Consumers want product experts, not salespeople

There is a major barrier that dealers today have to contend with—the fact that
consumers come to the dealership armed with more knowledge than ever.
When the amateur knows more than the professionals on your lot, it’s diffi cult for
salespeople to develop trust and add value.

Wanted: Product Experts
The average customer conducts about fi ve months of research before visiting
a dealership. Information available on the Internet and the ubiquity of mobile
devices mean consumers can access all the information they need about a car
anytime, anyplace—including your showroom.
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According to a Nielsen/ survey, 83 percent of consumers have a
smartphone in their pockets when they walk into your dealership. That means
even when they’re in your showroom, they’re able to access information not
immediately available to the salesperson. That makes it nearly impossible for
your salespeople to build trust and add value.
The fact is that today, consumers don’t want salespeople; they want product
experts. Salespeople tend to be very knowledgeable about models in general but
not necessarily about specifi c units. But consumers already know about makes
and models. You have to talk about why the cars on your lot are preferable to the
ones offered at a nearby competitor.

Why Buy This Car?
Used car buyers in particular have done their research online and have already
made the decision to visit your store to see a specifi c vehicle—for instance, a
BMW 328i. Unlike new car buyers, they didn’t come to your store because you
sell the BMW 3 Series. They came because they found a particular 328i on your
website and they want to know why they should buy the one on your lot today. So
when your salesperson starts talking about the benefi ts of the 3 Series in general,
the used car buyer is thinking, “I already know this.”
That’s why it’s critical for dealerships to equip their staffs with the insights that
consumers already have. Your salespeople have to be instant experts on every
car on your lot. They have to be able to demonstrate why the BMW 328i on your
lot is better than the one a mile down the road that’s $1,000 cheaper.
The only way to build that value and trust to reach today’s car shopper is to adapt
your processes.
Here’s a news fl ash for you: car shoppers don’t want to talk with salespeople. Not
only do they come to your dealership armed with more knowledge than most of
your sales staff, they simply don’t trust auto dealers. Yet too many dealerships
continue to stick with the old ways of trying to close the sale.

Lack of Trust
According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 91 percent of consumers said they don’t trust car
salespeople. So they do what any wise person would do—they try to negotiate
as low a price as possible or they walk away. Salespeople have been trained to
negotiate to close the sale by discounting or else take a hit on their closing rates,
in effect offering a “double discount.”
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It’s that focus on “always be closing” that is keeping dealerships from building
trust and adding value. When a shopper enters your dealership, they already
know what they want. They’re simply there to fi nd out why they should buy
that particular car from you. But before they can get any of that information, a
salesperson is usually hounding him or her for their phone number. No wonder
the customer’s fi rst reaction is typically, “Slow down. You’re moving too fast.”

Product Specialists Needed
That approach doesn’t foster trust or communicate value to the consumer. That’s
because too many sales staffs aren’t equipped to collect customer information
without sounding like the creep in the bar.
If you stick with the old ways of trying to close the sale, you’re not building trust or
adding value. That’s why dealerships need to convert their salespeople to product
specialists. How do you do that?
We’ve discussed the reasons why your sales staff needs to demonstrate its
expertise on every unit in your dealership. Here’s how successful dealerships are
doing just that.
Mike Anderson Auto Group has been able to close sales without double
discounting and taking the subsequent reduction in gross profi ts or closing rates.
They did this by proactively building value into every car. How?
• They sold consumers on specifi c units—not on the model alone.
• The sales team proactively pointed out the differences between their units
and their competitors’ instead of waiting to be asked by the consumer.

The Right Tools
Essentially, Anderson armed its staff with the tools to become product experts
instead of salespeople. And it’s not just about building value—it’s also about
developing trust in your process. Remember, consumers inherently distrust car
salespeople. But by taking a proactive approach, Anderson created a sense of
“transparency” in the process.
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Tools like MAX Digital Showroom allow salespeople to search for specifi c stock
or VIN numbers and access detailed vehicle information—including packages,
MSRP values, and certifi ed information—all of which helps you sell on value
rather than price.
Salespeople can email this information directly to customers while they’re on the
lot so they can view it on their own devices. Anderson’s sales team was able to
develop trust by sharing this information with customers versus simply telling

Amazing Results
In the end, Anderson no longer had to discount to get the deal closed (or if they
did, the discounts were signifi cantly smaller). Because the salespeople provided
detailed information proactively and offered a sense of transparency, customers
were confi dent that they were getting a good value at the asking price. As a result,
Anderson raised its pre-owned gross profi ts by more than $700 per car.
The old ways of closing a sale are no longer relevant. Today, you have to build
trust and value into every car on your lot. That’s what Mike Anderson Auto Group
has done, and the results speak for themselves.


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