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Bart Wilson

Bart Wilson Director of Operations, Media

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Training on Trust

I went through an interesting epiphany when I was first promoted to a Sales Manager.  As a sales rep, I was pretty good.  I knew that I made my own money.  As a sales manager, I soon realized that I was relying on others to make me money.  As a result, training became something on which I focused.

Training is an important part of the sales manager role. Regardless if you dedicate time to train in the dealership, training happens.  Your sales reps are learning.  The goal is to make sure they are learning the right things that will help them succeed.

Let’s take a look at something you need to add to your training calendar.  This can have a drastic impact on the experience you are providing your customers.

In the Customer Experience Research project we conducted at DrivingSales, we performed a global principal component analysis or PCA.  A PCA is a statistical procedure that transforms variables into patterns.  In our global PCA, we wanted to identify the things customers valued most in their interaction with a dealership.  The results?

With over 1 trillion possible combinations, the top two were, “I would like a relationship with a dealer I can trust”, and “I need to like and trust the person I am purchasing from.”

Build a sales staff that can develop trust in themselves and your dealership is extremely important to an improved customer experience.  How do you train your staff on trust?

We analyzed the responses of the research and identified the five elements of trust.  Let’s review each one.

1.  Knowledgeable.  This is the first of two no-brainer ways to build trust.  Your salespeople need to be knowledgeable about the products they are selling.  But it’s more than just spitting out vehicle facts.  Sales reps need to understand the needs of their customers and map vehicle features to benefits that satisfy those needs.  It’s different than a walkaround contest.  How can you train your salespeople on tailoring the vehicle presentation to the needs analysis?

2.  Establish rapport.  This is the second of the no-brainers.  Salespeople have been trained since the dawn of time on the importance of building rapport.  Even in the digital world, this importance has not changed.  Make sure your sales team doesn’t shortcut this important element of trust.  Just because customers are coming in knowing the exact car they want to buy doesn’t mean your reps should skip this step.

3.  Takes the customer seriously.  This was an element that surprised me.  It seems simple on the surface, but our interviews with customers show that dealership salespeople are still not assuming their customers are there to buy.  If they feel like the customer isn’t there to purchase, they tend to skip out on the first two elements (knowledgeable and establish rapport).  We’ve all seen the Google stats on how many dealerships the average customer will visit.  Why are we still struggling with this?

4.  Low Pressure. Customers stated over and over again that they didn’t want or like it when there was pressure from their sales consultant.  How can you train your salespeople to tone down the pressure and turn up the knowledge and transparency they provide?  Take some time to analyze your current process and see how you can make the experience low pressure.

5.  Empowered.  In our research, customers hate it when a salesperson has to ask their manager about every little thing.  Customers felt like their sales consultant didn’t have any authority to diverge outside of the strict process steps.  Some of them actually wondered why they just couldn’t deal with the manager directly if they were the ones with all the answers.  How can you empower your salespeople and train them on how to handle customer questions?

As you train and develop your staff, find some time to train on the five elements of trust.  A good activity would be to audit your sales process and identify any steps or parts of it that detract from trust.  Replace these steps and components with ones that actually build trust with customers.  This will help improve the customer experience of your dealership and as a result improve your sales performance.

Chris K Leslie

#3 is something I talk about all the time. It’s so easy to forget what it takes to get someone off the couch and in the store. Thinking they aren’t there to buy is just wrong. 

R. J. James

Bart... EXCELLENT article!  Just like a vehicle, the Sales Process does need regular maintenance and your Five Points are a great start of a MPI (Multi-Point-Inspection).

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