Congratulations!! You made it out of 2020 and the “Year of Covid”, into hopefully the much-needed greener pasture of 2021, the “Year of Somewhat Hopefully Back to Normalness”. There is no denying that 2020 was rough for everyone, whether you find yourself in the automotive industry or not. But just like any new year, we have the opportunity to start the year strong and make choices that will impact us for the foreseeable future. One of those opportunities is the understanding of how to become a successful car salesperson, and more importantly, how to be the best car salesperson YOU can be.
This past year forced dealers to adjust their standard business practices to comply with state mandates while contending with the additional pressure of helping shoppers feel at ease and safe. We’ve seen a dramatic shift towards virtual sales and the in-person shopping experience reduced from hours in-store to about 30-45 minutes, all the while operating on a skeleton crew. Yet, despite all of these barriers, many dealerships shattered year over year records in Q4 of 2020. These learnings will not only help us evolve as an industry but show the resilience of the dealership model. Selling cars has changed since we first started training dealerships in 1991, but we are committed to helping you learn how you can become a great car salesperson in 2021.
Tips to Succeed in Car Sales in 2021
Our founder, Alan Ram, once said that selling cars is not hard. Landing the Mars Rover or solving complex mathematical problems is. However, in the grand scheme of things, selling cars is easy. There aren’t a lot of barriers to entry into the industry, and if you do the basics well you can earn a good living. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take effort. You can’t just show up and expect the opportunity to come to you. Your success is defined by your actions. Successful car salespeople are successful because they do the things that unsuccessful salespeople aren’t willing to do. We can’t teach you everything about how to sell cars in this blog but we will go over a few standout things to make you that much more successful this year. Let’s get to it!
1. Understanding the Importance of Training
We live by a great saying here, “Training isn’t something you did, it’s something you do”. It’s of critical importance to understand this and truly believe it. We are automotive professionals, the key word being “professionals.” Let that sink in. Most professions of note (athletes, entertainers, doctors, lawyers, etc.) have some form of continuous training and learning as part of their career growth. You don’t do training once and then forget about it – it’s a continuous process to learn new skills to grow and succeed. The same is true for learning how to become a great car salesperson. You need to be motivated as a salesperson but also realize the importance of working for a dealership that values training and is invested in your success.
2. Practice, practice, practice
For training to be successful, you need to simulate or practice what you’ve learned. When we liken this to athletic training, it instantly makes sense to people. For example, in the MLB, each season teams spend a month and a half at training camp, where they simulate games so that when they go into the season they’re ready to kill it. Once the season starts, they take batting and fielding practice, EVERY day. And it’s not just the rookie’s or the new guys, it’s the reigning batting champions, gold glovers, Cy Youngs. Everyone is out on the field simulating game day actions because they know they need to be on the top of their game for game day.The same thing is true for us as salespeople in the automotive industry, we need to simulate interactions with customers via phone, internet, text, etc, so that when we get a real shopper in front of us, we know what to do and say. When salespeople practice they can adapt and be on top during any sales scenario. As our friend Dave Anderson says, until you’re perfect it’s not redundant.
3. Realize that Times Have Changed
One of the biggest tips we can give you for this year is to come to grips with the fact that the car buying experience has changed. Many people have gotten accustomed to doing everything online in the past 10 months and we foresee that trend continuing going forward. Dare we say, gone are the days of people just showing up and walking around and spending 4-5 hrs at a dealership on a Saturday afternoon. People are going to want to do as much as possible online, and you need to be ready for that. Make sure you understand your store’s email and text policies and procedures to make sure that you’re compliant. Also, familiarize yourself with online document signing tools and get comfortable starring in and sending videos. Speaking of, that is our next tip for you…
4. Make Video a Priority in Your Communication
Let’s face it, in today’s world, if you aren’t utilizing video communication, you are behind the times. Look how technology like Zoom changed the face of remote meetings. Communicating with standard text in a text message or email not only takes away nuances gained from tone and voice inflection, but it can also lead to misunderstandings.
We need to ensure that any and every interaction we have with a potential customer is a great one, and you can only imagine how much you’ll stand out from other dealerships when they put a face to the name. We’ve found that dealerships that use video email properly have an increase in response rate by 25% and an increase in show rates of 17%. Video is a crucial piece in learning how to to be a great car salesperson.
5. Hooking the Trade
Do you know one of the best ways to get a potential shopper in front of you? Hook the trade. We aren’t talking about “Do you have a trade? Oh you do, great! Bring it with you when you stop by and we will see if it’s worth something”. You need to really HOOK the trade and make this shopper feel like they can’t make any decisions before they bring their trade to you. When positioned properly, it is a proven tool to get shoppers to show. Want to know how to get customers as a car salesman, this needs to happen on EVERY. SINGLE. CALL.
6. Opening Up Inventory
How often do you have a shopper call in asking for one thing, and end up leaving your lot in something completely different? It happens all the time, right? This is why it is critically important to open up your shoppers to other vehicles they might consider rather than focusing on the one car they called in on. Your dealership’s inventory changes daily and even by the hour, so make sure you don’t get tunnel vision and only focus on what the shopper called in on. More than 8 out of 10 shoppers will switch cars from the original one they called in on, that is why opening up inventory is a crucial element in how to sell more cars as a car salesperson.
7. Know the True Goal of a Sales Call/Email/Chat
If we were to ask you what the goal of a sales call (or sales interaction) is, what would you say? Would you say the goal is to set an appointment? Well if you did, don’t feel bad, many other salespeople out there just like you have been drilled into submission thinking that is the case. However, the true goal of a sales call/email/chat is to get the shopper to actually show up to the dealership. As great as it is to get an appointment set (and we aren’t saying not to do this, you absolutely should be trying to set an appointment), the true goal behind what you’re saying and why you’re saying it to this shopper, is to get them to come see you and touch tile at your store. Wouldn’t you rather make a sale from someone you talked with and might not have set an appointment with, vs setting an appointment, and them never showing? Understanding this will go a long way in learning how to be a good car salesman. You can read more about this in our blog here.
8. Embrace a Proactive Mindset vs a Reactive Mindset
Have you heard of a “lot lizard”? The person or people at the dealership that stalks the lot, clings to the doors and windows just waiting for someone to show up so they could run out and start selling a shopper before they even get out of their vehicle? Then when no one is at the store, you can find them working on their tan standing outside, maybe smoking a cigarette or complaining about their fantasy football team? This individual is working with a reactive mindset. They are only reacting to what is happening around them. You want to know what you can do to get more customers as a car salesperson, become proactive in your day. When you don’t have a customer in front of you, work to get one there. Call your unsolds, database, or orphan owners. Film a video or two and be active on social media. Hop into our training and work on a few scripts or simulate with a co-worker or manager. Doing any of these things will lead to you closing more deals, versus waiting for random ups that may never come.
All in all, learning how to be a good car salesperson isn’t hard, it just takes some work. Anything worth doing is going to take some work. 2021 is a new year, and the first full year we can strive to become better in this new reality. From embracing training and simulation, hooking the trade, opening up inventory, and knowing the true goal of a sales call, we hope these tips for becoming a successful car salesman help you out and allow you to sell more cars. We also asked our followers for some sales advice – see their answers here.
Succeed in Car Sales With a Proactive Training Solution
We can help you become a successful salesperson in 2021, too. Just schedule a demo with us and see how our training and platform can help you succeed!