5 Best Practices for Automotive Sales Managers
Automotive Sales Managers are responsible for building, cultivating and managing their Sales team. But what happens when you don’t have any new inventory and your Sales team is struggling? The silent enemy here is inaction. You need to continue engaging customers, building relationships and setting your team up for success when inventory rebounds.
Here are five new practices you can adopt to help your Sales team stay excited and engaged.
1Double Down on Product Knowledge
Thanks to the internet, your customers are more informed about vehicles than ever before. When they reach out, it’s with specific questions that they expect your Sales team to answer immediately and thoroughly. Can your team discuss each model down to the trim level? Are they walking the used car lot every day, so they know exactly what you have available? Customers often end up buying a different vehicle from what they originally wanted — especially if they need a vehicle now and pre-owned is the only option. Encourage your team to use downtime to study your product so they can be effective consultants for every buyer.
2Train on the Basics
New vehicles are virtually selling themselves today, with demand far outstripping supply. As a result, your team may need to brush up on their basic selling skills including desking, price negotiations and F&I presentations. They should also know how to follow-up on digital retailing leads. Make sure they don’t ignore what a customer has done online and ask for information that has already been provided. That’s a terrible customer experience and a waste of everyone’s time. Train your team to follow the customer’s lead and pick up in store where they left off online.
3Create New Phone/Email/Text Templates
When you’re used to selling hundreds of new vehicles a month and now have only 30 in stock, it can be hard to know what to say to new leads. Salespeople can often ignore leads simply because they don’t have any vehicles to sell. An effective way to discourage that is to give salespeople new phone, email and text scripts. They can use the scripts to engage with customers, explain the current shortages and what your store is doing to help. Inventory will rebound, and when it does, you want a full lead pipeline. Cultivating relationships with leads through honest conversations and helpful suggestions prepares you for when you have more cars on the ground.
4Invite Every New Car Buyer Into the Showroom
This may sound counterintuitive when you don’t have vehicles to sell, but as we mentioned before, people buy vehicles other than what they originally wanted all the time. Taking the time to listen to the customer and demonstrating that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get them into a new vehicle goes a long way towards creating a relationship that may pay off for years. Customers will see the same lack of inventory wherever they go. Instead of shying away from the issue, talk about the problem. Show them appropriate used vehicles that can get them through in a pinch or help them order a new vehicle directly from the OEM. Whether the customer decides to put off the purchase, drives away in a used vehicle or puts down a deposit and waits three months for delivery, it’s a win for your dealership because you now have a new relationship.
5Proactively Engage Your Database
In their downtime, salespeople should be proactive with the customers in your CRM. It’s important to personally connect with current and past customers beyond sending generic email and direct mail campaigns. My salesperson calls me every few months to check in and ask about the car. Even though I don’t plan to trade in for a while, I appreciate his follow-up and will more than likely call him first when I’m ready to buy. Other ways to engage include sharing short informational videos about vehicle features or new models or sending a quick note about upcoming Service specials. Make communications personal and relevant and you’ll stay top of mind with your customers.
There are many things an Automotive Sales Manager can do to be highly effective and push their team to succeed. These top five best practices are a great place to start and will help your Sales team increase productivity and ROI while slowing employee churn.