2018 is the year of the person in the automotive industry, and the two most essential people in the purchase of a vehicle are the customer and salesperson. So it’s fitting that in a recent webinar, Cars.com, our DealerRater brand, and DrivingSales discussed ways to empower dealership salespeople.

The webinar, “How to Win in 2018: Harness the Power of Your People,” stressed the importance of empowering salespeople with the right tools to develop customer relationships that endure beyond a single sale.

Building a Competency

The first webinar speaker, Jason Volny of DrivingSales, challenged dealerships to create a competency framework that identifies, evaluates, and develops the sales team. Jason, a national training manager, asserted that only by developing a sales competency – or a defined behavior that helps someone perform well consistently – can dealerships lower salesperson turnover rates.

He suggested, among other things, that dealerships develop competency management systems for assessing people, mapping their growth opportunities, reviewing their performance, and rewarding success. Managing competencies well also means defining career paths.

“Having a competency framework in place and a process for promoting your salespeople will allow you to reward the behaviors that create success for your team and your dealership,” he said. From there measuring results contributes to an ongoing competency management program.

Harnessing the Power of Reviews to Retain Top Talent

Darren Haygood, senior vice president of commercial strategy at Cars.com, and Jamie Oldershaw, DealerRater general manager, then focused on how customer reviews can help dealerships develop and keep their best salespeople.

Darren underscored the importance of salespeople as the single biggest asset that dealerships can leverage to answer disruptors such as Amazon, which cannot create relationships like good salespeople can. In fact, consumers want those relationships: Darren mentioned that 97 percent of automotive buyers would like to see a salesperson before they visit a dealership[i].

And reviews are essential because they connect shoppers and salespeople. “Cars are sold one at a time, between two people,” Darren said. “Reviews give the consumer a way to select that crucial second person in the relationship, the salesperson.”

Jamie Oldershaw noted, “Reviews are no longer just about product — they are about the overall experience the consumer has at your dealership, and the more you elevate that experience through reviews, the more connections you will have.”

As Darren pointed out, the good news for dealerships is that tools exist to help dealerships amplify salesperson reviews. For example, DealerRater Connections makes it easy for dealerships to certify salespeople and publish their reviews online. Cars.com’s Salesperson Connect™ integrates salesperson reviews from DealerRater into Cars.com vehicle detail pages (VDPs).

“Salesperson Connect allows consumers to select an employee to work with directly on the Cars.com vehicle detail pages and search results pages,” he said. “These connections personalize the shopper experience, reward your best sales people by featuring them on the VDP, and improve your brand presence.”

He said, “By amplifying reviews, not only can you shine the spotlight on the best of your best salespeople, but you give them an incentive to stick around. Your DealerRater profile is like your social media profile for your salespeople.”

As Jamie discussed, DealerRater also provides tools that capture the excitement of a new car purchase, such as LotShot. LotShot, located within the DealerRater app, allows dealers to snap a photo of happy customers upon delivery and either text or email it to them along with a review request. Jamie noted that sharing a photo memento helps establish a stronger long-term customer relationship.

Darren and Jamie noted that more than 80 percent of DealerRater Certified dealership salespeople say their employee profile helps them sell more cars[ii]; and eight out of 10 DealerRater Certified Salespeople are retained by the dealership annually.[iii]

“Encourage your salespeople to ask customers to review them,” Darren said. “Doing so instills confidence that the salesperson trusts the customer’s insights and wants to learn from them.”

Jamie noted, “2018 is all about creating connections with your customers and salespeople.”

Do you have the right tools to create those connections?



[i] DealerRater, Care Shoppers Are Judging You, January 2017.


[ii] Survey of 233 salespeople of DealerRater customers, June 2016.


[iii] Survey for 233 salespeople of DealerRater customers, June 2016.