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'Dealers should ditch their out-dated sales model'

Dealers who want to succeed in an increasingly digital age need to transform their sales model to reflect the modern-day car-buyer, Nick King (pictured), Auto Trader’s market research director and Peter Watts, Auto Trader’s brand director will tell delegates at AM’s Digital Marketing Conference.

Watts, who has extensive sales experience gained with both manufacturers and dealer groups, has long been an advocate of the disciplined sales process, but believes the consumer now has the upper hand and will ask delegates whether it’s time for dealers to level the playing field.

Sales executives currently work within a clearly defined sales process which includes financial qualification and captures all the prospect’s details. The process is backed by monthly manufacturer mystery shops and audits. King and Watts, however, question both its sustainability and the appetite of the consumer for this method when they lead a workshop at the conference.

The event, which is ran in partnership with the leading automotive media group Auto Trader, takes place on February 12 at the NEC, Birmingham. King and Watts’ break-out session forms as part of the successful conference’s well-established format and will further explore how to best meet the expectations of the new car-buyer when they arrive, often unannounced, in the showroom.

Drawing on real-life examples, the pair will illustrate how the traditional automotive sales process is no longer fit for purpose and demonstrate ways in which dealers can adapt to meet the challenges of a new retail age.

Said King: “Consumers undertake all their research online, they know exactly which car they want to buy and from where. Interaction is now taking place between the consumer and the dealer’s website and not the sales staff themselves. In fact, consumers are, in the main, opting to remain anonymous. Around half will visit the dealership without an appointment and expect to test drive the vehicle they have researched without the need for a cumbersome and intrusive process.

“However, the traditional sales process is very much alive and well and, at the point a hapless consumer walks into the showroom, goes into overdrive. The sales executive will offer the consumer coffee, sit him or her at his desk and expect to take all their personal details to input into the database as well as scrutinise their financial status before perhaps trying to persuade them to consider a different vehicle altogether.  

 “Car buyers, on the other hand have moved on, they do not want to provide all their details, talk about finance and add-on products and the most definitely do not want to be offered a completely different vehicle to the one they have spent hours researching. They expect to be shown the car, if not drive the vehicle there and then. If it lives up to its website description, they will probably buy.

“Sales executives should cut to the chase and undertake a test drive as soon as it is requested. Even better, after a few qualifying checks, allow prospects an unaccompanied drive for a few hours.

“Dealers need to adopt a new sales process as a direct result of the internet which has changed how people buy and their expectations of retailers. Consumers demand the same fast, efficient and highly focused experience they receive online in the showroom.”

The message from King and Watts is simple: dealers who drastically change their approach will increase their opportunities to sell more vehicles.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale. To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email or visit

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