The sales executive will have some selling to do to accomplish that. Nissan faces simmering discontent among dealers over the automaker's strategy and market performance.
Nissan is grinding through a pivot away from profit-draining fleet sales and incentives in the U.S. as it tries to shore up brand value and margins.
The new focus on profitability over market share, a strategic reversal of Nissan's past plan, handed down by CEO Hiroto Saikawa, is proving painful to Nissan's sales, which hurts retailers on store throughput. The Japanese brand's U.S. sales through July tumbled 7.8 percent.
About 30 percent of Nissan's U.S. dealerships are losing money, with an additional 10 percent merely breaking even, according to a source familiar with the data.
Nissan has conditioned customers to expect bargains, which makes it harder for dealers to make a profit on new vehicles, some retailers say.
"Nissan needs to stop advertising such low prices," said John Fanelli, general manager at Nissan of Turnersville in suburban Philadelphia. "Now we're the value brand, almost like Kia used to be."
In a conversation with Automotive News last week after the meeting, Kershaw, 54, acknowledged more work needs to be done to improve the brand's relationship with its dealers.
"It's very important to continue to work on the dealer relations piece," he said. "We have more work to do in that."
Kershaw, who most recently ran sales and operations for the Southeast, describes himself as a "dealer guy."
"I've spent the last year and a half out in the field as a vice president for a couple of the biggest regions," Kershaw said. "I gained a lot of experience by being face to face with the dealers."
Some dealers, disheartened by executive turnover at the automaker, believe the new sales executive has his work cut out for him.
Nissan North America has endured a wave of executive departures, including Chairman Denis Le Vot and his predecessor, Jose Munoz, as the company shakes out after the ouster of longtime Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested Nov. 19 on allegations of financial misconduct.
Kershaw's predecessor, Billy Hayes, quit unexpectedly last week.
"I think the executives realize, most of the time, they are working for a company that can't get stuff done," said one dealer, who asked not to be named. "They are just sitting there banging their head against the wall."
But Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Scott Smith sounded more optimistic about Kershaw's prospects.
"He knows the intricate workings of Nissan from the bottom up," said Smith, president of Smith Automotive Group in Atlanta. "He knows every inch of the landscape."