DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra told analysts last week that GM is "riding a wave of new products" in North America as the company seeks to boost profitability and market share.
Charged with selling that fresh sheet metal are sales and marketing executive teams that are full of fresh faces after another round of executive turnover.
Last week, GM shuffled its U.S. sales operation again, moving Buick-GMC sales chief Brian Sweeney, 46, to the top sales post at Chevrolet, taking over for Don Johnson, 56, who is retiring. He'll be replaced by Duncan Aldred, 43, who has been running GM's British brand, Vauxhall. Both of them will report to new U.S. sales chief Steve Hill, 53, who was promoted to that job last month after Barra's elevation to CEO.
The churn atop GM's sales and marketing divisions in recent years has been a source of frustration and ridicule among dealers and others who work closely with GM on market strategies, such as marketing and advertising agency executives. Some dealers say the latest round comes just as GM's brands should be hitting their stride after the recent product infusion.
"The changes can be a distraction. It makes it hard for dealers to buy into the go-to-market strategy," says the owner of a Chevrolet dealership and a Buick-GMC store in the West who asked not to be named.
The dealer says that changes atop a brand's sales organization have a trickle-down effect on the field sales staff. Executive shuffling in Detroit can pose a distraction for GM zone managers, district managers and sales reps, who might worry about the ripple effects.
Sweeney will become Chevy's fifth U.S. sales chief in less than five years when he starts his job on March 1. Cadillac has had four sales chiefs during that period.
The flux also extends to GM's marketing ranks. Paul Edwards, 45, took over U.S. marketing for Chevy last month, appointed by the brand's global marketing chief, Tim Mahoney, who has been on the job for 10 months. Cadillac's global marketing boss, Uwe Ellinghaus, 44, arrived last month. The head of Chevy's ad agency, Commonwealth, left last month.
Compare that with rivals Ford, Toyota and Honda, which have had relatively little turnover in their sales and marketing leadership in recent years.