If you asked 100 sales managers in the auto industry, “What is the difference between training and coaching?”, you would get a wide array of answers that just describe training. In fact, less than 20% of managers could accurately describe coaching. Of the managers, less than 15% actually leverage this professional development necessity.
The good news is that we know our managers understand what training is. Since they understand what training is, does that mean that the majority of our sales people across the industry are receiving great training? Great training as defined by myself, is when an employee who is brought into the company is on-boarded effectively. Then, they are proactively trained on all core competencies necessary to be successful as an employee under the company and management. Finally, they are tested for competency prior to leaving the bench and thrown into the game.
Unfortunately, 75% of salespeople in the auto industry told me across 50 different dealerships that they were not on-boarded, or trained for more than a day when hired. The goal of this article is not to browbeat managers for doing a bad job of training or coaching! Sales managers wear more hats than you can shake a stick at. The moment you hit the showroom floor as a manager in the car business, you are bombarded 75 different ways from 150 different things! I’ll never forget when I did a time management exercise with my coach and realized that I had 18 hours’ worth of activities to conduct each day if I were to truly do my job to its fullest.
The goal of this article is to help leadership within automotive dealerships find creative and innovative ways of building a coaching culture where employees are properly on boarded from day one, trained up on the core competencies to be successful, tested for proficiency, then coached for ongoing growth and professional development. This article is to help understand the importance of ongoing coaching. Thus employees can grow where they need it most, and also smash through the glass ceiling that limits training.
Ask a bunch of tenured automotive sales veterans how important training for them is, and most of them will say something similar to “I’ve been through every training possible.” They always take away one or two things but believe that there’s not much more that they can learn at this point. These unfortunate veterans have never been coached, and as a result they have plateaued long ago in their sales career.
On boarding: The most basic form of training. This will help ensure that your new hires fear in joining your company goes right out the window. When you bring someone into your company, do you think it’s important that you introduce them to everyone and to tell the employees that they meet how excited you are to have them on your team? Do you show them where the printer paper is and where to get more staples? Have you explained how you price your goods and services, or are you going to let them try to figure all of that out with their first customer? If people are leaving your dealership in less than 60 days, I would take a wager and say that you’re not on boarding employees effectively.
Training: The very foundation for each employee’s success. This is perceived as a necessity by most managers and employees alike. I hear managers say all the time, “I wish I could do more training for my employees but I just don’t have the time.” This is because you’re not doing it right!
In the car business we tell people from day one, “You are your own business.” We focus on the result: units and gross. This turns our salespeople into “money thirsty lone-wolf hunters”. It’s great to have a bunch of driven employees, but not when it comes at the expense of the greater good and the entire team. If you have veteran salespeople that consistently run off new hires, are just too busy to train people, or you are not confident in your ability to train employees on every skill set necessary to be successful then it may benefit you to involve the rest of the team in the training.
If you look at the metrics within your CRM, could we find out who is best at what? What if I was to interview each one of your veterans? I imagine each one of them would have an individual strength that they excel in over others. Do you have employees with the strength and aspirations to be promoted from a salesperson? I promise you members of your team want to eat earn more money or a promotion within their career.
Unify your team and recruit veterans to take ownership in new hire success. Help them train the new hires on their individual strengths. Not only will they have motivation for the new hire to succeed, but it will also create a situation where you’re delegating out training which is an employee development necessity of any modern dealership. The employees that train the best could potentially be your next line of leadership. Not only will this hone their skills, but also help meet those key employee engagement needs like career growth.
It’s important to note that there is a glass ceiling on training. A sales person will complain about training with a manager who didn’t sell that many cars. 20-car guys can be thrusted into management. However, it is unlikely for them to train new hires how to sell 40 cars per month. This is the glass ceiling of training, and this is the point at which 85% of people in our industry are trained to. The good news is that there is a way to smash through the glass ceiling and ensure that your team members will reach new heights in their success! It’s called coaching. Coaching is a remarkable modern age leadership technique that most do not leverage. This should happen after effective on boarding has taken place, people have gone through training on all the foundational things that make them successful, and they have been tested on proficiency. If you carve out time each day to work with one or two individuals on your team, and coach excellence into each member, you will find that there is no real limit on each individual player’s potential.
There are three types of coaching, as I see it, in the auto industry.
Objective-based coaching: As the manager, I have an agenda and I need to get it across to my employee. Perhaps, it is a growth metric that I could focus on within the CRM. Maybe I need to help a veteran sales person with a new approach to closing a deal. Maybe I need to take one of my top performers and turn them into a leader so that we can move them into management…etc., this is when objective-based coaching kicks in.
Objective-based coaching is also tied into observation and feedback. Watching your employees as they do their jobs and helping them improve is a form of objective-based coaching. This tactic leverages an agenda to help them grow. It is important that during this type of coaching, we don’t overload the coachee. It is also critical that we ask them first what they could have done better and what they will start doing next time. By asking, they may share a coaching opportunity that you didn’t even notice!
Turn Around Coaching: As a manager, one of the hardest things that we ever have to do is to let go of an underperforming employee. Every time that happened to me as a manager, I felt it was my fault, my failure. Sometimes I felt like an employee could have succeeded if they were just given a little more attention. Time would go by and many sales opportunities were lost just waiting for that employee to turn it up and be successful on their own.
If you don’t conduct turn around coaching, employees that could and would succeed will take longer to do so. Employees that should be coached out will remain longer than they should damage your brand and your business. Ultimately, keeping someone around that shouldn’t be there isn’t doing them any favors either. They would be more suited to work elsewhere.
Aspirational coaching: The third type of coaching is aspirational coaching. This is when your team member lets you know what they want to accomplish most in their career. It is your job as the leader to not only uncover, but also to help them achieve these goals. If you do not, then you are being a manager, not a leader.
There are several key factors that make this type of coaching so effective in increasing employees results. First and foremost, when people are pulled towards what they want most, instead of running away from fearful negative results, they are more likely to achieve. Second, with aspirational coaching, very seldom am I giving them the answers. More often than not they will come up with their own solutions which can often be a better learning experience than what I would’ve given them! If they come up with their own solution, it’s their baby and they will ensure that it is fed and taken care of! Thirdly, when you conduct aspirational coaching, it is one activity that meets a multitude of employee engagement needs. As a result, employee turnover will dramatically decrease when this is part of your routine. Finally, this is where the glass ceiling on training is shattered. Even if I was a 20-car guy, with coaching I can create 40-or 50-car guys and gals!
Often as managers we focus so much on getting the results we want that we don’t take time to find out the results that our team wants. Only by coaching them in this manner, do we find out what they want and also know when they achieve it! As a leader this is extremely rewarding when your coaching has helped make this happen.
The differences between training and coaching are vastly misunderstood and significantly underleveraged by dealership managers. If you invest time and energy in forging a team of unstoppable champions for every position in your dealership, through training and coaching, you will benefit so much more with this investment than with any “snake oil, silver bullet” third party lead provider that you can dump money into. I hope that this has helped you understand the differences between training and coaching and how implementing them at your dealership could provide a phenomenal return on investment!
If you’re attending the Digital Dealer 24 Conference & Expo in Orlando, I invite you to join me for my session: “Training VS Coaching: Do Your Sales Managers REALLY Know the Difference?” I’ll share actionable insight that can help your managers improve sales through performance coaching. This class is relevant to any department in your dealership, from sales teams, to service, to office staff!
About the Author
Sean Kelley #thecarbizcoach has successfully managed dealers for a decade, drastically lowering employee turnover, increasing profit, customer retention, and client satisfaction. Now, as CEO of Car Motivators and CBDO at DriveCentric, Sean helps hundreds of dealers across the country. His mission is to ensure dealers achieve great results through their people and technology. Sean creates winning cultures with his unique self-developed approach to coaching and people development, DRIVEC3 coaching.
Author: Contributing Writer
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