Product Knowledge – The New Training for the New Paradigm

Traditional sales training is crap. Sorry about that to 90% of the sales training companies out there, but I’ll tell you why.  When a customer comes into a dealership armed with more product knowledge than the salesperson that takes them as an ‘up’, almost all of the sales tactics that are taught are counterproductive, annoying, confrontational, irrelevant and just plain wrong.  The salesperson doesn’t need to practice ‘needs analysis’ or any other customer grilling technique – the salesperson needs to have ANSWERS; answers to the questions the customer doesn’t know, not the ones they already know.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘we don’t want order takers, we want closers’.  Well, the problem with this is that the path to the close is wrong.  Most of the taught paths-to-sale are based on ‘control’.  Forget about ‘control’.  You can close without taking control.  As a matter of fact, you have a much better chance of ‘closing’ if you don’t try to control anything UNTIL the very end.  Why?  Because with each technique used to take control, you end up alienating and irritating the customer so that they are now resistant to being closed.

Every question that is not satisfactorily answered makes closing that much more difficult.  Most automotive sales training actually creates this situation.  You can throw 90% of sales training out the window.  Replace that 90% with product knowledge and then hone the other 10% in closing techniques and you’ll have happier customers and happier salespeople.  The salespeople will be happier because they will enjoy their interactions with the customer far more and they will increase their sales along the way.

Here is the deal: The customer contacts a dealer for something they want (a vehicle).  You didn’t prospect them out of the phone book, they came to you. As a result, the sales techniques you are being taught are inappropriate to the situation. Remember: They came to you!

So, how do you make those customers want to do business with you? Look at all the aspects of your sales training and ask yourself ‘do these tactics make a person like me (you) want to do business with them (us)?’  In most cases the answer is NO!  Product knowledge will become the key ingredient. And I don’t just mean product knowledge of your brand, I mean product knowledge that transcends your brand and makes you a real ‘car guy (or gal)’.

Most sales meetings should be an exchange of information about the products you sell, not about how you ‘didn’t ask for a person’s name or some other ridiculous ‘correction’.  You want to make yourself and your crew the sales stars you wish you had? Make them the most informed and your sales training will actually have meaning.  Not only to how professional your organization is, but to your bottom line.

And, just to address what I think some of you may be thinking at this time, if ‘price’ is still your biggest issue at closing, you are doing something wrong.  You didn’t address how you arrive at price when this question first came up…that’s just one more piece of being a product expert.


About dealerite/in association with AP Level 4

National affiliations of professionals who are engaged in changing the culture of the automobile retail business. Associated with AP Level 4 and Edifice Group. These companies are bringing sustainable marketing which has proven quantifiable improvements in a dealer's market share performance
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3 Responses to Product Knowledge – The New Training for the New Paradigm

  1. Like “product knowledge that transcends your brand…”and the new stars are product knowledge gurus working at Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Hyundai theme parks where amusement pays well.


  2. Although your positions here are very strong Michael, your expression of the importance of product knowledge as a tool of leverage for top performers in Auto Retail Future as compared to Auto Retail Past or Present is absolutely appreciated!


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