auto sales training

Auto sales training is delivering a poor experience because programs were not designed with modern retailing in mind. In fact, I wouldn’t hire any of the trainers you can find with a quick Google search. 

I discovered this problem when I was asked to recommend training programs for this article. I decided to do a deep dive into what was out there and the experience was frustrating. It appears most trainers are still teaching the “old world” way of selling, but today’s consumers will not respond to those methods. 

When I was selling a decade ago, our leadership team brought in people who passionately yelled to get us hyped up, and gave us word tracks for closing on the lot. At the time, I was all in. After all, fresh “ups” were plentiful and our team needed instruction on how to combat objections and convert tire-kickers into buyers. Today’s retail environment is completely different. 

According to J.D. Power, customers now visit an average of no more than 1.4 dealerships before buying. This is good news because you are more likely than ever before to sell a car to a fresh lead. But the experience the customer wants and expects is light years away from old-school selling. These customers have done hours of research online. They’ve likely used digital retailing tools to complete some of the buying process. They are on the floor to buy, not to be sold. 

In fact, I bought a car recently without a walk-around or a test drive. I spent 15 hours online researching cars then visited the dealership when I was ready to purchase. My experience is becoming more and more common. 

Current market conditions have pushed us even further away from traditional sales tactics. With so few new cars on the ground, customers are increasingly open to buying virtual inventory and/or ordering the exact vehicle they want. More and more, they’re doing it all online – and even taking delivery at home or the office (where a wet signature can be obtained, if required). 

Related: Sell on experience vs. brand, to beat inventory shortage

Inventory will rebound, but we can expect these new ways of buying to stick around. In fact, this summer in a second-quarter earnings call, Ford CEO Jim Farley said his company is committed to moving more toward an order-based system and keeping actual inventories lower than in the past. I believe we’re at the beginning of an industry transition that focuses on guest experience and is made a lot easier with technology. Is your sales team ready? 

If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. But the answer is not to turn to a traditional auto sales training company. I wouldn’t spend a dime on what most of them are peddling. Instead, I would argue that you should look to the software vendors you already have, such as those who provide your DMS, CRM, and digital retailing tools. 

Software vendors have great consumer insights and are well-versed in consumer behavior because they work with thousands of dealers. They can share what’s working and what’s not when it comes to selling in this market. Training is typically free, and the added bonus is that your sales team may learn how to better utilize the technology you’re already paying for. 

Today’s auto sales training is about helping consumers navigate the technology tools you provide; it’s about answering every question instead of immediately pushing for the appointment, and it’s about the flexibility to sell 100% virtually and on the floor. 

The way we close customers today is much different than a decade ago when I was selling. Today, we need to train for what’s important to our customer’s process, not what’s important for our dealership process. Your vendors can help you understand and deliver the experience your customers want – for free or a nominal fee.


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