At a recent Management Meeting, a Dealer Principal of a client of mine was lamenting the lack of showroom traffic compared to ‘the good old days’ – he was concerned that with a low footfall, there were not enough sales opportunities for his team and was worried that he would struggle to meet his targets.
There are a number of observations I had on his issues;
- There was a lack of a robust customer enquiry capture process in the Dealership. Therefore he was working off incorrect information, and didn’t really know how many incoming enquiries the business was really getting.
- I think that there are genuinely fewer people around in the Dealerships and Used Car pitches, this is mainly due to the fact that there is much less need to visit the showroom for research. For most Dealer Principals, when they were last ‘active’ in a showroom, the internet did not exist, but the modern customer can do much of his/her research in the comfort of their own home.
- Because of 2 above, the quality of prospects in the showroom is much higher, therefore we need to put much more focus on our showroom process and management.
- The attitude and approach of the sales team has not moved with the times. The modern customer is often better informed than the salesperson and needs a ‘facilitator’ to help them buy, rather than a ‘slick salesperson’ to put them under pressure.
- There was no genuine customer retention or referral programme in place to continue the growth of the business
So, how can we combat the nervousness around the lack of showroom traffic?
- Set your sales team the target of having a minimum of TWO definite appointments per day in any given 7 day window. By that I mean two prospects who have agreed a specific date and time to meet with a salesperson and go through a structured sales process.
- Train your team in an up-to-date facilitation process that is experiential rather than transactional, helping customers to buy rather than overtly selling.
- Introduce a robust, well managed and measured referral programme, with individual targets for an expected number per customer.
- Introduce an effective post sales follow-up culture. Keep your sales team involved with customers throughout the ownership lifecycle.
- If you must prospect previous customers (and I guess you must if you haven’t got a-d above, in place) then spread the effort. Just set in place an activity of 2-3 per day. And remember, prospecting is all about finding the people who are willing to discuss changing their car – not to expect to sell to everyone you call.
It’s time for everyone to re-engineer their sales culture and the customer handling process to deal with a more informed customer and to maximise the opportunities that present themselves.
Greater effort needs to be made to create an ‘experiential’ process rather than the traditional ‘transactional’ process. A new improved culture of ‘facilitation’ should replace the ‘selling pressure cooker’ of the traditional ‘Road to a Sale’
Much greater thought needs to be given to the appraisal process, as prospects are now arriving with genuine information about their own expectations of how much the part exchange is worth.
The negotiation process needs to be more sophisticated than ever, and sales teams need to have exceptional knowledge skills and techniques to close more customers more often.
It is imperative that we update our sales culture to address the modern, knowledgeable, and more sophisticated prospects who visit our showrooms.
With a different approach we can steal a march on our competitors, improve our volumes and our profitability.
If you need any help with changing your sales culture or shifting the emphasis from ‘transactional’ to ‘experiential’ please do call on 01482 661177 or e-mail email@example.com