest and want to quit.

As a leader in your dealership, I’d ask you to look at your team and consider that some of them have no more experience selling cars than my little children had playing football. To be successful, you will have to have a simple plan.

As a leader in your dealership, I’d ask you to look at your team and consider that some of them have no more experience selling cars than my little children had playing football. To be successful, you will have to have a simple plan. You will have to have plenty of practice and drilling before game time — which is when they make a phone call or take an up. If you don’t give them the training and repetition, what can you really expect? If training for you is telling stories about how you used to sell three cars every Saturday and you led the dealership in gross every month, please consider that you might be akin to the former High School Football star telling war stories to third graders. That’s not training, and it’s not helpful.

Explain the process to them in detail. Demonstrate it, explain why it is done this way. Then have them try and repeat. Repetition is the mother of learning; that’s not going away. Alternatively, you can keep hiring new people. Provide them limited training and be frustrated when they leave after four months. Repeat this until you’re convinced training doesn’t work, and you must find the right people.

Sometimes what a salesperson needs is someone to offer them encouragement and understanding rather than war stories about how you used to do it. The likelihood is that the business has changed from when you were selling. The customers are more sophisticated, they have higher expectations, and will recognize an untrained sales professional immediately. If you want to reduce turnover and sell more cars, have your Sales Professionals know that your No. 1 job is to help them be successful. That doesn’t mean doing it for them. But it does mean offering the training before game time as well as some encouragement when the breaks don’t go our way.

We could never have that third-grade team hike the ball on two. Inevitably someone from our own team would jump offsides, causing a penalty and backing us up. For an entire season, we went on one. The other teams learned this and had a nice advantage on the defensive side of the ball. But taking this source of frustration out of the mix allowed us to focus on the other things. It provided an environment where they could learn a new sport, have fun and be safe. Oh yes, and win quite a few games.

If you have less experienced teammates, ask yourself are there ways to simplify processes for them until they’ve had enough practice to take on more. How you react to their shortcomings and failures will determine if they will remain coachable in the future. That doesn’t mean let them do whatever they want. But it does mean checking yourself on if enough explanation and training has taken place that your expectation is reasonable. Save your war stories for another time. They aren’t helpful, and they for sure aren’t training

For more information, please contact Francis Fagan with Brown & Brown Dealer Services at 312-608-4979 or ffagan@bbins.com. Francis is the Regional Training Director for Illinois and Indiana. At Brown & Brown Dealer Services we put the emphasis on training. Visit our website for our training calendar and to meet our nationally renowned trainers. bbdealerservices.com

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