14 Hours. That is how long the average consumer researches their vehicle purchase online before making a transaction, so says Google. Many of those hours have likely been fixated upon one model.
The average salesperson has almost 5.5 hours of downtime every day on the showroom floor. Every. Single. Day. (That data comes from The Next Up).
Yet, when is the last time you believe your salespeople dedicated 14 hours to learn about one specific model of vehicle they sell? They don’t. They believe any success in their career will be more predicated upon their “sales skills” and understanding of a process (read: lucking their way into selling a vehicle) than actually being an expert in the product they’re selling.
If you have an Apple product, and you go to the Apple Store, you expect those working there to be more educated and familiar than you on the product. And they are. Shoppers want someone who can be their go-to expert for their vehicle purchase. They aren’t looking for an expert in “selling cars”. They’re looking for experts that will help them “buy cars”. Big difference.
Now, you do not need robot salespeople that know each and every spec/horsepower/wheelbase. You need people that can confidently answer any logical question a client has on the spot. Not someone who “shows them cars real good”. Your employees should be expert craftsman that seek to be the shoppers one connected voice with answers to their questions.
I was fortunate enough to moderate a number of focus groups for a client group, and one of the chief values salespeople provide, so say those consumers interviewed, is product expertise. The resounding message was that product knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of available inventory are imperative.
Consumers can tell the difference between a Product Expert and a Profit Expert from a mile away within 5 seconds. Sometimes without even speaking to them. They can almost smell it on them based on what they say and how they carry themselves. Profit Experts incorrectly wear their skills as a badge of honor when it can actually be a detriment to how they connect with their customers. And don’t go naming your staff Product Experts because you believe the perception alone will transform a customer’s view of them. Calling someone Product Expert opposed to Sales Consultant changes the customer’s perception of what the individual is capable. They will then have to live up to those expectations.
Create a team of Product Experts based upon what clients need from you, and not solely what you need from your clients. These are the changes to our automotive retail environment that can pay dividends in the long run, not just to your bottom line, but to your credibility.