Sales Manager Shawn Hays Discusses What it Takes to Build a Winning Team

sales manager

Every dealer knows that in order to increase your sales tomorrow, you need to start by taking more action today. This means planning and prioritizing training with your staff, and having a solid sales strategy with manageable goals. We recently spoke to Shawn Hays, co-founder of Sales Hustler and sales manager at Dan Cummins Chevrolet and Buick in Paris, KY. Shawn shared with us what his sales team will focus on in 2019 as well as some tips for succeeding in the digital age.


Jim Fitzpatrick:  Welcome back to the show, Shawn.

Shawn Hayes: Hey man. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here, buddy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, great. So you guys always have so much going on and we love to follow you on Facebook, and you’ve got a great following and I think you’re doing so much great work for the industry and those sale people out there that need your daily message and I know that the industry gets a lot out of it. But let me ask you this question. How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training program? I know a lot of people are struggling with that and they don’t know if they’re doing it right or if sales people are really getting a lot out of it. How is it that you evaluate effectiveness from training?

Shawn Hayes: Well, I have a much smaller training program than a lot of the trainers out there. I’m not a trainer. I’m a former car salesman and now a sales manager. So I’m not, like, traveling all over the world and I’m not, you know, going in and out of dealerships. My training platform is 235 people that I interact with daily, okay? These people only deal with me, and I coach them one on one and in a group form, so it’s not like I can’t evaluate how they’re doing because I get constant daily feedback from them. So I think that’s the best way to do it. I think sometimes when people get too large, it’s hard to tell if they’re doing a good or if their people are getting the actual benefit of it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: How do you organize, plan, and prioritize sales training with your staff?

Shawn Hayes: We just make sure that every morning, every morning we have a meeting and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what day it is or what, but each week, we divide the sales managers, there’s six of them. We divide them up and everybody has a team and they all come in on different days, early, and then you meet with your team and you give daily training. We believe in daily training. We just believe in it. We just keep constantly, constantly reinforcing how important training is and the growth of sales and they will all raise the level of their abilities.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So what do you do with that sales person that says, “Hey Shawn, I hear what you’re saying. Training’s important, but I’m not knocking the cover off the wall. I’m delivering 23 cars a month, all good grosses. I keep my stuff all clean and neat and I put my demos away. I don’t really need training anymore, but I appreciate it.” What do you do with that guy?

Shawn Hayes: Well, you have to find … everybody has a different something that guides them or something that is a goal of theirs. The problem is, is a lot of times, that person … I was that person, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: So was I.

Shawn Hayes: I was that person, you know? I was selling 30 cars a month and basically the number one guy at the dealership for years and years and years. The problem is, is I too hit a plateau where I lost my interest in the business. I lost my interest in … I was bored. Can I just say, I got bored. You know, you get bored when you do the same thing and you don’t raise your level of goals.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Shawn Hayes: So what I always tell them is, “Man, you’ve gotta find that goal, that next thing because if you don’t, you’ll plateau out. You’ll be bored,” and life in sales is terrible when you’re bored, so you’ve got to always find the next thing. Social media brought me that, which then brought me Sales Hustlers, which brought me writing a book, which brought me all kinds of different goals. I’ve found out on the last five years if you want to stop being bored and you want to keep rising, then you got to keep moving your goals up and reaching new potential within yourself.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s absolutely correct. You mentioned your new book. Talk to us about that for a second and tell us a little bit about what the readers will take away from the book.

Shawn Hayes: I was … it’s called Build Your Brand. And basically, I believe, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I really believe in the next, I’d say five to seven years, 90 percent of all the car deals out there are going to be because of marketing, all right? I think it’s great to become a better salesman. It’s great to improve your craft and get better at your skill. Don’t get me wrong, but I believe that most people are going to be, the people that are going to dominate this industry are going to be the people that are good at marketing, okay? Think about yourself when you go to a restaurant. What’s the first thing your wife says? “Hey, let’s go here.” First thing most people do is they Google it. To see the menu, to see the reviews.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Shawn Hayes: Reviews. So I believe social proof is so important, so I want to make sure that people understand that if social proof is that important to the restaurant you go to, imagine when you’re paying $50 thousand for an item, okay? I think they’re going to research not only the car, the dealership, but the salesman they want to do business with. So you really, really got to focus on Google and along with all those other sources. The more you have, the more the better. I mean, it doesn’t matter, but I just want you to understand that if you’re a marketer and 90 percent of all car sales are going to be derived from marketing, how good are you right now to market, you know?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Right. And when you talk about marketing, you’re not talking about the dealership. You’re talking about the individual sales person in their community. How well are they doing to get the word out that they sell Chevrolets or Toyotas or Nissans in their specific market, right?

Shawn Hayes: Absolutely. Look, your brand should … like, I work for Chevrolet. So Chevrolet can market, my dealership can market, but within that, we’re a dealership inside of a dealership really. You can build your brand that way. A lot of people roll their eyes at that. They’re like, “Yeah, right,” but no, you really, really truly can and you have to believe that so you have to get out in your community, building your brand. You have to have giveaways building your brand. You have to, you just have to get out there and build a brand.

Shawn Hayes: Building a brand is so important. I went with the approach, Jim, of giving value to my community, every day. Getting up and providing value through social media and community events. How can I give value to everybody? My goal was, if I can give so much value to my market, so much value to the people that will actually buy cars eventually, then I want them to feel bad when they don’t buy a car from me, you know what I’m saying? I provided so much value in your life, teaching you how to buy a car, how to get more for your trade, you know? How to buy a car effectively, that when you think of cars and you’re ready to buy a car, you think of me and only me. That was my thought process on it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s a very good point. So let me switch gears a little bit and ask you, what do you look for today, as a sales manager at a high volume Chevrolet store and talking about the things you’re talking about with regard to building one’s brand. What kind of characteristics and qualities do you look for in a sales, or as a sales manager in new hires coming in and recruits that come in?

Shawn Hayes: Well, I look at two things. The most important thing and this is vital, I believe, to any business, but it’s definitely my filter I put everybody through, okay? I need to know your work ethic, because work ethic is A number one to me, and character is probably one a. So I need to know that you’re going to do what’s right, most of the time, 99.9 percent of the time, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: So they still have a little wiggle room?

Shawn Hayes: Right. I mean, nobody’s perfect, right? So I’m not going to try to put you through that filter, but at the end of the day, you have good moral character and you have good character in general.

Shawn Hayes: The second thing is, I need you to have a work ethic that I, I can’t coach that. Like, I can inspire you and motivate you and I can teach you how to sell a car, but Jim, I can’t make you want it the way that you want it. I can’t make you want it the way you need to want it, right? So that’s what I look for. I mean, do you have that work ethic that I have, right? Do you have that in you? Do you have goals in your life? Maybe you had a past that you’ve learned lessons on and that you now want to get better. I love that person. That person that’s been broken down, you know what I mean? That’s had a tough maybe ten years before that and had learned lessons, humbled themselves? I look for that, and if I can find that-

Jim Fitzpatrick: And I know you went through some stumbles there, right, that you talk about and you share with your audience, and I commend you for that because you kind of open up and I think a lot of people relate to it very well. So I understand your point on that.

Shawn Hayes: Mm-hmm (affirmative). When you get a humble person that works hard, you can teach them everything else, man.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Shawn Hayes: I mean, honestly, they’ll be a super star at the end of the day. But I don’t like the super stars that don’t have the work ethic. They have that natural talent, that talent that you can’t coach, you know what I mean? But you can’t push them. You can’t get them to do anything, you know what I mean? I’d rather have the opposite of that.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. What tips do you have for sales people that succeed in car sales in the digital age that we’re in and the competition that’s online?

Shawn Hayes: Well, you have to become the mayor of your town, okay? I would recommend that to you. Go to community events, build your brand, okay? And I talk about this in my book. Building your brand big enough to where you’re like the mayor of that city. When it comes to selling cars, everybody knows Shawn Hayes sells cars, right? I need you to build that up that way. Build relationships. Social media’s not for how many likes or how many views you get. Social media is the people that you can build relationships with and get engagement. That’s what this is for, right? And if you use it smartly that way, when you sell a car and you get a testimonial video, you tag that person, their friends comment, you reach in. You send a friend invite to their friends. You build relationships there. That one sale can turn into a tree of sales, okay, and you have to look at it that way, and the same thing what Joe Gerard did back in the day, okay? Going in and shaking hands and doing everything else he did. You can do the same thing, we’re just doing it differently. You’re doing it quicker, actually, and you’re doing it … but you have to look at it that way. You can’t just worry about putting content out there to see how many likes you get. You got to worry about the engagement and friends and the relationships you’re building throughout.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s exactly right. And so do you help your sales people, as the sales manager, and show them how to do that?

Shawn Hayes: I do, but only the people that want to.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Shawn Hayes: I found out, Jim, that I’m not going to force it down your throat. If you’re not, if you don’t feel like it’s worth it to you, or if you don’t want to do it, all I’m going to do is waste time with you with that because if somebody wants to do something, they’re going to do it well.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Shawn Hayes: If you don’t like it and you don’t see value in it, you’re just going to do enough to keep me off your back, and really, at the end of the day, that’s not going to do what you want to do anyway. So, I really focus my time on the people that want to learn it and then I’ll give you whatever you need.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And it’s interesting that they wouldn’t want to learn it, because as we all know in this industry, you’re going to make a heck of a lot more money on a referral. So for the sales people that are listening right now, you know, Shawn Hayes is a textbook case of how to do it right, to bring those referrals in. I call them referrals, maybe nobody referred them. Maybe you did, maybe you did online, right?

Shawn Hayes: Raving fans.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Raving fans. That’s even better.

Shawn Hayes: Raving fans. You want as many raving fans out here talking about you. But a lot of people don’t do it, Jim, because they’re insecure, would be a number one. They don’t feel confident in themselves to go out there and do it. And secondly, sometimes people don’t know what to, you know? They just don’t have a blueprint, and the third thing is, they’re not going to have the discipline and consistency and structure in their life to do it continuously. And that’s the problem a lot of people are having right now on social media, is they’ll do it for a couple days or they’ll do it for three weeks. They don’t see any feedback from it, and then they quit, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Biggest mistake they could make, right?

Shawn Hayes: Right. Just keep building. Just keep building. Just keep building. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your brand going to be built in a day.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I think we make this mistake all too often in the industry. Maybe it’s not a mistake, but I don’t know. Let me get your take on that. We, you know, we need … the dealership needs a sales manager, you know the guy or girl that you had ends up leaving the dealership to go to greener pastures or get out of the industry or whatever, okay? And then we go right to the top salesperson and we say, “Okay, you’re the top sales person. You’re next in line. You’re now the new manager on the desk.” Is that a mistake? I mean, is that something that is just … should we really be doing that? We don’t know if the individual’s a great trainer, we don’t know if they have the skill set to manage people. Maybe they can only manage themselves. Have you found that to be the case, or what do you say about that?

Shawn Hayes: Yeah, absolutely. I want you to know, just because you sell cars doesn’t make you a leader.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Shawn Hayes: There’s a difference between leaders and managers as well. So what I would do is if I was in that place and I’m promoting somebody, I’m looking to see how do the other sales people respond to this person, you know? When they’re standing there, does everybody else come up and try to talk to them and do they have the respect of their coworkers?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Shawn Hayes: So I want to see what kind of character you have. I want to see what you, you know, I don’t need somebody out all night. But I also don’t need somebody who bends the rules and rounds the edges just because they sell cars. I need you to be good in all facets of being a professional sales person, okay? But then I also need, if I need you to lead, I need to see if other people follow you, okay? So that’s what I look for when I look for a manager, when I look for a leader in the company. Do the other people respond to you? Do you cut corners? Is your character, your high moral character? I need that, because you’re going to be in situations where I need you to tell the truth and I need to be able to trust you, okay?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Shawn Hayes: I feel like sometimes that we go right to the top of the heap of the sales and we don’t really look at the other things. Glen Lundy told me a long time ago hire on character, not on credentials, okay? And I’ve remembered that forever, and I think you should promote the exact same way.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Hey, remind our audience, if you will, what Sales Hustler is and what benefits sales people could get from being a part of its network?

Shawn Hayes: Sure. Sales Hustlers is a Facebook group for car salesman. Sales manager, GMs, owners, but car sales only, all right? And we created it so we could give back to other people and share ideas, get better through that, right? So we started about a year and two months ago. It’s got 13 thousand members in it now, and it’s just basically car sales professionals trying to get better through sharing ideas. And man, if you have that tough customer and they said no to you and you throw in, like, “Hey, how do I overcome this next time,” you’re going to get people from all over the world giving you ideas on how to become better.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s awesome.

Shawn Hayes: It’s just a great, great way to get better and actually it was started by me and Dave Benson, which is the co founder.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. And we did speak to Dave about that, and the second annual Hustle and Grind, it’s a two day automotive conference, right, in Orlando April 4th and 5th, right?

Shawn Hayes: Yeah. Hustle and Grind Con. Actually, it’s a great story, if you have a minute. We were sitting, I was going to be speaking at a conference called Rockstar Auto Conference in Las Vegas and they asked me to speak. So I’m sitting in the hot tub with Dave Benson and Glen Lundy and a bunch of other sales hustlers that came just to spend the weekend with us. It was cool. I think it was 34 people flew out from all over the country-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Are attendees expected to sit in the hot tub with you guys, or is that optional?

Shawn Hayes: No. You don’t have to, but a lot of people want to because we have great ideas flowing around. But anyways, we’re sitting in this place that we rented out, it was this mansion, and we decided, “Hey, let’s all get a big house and stay together,” right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Shawn Hayes: So we’re sitting in the hot tub and we’re like, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we created our own conference,” because we believe some of the conferences out there are not put on by actual sales people, right? They’re put on by trainers, or they’re put on by people that, I don’t know, are way … whoever they are, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: But they’re all good.

Shawn Hayes: Nobody even knows who these people are.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We’re not saying there’s good or bad. They’re all good, you know.

Shawn Hayes: Nope. They’re all good. They’re all good. And believe me, anytime you can go to these, you’re going to learn something.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Shawn Hayes: But what I meant was, this is actually put on by people that actually sell cars everyday, out on the floor, right? And what do we need a lot? We need motivation, we need inspiration, and we need teachings, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: That is for sure. Yup.

Shawn Hayes: And a lot of times, it’s missing in some of these conferences, or we don’t give you actionable things to go back and implement.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Shawn Hayes: See, the problem is a lot of times they leave these conferences and they’re inspired and they’re motivated but they get back to these dealerships that are the opposite of that and they get smothered out, man. So we give you actionable things, and some of the best speakers in the world … Eric Thomas was our keynote-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s phenomenal. Great guy.

Shawn Hayes: It rocked out. It did so well that everybody said, everybody said we wanted it again, so it’ll be here April 4th and 5th and I guess two, three months from now. We’re excited.

Jim Fitzpatrick: These kinds of things are so needed in this industry and they’re not out there for sales people. You’re exactly right. You know, all of the digital conferences out there, and we’ve had conferences at CBT and we’re always after bringing the dealer in or bringing the top level managers in because I guess we feel as though they go, those people can effect the biggest change in the dealership. But we forget the very people that make it happen for us day in and day out, and those are the sales people on the front line. And we’ve failed to support those individuals with conferences like this, with motivation, with training. I completely commend you and support you in any way that we can. For those that are watching this broadcast, you know, please check out his program, The Sales Hustler, and get out to the event, Hustle and Grind, because it’s something that I think everybody really needs to look into and take advantage of. It’s certainly well worth the investment and it would do wonders. It will pay you back, you know, twentyfold. So again, thanks so much for your time today, Shawn, and keep doing what you’re doing because we appreciate it in the industry.

Shawn Hayes: Thanks, man. I just wanted to also say I made my book available for free.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Awesome.

Shawn Hayes: To all the sales people out there in the country, if you want to learn how to build your brand and you need a blueprint, it’s free. Just go to and go ahead and just click it in there and get a free one.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Awesome. We’ll show that on here. It’ll also be, there’ll be a link in the article that lies right below this interview as well, so-

Shawn Hayes: Thanks man.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Again, again, thanks so much Shawn. Hopefully we can have you back here in the near future and kind of get updates on all of this and then-

Shawn Hayes: Next time, I’m going to be in there, Jim. I’m going to come on stage with you there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I’ve got the chair right there. I’m going to hold you to it.