Automotive Blog

Job spec for a car salesman - a dying trade?

Salesman Jurassic

Over past years there have been lots of discussions about “Do we still need physical retail in a digital age?”.  Today, we know that we need to combine both worlds to give customers a seamless brand experience, customer satisfaction is the key to gain loyalty. 

Salesmen have the most impact on the overall customer experience and ICDPs’ customer research revealed that for customers who said they were extremely likely to recommend a dealership, that they were most influenced by the sales staff.  Equally however, quite a few respondents described their buying process as stressful, the salesmen did not respond to their requests or pay attention.  By looking at the consumer survey “European Trusted Brands 2015“, 77% of respondents said that they have little or no trust in automotive salesmen. 

Innovation pioneers like Apple and Tesla have already developed alternative sales concepts with outstanding success.  Both brands sell high quality products via similar shop concepts as well as similar customer management approaches – the main difference is the colour of the T-shirts.  The sales staff work as a team and support each other with the common aim to respond to the customers’ needs.  As the individual gets paid with a (almost) fixed salary, there is no internal competition within the showroom and employees experience good team spirit.  Due to the high level of brand and buying experience, customers are willing to buy their products without any discounts, and therefore sales are continuing to grow.  Is it only the hype about the brands and products, or is there a correlation between the buying experience and the sales volumes?

Simon Dixon, founder of Hyundai Rockar, adapted parts of the concept and refined others at his shopping mall outlet in Bluewater.  The staff working at the outlet are called ‘Sales Angels’ or ‘Rockar Angels’, who were especially recruited because of their team spirit and who have no previous work experience in the automotive sector.  The customer is in the centre of buying process, the buying process in itself is an experience, which is reflected by the customer feedback and the number of sales.  This success has led to the opening of a second outlet in Stratford.

Sonic – one of the largest dealer groups in the US – also created a similar concept for their stand-alone used-vehicle store in Denver.  The aim was to eliminate the “pain” points that car buyers typically feel during their purchase process and to make Sonic the preferred place to shop.  A key element to achieving this aim was to eliminate competition between staff by encouraging team spirit and team cooperation.  They recruited a team with non-automotive experience which is paid a good fixed salary and a bonus and this in turn is linked to an appraisal for the entire team.  The sales of EchoPark have grown compared to same-brand rivals and Sonic aims to grow EchoPark stores over more than 50 markets across the country.

Both concepts have adapted their sales tactics for new vehicles of a volume brand  in order to operate within a shopping mall or for used vehicles within a stand-alone outlet, and both have experienced amazing results.  It should also be noted that neither offer a discount.  This implies that sales are not only based on hype, but also that overall customer experience is really important to be successful, discounts are just not necessary.  This then leads to the question, ‘Do we still need certified salesmen or is this job profile outdated?’

Written by Martin Schomann

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