How to Find Good Hires for Your Automotive Sales Team

When trying to make your business successful, the representatives you have on hand to market and sell your product are just about as important as the product itself.

The world of sales is competitive and it takes a very specific type of employee – especially in consumer goods. So how can you make sure that you’re attracting top sales talent for your dealership’s sales team?

The AutoRaptor team has put together a list to help you discover just that:

1. The Job Ad                

Your job ad is the first representation of the role and your automotive sales team that potential hires see. Start by placing that ad in the right spot. Recent surveys have shown that 50% of the most successful businesses have stopped using job boards. Rather, they are turning towards social media placements (which tend to be cheaper!) and employee referrals to find highly qualified sales reps.

Utilizing your social media presence is a great way to tap into talent. Post ads on places like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to capitalize not only on your current employees and their connections- but your customers and their networks. Companies have even begun incentivizing existing customers with referral bonuses-not just referrals from existing employees.

Your ad should have:

  •  An upbeat and positive subject line to catch attention
  • The average pay of your top to sales performers
  • Discuss the positive things your dealership has to offer employees who work there. What makes your culture fun and engaging? What perks do you have?
  • Specific skills or qualities that person should possess
  • Required education and experience levels
  • Outline clear next steps for the hiring process, so applicants know what will be expected of them or which deliverables to send.

Encourage your employees to reach out to their own contacts with any open roles. People hired by referral are 47% more likely to stay with a company for three years, whereas only 14% of job board applicants do.

2. Pre-Screening

In today’s world, members of an automotive sales team aren’t just responsible for in person customer interaction. Instead, they’re expected to be efficient at telephone, email and human interaction. Make sure that your hiring process covers all aspects.

Evaluate applicant’s writing styles, looking at their cover letter and resume. You may even pose questions in the job ad to be answered with the applicant’s resume submission so that you can further evaluate their writing skills. The tone should always be professional with no grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Telephone skills are equally important for customer follow up calls, negotiations or lead generation. Conduct a 15 minute phone screen with anyone who gets past the initial resume submission. Evaluate how well the candidate is able to project their personality over the phone, their verbal and public speaking skills (such as speed or enunciation), and how engaging they can be on their feet when you ask questions on the fly. You can also use this opportunity to clear up any questions you may have of their resume, such as job gaps. Successful sales reps making money don’t tend to leave their companies recklessly- so do not be afraid to ask why they are looking or why they’ve moved on from any previous jobs.

3. In Person Interview

Finally, the hiring process should conclude with an in person interview. This gives you a chance to see how an applicant communicates in person. Pay attention to nonverbal body language-does the applicant look closed off? Do they speak clearly and concisely, and listen as well as provide answers? Do they present a professional appearance? Most importantly- can this person sell? Here is a chance to conduct an exercise. Have the candidate pick an object around the room and sell it to you. It doesn’t have to a perfect pitch- but it should demonstrate their passion for sales, creativity, and ability to react on their feet. You should also have a list of targeted, prepared questions to ask that let you see if this candidate has desired skills. Some examples of good questions to ask include:

1. Did you play sports in high school or college? Competitiveness is an essential trait in a salesperson. Competitive people are the ones found at the top of your sales board.

2. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment in life? Look for passion and excitement as they talk about their accomplishment. If they can’t get excited talking about themselves, they certainly won’t be that way with your customer.

3. Why do you want to be a salesperson?  The right answer is financial motivation.

The in person interview should last for multiple rounds- this allows the potential employee to interact with more levels of staff for compatibility and for you to evaluate their adaptation to multiple personalities and interview styles. Most dealerships will also provide candidates with a tour of the facilities.

In person interviewing is the most important step of the process, and remember, they’re interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. Try to establish an open and friendly rapport. Encourage the candidate to ask questions. Successful sales representatives have to be outgoing and engaging, so the interview should be a two way street.

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4. Hiring Principles

There are many things to keep in mind when looking for top sales talent. Here are some of the most important principles to remember when looking for applicants:

  • Hire the skills you can’t train. You can teach sales reps your dealership policies or business principles, but you cannot teach someone ambition, character, or attitude.
  • Years in the business is different than experience. Someone may look like they have 10 years experience on paper, when really, it’s the first year repeated 10 times. Tenure does not necessarily reflect effectiveness- look for those with bad habits or red flags regardless of how senior they appear to be.
  • First impressions count- a lot. Your employees only have one chance to make a first impression on a customer who walks through the door, and it can make or break the whole relationship. They should apply the same importance to the first impression made on a hiring manager. Look for a professional appearance, strong communication, and a positive attitude.
  • Know your sales process inside out- and make sure your interview process caters to each part. Sales reps have to be able to be successful in a myriad of ways depending on how your typical buying process runs, so you need to have that clearly defined pre-interview. This allows you to ask questions, conduct mock exercises, or provide questionnaires that can clearly illustrate if a candidate is a fit for all of them.

Ensuring that you have a high-performing automotive sales team starts with attracting the right hires for the role. Approach the process thoughtfully and thoroughly so that your dealership has a developed pool of all-star candidates to choose from!

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.