A recent UK survey of in-market car buyers said consumers will most likely head to a franchised dealer – but that their number one turn-off was pushy salespeople. Hot on the heels of pushy sales staff, the number two gripe was not being able to negotiate a deal, sales staff who weren’t sufficiently knowledgeable, or able to answer buyer’s questions, and lack of stock was fourth.
This raises multiple questions for your dealerships. When was the last time you did sales training, and would you know how good your dealership sales staff are?
Product training is often something that is left to the distributors to do for their brands, however, there are many simple ways to undertake product training in-house (or using a third-party provider) that are quick, easy, and repeatable.
When the market was strong, with limited supplies, salespeople may have gotten out of the habit of developing rich and positive experiences for consumers. You can’t afford to leave this unchecked.
In dealerships, we have limited ways of checking the quality of customer experience on an ongoing basis. Your sales team's effectiveness or ineffectiveness isn’t spotted until you get a poor Google review or a call from a friend of a friend who was disappointed in how they were dealt with. With poor sales processes and a weak customer experience, you can create a negative double whammy if your sales staff aren’t product experts.
Facebook user groups are full of complaints about poor or inconsistent product knowledge, especially in the transition to BEV. Dismiss these groups as moaning losers at your peril. Despite the advances in market share of BEV and PHEV sales, if today you are a brand that is LCV dominant, your sales staff may well have limited knowledge of chargers, charging, charge rates, and charge times. This is exacerbated because dealers don’t like paying for home chargers for their sales staff (or haven’t yet worked out how to reimburse staff for charging at home), and so dealer staff may well have limited real-world experience of charging at home and living with an EV. It becomes self-perpetuating; sales staff haven’t made the shift so don’t fully experience EV ownership, and so are less able to knowledgeably discuss ownership with customers.
Today’s cars are complex. They have apps for charging, different battery capacities, fast charging capabilities, a myriad of driving modes, a complex ADAS suite (which in turn is a product liability landmine), huge spec lists, plus the complexities of the CCA. It is almost no surprise that product knowledge is tough to build upon.
Arguably it has never been a tougher time to be a sales consultant. A giant shift in motive power and a leap in technology at the same time, makes for a lot of additional information to learn.
In addition, the industry doesn’t have a reputation for high levels of staff retention, which in turn means that keeping staff up to date is made more challenging.
The soggy icing on the cake is customers feeling that they didn’t get a deal. In part, this could be caused by consultants not explaining the trade process properly – that vehicles often have a degree of over-allowance in order to bring the valuation above the trade or stand in value. Alternatively, it could be that recon costs are not explained correctly on trades. Either way sales training can help. Add in a rushed sales process, in which a customer doesn’t feel valued, and that in turn brings in a greater sense of poor service.
However help is at hand, and here’s the Boost Auto quick tip guide to raising your game. Most of these suggestions will cost you and your team nothing more than time. And one is a shameless plug.
Use your AutoPlay dashboard to look at the sales funnel over time. The sales funnel will show you your conversion rates for enquiries to test drives and sales. Look closely at the conversion rates – call this week’s results your baseline figure, and then look at implementing ‘improvement steps’ each week and watch your conversions improve over time.
Introduce a Tuesday 4:30 pm product quiz. Pick a model (or topic) and create 10 questions and answers; for a particular product each week. Keep the sessions short and the event challenging but fun. Wooden spoons and bottles of wine help.
Call 5 lost leads and find out why they didn’t buy from you. Do this every week for three weeks.
Call 5 sales and ask what your team did well, and not so well. You’ll get valuable insights from these calls. Do this every week for three weeks, and see what the trends are. Focus on fixing the most recurring themes.
Review your Google reviews – see where you fall down. Some will say you weren’t good, and a minority will explain why.
Appoint product experts in the team – make a team member responsible for a particular model line – and then get them to run a training session for their colleagues to improve their product knowledge.
Ask a team member to mystery shop a competitor dealership – and then present back their findings. There will be wins and losses; all will be valuable.
Enrol your team in a weekly online sales training programme, like the Boost Auto Accelerator; this is a 6-week online programme done in small groups (this one is the shameless plug).
Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? said: ‘The survey reveals once again that car buyers like to deal with people face-to-face – and that going to a franchised dealer gives them reassurance that they will have the best possible chance of good service. (However) pushy, disrespectful, and unknowledgeable sales staff remain a menace.’
If ever there was a time to ensure that you have set the sales experience bar high for your dealership it is now. The market is getting softer, and leads are probably either declining in volume, or the cost per lead is rising. Either way, you need your team to be more effective, and the best way to do that is to offer them a helping hand and the tools to do so.
After all, a sales consultant under pressure without the right tools will come across as pushy – they’ll be under pressure to perform. In today’s world of online reviews, your dealership’s reputation could be tainted by your own inaction.
Boost Auto is an automotive consultancy working in seven main areas.
• Market Insights & Trends
• Sales Training
• Sales and Marketing effectiveness for brands and dealers
• Get Ready Automations for dealerships
• Go To Market strategies for emerging brands
• Business Planning and facilitation
• Operational Effectiveness
You can contact us at email@example.com