Handling Salespeople
    Even good salespeople have a slow period from time to time. Instead of getting
    down on them or ignoring the problem, here are three tips that can help you turn
    the situation around. You can also use these tips with chronically underperforming
    salespeople.  You’d be surprised how quickly individuals can improve their
    performance with a little extra encouragement and support.
Copyright© 2008-2010 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.

By Fred G. Slabine
President/Automotive Training & Development
As President of Automotive Training & Development (ATD,)
Fred is dedicated to accelerating sales, profits, and
customer satisfaction for automotive, marine, RV, and
motorcycle dealerships. He loves giving trainees the
knowledge and skills they need to make an excellent living,
selling 20 to 25 units a month or more.
1.        Get to the heart of the problem. The first step is having a heart-to-heart
talk with the salesperson. Don’t call the individual into your office for a “talking to”
or sit across from him at his desk. Sit side-by-side as equals in a neutral and
private space, where you can chat informally. Get some coffee, and put the
salesperson at ease if possible. Let the individual know that you are concerned
and would like to be of assistance. Then ask what’s going on in a positive and
supportive way. Perhaps the individual is having some family or personal issues.  
Maybe there’s something going on in the dealership that’s getting in the way of
sales. Perhaps you’re doing something that’s problematic or not providing enough
support.  Whatever it is, you need to know so you can address the issue head-on.  

2.        Explore the sales process. If it’s not an external problem or something
going on in the dealership itself, maybe the salesperson doesn’t fully understand
or follow the basic steps in the sales process. Here are a few questions you can
ask to determine where things are breaking down.  “Are you welcoming the
customer with a smile? What are some of the things you do to make an immediate
connection?”  “Are you asking your customers about their wants and needs and
listening actively to what they have to say?” “How many of your customers are
actually landing on a specific vehicle, one that you’ve actually picked out for them,
not just one on the showroom floor?” “How many of your customers walk out of the
showroom without taking a test drive?”  “Are you using the test drive to address
the customer’s hot button issues and build the relationship? Give me some recent
examples.”  “How many of your customers do you lose during the negotiation
process?”  “Where do things generally break down?” “Do you ever follow-up with
clients who leave the store without buying?”  Answers to these questions will tell
you a lot about the salesperson’s approach to sales. Perhaps they are getting to
negotiations too quickly without helping clients select a vehicle, building a strong
relationship, or adding value to the buying decision. Perhaps they need assistance
with negotiations and closing or with follow-up.
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3.        Motivate and inspire. Now it’s time for the pep talk. The person may be feeling pretty discouraged now,
realizing there are many things he or she may need to do to improve. Remind him or her that salespeople are the most
important people in the dealership. Everyone’s job depends on their success. If they don’t sell vehicles, there’s no
need for a sales manager, an F&I manager, or a service department. You’re saying this not to add pressure, but to let
them know how important they are to the organization. Having a slow period can be extremely depressing, and you can
lose self-confidence. You’ve got to believe that the very next person who walks through the door will be your next sale.
That belief alone can make the difference—customers respond well to salespeople who project self-assurance and

4.        Develop an Action Plan. Ask the salesperson to write down 10 things he or she can do immediately to turn
things around. Tell them to think broadly—maybe it’s dealing with a specific family or personal issue, addressing a
health problem, or talking things out with a colleague. Perhaps it’s watching a top performer to see how he or she
builds rapport. Where is the salesperson falling down in the sales process—maybe he needs to accompany people on
a test drive, figure out how to identify the individual’s “hot buttons,” or review tips for overcoming objections. Maybe it’s
as simple as reviewing the manufacturers’ training videos to strengthen product knowledge or figuring out how to
outsell the nearest competitors. Make sure to offer your assistance as well. Why not make some follow-up calls that
very evening to customers who “got away?”  With the salesperson nearby, find out if they have already bought a car,
and if so what model and from whom. Ask why they didn’t buy from y ou and if there is anything you or your
salesperson can do to improve your performance. You’d like the chance to earn their business now or in the future.