Today’s buyers want to purchase cars like they purchase everything else — simple, fast, and in a transparent manner.
With broad access to the internet, the days of distrust for the car-buying process are long gone, and in its place is a system that works in the buyer’s favor. Once a buyer visits one or two dealer websites, he or she can walk into a store armed with all the information they need to close the deal on their terms.
According to a study conducted by IHS Automotive in conjunction with Autotrader, the average car shopper spends more than 16 hours online researching before making a purchasing decision. Possessing valuable information, such as the car’s invoice price, dealer inventory listings, competing dealer bids and manufacturer discounts, puts the buyer in the proverbial driver’s seat.
This new breed of buyer requires a new class of seller – cue the rise of the product specialist…
Instead of trying to hard sell a prospective car buyer, a product specialist strives to provide information and insight and present themselves as a knowledgeable resource. These specialists create a low-pressure, more transparent atmosphere, helping move buyers along the sales process without making them feel rushed or overwhelmed. In the long-term, this position will be vital to increasing customer satisfaction and establishing sustained brand loyalty.
Finding the Right Candidate
The product specialist job title is a relatively new one, and management has their work cut out for them trying to find the right candidates for these jobs. Prospective employees may not be familiar with the job title, and their first inclination might be to move on to the next job listing.
Since that is a move away from the traditional role of a salesperson, that fact should be made very clear in the job description.
When trying to attract a broader kind of candidate, stay away from using sales jargon in the listing, as this can turn off applicants. Focus more on the fact that this position is bonus-based with set hours and focuses primarily on client relations, a world away from what dealers offer with a sales role.
Possessing the Right Traits
There is no single blueprint for what makes someone a successful product specialist. Candidates with backgrounds varying from sales, customer support, technology and service all bring something valuable to the role.
Owners and hiring managers may be unsure of what to look for in these candidates, so it’s important to consider these 10 traits that are essential to the position. The primary role of a product specialist will be assisting customers and answering any questions they have. Ideally, a product specialist should not only have a deep understanding of the cars’ technology and features, but they should also possess high emotional intelligence, presenting themselves as a credible, trusted advisor.
A product specialist’s main focus is fulfilling the customer’s needs – not trying to sell them a car so that they can receive commission. The candidate must be friendly, personable and trustworthy in order to establish a relationship with the buyer and guide them along the car buying process without losing their interest.
Knowing What to Look for in a Product Specialist
In our latest eBook, The Complete Guide to Hiring: Product Specialists, our Talent Coaches worked to compile a list of the critical factors dealers should look for when hiring a product specialist:
- Ability to be a sponge: If they know nothing about the car business, then they must be prepared to absorb information and put it to quick use on the showroom floor
- Aptitude to demo the vehicles: Must be comfortable using the vehicles and showcasing their features
- Knowledge of technology: Must be savvy to speak about tech and articulate the information to customers
- Provide great customer service: Willingness to learn and develop knowledge of how to help customers
- New to the industry: You want your employees to be molded within your system, not bring
oldbad habits to your dealership
Notice how the last factor suggests that looking for someone who is completely outside the industry is a good strategy to employ. When looking to hire a product specialist, don’t limit your recruiting to only those with automotive experience. As long as a candidate has the right attitude and personality, he or she could be the right fit for this new position.
This year, make a resolution to not let your dealership fall behind your competition when hiring your next product specialists.
Will your dealership be set-up for success in 2017?