Get real, dealer
A US guru believes car sales staff need an ethics makeover, writes NEIL McDONALD
AUSTRALIA’S car sales staff are, by and large, more ethical and professional than their US counterparts, according to global sales guru Tom Stuker.
Stuker, who speaks at the Australian Automobile Dealers’ Association conference in Melbourne this week, has been involved in most dealership activities, from retail sales and management to sales training and management consulting.
He is now considered one of the most dynamic trainers and speakers in the US automotive industry.
Stuker wants to change the consumer perception of car salesmen and women as untrustworthy.
He believes sales folk and dealers are their own worst enemies when it comes to their reputation.
They can join the ranks of the respected occupations by adopting some simple and commonsense sales methods, he says, such as following up calls, being easily available to customers and following through on requests.
‘‘It’s not just about the reactive side of the business but the proactive side — how to network customers to maintain and develop a continual growth of sales and income over a period,’’ he says.
Most car-selling practices are ingrained, and it’s hard to change bad habits, he says.
‘‘It’s the most important purchase after a home, but the sales approaches are not good. The public deserves sales people with higher standards.’’
Stuker has been visiting and preaching his views to the Australian car industry for 20 years, and has noticed some changes for the better locally.
‘‘I find the average Australian dealership and salesperson to be more ethical and fair dinkum than their contemporaries in the US,’’ he says.
‘‘There is more professionalism in the average Australian dealership — not necessarily street smarts, but professionalism.’’
Stuker says salespeople must also realise their customers have become better informed.
‘‘Today’s customers are not necessarily smarter about buying a car, but they are better informed. In the US, 92 per cent of people will go to the internet before they buy.’’
Stuker wants to make dealers see their sales people as assets, not just employees.
‘‘Dealers will have to start training their sales people and investing in them like assets, otherwise their businesses will suffer.’’
He also believes recruits should look at selling cars as a career, not just a job.
Ultimately, too, dealerships have to find a way to improve not only the buying experience but the ownership experience, through relationship building.
‘‘After all, we are in the customerservice business,’’ Stuker says.
The AADA conference yesterday.
Stuker plans to return to Australia in October to hold a 10-day training course in sales.