How many times have you driven by a car dealership to find salespeople huddled or lined up by the showroom door like vultures waiting to pounce on the next customer?
In today’s market, spending has significantly decreased, and dealerships must be more proactive in creating a maximized sales environment and managing sales activity if they want to sell more cars and generate profit.
On top of this current problem affecting auto sales, in-store traffic is at an all time low, as many that need to purchase a vehicle do the majority of their research and kicking of the tires online to determine what they want and can afford, and then call the dealership, rather than browse the showroom like the good old days.
The advent of the internet has changed how people shop for cars. Isn’t it time your sales training changed to adapt to get current with the times?
Sales training in the auto industry typically used to just be for the sales team. The managers would send their crew to a seminar where they would learn about the latest and greatest tactics and techniques in showroom behavior. The salespeople would return to their dealerships all pumped up and ready to implement what they just learned. Then two weeks later, it is back to business as usual.
Why This Does Not Work
Bottom Line: You need effective automotive sales management to have effective salespeople. Managers need automotive training as well as the auto sales staff.
Most sales managers became sales managers because they had high success as a salesperson. That does not necessarily make them good at managing a staff, in the same way that the best player may not make the best coach.
Think of the auto sales manager as sales coach. A coach oversees performance and creates strategies based on a player’s ability to execute. The sales manager should oversee his or her staff in the same manner and get trained on how to manage effectively to increase automotive sales.
Automotive management training ensures that the managers can comprehensively supervise the showroom and track the individual progress of his or her staff. They will train with the sales staff and should then learn how to set up an in-house continual training regimen.
Salespeople may indeed learn valuable skills from seminars, but the main difference between training and learning is that training is the repeated application of learned skills. There is not a lot of opportunity for salespeople to repeatedly apply what they learn in the period of a single day, or even a week. Training is something you do, not something you did.
Automotive BDC and Telephone Training
Car dealers need to know how to handle inbound sales calls and talk potential customers into the showroom instead of out. While many salespeople do not want to talk about price, customers will inevitably bring it up, so it is crucial to be prepared and know how to handle the issue of price when it comes up.
Furthermore, auto dealerships, and especially the sales staff, need to be informed about current programs. For example, the last hot topic of the auto industry was Cash for Clunkers. Salespeople should know, first off, whether their dealership is participating in a certain program. Then, they should know the exact requirements of the program, and what kind of rebates or incentives their dealership is offering. Once they are sufficiently educated, they need to practice explaining the ins and outs of the program, so that by the time they have a customer on the line or in the showroom, it feels like second nature to them.
This is where telephone sales training comes into play. Although many auto salespeople feel at home in the showroom, they are ill at ease when it comes to handling the phones. There is great debate about the pros and cons of the automotive BDC or business development center. For many dealerships, the BDC staff is made up of telemarketers. On one hand, they have experience with handling inbound and outbound calls. On the other hand, they may know very little about the automotive industry. What if you could combine your auto sales staff with your BDC? With telephone sales training, you can.
With effective telephone training, the auto sales staff will not only be able to handle inbound calls, but also follow up with unsold prospects, and call back sold customers to generate repeaters and referrals. Although there are many good training programs out there, one of the best, in my opinion, is FirePhone, which is part of Proactive Training Solution’s ADAPT VT virtual training program.
One of the main elements of FirePhone is the virtual role-play, which allows salespeople to get ample practice with virtual callers before moving on to real callers. FirePhone also provides scripts for almost any situation, so that the sales staff always knows what to say. Whether your dealership uses FirePhone or another program, having a sales staff that is skilled on the phone will allow you to cut costs and save money that would otherwise be spent on an outside BDC.
An ongoing automotive sales training program that incorporates both the showroom and the phone lines is what will keep your dealership efficient and productive during these tough economic times. Through much practice and sound management coaching, the auto sales staff will become more at ease with various situations, have more confidence with the potential customer, and close more sales transactions.