For decades, the unofficial motto of the auto industry seemed to be “we’re for anything but change.” Then the pandemic threw our “normal” sales process into a tail spin. Seemingly overnight, dealership floors turned into ghost towns and the sales process moved online.
While some dealerships are in states that are now open with decent traffic in their showrooms, that is not the case for many others. How can a salesperson adapt and thrive in this new retail environment? Embrace online channels and enthusiastically develop a personal brand.
If you’re rolling your eyes right now it’s likely because you’ve always laughed at the idea of branding yourself. I get it. You’re used to customers coming into your store, or running into them at Starbucks, or chatting with them at your local café. That traditional way of doing business isn’t happening much right now. We all hope normal social activity resumes quickly. But even when it does, you can expect new contactless ways of doing business to stick.
People like researching and shopping online. It’s fast, easy, and convenient. If I’m a salesperson looking to adapt and become a top producer today, or a sales manager seeking to help my team expand their virtual selling skills, here’s what I would do:
Develop a personal brand.
A personal brand is simply how you promote yourself. It gives you the opportunity to highlight your strengths and it helps customers believe they know you, and people have much higher trust in those they feel they know. A personal brand also helps you stand out from everybody else and makes you memorable.
Your brand is not all about selling. It’s about identifying your target market, what is important to them, and how you can help. Once you identify who you are and what you have to offer, it’s much easier to build credibility and authority with every customer interaction.
Get comfortable on video.
It’s well known that people struggle with public speaking. Most also struggle on camera. They don’t know where to look, what to do with their hands, or how to adjust the lighting. The wrong tone, address, or even facial expression can offend a customer in seconds. Practice is key. Make a variety of videos and share them internally before you send them to customers.
Consider hiring a virtual or on-site expert to provide video training on a monthly basis, or as needed. An expert can share the most up-to-date practices and pinpoint areas for improvement.
Create social media accounts.
Part of personal branding should include having social media accounts on the social networks where your audience spends their time. You can start by experimenting on one or two, such as Facebook and YouTube. Share content that is useful, thought-provoking, or just entertaining. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as your customers “go to car expert” with social media videos showcasing vehicle safety features, financing tips, weather related service tips, and more. The opportunities are endless.
Very few dealers currently use TikTok, which means you should get on board now. It’s a great platform to reach first-time drivers, young families, and Millennials. This 60-send TikTok video showing how to use park assist in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class has already been watched 48,000 times. Can you do something similar?
As more companies gravitate towards video to interact with customers, new technology has emerged to help. Many platforms now offer video hosting, video analytics, and personalized video creation. It’s key that any technology integrate with your CRM so that you can track interactions and conversations. A flexible, open CRM should allow you to work with third-party providers of your choice so you can elevate your video strategy.
Change is coming fast and furious to our industry. I believe this is a blessing in disguise, especially for enterprising salespeople. Embrace the opportunity to create your personal brand and leverage video and social media to reach more customers, generate more leads, and close more sales.