LOS ANGELES - Nissan Division, knowing that slumping sales is the quickest way to lose dealership salespeople, is embarking on a major retention program.
The effort aims to hold on to salespeople while training them to sell the product, not the deal.
Nissan is conducting training courses in 30 cities from April through June that will stress the product attributes of its vehicles. After the course is completed, salespersons will get a $100 spiff from Nissan for every vehicle they sell during the three-month period.
If the salesperson stays at the dealership for three months or longer after taking the course, Nissan will pay an additional $25 per vehicle sold from April through June.
Nissan has made participating dealerships promise not to alter pay plans so the spiffs do in fact raise the pay of salespeople, said Michael Seergy, Nissan Division general manager.
So far, the program only applies to salespeople trained in the April-June quarter. But if dealers like it, Seergy will repeat the program for the rest of 1998.
'We've had our salesmen selling a brand-new Altima for $219 a month, not selling an Altima for what a great car it is,' he said. 'We're going to make sure we have Consumer Reports charts posted at dealers for consumer tools. We got away from the basics, and we want to get back to the basics.'
As part of getting away from selling the deal, Nissan hopes to reduce its emphasis on leasing. Seergy wants lease percentages to drop from the current 32 percent down to the low 20 percent range.