Dos and Don’ts of Successful Automotive Sales Training

For a great deal of people, buying a new or used car will be the most exciting purchase they ever make. Not only used as a vital method of transportation, cars are a sought after status symbol, which tell other road users that you exude certain characteristics.

However, some buyers will be more interested in safety and practicality if their desired vehicle is for taxiing the family around. On the other hand, budget-conscious motorists may prefer reliability and value for money, which are equally important features.

But regardless of the purchaser that shows up at a dealership or showroom, the automotive sales staff on duty will need to possess certain traits and attributes too. With any luck, these will be inherent and natural skills, which come as second nature to the individual in question.

Still, this isn’t always the case and some employees will need additional training to serve the wants and needs of the customer. But the very nature of the automotive industry requires a different approach to other sales-orientated sectors.

Choose the right strategy and your forecourt will have to be constantly replenished with new stock. Get it wrong however and those tight profit margins could be getting even more difficult to manage and overcome.

Do – Teach staff about the importance of first impressions

Upon arriving at your dealership or showroom, most customers will be too preoccupied with looking at cars to notice staff straightaway. Unless they have a specific question or query, they will head straight for their preferred vehicle and start picturing themselves behind the wheel.

But when sales staff do come into contact with the customer, first impressions are absolutely crucial. This may well be a fundamental of automotive sales, but still can’t be stressed enough.

This means looking and acting the part, as customers won’t be filled with confidence if the salesperson is poorly presented or doesn’t care about helping out. Don’t just dress to impress, dress for success!

Don’t – Fall into traditional automotive sales traps

Now that we have established your sales staff need to look and act the part, don’t rest of your laurels and think this advice will suffice. In fact, question traditional automotive sales techniques and don’t fall into obvious traps.

Take your employees’ initial greeting for example. Upon saying “can I help you?” the customer will probably reply with “just looking” and carry on regardless. Instead, get your staff to introduce the dealership and themselves, which instantly creates good vibes and a strong rapport.

Another old-timer tactic is letting the customer go on a test drive on their own. This is an opportunity to understand your customer’s personality and find out what they want. So, during training, teach your staff about different buyer personas and how to deal with each one.

Do – Treat all customers the same

Despite the fact glamorous sports cars and luxurious saloons can result in more money for the dealership and more commission for the salesperson, you could be losing out in other ways if you only focus on these sort of customers.

Prospective purchasers interested in cheaper vehicles might spread bad feedback or leave negative reviews online if they have been treated with a lack of attention or respect. Word-of-mouth is an incredibly powerful influencer while the Internet can tarnish favourable reputations for good.

So, when training staff, make sure they treat all customers in the same way, regardless of the type of vehicle they are interested in or how much profit a sale could potentially deliver.

Don’t – Pre-qualify potential customers

Automotive sales training will usually focus on how to talk about the merits of a particular vehicle and persuade customers into making a purchase, but there is a lot more to it than that. Another crucial aspect concerns the financial side of things.

However, you should never judge a book by its cover and assume a certain customer has bags of cash because of the way they dress. So, avoid training your staff in how to pre-qualify potential customers, as this will probably be a waste of time.

Let the bank decide whether they can afford to buy or not but still tell your staff to always assume the sale.

Do – Understand the importance of questions

We have already established that you can’t presume what a customer wants by looks alone, so you will need to find out this information in another way. In order to do this, your sales staff will have to be comfortable with asking and receiving plenty of questions.

At first, these can be fairly ambiguous and ambivalent but will soon need to get down to the nitty gritty side of things. Do you like the car? Could you see yourself driving this car? Would you buy the car today?

At the same time, your staff will need to be knowledgeable enough to answer questions from the customer too. If you have a showroom full of different makes and models, then knowing about the detailed specifications of each can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Don’t – Rely on traditional training techniques

Taking sales brochures home and brushing up on performance figures is far from effective. This does little to improve knowledge retention and will fail to fill employees with confidence about their ability either.

Instead, think about adopting a different approach, such as spaced repetition. This is a scientifically proven teaching technique that spaces out training over a prolonged period, which makes it easier to learn and retain new information.

What’s more, it takes the form of short, sharp quizzes, which can be completed at your employees’ desks on a smartphone or PC. This removes the hassle of going on a boring training course and can be completed during quiet periods when customers do not need attention.

Follow these do’s and don’ts of automotive sales training and with any luck, you will end up with a team of proficient staff capable of keeping turnover high and margins profitable.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 21 May, 2015