Where Should You Focus Your Sales Training?

Are consumers beating salesmen at their own game?

The internet certainly helps. Now that car shoppers have the ability to bring competitive pricing information along to dealerships, it gives salesmen little room to be anything but transparent.

The Deloitte 2014 Automotive Consumer study shows that the majority of Gen Y consumers spend more than 10 hours researching and consider 3 or more brands before they purchase or lease a vehicle. How are dealerships adjusting to this new purchase funnel?

According to WSJ, many dealerships have eliminated commissioned pay, price new vehicles closer to their own costs, and station more staff in front of computers, where they are rewarded for generating sales quickly and in higher volumes, rather than trying to talk a customer into buying a more expensive model.

Trust and the Auto Industry

SalesThere is a gap between consumers’ perception of car dealerships and reality. Common misperceptions include the amount of commission salesman receive, dealership’s profit on the sale of a new car, and the dealership’s ability to withhold vehicle information.

However, these misperceptions provide dealerships with the opportunity to exceed customer expectations. In fact, many sales training programs are increasingly tackling the subject of trust. The new strategy of trust-based selling leverages consumer trust to build competitive advantage.

Charles Green outlines the “5 C’s” of trust-based selling:

1. Conversations– As mentioned earlier, transparency is key. Realizing that your customer will likely enter the sales process on the defense, you have the opportunity to not only earn their trust, but also to increase your profit. Studies show that only 17% of consumers prefer to call or go into dealership, largely because they feel that they are being deceived rather than helped. It’s time to change that statistic.

2. Curiosity– The modern customer is informed and curious about the advantages of new technology and its ability to enhance their daily life. Bring out their curiosity by asking them questions about their interests and priorities.

3. Collaboration–  Remind your employees that each sale is earned, not won. The best way to gain the respect, trust, and loyalty of your customers is to collaborate with them. Think: conversation, not sales pitch.There is no reason why the sales process cannot be mutually beneficial.

4. Customization– A recent Bain & Company study has shown that there’s potentially big value in offering customized products to customers. The sales process works the same way. The best way to customize your sales process is to spend time getting to know your customers. Customization is significant in that it gives customers a reason not to do business with competitors.

5. Coaching– Purchasing a car is overwhelming. Women in particular often express their frustration with the process. As a salesperson, your role is essentially to coach your client through the sale. Remember, your biggest enemy is the status quo; your customer is operating from a point of view that they don’t necessarily want to change. You have all the tools and information to help them reconsider.

It is important to remember that part of the sales process is gathering feedback. Reputation management or social listening is an important step in understanding your customer’s needs, positive experiences, and concerns.

What types of sales training do you use within your dealership?