Last month I started this series off by talking about where to find young talent. As discussed, there are several different places and ways to bring good, young talent from colleges and technical schools to the dealership. Now that you have landed the right person, how do you not throw them to the proverbial wolves? 

In part 2 of “Growing Bench Strength,” I discuss a one-year training plan focused on the first 2 weeks.

Most onboarding I have been through has been speedy and compressed into my first couple of days of employment. The phrase drinking out of a firehose comes to mind. I sit in a room with several people coming in to present the system they champion. 

At the end of each section, the instructor says, “I know I have just thrown a lot at you but, do you have any questions?”

My standard answer is, “I am sure I will once I use it.” After I have 3-4 back-to-back training classes in one day, my brain is fried and what I thought I learned isn’t that much. I look over the day’s notes and try to string together bits and pieces of classes and usually have 85% of the process correct, but, like everything else, the last 15% is always the most important. 

Quickly getting a new hire up to speed is high on the priority list for the dealership and the new hire. The dealership is as excited as the new hire is to make their mark on the world. 

“If new reps are closely supervised, they have less opportunity to develop bad habits…”

The new employee gets all the tools they need (truck, laptop, pen and pad of paper) to make all the sales calls they can. This is where the real training starts, baptism by fire, but during this time is also where bad habits are born. New sales reps need to go to the field and start working as early as possible, but they also need to have very close supervision and coaching. If new reps are closely supervised, they have less opportunity to develop bad habits. 

The first 2 weeks a new employee starts will be a whirlwind for sure. No matter how defined or structured the training plan is, the new employee is learning something new. 

Because of the employee’s newness, the first 2 weeks need to be slow and packed full of information. 

Week 1

Day one should be spent with HR going over all of the typical new hire packet, company history, the organizational chart and the executive leadership team. Understanding who is on the executive leadership team, what their role is, and how the flow of information moves up and down the chain of command. 

The better communication flow is understood, sets the tone for culture and expectations of the employee, and heads off miscommunication early. 

The following 3-4 days are filled with the how-to part of sales. One day they are dedicated to one of these topics: 

  • How to use and the expectations of the business system, 
  • How to use and the expectations of CRM, and 
  • Building quotes and finding programs. 

On these days you should provide the new hire with a binder that functions as much as a workbook as a reference guide. The notes added will be purely supplemental and not notes filled with gaps. Already the new sales rep has a library of information to make them successful. The last day is a day of review and testing of material from the week. 

Week 2

The following week is sales training. Not so much how to handle objections but where to find prospects, find machine information, build a call plan and some sales call role-playing. You know, the kind of role-play where everyone always makes the sale on the first call! A little tongue and check for you. 

This week provides all of the information the rep will need to make calls in the field that will lead to revenue. Again binders of data need to be handed out with the materials covered to act as a reference guide. After reviewing the last 2 weeks, the new sales rep is sent out to cover their assigned territory. To me, these first two weeks set the tone of expectations in the field.

Over the next year, weekly and monthly training sessions with technology specialists, factory reps and sales training will be scheduled. While working in the field, sales managers will have a chance to coach, evaluate and guide the formation of habits. 

New sales reps should be assessed as to how they are applying skills learned in various training courses. The more interaction a sales rep has with sales management and technology specialists, the more robust they will become and less likely they will develop bad habits.