How Much Is Your 2012 Training Budget?

Happy People learning

Since our feature article this month is on training, it might be worth rethinking the kind of training dealership’s need. A few years ago, things were simpler: salespeople got sales training, parts and service people got technical training, and there were a couple of companies to call. But now the type of training needed has changed. Salespeople still need sales training, but they also need to know how to sell online. They need to know what to say, when to say it, and above all, they need to use proper grammar and spelling.

Bad grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. will negatively affect your overall image as a dealer. As we all know, since it is hard to convey “tone” in an email, what you say can be taken the wrong way. Poor spelling gives the same impression as a salesperson in flip flops with a mustard stain on his tank top; use stiff writing and the customer visualizes an unfriendly, stuck-up person. If you want a good example of successful email communications, take a look at the writing done by the AVA artificial intelligence software. Most of the customers who interact with AVA come away singing the praises of the emails without ever knowing they weren’t talking to a real person.

Online skills are just as important in the service and parts department. As more customers make appointments online, or email to ask questions about parts and accessories, those employees must have both online and sales skills. There are a number of great training programs from companies like or that can get your staff up to speed.

The best example of the need for training at dealerships is a story told by Scott Toland at the Marketing Academy. He talks about asking a dealer how many salespeople the dealer has. The dealer says, “Ten.” Toland asks him if two are great, six are mediocre, and two are terrible. The dealer replies, “Yes, exactly right.” Toland went on to say, “So, if a customer comes on your lot, they have an 80 percent chance of getting either a mediocre or terrible salesperson, right?”

That’s why the dealer’s closing ratio was so low. His staff needed training. If you train the mediocre salespeople to be great, then customers will have an 80 percent chance of getting a great salesperson. Obviously, the training investment will have an amazing return if you are closing twice as many sales. With the fast-changing landscape of selling cars, it might be worth adding a “training budget” to next year’s plan.



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