Wednesday, June 12, 2013

David Slone Discusses the New Breed of Automobile Sales Professional

Remember the days when car salesmen were considered as untrustworthy as lawyers? There was a time when auto salesmen were at the bottom of the barrel. You lost all credibility the minute you identified your chosen occupation. That perception may still be around for some, but fortunately, times are changing!

Car salesmen now stake their careers on their integrity. The “sale” has turned into a “connection.” The “pitch” has grown to a “dialog.” The “one-time sale” has become a “long-term rapport.” As in any profession, there are still bad apples; however, it is now much easier to find a good car sales person.

There are a number of reasons this evolved. The Internet has empowered anyone to research everything about their new car. Dealers have had to become more transparent. The economy has thinned out almost anyone who cannot adapt. Car salesmen (and salesmen in general) have had to step up their game or find a new profession.

In the past, the consumer was at a real disadvantage. There was no way that a customer could be well-informed about what they are doing. The salesman had all the cards and could get away with saying anything. Today, the consumer is much better informed. Many consumers know as much or more about the car they want than the person who greets them on the lot. This has forced salesmen to be better.

To be successful, a car salesman has to be good with people, know his product and know his competition. Most people shop online before going to the dealership so they already have a good idea of what they want. They are looking for the right person to work with. They already know how much they should pay. The salesman better know his pricing. He has to know why his car is priced as it is and how it compares with his competitors. He has to know why his car is actually worth more to the consumer than a less expensive substitute offered by a competitor or on-line.

These changes have made the automobile business more professional and more fun. To be successful today, you can't just be lucky, at least not for the long term. You have to be smart, on your game, competitive and professional. That makes it fun and that makes it a challenge. Only the best will rise to the challenge and have the courage to stay the course.

More dealers are choosing to be transparent in the way they deal with their customers. Instead of using a sharpie and running back and forth to the mysterious guy smoking a cigar in the back, many dealers are opting to give their customers a professional presentation of all of the options. Most consumers today like choices. The smart dealer recognizes this and caters to it.

Consumers today have many choices when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. There are the obvious choices, the model, the color, the miles and all of the options, but that is just the beginning. Financing options abound today and the consumer knows they are out there. They expect you to be informed and ready to offer the best options that apply. Their choices include the bank, credit union or leasing company, different types and terms of financing, various interest rates, extended service contracts, GAP insurance, innumerable aftermarket options and much more. A professional salesperson has the ability to communicate all of the options and the benefits, or pitfalls, of each in a way that makes the purchasing experience a pleasure and not a nightmare.

Over the past few years, I have seen a pride and professionalism developing in the automobile industry and in sales in particular. That is exciting. Young, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial men and women are joining the ranks of car dealerships all around the country. Many of those who have been in the business for years are feeling the excitement and getting re-energized themselves. The automobile sales professional is quickly becoming a career that is respectable and dignified. Not all dealers are adapting to "the new way of doing business" but the ones who are will reap the benefits and so will their customers.

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