“If you take away the sickness, all you have is health” — Than Ly
A common thing that has come up over the years is this notion of a product or automotive sales training blueprint/script/agenda/formula being a seemingly fundamental part of a training plan. As if anyone implementing the training has a miraculous formula of steps that, if followed precisely, will work 100% of the time. At the risk of taking grief for what is about to be written, it’s not that easy.
Imagine if your doctor prescribed the same treatment regimen for every ailment without noting any symptoms. Bad back? Z-Pack and 500mg of Tylenol every eight hours. High blood pressure? Suspected skin cancer? Blindness? Z-Pack and 500mg of Tylenol every eight hours.
Now imagine if pharmaceutical commercials were responsible for educating your doctor. If your doctor grew up in the 90s, they’d prescribe Viagra for everything. Itchy skin? Viagra. Runny nose? Viagra. Loose tooth? Viagra. Pregnant? Viagra. Every patient gets the same thing every time.
Problems with Today’s Automotive Sales Training
All joking aside, this is a serious issue regarding automotive sales training. DealerKnows spends HOURS every week teaching dealership sales staff how to use other companies’ technology, including those from competitive organizations. It’s not uncommon to spend 100% of the time allocated for training to fix a vexing issue in the CRM. If it can’t be fixed, DealerKnows training can’t move forward, so the work must get done. But, as long as the standard operating procedures are followed, the implementation team did their job, right?
The same can be said for OEM product training. Take an online course on a vehicle that may not be at the dealership or even available in some cases. Make sure to cram often between task alerts, phone calls, emails, texts, and deliveries. Learn the trivial information that few customers ask. Pass test. Get bonus. Rinse. Repeat. Every agent gets the same thing.
I’m not going to give the time of day to pre-recorded videos.
Every dealership employee learns a different way. Researchers have identified up to eight learning types. Some folks learn best through lecture and writing, and some need to see a picture, some need to think it through logically, some need to act it out, some need to describe it in their own words, while others need to experiment, learn through nature, learn with a group, and some people need to be left by themselves.
There’s a good chance there will be a combination of two or more learning styles. If your training is just lecturing, spraying charts and graphs, using best-case scenarios, or reading off data from the polar-opposite benchmark dealership, you could be losing seven out of the eight people to start.
Assuming all the students/patients are entirely on board with the teaching style, does the message even matter? A placating professional courtesy conveys that any training is better than no training. In the way that some oxygen is better than no oxygen, and some food is better than no food, having the right amount is always better. This is where copy and paste training methodologies fail. Like a doctor writing prescriptions, training needs to address the actual symptoms.
Going through the checklist skims the surface. Sticking to a strict agenda may address problems that don’t exist or, worse yet, create friction around management directives that may fall outside of generally accepted best practices. This creates resistance to training by forcing the individual into introspection about what they can and cannot do. Imagine a doctor explaining the pharmacokinetics of how a drug passes through the body at a cellular level. Anything relayed to them turns into background noise as they’re trying to sort their personal feelings out. This might force the trainee to tune out due to the discomfort of hearing irrelevant or conflicting ideas.
Not only could this potentially damage the audience’s buy-in, but it adds fuel to the fire by wasting the time they could generate income. More importantly, it often prevents addressing more timely and pressing issues that could be discussed during that precious time. Experts agree that the average adult has a 15-20 minute attention span for an in-person lecture. If that’s the case, following that strict agenda could completely negate the value of scheduled time for the auto sales training they need. Use those minutes wisely.
Like a good doctor, a good trainer listens more than they speak. A better trainer uses all those eight learning methods to interpret what is being taught. Voice tone and language descriptors, body language, imagery through screen sharing, subdividing and reasoning through steps, using feedback to craft the learning memorably. War should only employ shock and awe tactics. Lectures are intimidating. Agendas are more intimidating. Training is about getting better.
As my wife, a Veterinarian likes to say: the dose is in the poison. Outside of surgeries, medical treatment takes time, especially when it involves a pill. Too much of a dose can kill the body, while too small a dose can make the body immune. Delivering just enough for treatment with regularity is vital.
Whether it’s sales training for new hires from DealerKnows, another training organization, some trainer you met at a conference or church, and/or your manufacturer’s training choice of the day, here’s your prescription: SPEAK UP! Don’t leave it up to someone else to help you if they don’t know how. And, if someone is treating your training needs based on only test results, have them discuss the ranges and cohorts. You certainly wouldn’t compare yourself to a diabetic if you could regulate your sugar correctly or the BMI to an average American if you were a bodybuilder. You need to find a treatment plan that’s right for you.
More importantly, don’t let an outsider make you feel like you’re doing poorly if you can’t defend yourself. There’s a reasonably high probability that someone handing out the directives had their face melted by the charts and graphs mentioned above, ran out of their fifteen minutes of attention, and started making decisions based on the bullet points they remembered. They’re human. It happens. Question it. This 100% includes anything that DealerKnows says. None of us here has any interest in tarnishing our reputation with malpractice. Everyone should have a say in how they improve themselves. Belittling someone for something they cannot control isn’t deserved.
Getting healthy takes hard work. Staying healthy takes continuous work. The same holds true for your career, whether it’s selling cars, selling houses, or selling pharmaceuticals. Staying successful is a continuum. It takes fresh ideas, adapting to market conditions, seeking advice, gathering other perspectives, learning new techniques, then practicing them. Daily. The faster you take ownership, the quicker you’ll get there. Address your symptoms and get the treatment you need.