By on March 23, 2011

From the “yeah, that will work” file comes word that Chrysler is pushing dealers to hire more salespeople in order to make its five-year plan goal of increasing US-market sales by 45% this year. Spokesman Peter Grady tells Bloomberg via a leaked memo to dealers

While it’s still early in the calendar year, now is the time to act. Hiring additional personnel in preparation for the spring market is essential for success in 2011.

But aren’t the newly updated Chryslers supposed to sell themselves? Seriously though, the real problem with this plan isn’t simply that it reeks of desperation… it’s that Chrysler is going to have to do more than just increase its number of dealers. After all, isn’t quality as important to a sales force as quantity?

And, as it turns out, the quality side of things isn’t looking great either. According to Grady’s leaked memo

After analyzing our competitors and your 2010 financials, we believe there’s still some work to do. Chrysler underperforms by almost two vehicles per month per salesperson.

There’s no way simply  adding more salespeople to the equation is going to change that. Either Chrysler is going to need to adjust its expectations for this year, or you’re going to see the incentives come out with a vengeance despite CEO Sergio Marchionne’s blithe dismissals.

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17 Comments on “Chrysler To Dealers: Hire More Salespeople...”


  • avatar
    blowfish

    is not selling life insurance more sales will hit more suckers! When u have too many Indians it will dilute the per earnings with each salesperson, then when they cannot make enuf they will quit anyways. Car sales seems to be a high turn over professional, how many folks make it their chosen career?
    Also when u have a less than stellar product u can’t sell either.
    If u adhere to the PT Barnum theory, then its going to be a  good time but not long time, same as the toxic mortgage its going to crank up sales for a short time but not long time. If u have good product it will sell by itself anyways.

  • avatar
    JT

    This I have never understood. (Which probably explains why I’m neither an economist or
    a car dealer.)
    At each of the six dealerships I worked at over 22 years, whenever times got tough and sales dropped, they would prune two or three techs out of the shop, lay off an office lady or two, and hire more salespeople.
    Every
    Single
    Damn
    Time!
    Most of the hires were usually new-to-car-sales types who had no product knowledge and even less interest in getting any. They rarely lasted six months, and after learning the hard way about how the showroom really works, they went back to selling refrigerators or sofas or insurance.
    The old hands got what sales were there, and usually knew how to whistle up a couple of extras each month as well. The newbies went hungry.
    If your existing trained staff can’t sell your cars, what makes you think some newcomers can?
    There must be exceptions to this, else it wouldn’t be so widespread in the industry, but I sure haven’t seen it.
     
     
     

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Talk about car before the horse, I didn’t realize so many people were about to buy a Fiat 500 this summer.

  • avatar
    AJ

    The salesman I’ve dealt with over the years that claimed they were out to help me were actually out to get me to pay as much as possible. Maybe that is what Chrysler is talking about?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’d like to test-drive the redesigned 200 and 300. The problem is, the Dodge and Chrysler dealers that were within 5 miles of my office were killed in the great purge. The Dodge dealer had just moved to a new CJD showroom and no doubt ordered a bunch of inventory thanks to Jim Press’s “rally round the flag” campaign right before the Chrysler bankruptcy.
    For Chrysler and GM, I think they were relying on assumptions more than proven facts when they both decided that fewer dealers would mean more sales.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I went to my nearest Chrysler dealer the other day to look at the maligned/faintly-praised 200. I hadn’t seen one yet and I still haven’t. I had my choice of chromed-up quad-cab Rams, four door Wranglers and even a Dakota or two, but there were no new Avengers or 200s to be seen. You can’t sell ‘em if you don’t stock ‘em. And even of they did have one in stock would I want to buy one from a dealer who has the reputation of being the slimiest of all the car dealers, dating back to when my parents got their “invisible Ziebart treatment” Asspen? In fact, none of the CJD dealers have a good rep in the area, with the exception of the one that was ousted in the great dealer cull, natch. Fiat better make sure their new hires treat the customers as customers rather than marks or else it will be Deathwatch all over again.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Groan.
     
    First, if you want to sell cars, then you need to see to it that your dealerships have them on the lot. I tire of acre after acre of optimistic Rams, front and center, with the hopeful refreshes tucked back against the building. Sure, more profit on trucks, (maybe not with these incentives!) but I mean come on. If the dealer is only allocated a handful of cars for the year, how many can they possibly promote and sell?
     
    More salespeople? How about quality over quantity. Perhaps the younger sales staff’s time would be better spent reading about the vehicles and surfing the internet to learn about the industry, rather than standing around smoking. Even had a salesman tell me that the Japanese buy more American cars than they do of Japanese makes – because they know they are better.
     
    Sigh.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Chrysler gets my vote for most improved player.  I’ve rented new Grand Cherokees for a couple of trips of 1000+ km, and the difference between these and the 2010 model was huge.  I was also well impressed with the improvement in interiors and perceived quality the rest of their models – although I haven’t driven any of them yet.
     
    The problems I see standing in the way of increased Chrysler sales are:
    -It’s too early to tell if this improvement is real, and will be sustained, so durability and resale value are still risks.
    -Lack of a competitive C segment product.  This is a vital segment in a world of $100+ BBL Oil.  The new Focus, Cruze, and Elantra offer compelling alternatives to the tired old Civic and Corolla, but Chrysler is still trying to get by with a mildly warmed over Caliber.
    -Badly damaged brands – it will take years of sustained product improvements to change their image.  The good news is Ford has shown it can be done, so customers might be accepting of improvements from the other Detroit brands as well.
     
    I think Chrysler is on the right track, and I wish them well – but I don’t think they will be able to improve sales overnight.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Ha! In my area the Chrysler dealer is letting sales staff go because of a lack of sales!  Hiring more people is just going to result in more salesmen standing around playing pocket pool.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “more salesmen standing around playing pocket pool.”

      highdesertcat: Ha ha ha! That gets the prize for making me laugh this morning!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Zackman, delighted to be of service. Alas, in my area, this is/was true until recently. Chrysler is/was not doing too well.  Although these dealerships also sell other (foreign) brands, imported from … exotic places like South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Japan, the people let go were from the Chrysler sales staff. One of them is the son of my next door neighbor, the guy who recently traded off both his RAM trucks for a new Tundra 5.7.  (Amen)

  • avatar
    oldyak

    another ‘bash Chrysler’ article..yawn
    I sold Honda’s for a couple years and YOU TALK ABOUT SLIMY DEALERS!!!!
    HA!

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I tried to buy a Honda twice and both times I found the sales staff in the area to just be atrocious.  Years of getting soccer moms to buy Civics, Accords, and the occasional Odyssey left them numb to real attempts at negotiation.  I tried to purchase a 2001 Civic when I went to college and then a 2008 Fit or a 2007 Accord after I finished.  Both times I was utterly rebuked and basically laughed off the lot.  This isn’t by some lonely dealership, this was the whole series of dealerships in the Western PA area (Pittsburgh).
       
      Honda and Toyota are so used to simply shilling cars on unsuspecting customers that the dealerships have lost the art of the sale.  The best salesmen I’ve seen were at the VW & Subie dealers.  They weren’t amazing, but they weren’t creepy red state losers like the ones that hover in GM dealerships nor did they insist that the sticker price was real.
       
      The new 200 Chrysler is tempting, then again I liked the Sebring.  Really a nice car for a convertible that could seat four adults since the current Jetta lacks a Cabrio option.

  • avatar
    George B

    Does anyone still buy a car because of the salesman?  Anyone with intelligence above moron does a little online research at kbb or Edmunds and knows more about the car they’re interested in than the guy who happens to be “up” when the potential customer walks onto the lot.
     
    If Chrysler cars really are improved, what they need is a promotion that 1) brings potential customers in for a test drive and 2) reduces reliability concerns by offering an extended warranty.  Give me a gift card for some store I like in exchange for a test drive and I’ll show up.  Probably tell my friends about it too.
     
    Looked at cars at the local Chrysler dealer last Sunday.  Saw improvement, but nothing I wanted bad enough to buy new.  Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango looked good.  Want to see the Ram Cargo Van, the work truck version of the Caravan.

  • avatar
    georgie

    HA!!
    The local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep dealer’s franchise just got bought out by a Chevrolet dealer in a neighboring town. (This same Chevrolet dealer recently took over what was once our local Subaru dealership) So now all these nameplates are combined “under one roof” at this Chevrolet dealership.
    How many potential Chrysler product buyers are going to want to buy a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep from this “Chevrolet” dealer not to mention having to drive fifteen miles or so in the dead of winter for warranty or service work?
    I think Chrysler Corp made a bad decision in permitting their existing franchise to be bought out and combined with the Chevrolet – Subaru dealership
    Perhaps time will tell….

  • avatar

    Chrysler will never get it right. They have no cars to brag about, just crap. The suv lineup is similar. Their cheap van is just that. The pick up is a distant third and Jeep, well is just that. Suppose it has a following but why I will never know. I hate to put more people out on the bread line but this company is not going to make it. You have to have something to sell. Kudos to GM and Ford for remarkable turnarounds but we may just as well have flushed the loan money down the toilet as give it to this outfit.

    Hiring more sales people makes no sense whatsoever so at least their thinking is pretty well consistent with the product.

    And a tiny little bug from Italy is going to save this whole clapboard outfit. Not!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I would be more focused on the quality of the salespeople than on the quantity of them.


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