The two biggest obstacles used car sales persons face now – and have for decades – are credibility and product knowledge. Outside of politicians there is probably no other profession with less credibility than the used car sales person. No matter the franchise or the reputation of the dealership, consumers innately distrust the used car sales person. One reason is simply historical, another is lack of product knowledge on the part of the used car salesperson.
But in reality there is no way a used car sales person can know even minimal product knowledge on all makes, models, and options on vehicles going back 10 or even five years. There’s simply too much data to retain. Manufacturers know the value of product knowledge and even require new car sales persons to be certified in product knowledge testing. But who trains the used car sales person on product knowledge? No one. That’s a big reason for lack of credibility.
Every year there are more than 18 million used cars sold private seller to private buyer. What do these private owners have to work with in selling over 18 million vehicles each year? Not a large display lot at a dealership with the facility, the sign and the location, not the advertising and not the sales staff. They have display at the local auto fair or the shopping center parking lot. They have digital advertising (Craigslist, eBay,etc.), but most impactful is they know the story, the history, on every vehicle. Therefore they are credible. They have the product knowledge on their vehicle – completely.
Many dealerships for many years have constructed “Evidence Manuals” or “Why Buy Here” books to inform customers why they should buy from their dealership. But before the customer decides to buy here they must first decide what to buy. Why don’t dealerships have a “Why Buy Me” evidence book? Good question. The answer is that it is very labor intensive to do this on all the makes and models for years and the inventory changes every month, so it is an ongoing labor-intensive issue. Many dealerships are running lean as it is and adding a labor intensive task just doesn’t get done. Or, at best, it is started and then dropped.
As my good friend, Tim Deese, has stated at the Digital Dealer Conferences, “Every used car has a story, but if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” Conversely, if you can tell it, you can sell it.
So what is selling with a story? It’s selling pre-owned vehicles with the story on every vehicle in every presentation. It’s having a printed professional story presentation on every pre-owned vehicle on the lot (and an Internet version for the online shopper) and used by every sales person. When customers see credible printed information (professional trade reviews, technical specifications, owner reviews, vehicle history reports, etc) the credibility gap narrows. When customers ask product knowledge questions and the sales person can answer all questions with information, the credibility gap narrows even more, often closing completely.
What happens when selling with a story is implemented into the dealership processes?
- First time closes increase, gross per retail increases, closing rate increases, unit sales increase
- Service department gross increases, commission increases, turnover decreases.