Sales Career Development

by Automotive Employment on March 10, 2010

I am often approached by people in automotive sales asking for advice on their career development.  To address their request, I usually invite them to sit down with me and we pull out a pen and a notepad and document their career so far.

The alarming part of this for me is what happens next.  When I document these salespeople’s careers, more often than not, they have undertaken no professional career development at all.  Many of them have been in the industry more than a few years and in that time they have not attended a single sales training, read a single book on sales or joined a single organisation (such as Auto Professionals Australia) to help in their career development.

In career terms, they have been treading water (or worse, drifting backwards) and now all of a sudden they want to to swim a 100m sprint race in world record time.   With such unrealistic expectations, they have set themselves up to be frustrated and disappointed.

The task is by no means impossible, but it usually involves a change of priorities and mindset.  Salespeople who want to progress in their careers must accumulate knowledge.  Not just passive knowledge of facts and figures and relationships, etc. but active knowledge which translates as skill.

If you are reading this it is likely that you are in one of two categories:

1. You know this and already regularly develop yourself professionally with training, reading and/or professional association membership and are smiling and nodding that you know this secret to career advancement.

2. You feel like you’ve just found this out and need to catch up!

Automotive Recruitment is a competitive business and although some recruiters want to promote ANY candidates to ANY employers, we want to promote the BEST candidates to the BEST employers.  One of the great things about this is that the BEST employers are in such demand, that they don’t need to employ anyone but the BEST salespeople.  The BEST salespeople are also in such demand in this industry that they don’t want to work for anyone but the BEST employers.

So to get into this elite group, you have to ensure that you are not one of the crowd – not an average (or below average) salesperson who is lazy and does not take any responsibility for his / her own learning and development.

Even if you haven’t done this before, NOW is the time to start.  Make and follow a plan to continue to develop your knowledge and skills.  Even if you have no budget for this, get to you local public library and read one book on sales per month.  Keep a list of the books you have read and keep some bullet-points on what you learned from each book you read.   This list is helpful for you to review your knowledge but even more important to show a prospective employer in an interview to PROVE that you are one of the elite, not a loser who expects the employer to do everything for you.

If you want to get really crazy, sign up for a few sales courses every year and join a Professional Association.

These will add to the PROOF that you can offer a prospective employer that you are a growing salesperson or manager, not a shrivelling one.  By doing so, you increase your desirability and value in a competitive market, you become better at your job and you become a prime candidate for opportunities that you previously never knew existed.

Talk with us about your automotive sales career development!

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