Dealership Success: What Did You Just Ask Me?

“Can this truck be flat towed?”

This, as just one example of a thousand questionsthat may – and sometimes should – come up when transitioning your buyers into EV’s….

For some salespeople, this could be a jarring question.  You don’t buy a vehicle on its ability to be attached to a tow bar or hitch and just roll along behind something else… but then, a business owner does have to consider – in advance – maintenance and repairs of their fleet both in terms of direct financial cost, and in down time.

It can seem a small thing – a statistically useless detail that gets absorbed into the business owner’s overall budget, not worth considering in the bigger picture.  To some salespeople, questions like this can even seem to be an aggravating waste of time – a foil to distract and derail the sales conversation away from just buying the darned thing.

But, then, what would that business owner actually do if – now – their vehicles couldn’t be flat towed?  First, they’ll be spending money on a tow-service.  Every time.  Second, they’ll be losing time – perhaps even a lot of it.  If their own fleet cannot be used to clear and return a downed vehicle, then it will always have to be a tow service company.  If their current tow company doesn’t have enough flatbed tow trucks in their fleet, this could lead to a greater down-time at the job site, rescheduling snafus, irate customers – this all spells financial loss to the business owner.  Especially if they didn’t know this detail going into the purchase.

It’s not to say that all EV’s have this issue.  To the contrary – some can be towed on two wheels, some do have a neutral mode that can allow for flat towing in short distances (though still not recommended)… there are options.

Electric Vehicles have differences that need consideration.  Questions from customers that can seem irrelevant or small may be borne of ignorance – maybe even over cautious paranoia – but cost to a business owner of improper planning can be so great, that it can cost a dealership a contract.  Lost sales of new inventory, lost service to new and existing vehicles – lost revenue from what might have seemed like a bottomless well.

The point here is to study up, and share.  We can call it self-development, maybe future-proofing – perhaps even survival.

The advent of EV’s a few years ago brought the typical dichotomy of tech:  a wave of immediate and enthusiastic buyers, coupled with hesitancy and anti new-tech naysayers.  Now, there’s a palatable push from the governments, industries, OEM’s – everybody is singing the songs of electric vehicles, and the salesperson is now getting it from all sides.  The push to get the EV’s sold and on the road.  The push from the general public to see that their local dealerships and service providers are going green, etc.  Between the salesperson and the business owner, there is a wealth of conversations to be had, all of which ultimately boil down to these two questions:  What is true vs what is hype/fear?  What is cost-effective, and what isn’t?

First, then, is the education on the part of the salesperson.  I won’t pretend this is easy, but the information is there, and is becoming increasingly more codified and available for the salesperson to learn.  More importantly, many existing and long-time contracted customers will also need to be re-educated.  In order to make a profitable transition into EV’s, changes to their existing budgets and dispatch/logistical planning will need to be made.  For the business owners who understand at least this fact, there will be a fair amount of fear – in my sales experience, fear either paralyzes the customer or has them running in the opposite direction.  This means you cannot wait for buying-time to explain, provide confidence, comfort and then close. 

Organization will be your key to achievement, if not survival. Now more than ever, a robust CRM that allows for multiple tiers of labels and tags and ways to categorize your customers into levels of educational meetings and conferences that can then be scheduled into simple tasks will be the lifeline for those who healthily survive this transition.  Randomly dumping the same level of information on all business owners will only lead to chaos and frustration, whereas being able to identify which businesses would benefit from a group lunch-and-learn vs one-on-one meetings can save the salesperson hours or even weeks, and can increase the volume of sales month by month.  Done right, this re-establishes the salesperson and the dealership overall as still the right choice for all of their – now EV – work truck and van needs. 

Once you have educated yourself, the right CRM and the knowledge of how to use it strategically is central.  Organize your buyers into what they need to know.  Schedule group meetings and your one-on-one’s based on this, and arrange your follow ups.  While the timetable to buy may not ultimately change, your level of interaction will likely need to increase for many of your customers.  Be sure that your CRM is strong enough to organize your customers and capable of scheduling appointments appropriately, and ask for help and ideas as needed.  

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