Shop Talk: Is Your Trainer King Kong?

If your dealership needs new sales people hired, and you bring in a training company who requires the student to pay, what can you expect for results?

I’m sure you’ve seen the videos on social media. Perhaps you’ve even had a chance to see them live. If not, go to the mountaintop where they hang out and listen quietly. Soon you’ll hear the sounds of these beasts of the industry pounding their chests, claiming greatness and top performance for anyone who pays their fees. (Disclosure: Not all trainers fit into this category, but too many do.)

Think about these names: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. While they are all Hall of Fame athletes and considered some of the greatest of all time, they all have one thing in common: none of them are coaching teams to make players better. Their greatness was limited to the playing field and wouldn’t translate into being able to coach.

Here’s another list: Tommy Lasorda, Joe Torre, Butch Harmon, Bill Parcels and Vince Lombardi. These are some of the best coaches in the world and they also have something in common. They either had an average career or never even played at the top level. Yet, they were able to bring individuals and teams to top performance levels. What was their secret? Why did they have training success when players with infinitely more ability couldn’t deliver the same success?

Every coach has to be a leader at some level. Top coaches are top leaders. Real leadership is not about opening a training session by defining individual greatness, such as, “Back in my day we worked key to key and I delivered 50 units a month.” Add, “Do as I say, and you’ll have the same success.” Then at the end of training, they announce, “If you’re really serious, you’ll [attend, subscribe, purchase, sign up] pay for whatever they’re selling.”

If your dealership needs new sales people hired, and you bring in a training company who requires the student to pay, what can you expect for results?

Here is what we know you will definitely get from the trainer: he or she will leave town at the end of the week. Since these training experts’ only income is in the tuition they collect, how many talented people are not getting hired because they didn’t have the tuition? If the trainer’s income is per student and you only need to hire three, how can you justify 10-15 or even more students in the class?

Then, consider this: when a student who pays doesn’t get the job, whom do they blame? Here’s a clue, it’s not the trainer.

I want to be very clear, I am 100 percent in favor of training. It should be done as often as possible and at several levels. Hiring outside trainers can be incredibly valuable as they have experience in many markets. But, the objectives and “after sell” need to be clearly defined. For example, I would find it more acceptable for the trainer to sell more information, etc., if the fee was lower. But, if I’m paying top dollar, I want the full monty.

I also think there are many opportunities to train “in house.” Managers with real local retail experience can provide training based on your market. They can also provide on-the-spot training. When was the last time any of your managers sat down and did one-on-one training with your staff? 

Let’s not forget F&I. Finance managers are seldom given the opportunity to provide any training to the sales staff. Imagine if your sales team understood what may be going on with local banks. Imagine if they had insight into credit union policy, credit score weight, how to structure a deal for a better chance at approval. Even if they aren’t allowed to go that far with a customer, understanding what is going on in F&I will go a long way to ease the tension between sales people and “THE BOX.”

Ultimately, I can’t tell you who to hire and when to hire, regarding training. All I can do is to advise you to be clear on what you’re going to get from your training dollar. Just like going to a top-rated movie and being disappointed, hiring a trainer based on Google ranking or social media likes can prove to be a waste of money. Some top trainers are truly all they say they are and can document their success. However, if you don’t need social media training at this time, hiring the best SEO trainer wouldn’t be a good investment.

By focusing on your desired outcome and targeting trainers that can deliver that specific area of expertise, you will accomplish two things. First, you’ll be able to measure results almost immediately, and just as important, your sales team will realize how much you value them and work harder with this new information. t

For John’s free Top Tips for Hiring, email him at [email protected] with your full contact info and write “Hiring” in the subject line. You can also send him an email request for his guidelines for effective one-on-one reviews.

John Fuhrman is the director of training for OptionSoft Technologies and a regular contributor to Motorcycle & Powersports News. He has trained over 15,000 sales, management and F&I people since 1996 and has authored 10 books on sales, management and leadership. Through OptionSoft, he offers dealer specific training. For more info visit otiservices.com or email him at [email protected].

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