As with most professions, there’s often a vast divide between the things car sales training teaches a new rep and the things they actually need on the job to be competitive, let alone successful. As a manager, it’s critical to understand that if you’re taking new blood under your wing—which can be a very lucrative thing to do—they probably won’t do very well if you throw them into the water and let them figure out how to swim.
New car sales professionals may think they know what it takes to succeed, but frequently they discover that closing deals aren’t as simple as they may have thought it would be. Fortunately, with a little ongoing car sales training, they can quickly learn some of the tricks of the trade that may have taken others months or even years to figure out.
Here are some things a new hire may not yet know, but probably should.
1. Name that customer
Perhaps the first thing that car sales training should mention is to learn and use a customer’s name. People appreciate—often unknowingly—being called by name. It creates a closer connection, drops some of the formalities of professional transactions, and helps them put down any guards they may have up.
2. Be an active listener
One of the most common mistakes made by new car sales reps is that they talk when they should be listening. Remind them not to assume they know what a customer wants or needs. They should ask questions, listen carefully to the answers, and steer the conversation from there.
3. Don’t skip the small talk
To that same end, make small talk skills part of a new hire’s car sales training. They should forget about the sale for a minute and focus on getting to know the customer. What motivates them? What interests them? The better they know a prospective customer as a person, the better a sales rep will be able to serve them.
4. Solutions, not sales
Though it may seem counterintuitive to them, teach your new reps to focus on solutions, not sales. What does a customer need? What are their pain points? Solve for those, and the outcome will frequently be not only a sale but a sale to a happy, potentially-repeat customer.
5. Be a product expert
New salespeople will take a little time to become complete experts on your products, but the quicker they can do this, the more success they’ll find on the lot. The fewer times a new hire has to pause a conversation to get an answer from a manager, the more confident a customer will feel.
6. Understand pricing
A lot of car sales training will focus on price models, but it doesn’t necessarily teach the new rep that they’ll need to research their local markets. Inventory often dictates price, as does locale, so knowing what’s competitive, what’s fair, and what kind of wiggle room they may have for negotiation is critical to seeing more people driving off with new wheels.
7. Use technology
Between the changing work world of the pandemic and the fact that incoming salespeople will likely already be quite a tech savvy, a new hire’s sales training program should include a run-down of your auto dealer CRM. Using a system like AutoRaptor will help put even your greenest sales reps at the head of the competition.
8. Practice honesty
Encourage your sales reps to always be honest and never make promises they can’t keep. Dishonest sales tactics are an unfortunate stigma of the pre-owned vehicle industry, and perpetuating that—even if it does result in a sale—will surely be less lucrative in the long run.
9. Focus on the positive
It can be tempting for a new hire to disparage competitors to make your dealership look better. Address this in car sales training. Teach them, instead, to focus on the positives of what you have to offer, and never refer to a competitor unless doing so is necessary to respond to someone adequately, and even then, tell them not to throw competitors under the bus.
10. Follow up
Just because they’ve made the sale doesn’t mean they can forget the customer. In fact, it’s common to close deals with existing customers, and often easier to do than with new customers. Teach new hires to follow up after a sale and to stay in touch for the next one.
11. Keep learning
Finally, it can be helpful to remind new reps that their car sales training will never be finished. They should always be learning, always be willing to learn, and always looking for opportunities to add to their talents and skillsets. There’s no profession where someone starts in their 20s or 30s and then doesn’t have to adjust their processes regularly throughout their careers. The world changes faster and more frequently than it did in past generations. Staying on top of those changes, embracing them, and building on them may, in fact, be the very best way to always—whether experienced or not—be a closer.
Add even a few of these to your car sales training and your new reps will flourish.