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Michael Esposito

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"Technology is a Strange Thing. It Brings Greats Gifts with One Hand and Stabs You In the Back with the Other." - C.P. Snow

The title of this blog is a famous quote by C.P. Snow. It reminds me of a seminar I attended at Digital Dealer, in which I laughed at a scene that was shown from the TV show “Men of a Certain Age.” A 20-something kid comes in to a dealership with his smartphone and mobile app, knows the vehicle he wants, knows exactly what he wants to pay for it and knows what the competitor down the street is selling it for.

With information from his smartphone, the 20-something thwarts every step of the sales process. The Internet Manager calls in the General Manager who eventually calls in the dealer himself, a former Los Angeles Laker. The kid is unimpressed, quoting the dealer’s stats from his smartphone, “you only played one season and made four points.”

It made me wonder, how has technology changed the traditional 10-step process for selling cars? Here are the 10 steps that most salespeople have been taught:

1. Meet and Greet: Salesperson introduces himself or herself to the customer.

2. Discovery: Salesperson asks the customer questions to try and understand what they want.

3. Choose a Vehicle: Salesperson selects a vehicle or two to show based on the customer’s criteria.

4. Why Buy Today: Salesperson gives a number of reasons why the customer should buy today, i.e. special financing, other interested buyers, incentives, etc.

5. Walkaround: Salesperson shows the customer all of the features and benefits of the vehicles.

6. Test Drive: Salesperson takes the customer for a test drive, focusing on the areas or options that are important to them.

7. Negotiation: Salesperson draws customer into a discussion about pricing, trade approsal, payments, etc. which leads to a negotiation.

8. Closing: Salesperson employs their favorite or appropriate closing technique to get the customer to sit down and sign the contract.

9. Delivery: Salesperson completes paperwork and ensures car is ready for delivery.

10. Follow Up: Salesperson follows up with the customer, ensuring they are happy and satisfied so they will return and buy more cars and refer their family and friends.

Today, many customers show up knowing the exact vehicle they want to test drive (eliminating steps #2 and #3), they know if there are any specials or incentives (eliminating # 4), have comparison reports concerning the vehicle they are interested in vs. the competitive models (making #5 somewhat redundant). They have checked the Internet and have found the invoice price on your vehicle and researched what their vehicle is worth to a dealer on trade in  (making #7 a major challenge).

I would argue that today is a ”brave new world” and as such needs a new sales process that is “in step” with the new reality of the consumer. What do you think? Do we need to re-write the traditional 10-step sales process? What steps would you eliminate or add?

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