Salespeople are the bread and butter of any dealership operation. When the sales team has a good month, so does the business. However, as dealerships struggle to retain salespeople, it becomes more difficult to manage their performance and offset costs associated with staffing.
During a time when turnover is high and profit margins are slim, even the best managers can benefit from another line of defense.
Dealership turnover reached new heights at 80% in 2019 for sales positions. With the average cost per new hire averaging $10,000, a dealership with a sales team of 20 will lose $160,000 a year on hiring alone–and that doesn’t even account for the residual loss of knowledge and customer relationships.
This is a dire situation, but it also presents an opportunity for dealers to transform turnover losses into sales gains. With a transparent data-driven approach to coaching sales staff, dealers can leverage insights from their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to coach employees into a sales force to be reckoned with.
With high turnover, the need to train new staff is inevitable, and with over a quarter of terminations happening in the first 90 days of employment, training should be done early and often. It’s no secret that training new employees requires significant resources, but with the right practices and interactive tools, new employees are more likely to turn into permanent, long-term staff members. This makes for a significant return on investment in terms of the future value they will provide, and eliminates the need to train and cost to hire replacements.
To train new employees, clear and realistic goals must be established. A new employee simply won’t meet the same sales results as a 25-car per month veteran, but they can establish activity metrics that will ultimately lead to sales.
For instance, setting (and keeping) appointments, or conducting an agreed upon amount of outgoing activity per week such as calls, emails, and texts. With a solution that consolidates comprehensive data in a digestible way, they can actively participate throughout each stage of the process. Plus, managers can help identify actionable tasks–like outstanding leads to follow up on–to assist them toward their goal. Employees who meet their goals and have the right tools and support along the way are happy employees who are less likely to leave their posts.
As always, communication between sales managers and their staff is key. With 39% of current dealership employees considering leaving because they don’t feel there is an opportunity for growth, it’s important that managers establish clear and consistent paths to career advancement. By giving salespeople and managers access to the same data, team members can track their own progress, and have a clear sense of where they are on their path to prosperity. In turn, managers are better empowered to foster growth and tactically help employees achieve performance goals. With a sense of job security as well as awareness of opportunities for advancement, salespeople are more engaged with the business, and are likely to deliver results for the dealership.
The shared performance metrics through the CRM allows the manager to be a more consistent coach too. For example, a manager may leave the 25-car sales rep alone, and focus their attention on the newcomer who is lucky to close eight deals by their third month. However, in reality, the 25-car salesperson is leaving more opportunities on the table than the new guy. The CRM helps bring these insights to light in real-time, and ensures consistent coaching across the team, which is just as good for morale as it is for maximizing profits.
People enjoy being recognized for their work, and salespeople are no exception. That being said, any sales manager knows it can be difficult to keep track of every accomplishment, especially if they manage a large team. With success metrics available in an actionable format, it only takes a few clicks to pinpoint top performers. These results can be eye opening and create an opportunity to recognize unsung heroes – like the new team member with low targets, but a high close rate. Plus, having consistent data makes it easier to develop criteria for awards and incentive programs to help keep employees engaged and productive.
Armed with more information, managers will be better prepared to coach sales staff through rough periods, or provide granular advice about how even the most established sales team member can improve their numbers. This level of visibility also means it’s possible to recognize areas where a struggling employee is performing well. It’s this kind of attention, made possible by the CRM insights, that incentivizes employees to overcome adversity and fight for success rather than jump ship.
During a time when turnover is high and profit margins are slim, even the best sales managers can benefit from another line of defense. By embracing new ways to use data, sales managers can become more knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of their team. They can foster new talent by optimizing existing data, resulting in lower costs and higher profits for the dealership.
Mark Vickery is the Senior Director, Performance Management at VinSolutions.