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Relaxed selling techniques net better results

Franchised dealers need to radically change their approach to selling in order to survive, is the stark warning from automotive sales training company TALENTStream’s John Gardiner.

The modern day dealer needs to adopt sales techniques akin to the High Street retailer and allow customers to ‘browse’ the product at their leisure rather than pounce on them as soon as they enter the dealership.

As director of learning and personal development, Gardiner argues the current approach, based on the traditional ‘seven principles of selling’ are dead and if dealers do not react, customers will continue to vote with their feet and showrooms will remain empty.

The ‘browsing’ approach to sales will be explored further at AM’s Hit for Six conference which takes place at the Quadrangle Conference Centre, Oxford, on November 13. The new conference explores six fundamental areas - new cars, used cars, aftersales, F&I, the digital arena and profit and brings together experts and dealer case studies to enable delegates to gain valuable insight and tangible solutions under one roof in one day.

With figures from dealer case studies, Gardiner, whose automotive experience includes working as an area manager for Honda, aims to show how a more relaxed sales technique has a dramatic increase on results.

One dealer group who adopted this leisurely approach to selling, which TALENTStream calls ‘Momentum’, saw sales increase by 37% in just 12 weeks.

Gardiner said: "We undertake extensive research around the science of shopping and buying preferences. We look at what the customer wants from a buying experience and they don’t want to sit at someone’s desk and talk about finance plans. It’s not on the customer’s agenda; they want to fall in love with the product and if they are allowed to do that, they are prepared to pay for it."

As soon as a prospect walks into the showroom, a prospect is removed from the product and taken to a desk where they are subjected to a vast array of questions including ‘are you buying today?’; ‘how are you funding your vehicle?’; ‘do you have a part-exchange?;’ and ‘do know about service plans?’.

Gardiner said: "We can only sell the finance if we sell the car and we forget that we are selling the car. We are selling all these other products but all we are doing is putting the cart before the horse.

"Compare that to the experience of someone who is buying a shirt on the High Street – the experience is very different.

“When a prospective client comes into the showroom, don’t march him or her off to your desk, let them look at the car first, allow them to engage with the product. We have found the sales process then gains momentum, it is speeded up because clients do not feel they are under any pressure.”

Other benefits of a relaxed approach to sales include the length of time to ‘sell’ the car diminishes, the reduced pressure results in a higher customer loyalty and dealers’ CSI scores increase dramatically.

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  • Kit Smash - 18/10/2012 15:41

    Oh God, another eureka moment from a former area manager who's never sold a car in his life. When will they understand each customer is an individual and needs looking after differently from the last one?

  • magazine - 18/10/2012 16:20

    Quite right. No surprise that an ex-manufacturer man would advocate that customers are allowed to wonder aimlessly around cars: It's what they did at motor shows! You must have a method and the "7 principles..." work. They just need adapting to meet each customers needs. CGH

  • alfaman2 - 19/10/2012 13:19

    The first thing hat should happen is the removal of PC screens on sales area desks...I appreciate we cant live without them but they should be in a seperate area ...out of site. RW

    • DavidBoyce - 22/10/2012 08:47

      @alfaman2 - I agree and replaced by tablets/iPads that allows the sales guys to be mobile and have all the information in their hands rather than on their PC. It then allows the customer to be engaged with wherever they feel most comfortable and takes the pressure off the salesperson to convince them to sit down at their desk or pod where they feel trapped. Lets wake up to the technology that is out there to support our sales teams!

  • Dogsbody - 19/10/2012 17:28

    Well Kit Smash you are right about one thing ie "each customer is an individual and needs looking after differently from the last one". The problem is that often they are not treated this way. That is " process selling " for you. Well I will rephrase that " over process selling ". I thought it was quite a good article actually and I have sold loads of cars in my life.

  • Gerry lilley - 16/11/2012 13:16

    TALENTstream, is a company that really thinks forward and outside the established process and are really worth talking with.