DSES Keynote: Jared Hamilton Talks Competency, Excellence and Empowerment

The closer we move toward connecting the dealership showroom to a world of websites, search engines and social media, the more critical it is to consider whether sales people are positioned to apply the online to in-store workflow throughout the sales experience.   

That was the question at the heart of Jared Hamilton’s opening keynote address on Day 2 of the 8th Annual DrivingSales Executive Summit. Held in Las Vegas, the summit is a collection of breakout sessions and keynote addresses that examine the point where the online automotive experience and the dealership showroom process meet. It’s a retail moment in the sales journey that irrevocably impacts the overall experience. Part dealer think-thank and digital best practice seminar, “DSES” has, over time, evolved into deep discussions about how dealers should build businesses in the hyper-kinetic digital world of information overload and “anywhere” access. It’s as if the conference is a series of on-going and open-ended debates the industry continues to grapple with, a sequence of challenges and opportunities addressed by leading executives and current thought leaders.

Competencies Come First

In the case of Hamilton, the CEO and Founder of DrivingSales, his keynote was about applying competency-based management in the automotive retail environment so that dealers can properly prepare, reward and retain staff. Indeed, it’s a longstanding issue. According to the National Automobile Dealer Association’s (NADA) 2016 Dealership Workforce Study, dealership sales consultants have a 67 percent average turnover rate.

That’s not so good. Basically, to flourish in the emerging retail environment of online processes and consumer empowerment, dealerships must build their businesses by building up the people who work for them through competency-based management principles. “Think of competencies as the basic cinderblocks on which you are going to build a business,” said Hamilton. “It’s not a money problem. It’s a competency and career path problem.”  His address covered the details of how to apply competency-based management, discussed in a style that was like a conversation – as though he was rediscovering concepts right along with the audience. As the discovery of core ideas unfolded, it seemed almost as new to him as it was to the attendees. Those highlights included details and practical advice about how to apply the approach, from hiring to promoting and retaining talent. Hamilton went into detail, with a strategic approach that began with a mission statement and wound its way through to measurable outcomes and processes:

  1. Mission to Outcomes
  2. Outcomes to Measurements
  3. Measurements to Processes
  4. Processes to Competencies

Those competencies, Hamilton said, were defined by four factors:

  • Temperament: How driven are employees? Do they have a learning mindset, self-awareness and commitment? Do they fit into the culture?
  • Process: Can prospective employees master the core aspects of the job, such as walk-ins to phone work, leads and chat?
  • Skills: Do applicants have core sales skills, such as the ability to build rapport, manage conflict, overcome objection, and more?
  • Knowledge: Can they learn the information they need to become part of the organization, from system usage to incentives and cultural mores? 

Hamilton wrapped up his keynote with a detailed look at the management training model put into practice by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the so-called “MBA without the IOU” program – and by outlining a five-step approach to competency management: Assess for hire, plan for a career map, develop competencies, measure performance and reward for each achievement.

Altogether, the keynote helped to define the theme for the day, namely: the application of technology in the showroom, and the importance of empowering employees to reach for and extend their understanding and use of new ways to engage, sell and build relationships with consumers.