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Biggest danger for car dealers reopening is loss of showroom skills after a year of mainly selling remotely

Time 4 months ago

Car dealers must be aware of the skills they’ve gained and those they may have lost as they prepare to reopen showrooms to the public next week.

Although the industry has taken great strides to improve in a digital arena, training specialists Martec have warned that the best sales teams will be those that can perform across all different enquiry streams.

‘The biggest danger is that the skills dealers used to have in the showroom may well have been diminished,’ warned Martec Europe managing director Neil Pursell.


‘Just as much as they need to make sure that they’ve learned these lessons from the last few months, they also need to revisit the lessons that they used to know to make sure that their customer experience is absolutely solid when the customer comes in.’

Sales director for Martec Europe, Craig Redford, explained that car dealers need to acknowledge how these digital changes impact the customers who do come into the showroom, with dealers set to reopen on Monday.

The pair appeared on Car Dealer Live to discuss these new consumer attitudes and how salespeople may have also changed due to different selling conditions in the past year.

Many car dealers will have preconceptions about the different types of customers they get in showrooms, but come April 12 Redford predicts that those who want to visit the dealership should be in a better position to buy.

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He said: ‘Essentially, the customers who come in will have been appointed whether it’s on the phone or online.

‘The people who enquire online, you’d like to think the salespeople have heightened their behavioural skills to actually realise their customers are in a much better place than they were a year ago.’

30 years

Martec Europe is currently celebrating 30 years since it was formed in the UK and over that time it has worked with many major dealer groups and car brands.

It was first established in 1967 in Australia, specialising in automotive sales training, and branched out to Europe in 1991.

The team has since worked with businesses to help them improve their processes using both well-established training and software solutions.

As part of its celebration, Redford has been interviewing business leaders they’ve worked with over the 30 years to discuss some of the vital things they learnt. You can watch more on Martec Europe’s YouTube channel or by clicking play on the video below.

Pursell added: ‘Are there any constants that we can talk about from those 30 years? It really is that there is always going to be change.

‘Whether it’s a huge change or whether it’s a relatively minor change is almost irrelevant.

‘You’ve got to keep your eye on tomorrow as much as today to make sure you’re maximising your opportunity.’

He explained that while email was sometimes a poorly managed enquiry channel a few years ago, when Martec first came to Europe the phone was a new way of selling that car dealers weren’t set up for.

He said: ‘The dealerships’ habits were all centred around how to deal with customers in the showroom and the telephone was the new big thing.

‘We tackled how to convert a telephone enquiry into a sale and over the years we’ve developed, changed and evolved new strategies, which now cover things like email.

‘You’ve got to keep your eye on tomorrow, as much as today, to ensure you’re maximising your opportunity.’

Redford added that dealerships need to evolve in a changing market and only the fittest will survive.

Evolution

While the pair stressed that digital isn’t a new way of selling, but rather an accelerated version of the sales tactics seen pre-pandemic, they explained that the best businesses will be the ones that adapt to a changing market quickly.

‘Businesses that are adaptive, flexible and have the will and want to develop their business and people in different ways, to keep up with the evolving industry will be the ones who survive and do a fantastic job,’ said Redford.

‘Survival of the fittest or whatever we want to call it. Organisations that are in a place that can do that will do really well.’

He added: ‘There will be some businesses who have adapted during the pandemic, but maybe haven’t made the switch to digital in the same way these other companies have.

‘They may find some of their salespeople do struggle with this multichannel opportunity coming in.

‘It’s imperative that the sales managers, transaction managers and even the managers above them are driving that performance on the enquiry channels to ensure that their team is on point as best they can and giving the customer the best experience they can, whichever way they’re coming in.’

Dealerships that embrace the changes on all enquiry fronts will see the best results, and managers should be making sure their whole team is at peak performance in with each lead type.

‘We’ve always known that really good, high performing dealerships maximise the enquiries that they get and they really work hard to exploit each of their sales channels,’ added Pursell.

‘What we’ve got now is a new sales channel, a digital sales channel, which as Craig mentioned isn’t brand new but it’s suddenly accelerated.

‘So managers these days are going to have more to focus on and I think that sort of plugs into the idea of high performance teams that have to focus in lots of different areas all at the same time.

‘A manager is going to need to ensure their sales people are at the top of their game in the showroom, telephone, on email and video.

‘This should mean customers are getting a better and better level of service regardless of where their enquiry starts.’

Personality

Martec Europe said that they have also been changing, offering different approaches based on the size of the dealer group they’re working with.


Pursell explained that they’ve found the personality of the business is really important, and something customers use to differentiate between different brands.

‘Fundamentally, we believe there’s a future for all different groups and sizes of dealer organisations,’ he said. ‘Providing they’re really good in their environment – whether that’s national or regional.

‘We believe there is a place for both those dealerships. It will be determined by the customers as well.

‘Taking on that focus, we make sure the culture of a business is part of all of those processes we help managers take onboard.

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‘If you’re a relatively local organisation with only one brand then you have something to say to your customers, in the same way that a multinational does.

‘We believe we need to embed that DNA of the organisation into training.’

For more information call 0333 323 1088 or visit martec.co.uk

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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