All of us have made hiring mistakes. Lots of them, in fact. STOP!
My experience in interviewing automotive sales talent has taught me that the vast majority of hiring mistakes can be nipped in the bud at the resume review. There are a number of things to consider when reviewing an automotive sales resume:
Resumes are marketing documents
Many dealerships we work with assume that resumes contain the gospel truth when it comes to a candidate’s background and experience. The only truth of the matter is that resumes are engineered to highlight (or even embellish) strengths and accomplishments while omitting clear and obvious failures.
Think about it – have you ever seen a resume that read, “Hit 56% of target sales target due to my inability to set appointments and unwillingness to consistently make cold calls”?
Treat resumes like you would any other piece of marketing collateral. They serve to tell you the features and benefits, but come up short on the deficiencies. That’s where a keen eye and experience come into play.
It takes a salesperson 3 months to become productive
With rare exceptions, I advise our dealerships to expect a three-month ramp-up period when hiring new sales staff. The first 30 days are a write-off from a production standpoint, and the next two should yield slow but steadily increasing progress. By month 4, they should be in full-on selling mode.
This time line affects the lens through which a manager should look at a sales resume. If a salesperson has been at their current employer for less than 4 months and is looking for work, that’s a major red flag. What that tells me is that either this person is failing miserably and knows it, or they made a huge mistake in accepting the position and they want out.
People make mistakes, and I’ve seen a number of cases where great resources take a job only to realize that their new employer is headquartered in the Ninth Circle of Hell. Most of the time I find that the reason they’re leaving is because they feel like they’ll fail in the job, and are cutting their losses early.
No matter the reason, what a duration of less than 4 months on a resume tells me is that the salesperson didn’t do enough fact-finding during the interview process to make a good decision, or that they’re not cutting it and are afraid for the job (or were fired). Both insights tell me they’re not at the top of their game, and that I should keep looking. I have made some exceptions to this rule, but only after really digging into the facts.
Ask yourself – Are you so desperate to throw your dealership’s money away that you’d hire someone whose resume creates doubt before they’re even in the job? Trust me – someone better is out there, with less baggage (read: less risk).
Great salespeople don’t leave jobs where they’re making money
This point is pure human nature. If you’re knocking down $100,000 a year selling cars and crushing your sales goals in the process, chances are that you’re a hero at your store. Praise flows freely, and you get sent on trips where you sit on a beach with your family and drink rum cocktails. You’re probably damn happy.
What you emphatically don’t do is actively look for another job. I can’t stress this point enough – great salespeople do not leave good jobs. Great salespeople leave that great job when the dealer does something stupid like cap their earnings or because they get acquired and the new regime wrecks what was working. They don’t want to start over working for you and your giant question mark.
Here’s what that means for you as the hiring manager with regards to the resume review: If a salesperson is looking for a job, that should immediately makes you wary. If this person has stints of less than 12 months on their resume, that’s a warning that there’s something more to the story. Why? Because it takes 12 months for even a great auto sales professional to get to a consistent, quota-reaching level of production.
Make sure you know why they’re looking. The answer, “for more opportunity” typically translates to “I’m not making my number.” You need to find out why.
The intent here was to focus you in on the major themes when reviewing a sales resume. When you’re looking at a sales resume that looks too good to be true, it probably is. I want you to focus your attention not on the words, but on the time frames. Understand that resumes are just another form of marketing collateral, and the job durations tell the story. And remember – salespeople who make great money because they’re great at their job typically do not leave unless something fundamental changes about their current employer.
It’s tough, this business of hiring great salespeople. Don’t make it harder by loading up on candidates that should never be interviewed in the first place.
When you’re reviewing a resume for sales position, what else are you looking for?