According to a report published by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), new vehicle sales in 2018 topped $1 trillion at over 16,753 franchised dealers in the U.S. And with automobile sales keeping steady, car dealerships must hire salespeople who work well with customers and help drive additional business.

Hiring the wrong salespeople at your dealership can have a significant impact on sales—possibly billions lost in employee turnovers. Even if you hire qualified individuals who appear to be a great fit, sales can still be negatively impacted if you don’t have a strong onboarding process in place.

The following training steps can be included in the onboarding training manual:

  • Learning the Dealership Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
  • Best practices for staying active on LinkedIn
  • What you can learn from customer feedback
  • How to become an expert in the dealership and inventory
  • Ways to cultivate better people skills

Use these five tips to help new salespeople on your team improve their productivity and increase vehicle sales.

1. Excel in the Dealership CRM

The right CRM software can help your dealership manage activities like marketing, lead generation, sales procedures, satisfaction and retention of customers, and operations in the service department.

This tool can accurately track calls made by your sales team and help them more effectively follow up with leads. New salespeople or BDC reps must have a full operational capacity of this software to improve their value on the team.

They can use CRM software to:

  • Schedule appointments more easily
  • Perform client data research
  • Connect with potential vehicle buyers
  • Communicate with Internet leads
  • Be accountable for assigned tasks

The newest software will enable augmented connectivity with a mobile app so all team members can stay connected even when not at the dealership. Learning your CRM software inside and out is a must for new salespeople.

2. Stay Active on LinkedIn

Staying active on social media is important for your sales team. However, they should focus their efforts on the professional online community, LinkedIn.

During the onboarding process, stress the importance of taking full advantage of this free promotional opportunity. Remind new hires of the professional online environment where they should behave differently than on their personal Facebook or Twitter pages.

  • Create a profile or edit if they already have one
  • Select a professional profile photo
  • Add a professional banner photo
  • Start making connections
  • Connect with current connections

Advise new salespeople that it’s better to make 100 deep connections with people on LinkedIn than connecting randomly with thousands of people. Meaningful online interactions have the potential to bring interested buyers into the dealership and expand your new salespeople’s professional referral network.

  • Recommendations: We don’t generally go around asking for professional recommendations. However, when you give someone in your professional network a recommendation on LinkedIn, they are likely to reciprocate.
  • Car Sales Group Participation: Join groups on LinkedIn that are geared toward salespeople at car dealerships. You can participate in the valuable exchange of ideas and sales tips that are working for others.
  • Local Community Group Participation: Join groups on LinkedIn that are geared toward people and businesses within your local community. You can provide high perceived value and build trust by offering advice, giving testimonials, and sharing experiences that can help other group members.

Some car sales groups to consider include Digital Car Dealers and Car People Jobs. Two of our favorites are [ADR] Automotive Digital Retailing and Dealership Growth Strategies (but we are a little biased on these:-)) Scroll through groups that connections in your industry belong to and join these professional groups.

3. Learn from Customer Feedback

Customers purchasing vehicles are the backbone of a successful dealership, so you’ll want to train new salespeople in understanding the value of learning from customer feedback. This is important for the following reasons:

  • It is a tool to measure customer satisfaction levels
  • It can help improve the sales process
  • It creates an enhanced customer experience
  • It is a way to show customers they are valued
  • It is effective in increasing customer retention rate
  • It improves future management business decisions

Encourage them to make a concerted effort to respond to feedback and create a superior experience at the dealership.

Happy customers are more likely to refer others in their social circles. According to research conducted by Nielsen, 92 percent of customers value recommendations from family and friends rather than advertising efforts.

During the onboarding process, instruct your new hires to become comfortable with asking customers for referrals. Many people will be more open to this request than we might give them credit for.

4. Become an Expert in the Inventory and Dealership

You may have hired someone who has great communication skills. However, they may not be invested in learning everything about your inventory and all procedures at the dealership. If this is the case, they won’t excel at properly communicating with customers and making sales.

Customers expect the following attributes of car dealership salespeople:

  • Understanding of dealership inventory
  • Significant knowledge of vehicle features and performance
  • Friendly attitude and reliability

What customers don’t want from their dealership experience:

  • Smooth-talking salespeople who avoid the facts
  • Pushy salespeople
  • Long, drawn-out sales process

Build trust with customers by ensuring that new salespeople are adequately trained on all current inventory both online and on the dealership lot. They need to be prepared to answer customers’ questions and/or quickly get the answer if they don’t know how to respond.

Provide a streamlined educational method to ensure a simpler learning process. With mobile connectivity of the CRM app, new salespeople can enhance the way they learn about the dealership’s operation and tracking inventory.

5. Develop People Skills

The onboarding process should include training on developing people skills. Most people applying for a salesperson position at your dealership likely enjoy communicating with others.

However, you cannot assume that all your new salespeople know how to communicate effectively with customers. Implement the following people skill tips into your training process:

  • How to Get Along with Coworkers – It’s important for everyone on your sales team to get along well with each other. Cultivate a culture of community and respect within all departments, which can promote increased productivity and improved sales.
  • Learn to Develop Listening Skills – Customers want to deal with salespeople who listen to them. They want to feel valued and heard. Train new team members in listening more and talking less.
  • Refrain from Trashing Competitors – A customer may bring up one of the competing local dealerships. Instruct new salespeople to refrain from trash talk of any kind. If not, they may lose a sale if the customer leaves.
  • Maintain Eye Contact – Looking a customer directly in the eye cultivates an instant connection. Avoiding eye contact shows the customer that your sales team doesn’t care to make a real connection. However, find a healthy balance. Too much eye contact can seem creepy.
  • Focus on the End Result – Train the new hire to focus on the main goal of getting a sale. This may take time. Pressuring the customer never works.
  • Improve Online Connections – Learning people skills applies to both contact in person and online. During the training process, show new hires how to make positive and professional connections with customers and leads online. The main goal of online connections is to increase the lead conversion rate.
  • Improve EI Quotient – Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ) is an important factor in enhanced communication with people. Emotionally intelligent people respond rather than react to people and situations. They can make informed decisions and rationally deal with irate customers without getting agitated themselves. You need salespeople who have a high EIQ.

You can help them develop their EIQ by first evaluating their emotional intelligence with a test. This basic test offered by MindTools.com uses 15 streamlined questions to evaluate emotional intelligence and calculate a score in the end.

Once their EIQ is identified, they should use these tips to cultivate emotional intelligence:

  • Emotional Balance – Your salespeople will not be able to positively interact with customers and coworkers if they cannot keep their emotions in check. Practicing mindfulness of themselves and their situation can help them balance their emotions.
  • Recognize Stressors – Having the ability to recognize stressors can help your sales team improve their EIQ and better relate to customers. For example, if a busy workday causes a team member more stress, they need to identify that and learn how to handle that stressor and still exhibit professional behavior to customers.
  • Conflict Resolution – Learning how to deal with conflict in a professional manner will help team members improve their EIQ and communicate better with customers. They need to move beyond the conflict, respect all people involved, and try to find a compromise. Focusing on winning or losing an argument is destructive.

Part of the onboarding process and developing people skills should involve actual interaction with others. During training, new hires can engage with managers and senior sales team members in role-play scenarios.

This role-play training can help the new salespeople develop their communication skills in a safe learning environment. They get a chance to understand how the customer could react in various sales settings at the dealership.

Make sure to deliver feedback to the new hire on how they performed. Sharing feedback in the sandwich technique is best:

  • Share positive feedback
  • Identify areas that need improvement
  • End the performance review on a positive note

Help optimize the customer experience by ensuring that your new salespeople are properly trained. Implement these top five tips into your sales team onboarding process and start working with the J & L Marketing team today to help expand the reach of your dealership.