Why ‘good’ training rarely produces more sales.

All sales training in automotive is centered around ‘taking control’, answering questions with questions and pretty much doing everything possible to alienate the customer. This is why Tom Watson (creator of Skill Development Systems www.skildev.net. ) says that ‘people love to shop, people love cars, but people hate to shop for cars’.

What follows is an excerpt from Tom Watson:

A typical dealership spends more than $3,000 a month to advertise, per salesperson. Everybody knows that. What’s rarely noticed (let alone deemed significant) is that roughly 99% LESS money is spent to train (about $39 per person). The usual explanation is that it’s difficult to determine how many sales (if any) result from training, but it’s also difficult to determine how many sales result from advertising. However, few dealers have reacted by slashing budgets to $39 per person (which is three dollars and ninety cents per car). The probable reason is the apparent relationship between advertising and sales. Whether more ads cause more sales may be open to question, but there is usually a correlation. Stores that spend more tend to sell more. With regard to training, however, no such correlation even appears to exist. The people who sell the most cars are rarely those who’ve had the most training, and all dealers can remember new hires who sold remarkably well until they were trained. So it’s NOT that dealers aren’t sure if training can produce sales. The opposite is true. They are fairly sure that it can’t, and they are right (although it’s not for the reasons that they usually give). Part of the problem is that most of what salespeople are trained to say is seriously counterproductive, but we have repeatedly addressed that issue in many previous articles, such as “Heart Surgeons, Top Gun and Pistol Pete Maravich”. There is, however, another obstacle that is less evident, but equally significant; knowledge isn’t skill. The terms tend to be used interchangeably, but the things are barely related, and that unfortunate reality effectively precludes the possibility that “good” training will ever produce additional sales.

Modern medical imaging definitively shows that knowledge is associated with conscious thought. Skill, on the other hand, involves unconscious reaction and is governed by an entirely different section of the brain. In fact, “thinking” actually interferes with skill. (That’s why football teams call time out before the opposing kicker attempts a game winning field goal, to “let him think about it”.) So knowledge allows a person to determine what should be done. Skill enables him to do it. Coaches have knowledge. It comes with exposure. Players have skill. It can only be developed by repetition, and repetition (unfortunately) is BORING.  That’s why there are so few Joe Montanas and Steffi Grafs. The principle impediment to reaching that level of performance is the pure, unadulterated boredom that results from endlessly practicing the basics. (According to Tiger Woods, his greatest gift is the ability to tolerate the incredible monotony of a truly staggering amount of repetition. He did take more practice shots by the age of 15 than most players will take in several lifetimes.) Which brings us back to training. As was mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s difficult to quantify how many additional sales (if any) result from it. For that reason, the value of training is usually determined by the opinions of those who receive it. The problem is that they (like most people) say that something is “good” if it’s interesting, and repetition isn’t. The result is a “Catch 22”. Training that can qualify as “good” (because it lacks repetition) rarely produces more sales and training that routinely produces more sales (because it has repetition) cannot qualify as “good”. So, it’s not surprising that dealers only spend $39 to train. What’s surprising is that they don’t spend even less.

I have been in several conversations with Tom Watson over the past week or so and have been making his services available to dealers who would like to see verifiable, better results from his methods.  This is one of the first things I have ever seen concerning sales techniques in the car business that makes complete sense. – M. Abrams (Dealerite)


About dealerite/in association with AP Level 4

National affiliations of professionals who are engaged in changing the culture of the automobile retail business. Associated with AP Level 4 and Edifice Group. These companies are bringing sustainable marketing which has proven quantifiable improvements in a dealer's market share performance
This entry was posted in Auto Dealer Solutions, Dealerite Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why ‘good’ training rarely produces more sales.

  1. Michael Baker says:

    Your psychology of learning to the level of almost perfection is right on. Thank You.


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