How to Deal with a Struggling Dealership Sales Team

April 7, 2021

There comes a time, in every dealership when a manager has to deal with a struggling sales team. Sometimes the challenges could come from economic conditions. Other times, the dealership or the sales team members should be addressing the issues. Either way, there are proven methods to help a dealership sales team get back on track. Here’s a look at 10 of the top ways to deal with a struggling dealership team.

How to Deal with a Struggling Dealership Sales Team

1. Make sure your sales team is listening to the customer

One of the biggest mistakes that some new salespeople make is that they don’t listen to their customers. Instead, they rush through their sales presentation and try to close without giving the customer time to speak. Some new salespeople think that “dominating” the sales presentation allows them to avoid having to deal with objections. A one-way conversation seldom leads to a sale.

A salesperson needs to allow the customer to speak so he can figure out what the customer wants. This allows the salesperson to gear his sales pitch to certain benefits that the customer is looking for. Listening to the customer allows the prospect to be as though she is getting the proper attention during her dealership visit.

Here’s an example: A prospect walks into the dealership looking at a two-row SUV. During the dealership visit, the prospect mentions that she has a large, older dog. The salesperson can mention that the SUV has low entry and exit points that will allow the customer’s older, big dog to easily get into and out of the vehicle.

Steps to take

  • Listen to the customer.
  • Take the information that the customer offers and adjust the sales pitch.
  • Mention a benefit directly related to information given by the customer.

2. Master the presentation of the vehicle

A good presentation of a vehicle can make a difference between a sale and a lost prospect. Therefore, the sales team members should know how to master the presentation of the vehicle. This includes having vast knowledge of the vehicle’s features, the competitive advantages that the vehicle has over other vehicles in its class, and the value proposition.

A sales team member should rehearse the presentation of the vehicle in order to sound confident in his delivery of the information. Also, the presentation should feel seamless as the salesperson moves from talking about the exterior to the interior and the safety and tech features of the vehicle. Finally, the salesperson should answer specific questions about the vehicle and expertly handle objections.

An example: The dealership gets a new mid-size sedan that is set to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. While this new sedan is not as popular as the Camry or the Accord, the mid-size sedan does offer a lower price and more attractive exterior design. The sales team member should master a presentation that emphasizes the vehicle’s expressive design and lower price against the top competitors in the segment.

Steps to take

  • Understand every unique feature of the vehicle.
  • Create a presentation that sounds confident and moves seamlessly from feature to feature.
  • Have the information and the poise to deal with any prospect objection.

3. Create a professional dealership environment

As the saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Therefore, the sales team needs to give an impression of friendliness and professionalism right from the start. Believe it or not, the professional dealership environment can begin before the prospect steps into the dealership.

The sales team should know how to use a clear and confident voice when talking on the phone to a prospect. Also, the sales team members should use clear and concise language when communicating by text or email. At the dealership, the sales team members should dress professionally and be sure to use professional language during the entire sales process.

An example: A sales team member gets a lead from the dealership manager. The sales team member leaves a professional-sounding voicemail. When the prospect calls the dealership, the salesperson is warm and friendly and invites the prospect to the dealership at her convenience. When the prospect arrives at the dealership, she is met by a well-groomed, professional sales team member.

Steps to take

  • Train sales team members to use professional language in texts, emails, and calls to prospects.
  • Ensure that the team members are dressed and groomed at a high level.
  • Train the sales team members to use professional language and presentation skills when the prospect arrives at the dealership.

4. Train your team to master a CRM system

Your sales team should be able to use the latest customer relationship management systems in order to better manage their leads and become more effective sellers. CRM systems are easy to learn and provide an almost limitless way to become more effective when it comes to managing leads.

What can a salesperson do with a CRM system? There are a number of applications. For instance, a sales associate can look at the specific information about the lead in order to better prepare for the sales presentation. The sales associate can find demographic information that provides valuable sales insights. This information can give a sales associate an edge when it comes to the time of sale.

An example: A sales associate is giving a lead for a prospect interested in a pick-up truck. From the information in the CRM system, he sees that the prospect lives in a rural area and is interested in a diesel model. This information allows the sales associate to do the proper research and be ready for his presentation when the prospect arrives at the dealership.

Steps to take

  • Training the sales team to use a CRM system.
  • See how the CRM system is affecting sales.
  • Monitor how the sales team uses the CRM system
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Check out Modera Automotive CRM.

5. Give your team copywriting and sales training

While there are some “natural salespeople,” ongoing sales training and education always helps. That’s why it is important that every single sales associate get the right sales training. In addition to mastering face-to-face sales, the sales associate should learn copywriting which will allow them to create emails and text messages that convert.

There are many ways that you can train your sales associates: You can register your sales team for online courses. You can also reimburse sales associates who take courses on your own. Finally, you can create your own course and hold classes in your dealership.

An example: A sales associate is having trouble turning test drives into sales. After some investigation, the sales manager discovers that the sales associate is having trouble dealing with customer objections. The sales manager puts the sales associate in a class that teaches advanced sales skills. After the class, the sales associate is able to better convert test drives into sales and leases.

Steps to take

  • Finding courses that would benefit the sales team.
  • Register the sales team for the courses.
  • Follow up to ensure that the sales team is using the information from the courses.

6. Identify each team member’s talent

Just about every capable salesperson has some sort of edge that allows them to make sales. A good sales manager should be able to identify what special talent a sales associate has and cultivate it. For instance, a sales associate may excel at creating email campaigns while another sales associate is excellent with luxury vehicle sales.

By finding a sales associate’s talent, you can better utilize that associate to spur more sales. For instance, a sales associate who is closing a higher percentage of luxury vehicles should get more leads from six-figure prospects. A sales associate who excels at copywriting should be tasked with writing more email campaigns.

An example: A new sales associate is uniquely talented in presenting vehicles and has a clear voice which would play well over broadcast media. The dealership manager finds out that she majored in television production in college. In order to capitalize on the sales associate’s unique talent, he has the sales associate produce videos presenting vehicles for the dealership’s social media accounts.

Steps to take

  • Identify sales associates with individual talent.
  • Give the sales associates more opportunities to utilize their talent.
  • Monitor the progress of the sales associate with the new approach.

7. Adapt to changing times

There are many businesses that tend to fall behind because they refuse to adjust to the times. It is important that you make sure that your sales team is up to date on the latest trends in automobile marketing. By finding the latest opportunities, your sales associates will be able to get more sales.

Where can you find these trends? Take a look at the latest social media platforms to see where your prospects are spending time. In the past several years, we have seen the emergence of several marketing channels including text messaging, push notifications, influencer marketing, and video marketing. By experimenting with these new platforms, your sales associates can stay ahead of the competition.

An example: You discover that many young people are now using Discord – a social media platform where people can converse through voice and text. You have the dealership start their own Discord server where sales associates can talk to prospects via text or voice about new inventory targeted towards younger drivers.

Steps to take

  • Discover new marketing opportunities.
  • Apply these new marketing opportunities to your dealership’s overall marketing mix.
  • Have sales associates participate in harvesting prospects through these new marketing channels.

8. Build your sales team’s confidence

There are many different types of salespeople who use a variety of approaches. However, the one common denominator of every successful salesperson is confidence. All of your sales associates should have the confidence to approach a prospect and feel that they can close the sale. Without confidence, your sales associates will not realize their potential.

There are several ways that you can help build confidence. First, have your sales associates attend confidence-building classes. You can also create mock presentations where sales associates can practice dealing with tough customers. Finally, offer reading and video materials that can help sales associates boost their confidence.

An example: A sales associate is uncomfortable talking over the phone because he is used to reading the body language of a prospect. Realizing the issue, the dealership manager holds “mock phone conversations” with the sales associate to help him boost his confidence with his prospect phone calls.

Steps to take

  • Create a curriculum of confidence-boosting courses and materials for your sales associates.
  • Identify specific confidence issues with individual sales associates.
  • Use mock situations to workshop the sales associate’s performance and boost his confidence.

9. Teach your sales team to sell more than the vehicle

A good sales associate knows that they are not simply selling a vehicle. In many cases, a good sales associate is selling the driving experience, the brand, the dealership experience, or the prestige of driving the vehicle. A sales associate needs to sell more than the vehicle to create a greater sense of value in the prospect’s mind.

A dealership manager should list all the things that a sales associate needs to communicate to the prospect. This should include the value of owning the vehicle over a longer period of time if the vehicle is known for reliability. Also, the sales associate should talk about the value-added benefits of buying from their particular dealership. This will make the prospect feel like they are getting more for their money.

An example: A sales associate is attempting to sell a luxury SUV to a prospect. The sales associate not only sells the benefit of the vehicle, she discusses the prestige of owning the vehicle as well as the top service offered by the dealership including free pick-up and delivery of the vehicle for scheduled maintenance and fast service turnaround.

Steps to take

  • Instruct sales associates to sell more than the vehicle.
  • Have sales associates list out all the value-added benefits of buying from their dealership.
  • Review the sales associate’s list and make any needed additions or adjustments.

10. Follow up with leads quicker

When it comes to sales, speed is important. How important? Prospects contacted in less than one hour are seven times more likely to become a qualified prospect. If your sales team is not quick to follow up on leads, then they are going to lose out on sales. The good news is that it is rather easy to get your sales team on the ball quicker.

A dealership manager should use a CRM platform to get leads out to sales associates quicker. From there, the sales associate should place a top priority on contacting leads right away. This will allow the sales associates to stay ahead of other dealerships who may take longer to get back to the prospect. During the follow-up call, the sales associate should answer any questions and schedule a test drive.

An example: A prospect sees a Facebook ad for the dealership and fills out a contact form. The contact information is sent to the CRM platform. Soon afterward, the dealership manager assigns the lead to a sales associate. The sales associate immediately calls the prospect and schedules a test drive.

Steps to take

  • Assign leads to sales associates.
  • Instruct sales associates to contact prospects within 60 minutes of receiving the lead.
  • Check the CRM platform to see if sales associates are quickly following up with their leads.

Summary of 10 Steps to Dealing with a Struggling Dealership Team

  1. Make sure your sales team is listening to the customer
  2. Master the presentation of the vehicle
  3. Create a professional dealership environment
  4. Train your team to master a CRM system
  5. Give your team copywriting and sales training
  6. Look at each team member’s individual talent
  7. Adapt to changing times
  8. Build your sales team’s confidence
  9. Teach your team to sell more than the vehicle
  10. Follow up with leads quicker

Creating a great turnaround story for your dealership sales team

Just about all dealerships face struggles when it comes to sales performance. By following the 10 steps above, a sales team can get back on track and experience increasing sales. A dealership with the right turnaround strategy should be able to thrive in any market environment.