As a trainer, it never ceases to amaze me that new cadets in the automotive sales area seem to get all the “easy” clients. At least, this is what many experienced salespeople tell me. I actually find this a little difficult to believe – that the “easy” customers are magnetically drawn to a cadet, by some force of nature unknown to the rest of us. It does however beg the question as to why this occurs. The real question is this; does the cadet naturally attract easy customers, or does the cadet do all the right things which make the customer easy to deal with?

Any intelligent person would have to conclude that it is the latter – that the cadet salesperson follows the road to a sale more rigorously than some of the experienced staff and achieving a better result. This also begs another question – is experience actually good for you? In most professional businesses, experience normally equates to people getting better at what they do, yet in automotive sales it seems to be the opposite; we start off doing it well, and then degenerate over time. If a salesperson has been selling cars for 15 years, shouldn’t they be continually improving their sales rates and gross margins? Considering the client base they should have, shouldn’t they be continually improving?

The real point here is that the cadet is an example of how well the road to a sale works and how attitude makes a massive difference. The question is not how do we get the cadet to gain experience, but how do we get experienced salespeople to work like a cadet. It would seem that experience in our business is actually not good for your career; you need to work hard to remain a cadet the rest of your life.

So, as the world becomes more sophisticated and customers have become more informed and have higher expectations, we need our sales staff to be more like cadets than ever before. The role of the manager is to improve the talent and skills of their team. This is more than just going “back to basics”; this is about getting positive attitudes back in the team and focusing on what the cadet does best- building a solid relationship with the client.

The real question of experience is this – has the salesperson really had 15 years’ experience, or have they had 1 year of experience repeated 15 times? If they are selling the same number of cars they did 15 years ago, then unfortunately the latter must be the case. The real challenge of Sales management today is how do you ensure that experience is translated into results?

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Craig Rowney
Craig leads our Performance Consulting division and has built a reputation for the development and delivery of innovative consulting and training solutions in the automotive and motorcycle industry at both OEM and retail level. Craig spent 7 years as the Director in charge of Consultancy at Deloitte Motor Industry Services and prior to this, 8 years in Sales and Marketing and Dealer Development with Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota Australia. This experience has been supplemented with a stint in retail allowing him to bring a unique perspective to consulting and training. Craig has worked with the majority of brands in Australia and many of the country’s largest Dealer groups and extensively in Asia.