Paige Donnelly, Founder of Emerald Infotainment Specialists, joins CBT News to discuss how salespeople can help their customers to better understand vehicle infotainment systems and how her company works to achieve this. Paige has a background in automotive dealerships, however, she says her sales background comes from the time she spent as a sale associate at Verizon Wireless.
She was surprised by the number of people who would come into the store with a new vehicle and simply ask for help in syncing up their phone and accessories to their vehicle. It was here that this missed opportunity became clear to her and therefore she began her company with the mission to get the auto industry and sales representatives to highlight these infotainment services much earlier in their sales process. To hear more from Paige check out the full interview above.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick, thanks so much for joining us on another edition of CBT News. Joining us to discuss how salespeople can help their customers better understand vehicle infotainment systems, is Paige Donnelly, founder of Emerald Infotainment, in Rochester, Michigan. Welcome to CBT, Paige.
Paige Donnelly: Hey, Jim. Thank you for having me.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule. And it must be a busy schedule with all of these major infotainment systems in cars, that people are shaking their heads at going, “I don’t know what this thing has the capability to do.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: I’ve got one in each one of our cars, and we play the radio. And it’s like, “Okay, go.” Maybe we play some other songs from our iPod, or something, or not iPod, but our phone. But I’m dumb dating myself. But nevertheless, talk to us about the importance of this. Also, talk to us about how you got started. I know you spent some time in the car business, right?
Paige Donnelly: Right. I worked in a car dealership for about a year. But in general, my sales background actually comes from my time at Verizon Wireless. I sold phones there, and definitely one of the things that surprised me the most, was how many people brought their new vehicle to the Verizon store to get it all synced up with their phone and everything like that. That’s how the idea of Emerald Infotainment came to be. It became pretty clear to me that there’s a missed opportunity here. People should be leaving the car dealership thrilled about their new vehicle. But a lot of times they’re leaving generally frustrated because now they can’t navigate home because their phone’s not hooked up. You know how it goes.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I definitely do. You must have been the person at the dealership that all the other salespeople would get with at time of delivery and say, “Hey, can you show my customer all the magic that this infotainment system will do?”
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely, I got a lot of that. To bring it a little bit further, is you’re exactly right. People would come to me upon the time that they were delivering the car. This person’s all ready set on this car, everything like that, and they’re still not even sure how to use the basic radio functions in the car.
Paige Donnelly: My overall mission is to get the auto industry and sales representatives in general, highlighting these infotainment systems way earlier on in the sales process. So that come delivery time, the customer’s already attached to the system, their phone’s all hooked up, they’ve got Waze navigation going, if that’s the platform they prefer to use. Things of that nature.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right. What are some of the pain points customers have when it comes to infotainment capabilities in their vehicles?
Paige Donnelly: Honestly, the biggest thing that consumers want, is to be able to hook their phone up to the car, and use the car’s infotainment system in a similar way that they’re used to using their phone. Which they have with them 24 hours a day, glued to it, everything like that. I feel pretty strongly that the more that you can relate to the customer’s phone that they already have in their possession to this new car that you’re showing them, the better presentation of that vehicle it’s going to be.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s for sure. And it makes for a happier customer and a much more pleasurable experience for the customer, right? Taking delivery of that new vehicle, now driving out with a complete understanding of what the infotainment system will do, and how it will help their lives. Rather than driving out saying, “Ah, I’m still not sure.” I think salespeople by nature, just have a tendency to fly through that stuff, thinking that the customer is a quick study, so therefore I just showed you how to use it and you’re done, and now I’m certified. Let’s go. You jump out of the car as a salesperson, and let the customer go down the road.
Jim Fitzpatrick: When in reality, they’re still not ready to go on that infotainment system, right?
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely. And if they were more equipped to be knowing all the bells and whistles that their new vehicle comes with, because a lot of these cars are coming with a ton of awesome new features, that often times we’re not showing the customer. If they were more aware of this, I also think that’d be a big talking point for them down the road. Like, “Hey, come check out my new car. We can order a pizza from the touch screen. Let me show you how to do it.” It builds a much bigger excitement around the entire purchase.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, I could see that, that’s for sure. Then when the survey comes from the OEM or from the manufacturer, it’s much more of a pleasurable… you’re going to get better ratings as a dealer and a salesperson. If in the event that salesperson went over the infotainment system, and the rest of the car for that matter, in its entirety. Rather than just a quick 101, here it is. If you have any questions, give me a call approach.
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely. CSI scores are definitely another big factor considered with the entire infotainment aspect of things. JD Power has cited technology and infotainment related problems as the biggest detractor in these survey scores for quite a few years now.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And customers want their vehicle to do more and more, don’t they? I mean, we were just saying how you can order a pizza from your touch screen in your vehicle. Nowadays, that’s almost expected. Nobody’s in shock at that, they say, “Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t you be able to do that? I should be able to pick up my dry cleaning or have them tell me when it’s ready,” or whatever.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Everybody just wants to do everything through their phone, and then as soon as they get into their car, they want to be able to do it from their infotainment system.
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely. Technology is a huge driving factor behind tons of purchases, and vehicles are no different.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. We’ve spoken to some consumers here at CBT News, and we said, “Why did you trade your vehicle in? It’s only a two year old car.” And they said, “Well, the technology in the vehicle got much better. We wanted the upgraded technology. We love the car, there was no problem with it. It was only 15,000 miles on the vehicle, still under warranty. But there was an upgrade in the technology.” The technology really became the driving force in them purchasing an entirely new car.
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely. I believe in-vehicle technology just recently surpassed exterior styling as the biggest decision factor for purchasing a new vehicle. So if we did a better job of showcasing these features, it would definitely go a long way.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s for sure. How can dealers and their salespeople better educate their customers about the infotainment system that’s in their new car?
Paige Donnelly: Taking more time initially with the customer, and upon delivery of the vehicle to not only as you mentioned before, quickly breeze through things, but more in-depth presentation. And honestly, why not get them set up and ready to go with their car before they leave the lot? If they’ve got their top five destinations that they travel to often, you could program those in with the customer sitting next to you. And in the future, already have them there, so they’re going to be thankful of that every time they go touch that button. Like, “Oh, look mom’s house is already programmed in, how convenient.” As well, as they’re going to be a lot more likely to program in future addresses down the road, once they’ve sat and done a couple with you in the showroom.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right, yeah. It takes just more time to spend with the customer. Which sometimes when you talk to salespeople, they’re so incredibly busy delivering other vehicles or making follow up calls, whatever the case might be. They don’t want to take two or three hours with one customer and the delivery process. Especially if it’s on a weekend and you might have two or three stacked customers that are coming in to see you, or take delivery, or what have you. It’s like, “Oh, I got to spend an hour, hour and a half, or 90 minutes just on the infotainment system alone,” which is not a hard thing to do, right?
Paige Donnelly: Right, absolutely. I think some of this perception of needing to spend two or three hours with the customer to get things properly hooked up and things like that, come from a lack of confidence in operating the system themselves. If salespeople took the time to become experts on this system, there’s really only two phone platforms that you need to be knowledgeable about. That’s android and iPhone. And the specific infotainment system that your dealership sells. If you can get a firm grasp on those three things, you should be able to pretty easily demonstrate the necessary features that a customer’s looking for in their car without a whole lot of struggle, or taking up too much time.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. Talk to us about Wards Auto wrote an article and featured you and your company, and what you bring to the table. Talk to us about your services and how you help dealers, for the dealers and managers that are listening to us today. Do you visit the dealership, do you give courses online, how does that work?
Paige Donnelly: I provide in-dealership training to both the sales and the service team. It’s a hands-on demonstration on the infotainment systems themselves, as well as the two major platforms that we talked about; android and iPhone. And it’s a little bit more than just operation of the infotainment systems, it’s what you and I have been talking about here today. Using these new skills as a sales strategy and also as a customer retention strategy. Getting the word out there that your dealership is knowledgeable about the technology inside of these cars. And if there’s a question down the road with your vehicle’s touch screen, feel free to come back to our dealership. We helped you out so great the first time, let us continue to service you down the road.
Jim Fitzpatrick: You mentioned using it as a sales tool. It is interesting to me that we will go over the infotainment system at time of delivery, rather than incorporating it more, and I know I’m painting with a broad brush right now. So forgive me salespeople if you do this already, you don’t need to send me an email. But for those salespeople that don’t incorporate this approach in their sales pitch with the customer, they’re making a big mistake, aren’t they? I mean, that should be a big part of the demonstration of the vehicle. Maybe before or after the demo drive.
Paige Donnelly: Absolutely. Yeah, some customers come into the showroom knowing a few certain things that they want their car to be able to do. And these things might be more on the technology side. For example, I love listening to Pandora, I definitely want my new car to be able to do that. Well, if a sales representative takes the time with the customer and shows them how to do all of the things that they want to do with this car, which most new cars can do a lot of these things. But now, this is the car that the customer’s seen them all in action on. And knows for a fact that they work in this car, because they sat and did it together with their sales rep. It’s a huge selling point.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, Paige Donnelly, founder of Emerald Infotainment, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. It’s been very enlightening.
Paige Donnelly: Thank you for having me Jim. Very excited to be here.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, sure.
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