To train – or not to train – is not the question according to automotive advertising agencies who understand the importance of investing in the people part of the sales and service process by providing training before, during and after the sale. Training has often been considered as an afterthought by auto dealers who have enjoyed the luxury of having more customers than cars with a never ending supply of salespeople and service writers who earned a higher than average income for their efforts. Today’s consolidating auto industry has changed the math for auto dealers who now have to deal with shrinking sales volumes, reduced profit margins and the resulting loss of a ready willing and able sales and service staff whose incomes have been reduced along with dealer profits.
Automotive advertising agencies have always been tied to their auto dealer clients bottom line – whether they knew it or not – and today’s automotive advertising agencies are realizing that their areas of responsibility do not stop at the front door of the auto dealership. Automotive advertising plans geared for the Internet using digital marketing platforms coupled with internal sales and service processes powered by integrated technologies provide efficiencies that allow auto dealerships to operate with reduced budgets and support staff in sales and service.
Unfortunately, many auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies have been operating with the false sense of security that the people aren’t as important as the technology and/or the processes that they have applied to replace them. That is as untrue today as it was yesterday. People still like to do business with people that they like and human nature has survived on the world wide web. The real solution for auto dealers forced to operate with fewer sales people and service writers is to train them in the use of the new technology, however, not at the expense of training them in understanding human nature and proven old school best practices to sell a car.
New technologies and automotive advertising applications include training solutions that offer efficiencies similar to other sales and service processes that have been applied to reduce expenses for auto dealers. However, even the best training system can’t teach someone to be a nice person and/or to place their customer’s interests ahead of their own. These applications must be coupled with people skills that are best hired vs. taught and they start before the sale or even the hiring of the sales person or service writer ever begins.
Internet based applications like Hire The Winners help human resource departments sort through applicants in the hiring process. Their focus is on personality traits and people skills surfaced in a series of videos posted on a site that is linked to help wanted ads. This screening process allows the auto dealer to determine how the applicant will react to various real world scenarios in the sales and service process. Applying this filter before investing in training and lost sales opportunities caused by a bad hire provide an R.O.I. that can be easily verified with improved employee retention, C.S.I. / S.S.I. scores for the dealership and incremental increases in sales and service productivity by a well screened employee.
Similar advantages in training during the sales and service process can be applied by applications like DealerMouth that allow sales and service staff to promote themselves through their own websites hosted – and monitored – by the auto dealer to promote best practices. This ongoing training by senior management compliments the desire by the automotive advertising agencies to extend the reach and frequency of their online automotive advertising messaging beyond the auto dealerships websites and or third party automotive advertising platforms. Training by example is a proven practice that can be applied on the internet super highway in the virtual showroom much like it used to be applied in brick and mortar facilities.
Newly developing applications focused on enhancing the sales process with integrated training components are also in development. Applications designed for kiosk, desk top and even mobile platforms promise to support sales and service staff before, during and after the buying and shopping experience for customers. Providing sales people and service writers with best practices and word tracks to enhance the customer experience during their sales and/or service presentation will empower the staff by offering them relevant information to help the customer make a buying decision. In addition to increasing their individual productivity on a real time basis, there is a residual benefit of training the sales and service writer who will be better able to apply and retain the information built into their more consistent presentations to their customers.
Automotive advertising agencies are tasked with evaluating new technologies and automotive advertising applications to provide more for less for their auto dealer clients. The presumption that these technologies can – or should – replace people in the process is misguided if it doesn’t increase the productivity of the people that remain. Training will increase the R.O.I. that auto dealers receive from their staff. More importantly for automotive advertising agencies is that training will directly impact the auto dealers bottom line which is certainly part of the job description for automotive advertising agencies in today’s challenging auto industry.
Philip Zelinger is a former auto dealer principal with an earned reputation as a nationally recognized automotive advertising expert specializing in the technology sector. Philip shares best practices on the automoti