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Training..Training..Training...When times are slow, does it not make sense to get better??

I recently started as a Sales Manager for Mercedes-Benz of Encino, in Southern California. Previously, I had been with a very large Ford Dealer, with 8 other brands, for nearly 13 years. I have to tell you, stepping out of the Domestic Market into the Highline Luxury Market is a whole different world. One thing I have found that does not change is the Sale Professional and the selling process. I think I was imagining stepping into a world of better Sales People, with better skills and who really understood the client. I was wrong!

I think the Sales Person today try's too hard, get's the wrong results and does not concentrate on the areas of importance. Remember, the Desk/Management should determine Gross (Profit), not the Sales Person. In the High line Market, and I can only speak for our region, it seems that the Dealers have really discounted the value of the vehicles, and no longer hold value in the invoice. Having come from my previous Dealer, I was conditioned to believe that below the INVOICE amount was nothing! Anything below Invoice, you are losing!!! I was conditioned to believe that anything below Invoice was the Dealers Money. It was used to pay people, keep the lights on, advertise and pay the phone bill! So here I am, and I presented with deals worked from TRIPLE NET UP! What the heck is that all about? What ever happened to Retail down? Who created this tactic? Why does the Manufacturer even waste time developing an MSRP? I know, I am preaching to the choir, and there are many of us out there that believe as I do..unfortunately, the few that don't have made it difficult for the rest of us!

When I first started in the Business, I had the privilege of selling Saturn (You know, the Company that GM got way to involved in, and lost focus). Saturn had a story, a story that allowed you to concentrate on the Client, the Product and NOT the price.It allowed consultants and Dealers to make money and make the car buying experience fun, interactive and profitable.

If we all got back to honoring the MSRP and working from it, then we can make a difference. If we spent an hour on the demo and a half an hour in the "box", rather than a half and hour on the demo and hour in the "box", we will make a difference. Is it wrong to feel that our products are worth MSRP? We are as guilty as the client..by allowing the product to be devalued!

We started using a Training program call Carmind (www.carmind.com). It has been terrific. The creators found a way to break up training into little 10-15 minutes skits with cartoons, and I swear, subliminal images. This approach really works. It allows our Sales Professionals to watch these videos on the Internet at their leisure, without forcing "training" down their throat. It then provides a test and allows them to practice what they learn. It is fun and entertaining.

Today, I think you would all agree, we have more time to train and get better. Isn't it worth it to spend the time and money to make more and work less? If you have experience with Carmind, I would love to hear what you think. If you have not, check it out. It is well worth it, especially if your spending money on expensive seminars and professional Trainers coming into your stores.

Views: 42

Tags: Carmind, Training

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Comment by Phil Englander on December 21, 2008 at 9:58am
Thanks Jody!
Comment by Jody DeVere on December 21, 2008 at 8:51am
I agree Phil car dealerships will do better if trained better! AskPatty.com trains dealership employees to do a better job with the majority car buyer - Women.

Ask Patty Certified Dealer Program:
Properly armed with the right tools and training your dealerships can increase its share of the largest and fastest growing demographic of new vehicle buyers in the US -- Women Consumers. The Ask Patty Certified Dealer program was designed specifically for car dealerships to attract, sell, retain and keep loyal women consumers.


What Is An Ask Patty Certified Dealer?
An Ask Patty certified dealer is a dealer that creates a safe and comfortable environment where women feel welcome and a dealer that makes the experience of purchasing and maintaining her vehicle a pleasant one.

Ask Patty trained and certified dealers are held to a high level of customer satisfaction for women consumers.

To find out how to become an Ask Patty.com, Inc. certified dealer click here http://hooktours.com/8003256/
Comment by Phil Englander on December 20, 2008 at 11:02am
Stan,

I have one of those Salespeople in my store as well. The problem with an attitude like that is, they are a cancer that spreads throughout the store. We have 8 people on the retail floor, and when this one person has an issue he talks, and brings down the others. They flock to him like vulchers on road kill! I don't understand it..I have to pack him, so he doesn't know the deal is a mini. I always took every deal, regardless of the gross. My feeling was, if I spent time with the up, and did everything right, it was my right to make a deal..and I did! It always will come out in the end!

Training in a down market only allows your Salespeople to get better and then to apply what they have learned. It allows them not to rush and take time with a client. Why rush? You have time. Do it right and the results will be there.
Comment by Phil Englander on December 20, 2008 at 11:02am
Stan,

I have one of those Salespeople in my store as well. The problem with an attitude like that is, they are a cancer that spreads throughout the store. We have 8 people on the retail floor, and when this one person has an issue he talks, and brings down the others. They flock to him like vulchers on road kill! I don't understand it..I have to pack him, so he doesn't know the deal is a mini. I always took every deal, regardless of the gross. My feeling was, if I spent time with the up, and did everything right, it was my right to make a deal..and I did! It always will come out in the end!

Training in a down market only allows your Salespeople to get better and then to apply what they have learned. It allows them not to rush and take time with a client. Why rush? You have time. Do it right and the results will be there.
Comment by Phil Englander on December 19, 2008 at 8:16pm
Ray,

I agree with you in some respects, but of course, we are allowed to have our own opinion. That is what makes these Blogs so interesting. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Dealership owned by a man named Bert Boeckmann. Some know him, and others could probably care less. But, I lived by a philosophy of "WWBD"-What would Bert do? How would he handle a clients concern, how would he redirect the sale and take control without offending the client. I never learned the "old school" way. I learned how to foster a relationship, follow up, ask for referrals and welcome Service Concerns with open arms. Any problem was an opportunity for me to foster that relationship, when most Sales Consultants see it as a problem for CSI. What I find today is a horrible attrition rate in Dealerships, where the good one's are retiring from a career, and we see young kids who think because they drive, they can a car, and then the mid lifer's who's Industry collapsed, so they thought they would give the car business a shot!

You can't teach a Salesman "people" skills..that comes from up bringing, along with manners and respect. They either have it, or they don't. Anyway, I need to get off my soap box, because I will just ramble on!

What I like about Carmind is, it is short, touches on basics, to try and form a process. It concentrates on The Intro, presenting the Inventory, being dynamic and asking the right questions, then a deal and of course, the moment of truth, the Delivery! It does it in short videos that truly make an impact with the viewer..but only if the viewer is open to concepts and ideas that work.

There is plenty of business out there for the right person, it just depends on how you are willing to get that business. As an example. I sent out about 250 Holiday Cards to my A list clients. They started to arrive today, and I received 15 calls just to "shoot the crap" and see what was going on. Some of my best friends come from this business, my wife came from this business -She was one of my Assistant's. All of my Salespeople were amazed how my Cell Phone would not stop ringing, and they all sent out cards too...I explained to them, a one shot wonder doesn't count. My clients know I care. They get Cards yearly, they get a call on Birthdays and Anniversaries (of the Car of Course). It is a whole package with me. Not just a C3 delivery...c the car, c the keys, c the street! This is a Career, and once people realize that, the whole outlook changes.

Tomorrow, I have a Memorial Service to attend for a Client who passed of Cancer. Why am I going? he was a good client. We didn't have Dinner together, or hang out...he was 30 years older than me. He only purchased about 7 or 8 vehicles over 13 years (Himself, Wife, Kids, Business). It was what he did for me. The referrals, the thank you for the phone call and letter. The trust! By me showing my respect, will only continue to get referrals from his family and friends. How many "Car Guys" get invited to the Wedding, Bar Mitzvahs, etc...I do. It is all about the relationships. The point is, never stop selling, keep training, and treat those around you as you treat your parents, with respect and dignity. My partner likes to say "Treat them like a Rock Star!". Ok-I'm done!
Comment by Ray McGowan on December 19, 2008 at 7:39pm
Phil,
I've made a decision to "tell it like it is" without pulling punches about training. After 30 years in the business and a few thousand students, I know I can say that training at the majority of car dealerships is a joke. Training is an everyday process. It's like sending a child to kindergarden or watching a baby attempt to walk. Each step is an understanding and learning experience. It's not about how to greet someone or how to do a proper walk-around. Although the steps are important, a person in training has to have a "full" understanding why they need training and what it means to the team and the dealership.

A process controlled training program starts at the beginning of why training is essential to be "in front" of the competition. The reason you have a Super Bowl team is because the coaches, staff and players are all in-tune and prepared for every scenario another team can throw at them. The same holds true with a car dealership and the training they receive from their management staff. If they are unprepared, they lose. It's that simple.

Are salespeople smarter than they were ten years ago? Yes. They have to be with today's market and the educated consumers they do battle with. But, are they really better at understanding "how" a sales process works and why it is essential to understand it? The answer is no. They have very little training of how to listen properly, how to recognize buying signals and how to negotiate properly.

I agree with you Phil that training and more training is something we all must do. It's an understanding what that training means to an organization and how every piece of the puzzle fits to compete in this market. The market conditions are miserable and only the strong survive. My opinion is that it's a little too late to concentrate on training now. Training and learning is every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Once you learn something, you practice it and make it work for you. It's just too bad that many dealerships have no clue to what a real selling process is. And it's hardly a time to worry about training when you're in a trench with no ammunition.

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