Category Archives: Hiring and Firing

Why Bananas Are Good for Hiring

Why Bananas Are Good for Hiring: Making the Most of Opportunity

The word "recession" has become such a dirty word in our country today that as a benefit to my readers, I will be following the example of noted economist Alfred Kahn when the Carter Administration told him to stop using "recession" or "depression" when talking with the press. Therefore, from here on in this article, I will be substituting the word "banana" for "recession.”

As our economy moves more and more towards a significant banana, I think it is safe to say that we in the retail automotive industry will notice the effects. I think it’s also safe to say that those of us who have been around a while realize that the economy cycles through one of these bananas every 15 to 20 years or so with a couple worse years, followed by many years of growth. We had bananas in the ‘90s and the ‘70s, and though the ‘50s seemed to have had a banana-free pass, the ‘30s were well beyond anything else. The point I am making here is that as bad as the banana can be, the fact is that it’ll slip by before you know it and you’ll start seeing growth again. How we need to look at the banana is not as a problem, but rather as an opportunity to prepare for the future.

More specifically, we need to remember that during a banana people will be looking for new jobs. We can use this to our advantage by taking a long-term focus on our hiring and preparing for the upswing in the economy that always comes at the end of a banana. In times where a banana is imminent or already apparent, there is never a better opportunity to hire good sales people.

To take advantage of the banana, you must first learn to shift your mindset about employees and their compensation and benefits. I have seen all too often that employers, including automotive dealerships, consider employee compensation and benefits as nothing more than costs that need to be contained, like copy paper usage or electricity. I’ve never viewed employees this way. To me, employees have always been assets, and their compensation and benefits are investments more than anything else. Employees are the ones who create the business and this is no more apparent than in automotive sales. A good salesperson will create far more revenue than they will create costs.

During a banana, people may be laid off or fired and are certainly going to worry about their future. These will be people who are good employees with great skill sets and good work histories. These people will be seeking work opportunities where they feel they have control over their future, and there is no better opportunity than in commissioned sales. I have always viewed commissioned sales as the perfect type of work for people who want to control their lives, because simply put, the harder you work, the more money you’ll make. If you are a good sales consultant, there is practically no limit to your earning potential. So if a banana is going to prompt these workers to seek new opportunities and we want to hire them, how do we go about getting them? There are a couple things we need to do.

First, make sure to keep up on the news about your local economy. Rarely will a significant lay-off or business closing happen without some coverage in the local news. Or alternatively, you can keep in touch with local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) who will have a good handle on the local situation. By staying aware of the changes in your area, you can be the first on the scene when qualified employees become available.

I used this exact method to pick up a few good employees a couple of years ago for a dealership I worked with. A couple counties over from us there was a bit of a localized banana due to the closing of several manufacturing plants. As a bit of a domino effect, a large automotive dealership in that area was preparing to close. I got wind of this through the CoC and made my way over to talk to the dealer principal. He obviously was not looking forward to having to lay off all of his employees, especially the ones who had been good workers for years.

He was more than willing to let me talk to his people and recruit them to my dealership when his dealership closed. We picked up two good sales consultants and a service technician for nothing more than the time it took to read a newsletter and make a visit. This same technique would apply to any business, not just automotive dealerships. Almost all businesses will have some kind of sales staff, and considering that many sales skills are easily transferable, it will be worth your time to look into recruiting these people.

The second thing that you should remember about recruiting people during a banana is that you need to keep your standards high. When there are a lot of candidates for the available jobs, it is easy to find yourself in a mindset of, “If this person doesn’t work out, there’s always someone else.” This is very short-term thinking and we are trying to use the current situation to make long-term hiring decisions. We want solid employees who will last and succeed.

If we invest the time and resources in training them during this banana, we want them to be around to excel when the growth returns. Take the time to define what you are looking for in an employee by developing a clear and concise job description. Then, proceed through your hiring process with interviews, work history reviews, references and pre-employment testing, just as you always would. Remember, we are now considering our employees as investments, so we should use due diligence in hiring them.

I can honestly say that I am excited about entering into our most recent banana. It is an opportunity for dealerships to evaluate their positions and business and prepare for the changes that are ahead. My euphemistic use of “banana” in this article is a bit silly, but ultimately serves to reinforce my point. By making the idea of an economic recession silly, we can see that there is nothing really to fear from it. It is a simple reality of business that we will deal with and overcome. And frankly, calling a recession a banana is no more silly than referring to it as an “economic plateau,” “period of negative growth,” or “slowdown.” It is, however, more fun to say.

Written by Justin Spath
Human Resource Generalist
United Group

Would You Hire Your Current Sales Team?

Imagine you are recruiting all of your current salespeople today. Knowing what you know about them now, who would you hire and who would you give a firm “no” to?

Recruiting salespeople can be fraught with danger. The main reason for this is that they worked out what you want to hear and are pretty good at selling themselves. Others may have two or three things going for them and you make allowances, hoping that training and experience will plug the skills or behavioral gaps.

Recently, I heard of a concept called the KASH profile. KASH stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits. If you use this as a recruitment guide, designing questions for each part, then you will increase your chances of hiring the right person for your department.

Some dealership knowledge, or hopefully product knowledge is essential. A great question in this category is simply: “What do you know vehicle selling and our dealership in particular?” If the salesperson hasn’t at least researched your website then it is a sure guide that they won’t demonstrate the behaviors necessary for success.

Salespeople tend to have a strong desire to succeed. The good ones are competitive. They may view themselves as the underdog – the streetfighter who relies on guile and hard work to match it with the “university set”. They see sales as the quickest way to reach their income goals, and will often picture themselves surrounded by luxury. I like salespeople to want large amounts of money, so a good question is “What are your income goals for the next 1, 3, and 5 years?”. The ideal answer is a big number, but not so big that they haven’t given thought to how they might achieve it. Other good attitudinal indicators can be aound time management, commission, when they were last in a competitive situation and how positive they are about your product line or the vehicle industry in general.

The core skills needed for great vehicle salespeople are proper questioning, listening, presentation skills and closing skills. So test these during your interview. For example, if they waffle and take too long to find the point in their job interview then chances are they will do that when dealing with your prospects. If you mention an aspect of a job (maybe a small list of things) and they can’t relay those back to you later in the interview, then maybe their listening skills aren’t great. But the best question is simply this: “What skills do you have that will make you great at selling vehicles?” Their closing skills will be determined on how well they sell you on hiring them.

Great habits or behaviors for salespeople tend to be around how they structure and plan their days, their experience and desire to productively work when their are no customers in the showroom, their sales results and their priorities. The best salespeople don’t want to get caught up in non-productive activities, so they will be interested in your systems and how you clear paths for them to spend more time selling.

You can also use the KASH profile for reviews of your current team. There are specific training activities to boost all four of these areas – just give me a call if you need a hand or some suggestions.

Ten Tips for Recruiting Sales People Successfully

Sales people provide life for all companies.

If everything starts with sales people, it only makes sense to make sure that you are recruiting the best potential sales people.

Tip 1: Recruit from want, not need. Make recruiting an everyday activity. Don’t wait until you need it.

Tip 2: Have a strategy to recruit people all the time. To orchestrate a successful ongoing recruiting program you must first have a game plan. Plan and develop a flow chart of your desired results. Write down the obvious. You must know why you are looking to create a recruiting strategy. “When the why gets strong, the how gets easy.”

Tip 3: Know who is in charge of recruiting and his/her qualifications. People must be educated on creating and orchestrating a strategy that works. Don’t leave the who and how to chance.

Tip 4: Newspaper ads – the Sunday paper is full of ads for sales people. If you plan on using help-wanted ads as part of your recruiting, you must write the ad with the mindset of the good sales person you are looking to recruit. Use two age-old formulas: WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” and AIDA – “Attention, interest, desire and action” when creating your ads.

Tip 5: Try using several avenues to recruit, such as full-color newspaper inserts, business journal classifieds, a banner ad on your Web site, local colleges, Internet job postings, radio ads, military bases, job fairs and employee referral programs. Never leave the vitality of your company to just one avenue of marketing. You must build a marketing web that has many marketing branches to attract good people.

Tip 6: Have an “ideal employee” profile. Know who you are looking for before you find them. When you’ve developed a precise guideline of what the perfect recruit looks like, you can begin your process with that in mind and then remove the emotions involved in interviewing.

Tip 7: Payment plans satisfy base-level needs of the potential recruit. Pay all recruits during training and guarantee them a living wage during their learning curve. Many potentially good sales people are not given the chance to ever enter the business. Lower the barriers of entry in order to find the best people.

Tip 8: Have at least 50 written interview questions. Don’t you show a sales person how to profile customers? Preparation is key to a good interview. Be ready with sub questions to the interviewee’s answers that allow him or her to elaborate and communicate in detail. A good interview will follow the 80/20-rule and allow the recruit to speak 80 percent of the time.

Tip 9: Test and profile a potential sales person. Anyone who has interviewed people has come across a great interview, horrible employee. A good recruiting strategy must utilize many tools to reduce the emotion and help to make a more logical and quantitative selection. There are many tools today that can be used to gauge the personality, sales aptitude, emotional IQ, intelligence and just about anything else you want to know about a possible future employee.

Tip 10: Don’t hire people based only upon resumes. If you want to hire good sales people, recruit and hire based on talent and attitude and teach them the necessary skills. Recruiting and hiring effectively is a continuous process that is both part science and being creative. Having a consistent plan will make your recruiting a success.

Written by Mark Tewart

The Cost of Turnover

Turnover is something that occurs in every business. Employee’s leave, some get fired and others retire, it happens. The automobile business is no different, if anything, turnover rates for automobile sales consultants are higher than most. Why? It’s my opinion that our industry as a whole has come to accept high turnover for so long, it’s now considered normal. I’m telling you right now… HIGH TURNOVER IS NOT NORMAL, and it’s costing dealerships hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. I’ve heard it said that turnover is just the cost of doing business. The real question is, "How much is sales consultant turnover alone costing your dealership?"

Turnover cost is not hard to calculate, however I recommend that you are sitting down when you see the number. Some of you may even want to have a crash cart standing by. To see how much your turnover expense was last year go to and click on the “Cost” tab.

The next question is, "What can we do to reduce turnover?" The short answer is… Hire and retain better performing sales consultants! So how do we accomplish this task? By having the right comprehensive hiring process in place.

Does your dealership currently use any pre-hire assessment tools like a personality profile? If so, does the tool inform you of the candidate’s ability to sell cars? I’ve found personality profiles used by many dealers today are nothing more than a very basic IQ test, which doesn’t tell us what we really need to know… Does the candidate have the dominant traits necessary to be a successful high-performing sales consultant? Are they motivated? Are they an instinctive closer? Do they have investigative skills? Do they have enough empathy to identify with customers wants and needs? We must know all of this information upfront about a candidate in order to assess the risk and make the right decision when hiring a new team member. By having the right comprehensive hiring process in place and knowing what questions to ask prior to the first interview, we can gather the critical information needed to hire better performing sales consultants.

A comprehensive hiring process should include the following:

1. A quality pre-hire assessment tool to determine whether a candidate possess the dominate traits necessary to be a successful automotive sales consultant.
2. Interview Questions: Initial, First and Second
3. Communication Skills Questions
4. Questions on Networking
5. Commitment Questions
6. Risk Assessment Tool: To determine if the candidate is a low-risk, medium-risk or high-risk investment.

In conclusion, the solution to high turnover is not rocket science. It does however require a comprehensive hiring process and a commitment from the Dealer and/or GM to see the process is enforced. By having the right tools and implementing the right processes you will reduce turnover, expenses and increase gross profit exponentially. Process is profit!

If we can ever be of help to your dealerships hiring, retention and sales processes, please contact me anytime.

Tom Kain
National Marketing Director
Hire The Winners

The Hiring Dilemma

A Sales Manager asked me the other day, "why am I having such a hard time finding salespeople who want to work 60 hours a week?" For those of us who have lived much of our lives in and around a dealership, 50-60 hours a week may seem like a common work environment. But I started asking myself one serious question like "why should anyone have to work that many hours?"

Most dealerships haven’t changed much over the years. We still pay salespeople strictly on a commission basis, we still feel like by hiring them we own their lives, we still have trouble hiring professional people, and we still expect the ones we do hire to be successful on their own. I know there are a lot of reasons we haven’t changed our philosophy for how we run our sales department, some of them even logical. But you would think after all the years the auto dealership has been around we could have come up with a better way of handling our employees.

The Commission-Only Structure
When I first started selling cars in 1979, I was making 50% commission with a $100 pack. I was getting 10% of the Life, Accident and Health premium since we didn’t have Finance Managers back then. I was also getting $50 for every Extended Service Contract I sold and $75 for every Rust, Paint and Fab. Even though we were entering what I considered a depression, I was still capable of making an excellent, high paid living. Then the Dealer started realizing how much the salespeople and Sales Managers were making and started cutting our pay. Now we have salespeople making 20% commission with a $500 pack, and though they may be going into holdback, it’s still tougher to make an above average living.

Adding to the decrease in pay structure, we also have the manufacturers cutting dealer profits adding to lower grosses. It’s hard to believe a dealer will spend $17,000 to buy a car only to make $600 gross profit. I can charge $349 for one of my training programs and net $320 profit. Something went terribly wrong along the way in our industry. Prices kept going up and profits kept coming down.

Adding to the possibility of less income, we’ve taken away demos and cut benefits, which was one of the most attractive aspects of being an auto salesperson. I know we’ve tried salaried salespeople and one-price selling. We’ve toyed with salary plus commission and minimum wage. Since the majority of dealerships still use commission-only pay plans and vehicle negotiations, apparently the above ideas never worked.

The Hiring Dilemma
So under the current pay structure, we now have to hire salespeople to sell our vehicles. Who do we get that are answering our ads? Are professional people coming into our stores to sell cars? How about talented women with families? Or are we getting warm-blooded, out-of-work young people who are having a hard time finding any kind of work with the promise of high incomes?

Most professional people, especially those that have families do not want to work in a commission-only structure, especially when their previous jobs had some sort of descent salary. Wives of professional men are not used to commissions. They like to know how much money is coming in every week so they can budget for the family. Not know how much money will be made, or if any money will be made that week puts a lot of stress on a family, causing much discourse followed by divorce.

Women with children have a hard time working in auto sales because of the hours. They have to pay babysitters or day care out of their commissions. And if they don’t make a pay check, that places a lot of stress on their situation. Add to this, children getting sick and having to leave work, along with the occasional female problems, and now the Sales Manager shows his/her disgust because she’s not there to do her job. And then there’s the guilt. So we have very few women in auto sales when they are needed desperately.

We’ve tried split shifts and letting salespeople come in at noon when they have to work late. We make them work two Saturdays a month instead of four. I’m sure someone has even tried part-time help so that their salespeople could have more time off. Companies like Microsoft and Google provide their employees with free food, free daycare, free laundry, free exercise, flexible hours. Now, I’m not comparing these companies to a typical auto dealership, but maybe they know something about the value of employees that we don’t. I wouldn’t expect a dealership to provide these services, but why not day care for men and women who want to work that have children, or figuring out a way to provide higher salaries for salespeople, or maybe hiring part-timers to give salespeople more flexibility? I don’t know if it’s possible, but that sure would be a great place to work.

So What’s the Solution?
I truly don’t know. I’m writing this article because I’m frustrated not knowing. I’m sure we must have tried everything under the sun over the years. It must have all failed because most sales departments still run under the same structure they always have. But there must be a better answer if we want to attract professional people in our industry. All I know is that salespeople and managers should not have to work 50-60 hours per week. They have lives and families outside the dealership that have to be nurtured and cared for. Auto sales is a stressful enough job by itself. Adding even more stress to a family life does not make for a productive, long-term employee.

As a disclaimer, I know we have a lot of great salespeople and managers in our dealerships making a lot of money and providing their families with an excellent life. But I must assume that the 80/20 rule still applies. We have 20% of the salespeople doing 80% of the work. These salespeople are the cream of the crop and are not the ones this article speaks of.

Written by Mike Whitty
President, Michael Learning Group

When All Else Fails, Let Your People Go

Are you guilty of hanging on to your poor performers far too long? As sales managers, I think we’re often too soft-hearted (although some may say soft-headed) when it comes to a salesperson’s poor performance. Maybe it’s because we’ve been on the front lines ourselves and know how hard it is that we forgive poor performance too quickly.

We’re masters of rationalization. We tell ourselves that Fred, our long-time salesperson, is just having a bad week (month, quarter, year) and that he’ll snap out of it soon. Or that Harry, the new hire that isn’t up to speed yet, is going to be okay, even though our stomachs say otherwise.

And sometimes we look at the commission-only salesperson that’s performing poorly and say, "Well at least he isn’t costing me anything." Don’t kid yourself. The person is using up one of your most valuable resources — your time.

Too many sales managers don’t hire smart, support poorly, tolerate mediocrity and then complain because sales are down!

First Things First
Frankly, I think of firing someone as a last resort, not the first. So what should you do when you think you’ve got a poor performer? First of all, make sure that you’re not the reason the person is a poor performer. Assuming you’ve taken care in your hiring process and hired smart, are you doing the right things at the right time.

Provide Support
Too many dealerships give tons of product knowledge training and little or no training on how to actually sell the vehicles. In addition to sales training, make sure your people, not just your dud, have the tools to get and stay organized. Does your poor performer have the tools and the training to be a top performer? If so, has he or she taken advantage of these tools and training? Help the person do so by providing some personal attention and encouragement.

Set Performance Targets
Sit down with your problem child and set mutually acceptable goals, activity levels, and a timeline for reaching them. It’s important that he be given enough time to bring his performance up to an agreed-upon level. Your job is to assist him to hit the goals, on time.

Retrain Before Replacing
You need to give the salesperson every chance to perform and positively impact your dealership’s goals. You’ve got to help him to help you. Sometimes the help and experience needed doesn’t lie within your department. Or perhaps you’re simply too busy. Outside assistance to provide additional individual training may be in order.

The Last Resort
If you’ve hired smart, provided the support and tools to succeed, set goals and monitored activity, coached and chided and still the performance is lacking, then what do you do? Well, you’ve reached the last resort and it’s time to give the person a new career opportunity, preferably in some other dealership. By the way, the parting of company should never come as a surprise to the departee. He should be aware that his continued employment depended upon his performance.

Keep It Short
When it’s time to do the dastardly deed, do it quickly and do it properly and don’t do it alone. Have someone with you as an impartial observer. I recommend you do the deed on a Monday, not a Friday. You want the person out the very next day looking for gainful employment, not stewing over a weekend, particularly a long weekend, about the perceived injustice of it all.

Avoid Post-firing Disasters
Stay with the person until he walks out the door for the last time. Once the shock of termination wears off, some salespeople can become angry and vindictive. It doesn’t take long for a vindictive person to share his anger and resentment with the rest of you salespeople.

In the End
If a person’s performance simply isn’t there and isn’t going to be there, it’s time to cut bait and minimize your losses. It’s time to fire them. Do it properly and do it fairly, but do it. In this economy, you can’t afford any poor performers on the sales team.

Recruit on an Ongoing Basis

At a time of year when many sales managers are hiring salespeople, here are a few tips:

Recruit on an on-going basis:
Great dealerships are constantly improving. There is always room for one more person on your showroom floor that displays the attributes or a successful salesperson. Most dealerships will have 1 or 2 poor performers that should be replaced and 1 or 2 sales people that are constatly looking for positions elsewhere, that are about to leave your organization.

Recruit sales people when other dealerships aren’t:
Hundreds of dealerships search for people in February, March and April. The newspapers are filled with salesperson ads. When advertising in the newspaper for a salesperson during these months, you are competing with every other dealership in the region for the same few people. By recruiting during slower periods of the year, you are not competing with every other dealership and you are not hiring out of necessity or panic. You will have the time and energy to properly screen, interview and complete background checks.

Vary your methods of Recruiting:

[list:3gnmqq1c]- Advertise on your local radio station.
– Advertise on job search we sites on-line.
– Deliver seminar on “Career Opportunities in the Automotive Industry” at a local university or college.
– Develop a Sales person referral program within your dealerhsip. If a staff member refers a candidate and you hire them, reward them with a $500 gift certificate after the new hire has completed their first 3 months with you.
– Join the Chamber of Commerce, The Board of Trade, The Rotary Club, etc. to develop a network of potential candidate referrals. Solicit sales clerks at retial stores in shopping malls such as Athletes World, Jack Fraser, The Source, et…
– Solicit sales clerks at “big box” stores such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Future Shop and Staples.
– And try soliciting people that work in the service and hospitality industry in restaurants and hotels. [/list:u:3gnmqq1c]__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by

Recruiting Salespeople

Many dealers often contemplate the best way to recruit salespeople. What you have to ask yourselves before you embark on a recruiting campaign is:

[list:387kw2k8]• “Why do I need more salespeople?”

• “What type of sales team do I want?”[/list:u:387kw2k8]
If you are able to answer the first question TRUTHFULLY, you should be able to cut down on the amount of time and money you spend on recruiting. Most dealerships need more salespeople because they don’t hold on to the ones they have for one reason or another—either through lack of training or support or because they hired the wrong people in the first place.

Why would you hire the wrong people in the first place? Dealers usually do their recruiting reactively instead of proactively. This means they are desperate for “bodies” to at least say hello to the customers coming on their lot. Someone attending to the customer is surely better than no one attending to the customer, right? WRONG! If you don’t have the right people in place to give your customers the best first impression of your dealership, you would be better off allowing the customer make his own impressions rather than giving them a one.

Recruiting proactively will allow you to hire the right people instead of hiring people to “throw to the wolves” and waiting to see who survives. Recruiting proactively will also allow you to answer the second question, “What type of sales team do I want?”

I know some of you reading this live by the strategy of recruiting good, experienced salespeople. You believe they can just get right to work selling with no need for training and they should have their own “book” of customers. Why would a “good” salesperson with a book of customers leave where he is now? We all know that the best salespeople are good because they have built their reputation in the community and have a steady stream of business coming to them without having to wait on much floor traffic to make a very good income. The best salespeople usually won’t leave such an environment to start fresh somewhere else. You have no doubt hired such a person in the past to find out they weren’t exactly the thoroughbred they told you they were.

Don’t hire someone else’s reject. If they were that good, the dealer would find a way to keep them rather than lose them to the competition. I recommend hiring people with no prior auto sales experience. This way you can train them YOUR way. They haven’t developed bad habits or pre-conceived notions from another dealership and have great attitudes.

So, what is the best way of hiring these people?

First, you must decide on where to advertise for the position. Most of you have local newspapers, so make sure you use this. I recommend advertising online to supplement your newspaper ad.

Next, design the ad. This could make the difference between wondering if your ad ever ran and having a dealership full of qualified applicants. Let’s look at the main aspects your ad needs to be successful:

[list:387kw2k8]• Display – It needs to stand out on the page.

• Who you are looking for – Make it bold – Sales Professionals

• No experience preferred – Don’t put no experience necessary – make sure your readership knows you prefer people with no experience.

• Eye-catching artwork/picture – Make it difficult for your readership to skim over the ad

• Earning Potential – Put “Earn up to $XX,000” in big, bold letters across the ad – although not everyone’s primary motivating factor is money, I don’t know of anyone who wants to do it for free.

• 5-Day Work Week – Many people think selling cars is still a 12-hour day, 7-days-a-week job – let them know differently.

• Make it sound like FUN! – Talk about building a career.

• Bullet Points – Make sure you sell your company and what you are offering – something like this:[/list:u:387kw2k8]

[list:387kw2k8]- Paid Training Program
– Long-Term Employment
– Family Owned Business
– Paid Vacation
– Full Appreciation for work done
– Opportunities for Advancement[/list:u:387kw2k8]
[list:387kw2k8]• No Education Required – Women and Men Apply – Encourage everyone!

• No Phone Calls! – You want potential applicants to come in so you get a chance to sell you and your dealership – this is a two-way opportunity.

• Interviews 2 days only! – Having a defined interview period lets applicants know you are serious about hiring and gets them interested in acting now! – make sure you put the dates and times (9:30 am – 6:00 pm).

• Who to ask for – Include the name of the person who will conduct the primary interviews and your address. Don’t include your phone number – this will only invite them to call instead of coming in for an interview.[/list:u:387kw2k8]
If you would like an example of such an ad that has been extremely successful, e-mail me and I will get one to you.

Be prepared. Your campaign will fall apart if you do not allocate the time during the two days of interviewing to cater to your applicants properly. If your current salespeople are left to meet and greet these applicants, you may well end up with no candidates interested in completing an application!

Now that you know how to start a successful recruiting campaign, you need to be able to conduct an interview that not just allows you to learn about your applicant and their potential, but also gets the applicant excited about coming to work for you and starting a new career. Next month, I will take you through such an interview, along with how to start your new employees off correctly so you won’t have to run another sales recruiting campaign in another couple of months!

Written by Michael Rees, CEO
DealerPro Sales and F&I Solutions

Sales Interview Questions

Interviewing can be a tedious and stressful time. Which questions should you ask, which ones are appropriate? Are you going to pick the right person for the position? Below is a list of the top 23 interview questions sales managers find most effective. These inquiries range from basic to complex. Some of the questions are very straight forward and some are tricky ones that bring out the candidates personality and behavior without directly asking them.

[list:w3kjvdna]- Tell me about your last three days at work– beginning to end.
– How many appointments do you set each week?
– What do you like and dislike about the sales process and why?
– What do you like and dislike about the vehicles you’re selling now and why?
– What attracts you to the vehicle industry?
-What are your long-term professional goals?
– What do you do personally for your professional development?
– What are your favorite selling books?
– As a sales professional, what do you see as your primary and secondary roles within a dealership?
– Describe a situation with a prospect where you made a mistake. How did you handle the error?
– Describe a time where an approach to selling a vehicle didn’t work and what you did next?
– What do you think are the most important skills in succeeding in sales?
– What are your top three open-ended questions for qualifying a customer?
– How do you organize your presentation?
– What do you like and dislike about product presentations and why?
– What do you see as the key issues in negotiating?
– What do you see as the key skills in closing?
– How would your currrent prospects and customers describe you as their sales representative?
– Describe one or two of the most difficult rejections you’ve faced in the past and how you responded?
– How do you move forward from a string of rejections?
– What would you say your one or two biggest failures or mistakes were? What did you learn from them?
– What are some of the challenges you see that are facing this industry?
– How would those with whom you work now, across all areas of the dealership, describe you and the work you do? [/list:u:w3kjvdna]

Sales Professional Recruiting: The Selection Process

With the amount of responses I received about recruiting, it is apparent that many of you need to recruit, and thankfully, you want to conduct a professional campaign.

As I continue walking you through the recruiting process, hopefully you have already seen that in order to have a successful campaign, you need to put a lot of effort and thought into it. Like most things, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

Last month, I ended with the initial interview. Hopefully, you will have several applicants that you would like to hire, or even more than you need. So, how do you decide which ones to hire? Don’t rush into this decision; take some time to gather more information about your applicants so you can make a more informed decision.

Further Interviewing/Initial Training
Many dealers like to hire people on the spot (especially salespeople) and let them sink or swim; this is time consuming and expensive. Dealers have to go through the hiring process a lot more often than necessary with this process.

Invite all the applicants on your short list back for further interviewing and training. That’s right, training before you hire them. How many times have you hired someone who interviewed well, and when they show up to actually work, it is as if someone else showed up instead? You can take a lot of the guesswork out of hiring if you put potential employees through some training and role-playing.

If you conduct the initial interviews over two days, say Monday and Tuesday, have the selected applicants show up for a full-day interview and training the next morning (Wednesday). Let them know they have successfully passed the first interview and are now invited to attend your training class, so they can learn more about the car business before they make a decision. Let them know it will also give you a chance to evaluate them further.

This is too big a decision for both parties to make on a whim, and one interview doesn’t give anyone enough information to make a decision of this magnitude. We are talking about potentially changing peoples’ lives here, so let your candidates and your own team know the importance you place on the recruiting process.

Wednesday Morning
Set a specific time for the candidates to arrive. A good time would be 9:15 a.m.; it gives you and your team time to conduct your normal early morning activities before you turn your attention to your candidates. Ask them to arrive at 9:15 for a 9:30 start; this sets the stage for punctuality.

Make the effort to welcome your candidates as they arrive at the dealership. This personal touch speaks volumes. It makes them feel important (they are), and it will show you and your dealership off in a favorable light in case they are considering other jobs. You would probably want to do this for very important customers, and as these people have the potential to make you more money than any of your customers, treat them right.

Assemble your candidates in a suitable meeting/training room. This room needs to look the part; make sure it is clean and tidy and will not be used for lunch or other activities that day. Put a sign on the door if necessary to show these people the respect they deserve as potential employees.

Now hold a motivational seminar. Let’s get these people excited about the car business and what a great career it will make. Our business still has somewhat of a tarnished reputation in the eyes of the general public, and it is the general public you are working with. We need to change their opinion, and this seminar will help with that.

Give them a background of the industry and talk about the attitudes that they will need to be successful and how hard work will pay dividends. Talk about yourself and how you came to be where you are. This is indeed an industry thatwill take you wherever you want to go, if you want it to. Let everyone know that.

Go over how much they can earn; explain how commission works and the advantages that come with being on commission. A lot of people fear commission mainly because it is a fear of the unknown. Let them know it is really like going into business with you, the dealer, without having to put up any money. You have invested in the property, the building, furniture, computers, telephones, parts inventory, vehicle inventory, advertising and people – all to attract customers in your door.

All they have to do as salespeople is take care of these customers the way you are going to train them to; then, you will split the profits with them. Sure, you will keep a higher percentage, but you will pay them off the top. They don’t need to worry about any of the costs associated with running the business; you will take care of all that. Pretty good business for them to be in, isn’t it? Make sure it comes across that way.

Once they are excited to be there, give them some basic training and an introduction to how they will need to do things if they are successful. Teach them how to professionally meet and greet your customers and how to conduct an interview. Get them to role-play with each other; let them practice on themselves rather than real customers. The important thing here is to offer critique – positive statements about their performance and areas of opportunity.

At the end of the day, give them some homework. Ask them to prepare a five-minute, stand-up presentation on what they learned that day. They will be making these presentations tomorrow morning, in front of the management team and the dealer, and the hiring decisions will be made afterward. These presentations will show you a great deal more than the normal 20-minute interview most dealers give.

If you think all this is a lot to do just to hire a few salespeople, you’re right, but what is your most valuable asset? Your people. Spend time recruiting these assets. The amount of time and energy put in to a recruiting campaign will have a direct impact on the results.

Written by Michael Rees, CEO
DealerPro Sales and F&I Solutions