The employees who are more adept at today’s sales process can quickly transition into management, he says. It’s an imperfect science, however, to have consistent values across an organization with many locations.
“Last year, we had a couple very top salespeople that were producers and we ended up saying this person does not fit the culture of the organization,” Cochran says. “A lot of times (these selection decisions) cause short-term pain, but we believe that the long-term victories and the long-term success that stem from having a group of people that are collaborating around a core set of values, as consistently as we can, that leads to success for the greater good, the greater organization.”
To set its employees up to succeed, #1 Cochran’s sales training is comprehensive, with each step laid out.
“It’s very defined,” Cochran says. “It’s not just go out and try to put the guy in a headlock and get him to buy a car today. It’s very detailed. The customer does this; here are the options for what you do.
“The fact that our processes are so defined, it makes it easier for us to get people to come in, because it’s not as intimidating,” he says. “We’ve found that to be a big benefit.”
When you have comprehensive training and education, it’s also more conducive to moving people through a career path.
“As our business has further professionalized, what we’ve been focused on is the development of our people because that’s what’s going to separate us,” Cochran says.
- Know your business; make decisions that reinforce that identity.
- Be ready to evolve with customer and industry trends.
- Develop the job skills you need to succeed with customers today.
The Cochran File:
Name: Rob Cochran
Title: President and CEO
Company: #1 Cochran
Education: Bachelors in both industrial management and applied mathematics, concentrating on operations research and management science, from Carnegie Mellon University.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked at Churchill Valley Country Club in the golf shop. I cleaned clubs and did odds and ends at the golf course. I learned a little bit about customer handling and customer skill. There were certain people who were particular about what they wanted with their clubs.
If you could go back to your career’s start, what advice would you give yourself? You have to belief in yourself — I’ve always generally had that — but there are times as you go through your career that you might scratch your head and self-doubt creeps in. That’s natural. When you have a defined course and your course makes logical sense and it also connects with what you want to do emotionally and who you are as a person, then you just have to stay true to that. When the doubts come or in the periods of weaker performance, you have to be strong enough to look forward and through it.
Where is the industry going with autonomous vehicles? Everybody likes to talk about autonomous vehicles. There’s a buzz about them. We see Uber cars driving around with what looks like a spaceship on top on them. It’s good cocktail party conversation. It’s either, ‘I want to be one of the first ones to get one of these,’ or ‘there’s no way in the world I’m going to ever get into a car and have it drive me somewhere.’
They are coming, though. Manufacturers have different levels of technology from advanced cruise control to a car that actually drives itself. I don’t know how a rollout would occur. My suspicion is there will be some early adopters, and a lot of people saying, ‘OK, I’m going to wait and see,’ before they put their lives in control of a machine. There are a lot of barriers as far as infrastructure, liability and legality.
It’s been suggested the vehicle market would grow slightly because seniors could continue to have cars, but the changes will be subtle. I’m not sure if I went to my mom and I said, ‘Here, jump in and let the car take you to church,’ I’m not sure she’d be eager to get there.
What are you driving right now? I’m driving an Audi Rs7. The first one I had, I got a flat tire and that’s the last time I saw the car. Olli Maatta, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, bought it.