It seems like times are changing quickly in the automotive sales area.
Recent announcements include:
- Amazon has announced you can now, completely online, purchase a Fiat in Italy and the car will be be delivered to your home
- Bit Me Australia (bitme.com.au) will arrange for any new car to be delivered to your door for an obligation-free test drive without ever having to enquire at a dealership
- Carzoos has opened two used car shopfronts in shopping centres, with no cars on display
- EasyAuto123 in Perth is doing haggle-free pricing and 48-hour money back guarantees on a very different way of selling cars
- Tesla is selling cars direct to the public and bypassing the conventional dealership model.
So how long before we see the role of a conventional salesperson in a dealership become redundant? Or is it already redundant?
Every week I visit dealerships with conventional sales departments that wait, hopefully, for customers to roll through the doors, take a test drive, be happy with the trade-in price and then do the deal on the day.
If it doesn’t happen on the day I hear salespeople often get upset because they can’t get customers to answer their follow-up phone calls; their customers are always shopping their price seeking an impossible price we can’t do, or deciding to put their decision off for six months because the economy is ‘flat’.
But are they getting upset because people want something different, or is it just the game of sales?
Recently I was chatting to a friend who is a sales manager for a Flight Centre store in Sydney. Now if there was one sales job I thought would be redundant in 2016, it would have been a travel agent. But no; Flight Centre is cranking, even in a highly competitive, saturated online market!
So how do they succeed?
They know they aren’t going to make money from selling everyday Sydney to Gold Coast flights and accommodation packages so, instead, focus their attention on specialty tours, products and packages you wouldn’t be able to put together on the internet because you wouldn’t know where to look and what is good.
They are selling the sizzle, the wow, the unknown, the uncharted – the stuff you didn’t know.
That’s our job as a car salesperson and will be forever. To sell the sizzle of a new car via an outstanding test drive and presentation of the vehicle and give a price that is justifiable based on the value the customer sees.
I’m a big believer in the test drive. The touch, feel, smell and look of the car is the only thing keeping us in the game as salespeople; otherwise the whole process would be online. This is the only thing the customer can’t get online, so let’s focus on that and be flexible on the rest.
Even while Amazon are now listing cars for sale in Italy, more than 97 per cent of people surveyed by Amazon still want to collect their car from a dealership.
Will services like Bit Me, Amazon, Carsales.com.au and the next big thing make a change on the way dealerships run? Yes, for sure! But if you want to call them salespeople or customer service reps or product experts, we will still need people to introduce products to customers who are yet to touch, feel and smell them.
Let me encourage you to be realistic about what’s at the customer’s fingertips online (price, stock, reviews) and then excel in what’s not.
Dave Benson Â
Train Retail Sell System