As the market turns away from a boom market, the pressure is increasing on sales performance. Yet the simple answer to improved sales performance is as old as the electric motor that powers your customer’s next car.
The Road to a Sale sometimes sits in a proverbial forgotten corner. Yet this often mentioned but seldom used pathway is like a new motorway with fresh bitumen. It is a smooth and fast highway to your destination called Better Sales Performance.
At its core, Road to a Sale is simple framework with 12-15 steps. There is no definitive Road to a Sale, however most models found online have the same basic design. At worst using RTAS will make a poor sales consultant better. However when these steps are understood by management and staff, and when the RTAS is applied thoughtfully, it is a powerful framework that will transform sales results.
This article looks at the salient steps of the framework more closely, to illustrate the areas that will have the biggest impact.
Meet and greet. This is the foundation of your road. An acknowledgement if busy with other customers, and a proper welcome as soon as possible sets customers at ease. An open question and an introduction starts the dialogue and done well creates a good first impression. Nowadays the meet and greet is often an email exchange, and the same rules apply. It has cost your business time and money to get the enquiry. Make the enquiry count, and ensure that the initial enquiry is done promptly, professionally and politely. In both cases respect the customer’s time and effort. Our objective here is to get to the next step by demonstrating that we are worthy of our customer’s time. As we know, a poor foundation means that the rest of the road will be harder to get right.
Sloppy emails, with half answers, or a ‘Hi how are you mate’ greeting on the yard is a sure way to demonstrate that you don’t value your customers efforts to get in touch or to come on site and will in most cases frustrate your customers.
The Discovery or fact finding is best done in a warm showroom over a cup of coffee. After the initial welcome it is the single most important step. After all, it’s taken your customer 15-20 minutes to drive to see you, it is wet and cold out there, so show some hospitality and make them feel at home. At this point you can build rapport and build a picture of why your customer is looking for a new vehicle, and how they use it. It will be the best 5-10 minutes you spend that day. A fast discovery is a wasted discovery. Take time to understand your customer’s needs. Why? Simply put if your sales staff haven’t done a proper needs analysis, then the vehicle selection and a product presentation cannot be properly tailored to what your customer is looking for. If you haven’t found out then you don’t know. Asking is an art, it is not just asking, it is finding out. These are two different things.
Which brings us to Vehicle Selection. Regular readers of this column know that Boost Auto believes that vehicle selection is the next most critical elements of RTAS. AutoPlay allows a good Dealer Principal or Sales Manager to look at lost leads by reason. Vehicle Not Suitable should be a criminal offence in your dealership. It means that either your sales consultant has not sufficiently conducted the Discovery phase, or their product presentation was poor. Vehicle Selection should be made with care and product presentation should demonstrate and re-enforce every point of why the vehicle is right for that customer’s needs (using information gleaned in the Discovery phase). It is virtually impossible to have a good closing rate without a good vehicle selection and product presentation. Even customers who walk through the door looking at just one specific vehicle still have to be closed, and so presenting back why the vehicle is right for that customer is important.
If you are a multi-franchise dealer and a customer has a lost sale reason of Vehicle Not Suitable, you need to take a long hard look at your ‘save’ programme and understand why as a last ditch you didn’t swap the customer to a different product from a different brand.
Vehicle test drive is, one would hope, self-explanatory. But does your dealership have a set route? Is the nav set up to show the dealership? Does your team do a suitable handover? At a recent mystery shop, the author discovered the car was not available, it was blocked in, and wasn’t particularly clean. This is inexcusable especially when the test drive is an appointment.
The trade evaluation should always be done with the customer – it is personal, it garners trust and it builds a relationship. It also helps appraisals become more accurate.
Presenting the numbers should be done back at a desk in the warmth and captured in AutoPlay or Motorcentral. I’ve heard, ‘What do you think it’s worth?’ being asked of customers. Why? What does it matter what the customer thinks? Your staff should be the experts, and besides, it is the cost to change that is important.
While some would say it is critical to be in control of the sale, Boost Auto would say, that sales consultants should build trust, demonstrate integrity and demonstrate expertise. The sales consultant’s role is to follow the RTAS process and guide (and nudge) a customer through it at the pace that a customer is happy with, while always remaining professional yet warm.
At this point your sales consultant has done an exemplary job, so they should trial close. No need in keeping going if the deal is done. “Are you happy with everything we have discussed?” “If you are happy to place a deposit? I’d like to introduce you to someone to discuss finance options for you.”
If that’s not quite right, then its time for an F&I introduction any way, to discuss affordability.
Don’t forget the delivery update post purchase communications, currently an often overlooked step, and as always make the eventual delivery memorable. There’s lots of great best practice for these special moments. Last and not least, while asking for a referral might be old hat, asking for a 5 star review isn’t.
If you can embed a high quality well executed Road to a Sale in your dealership, your team will easily achieve 5-star reviews. In today’s digital first world, 5-star reviews help attract more enquiries and leads.
Clearly this is an over-simplification, however hopefully it reminds sales managers and Dealer Principals that a great framework will still deliver results. What is most valuable when a dealership embraces it and makes it their own, and works with their sales team to develop it to something more meaningful with their team. Then the Road to a Sale, really does become a Highway to Success.
The illustration above can be downloaded for free from BoostAuto.co.nz/read-blog/Roadtoasale
 we are still not sponsored by AutoPlay.
 The first rudimentary electric vehicles was made in 1839, and large scale production commenced in 1880s.