Executive Summary: The winning automotive companies have big magic at the dealerships. They have highly-trained salespeople who understand the purpose, goals, products, and practices to sell effectively. In our research, we found that these companies care and invest in consistent, continuous, and detailed training. Often, a digital training solution is the key behind this magic. However, there can be many training challenges. Effective and consistent training can be difficult with a geographically-dispersed workforce. This blog explores these challenges in detail.
In the competitive world of automotives, car purchases have significant long-term implications. They demand high personal and monetary investments from customers. Today’s customers are more informed than ever. They conduct thorough research on various car models, features, and pricing options. As a result, salespeople must not only have deep product knowledge, but also strong persuasion and interpersonal skills. In this context, training becomes an essential component. It equips salespeople with the expertise and abilities needed to thrive in this demanding environment.
Yet, there are many training challenges in automotive retail. Picture this: an automotive company with outlets spread across a large country. There are multiple languages, cultural differences, and unique customer preferences. There are salespeople from different educational backgrounds, with varied motivation. Training retail salespeople in such a diverse landscape is daunting. There are various challenges to overcome. These can be geographical distance, language barriers, lack of standardized training content, and employee turnover.
Training challenges can also occur due to technological advancements. These can be frequent model releases, the multitude of variations within models, etc. Sales professionals must keep pace with these evolving technologies and stay updated on the latest features and advancements. This is important so they can effectively communicate with customers. Furthermore, different sectors within the automotive industry introduce price variations based on the features customers choose. For instance, a fully-loaded sedan with advanced features will cost more than a basic mid-size SUV.
Understanding the use case is crucial, too. Sales professionals must consider the specific city, usage scenarios, as well as terrain and road conditions. They must also consider whether customers are long-distance travelers or solely commuting to work. Individual or family usage further influences the selection criteria. This includes considerations like boot space, legroom, and comfort of seating adjustments. Providing accurate and comprehensive information is imperative. Even a single incorrect detail can create a negative impression and impact the sales process.
Moreover, the availability of several franchises in the automotive market results in competitive pricing. This requires sales professionals to stay updated about the latest rates and offers. Another layer of complexity arises from the choice between gear shifts, automatic transmissions, and different fuel options, such as Petrol, Diesel, or Electric Vehicles (EV). Understanding these intricate details equips sales professionals to effectively address customer needs. This is essential for providing an exceptional buying experience.
By investing in comprehensive training programs, automotive companies can tackle the training challenges. They can empower their sales teams to deliver exceptional customer experiences. This builds trust and lasting customer relationships. Training also ensures salespeople are well-prepared to exceed customer expectations. This way, automotive companies can provide a superior customer experience and build long-term customer loyalty. This ultimately leads to increased sales and revenue.
Investing in training and development yields 37% higher productivity (Kumar and Sharma, 2020). In the automotive sector, digital training solutions have gained popularity for efficient and cost-effective employee training. But first, let’s closely examine the training challenges in automotive retail.
People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.
However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.
What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.
RapL is your software for that.
Training Challenges in the Automotive Industry
The growing importance of automobiles has brought immense value to the automotive industry. For instance, in April 2022, India’s automotive industry surpassed US $100 billion. It made 7.1% of India’s GDP. In the USA, this reached a staggering $1.5 trillion!
There are millions of people employed in this sector. Thus, hiring, training, staffing, and retaining employees pose significant challenges. Here are some training challenges to consider:
Geography & Complexity:
- Wide-spread outlets
- Growing complexity of automotive technologies
- Large volume of training materials
- Language diversity
- Ensuring consistency
- Hiring difficulties
- High turnover of employees
- Maintaining motivation and driving engagement
- Limited attention span
- Limited training time
Leader & Trainer Challenges:
- Training costs
- Insufficient trainers
- Measuring effectiveness
I. Geography & Complexity
- Wide-spread outlets: Automotive companies may have outlets spread across vast regions. This training challenge makes it difficult to organize and conduct training programs in different locations. This can lead to inconsistency in training quality. This can affect sales performance. Overcoming this requires a paradigm shift in training solutions. Embracing digital strategies is essential to deliver training programs that are both economical and efficient, regardless of geographic barriers.
- Growing complexity of automotive technologies: Technological advancements in the automotive industry happen at lightning speed. Keeping up with these changes can be a significant challenge for companies training their salespeople. Salespeople must understand the latest technological features. They must also explain them to customers in simple and easy-to-understand language. Overcoming this training challenge requires commitment to ongoing training and professional development. Digital training solutions provide quick and efficient updates on new technologies. This can be effective in keeping salespeople up to date and knowledgeable, ultimately boosting sales performance.
- Large volume of training materials: Another significant training challenge is the large volume of training materials that salespeople need to grasp. From product specifications to financing options and market trends, the vast information can overwhelm them. Staying updated with evolving vehicle technologies and industry regulations makes it more difficult. Sales training programs must carefully structure the content. They must provide concise yet comprehensive materials, and leverage interactive tools to enhance comprehension and retention.
- Language diversity: With multiple languages spoken across India, language barriers can be a significant training challenge for automotive companies. Providing training content in multiple languages can be expensive and time-consuming. Finding trainers in all these languages can also be challenging. Overcoming this training challenge requires innovative training solutions that cater to diverse languages and cultures. For example, digital training tools that offer multilingual options.
- Ensuring consistency: Different trainers, languages, and delivery methods can lead to inconsistent training experiences. This training challenge leads to inconsistent sales performance. Overcoming this requires a standardized training approach implemented across all outlets. Digital solutions offer standardized training content, progress tracking, and centralized administration. This can ensure consistent training, regardless of location. Digital training solutions standardize training content across many locations. This is done by creating a centralized digital platform. Here, all training content, such as videos, quizzes, and assessments, is uploaded and made accessible to all employees. This ensures everyone receives the same information. The training content that can be updated and distributed easily. By prioritizing consistency, automotive companies can optimize their sales performance. This can help provide a consistent brand experience for customers.
- Hiring difficulties: The automotive industry demands sales professionals with a unique skill set. This includes product knowledge, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to close deals. Finding individuals who have all these qualities can be challenging. The struggle to find suitable candidates means that training programs often have to work with individuals who may lack the desired skill set or experience. This requires additional time and resources to bring them up to speed. This slows down the training progress. Moreover, high turnover rates in the industry mean that even after investing in training, there is a risk of losing trained professionals. Continuous recruitment efforts are required to combat this and maintain a competent sales team.
- High turnover of employees: Our research indicates that an excess of 30% of employees leave a dealership every 9 months! Employee turnover in dealerships can happen for various reasons. These include low job satisfaction, limited growth opportunities, and inadequate compensation. They also include poor management, and lack of proper training and support. High turnover rates can lead to increased costs, disruptions to training schedules, and inconsistency in training quality. Overcoming this training challenge requires a proactive approach to onboarding and training. Employees who receive proper training are 69% more likely to stay with a company for three years or more, compared to employees who do not receive proper training (LinkedIn Learning, 2021). Providing new employees with comprehensive training demonstrates an investment in their career, learning, and professional growth. Customizing the learning path to meet their requirements keeps them engaged and motivated. This ultimately yields better results. Additionally, leveraging digital training tools that offer microlearning, adaptive learning, and spaced repetition can provide ongoing training and support to all employees. This can improve retention rates.
- Maintaining motivation and driving engagement: Salespeople may become disengaged or demotivated during training. This results in suboptimal performance. Overcoming this training challenge requires engaging, interactive, and fun training. Digital training solutions that offer gamification, rewards, and recognition can boost motivation. They can incentivize salespeople to perform their best. Studies show that the inclusion of game elements (badges and leaderboards) led to an increase in persistence (defined by the number of learning tasks completed by subject). “Persistence”, here, is synonymous with engagement to the subject (S Ede, 2022). According to the Self-Determination Theory, motivation is enhanced when individuals have autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Gamification and rewards allow employees to have more autonomy and control over their learning. Recognition acknowledges their competence and contributions to the company. By incorporating these elements into their training programs, automotive companies can increase employee motivation, engagement, and performance. Additionally, regular check-ins with managers and ongoing feedback can help keep salespeople engaged and motivated throughout the training process, leading to increased sales performance. One great example is Cisco’s “Connected Recognition” program. Rewards for high performance led to a 14% increase in employee engagement and, in turn, a 6% increase in customer satisfaction.
- Limited attention span: In an era of constant digital distractions and information overload, holding learners’ focus can be difficult. Lengthy and monotonous training sessions are more likely to lead to disengagement and reduced retention of information. Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve highlights that 97% of information is forgotten within just 3 days if not reinforced or reviewed. This underscores the need to address the attention span problem with modern and effective training solutions.
- Limited training time: Time is a precious commodity, and with salespeople being pulled in different directions, finding enough time to deliver comprehensive training can be a significant challenge for automotive companies. Limited time can lead to incomplete or inadequate training, resulting in suboptimal sales performance. Overcoming this training challenge requires an efficient and streamlined training approach. Digital training solutions often come with microlearning, spaced repetition, and many other learning techniques. This ultimately improves their productivity and performance. For example, at XYZ Motors, salespeople can work long hours, and their schedules can be unpredictable. The training manager, Tom, deploys a mobile app that provides short training modules that can be accessed on the go. This enables salespeople to receive training during their downtime, such as during a commute or waiting for a client, without disrupting their work schedule.
III. Leader & Trainer Challenges
- Training costs: Traditional training methods, such as in-person training sessions, hiring external trainers, and providing printed materials, can be expensive and time-consuming. Overcoming this training challenge requires a shift towards digital training solutions that are more cost-effective and efficient. Platforms that offer customizable training content, interactive training modules, and progress tracking can deliver quality training while reducing costs.
- Insufficient trainers: The shortage of qualified professionals with expertise in sales techniques and deep knowledge of the automotive industry hinders the training process. High trainer-to-trainee ratios can result in diluted training experiences and reduced individual attention. Without experienced trainers, the ability to provide ongoing mentorship and personalized coaching becomes limited. This training challenge requires finding ways to attract and retain skilled trainers to ensure high-quality training that meets the specific needs of automotive sales professionals.
- Measuring effectiveness: Without proper tracking and measurement, it can be difficult to assess the impact of training on sales performance. The problem of measuring training effectiveness is compounded by the lack of visibility into ground staff operations. Managers or dealership owners may not know how training is being implemented or used effectively. This can lead to a disconnect between training and sales performance. Digital training solutions can help bridge this gap by providing real-time analytics and reports on employee progress and performance. This data enables managers to identify areas of improvement and make informed decisions. Without this visibility, automotive companies risk investing in ineffective training and losing out on potential sales. Overcoming this training challenge requires a data-driven approach that leverages digital training solutions. Platforms that offer progress tracking, performance metrics, and feedback loops can help measure the effectiveness of training and identify areas for improvement.
RapL worked with two leading automotive companies. We successfully implemented a digital training solution that is efficient and well-structured. Our solution resulted in a notable enhancement of their sales performance. The training modules offered were designed to be focused and time-effective. They included adaptive learning experiences, interactive materials, and practical scenario-based questions. This enabled employees to effectively retain knowledge, and apply it to their daily tasks effortlessly.
The training challenges faced by these companies included aligning their employees with the brand, keeping up with the latest sales techniques, and more. In this context, RapL’s digital training and productivity solution played a crucial role in helping these companies train their retail salespeople across the country and achieve better sales performance. Let’s take an in-depth look at the problem statements below.
Key Challenges Faced by Our Automotive Customers
1. Align employees with the brand: Employee misalignment with the company’s brand occurs when there is a lack of clear communication and training on the brand’s values, mission, and messaging. This can result in employees developing varying understandings and interpretations of the brand, resulting in conflicting messages and an unclear brand image. The message of a brand can get lost in translation at dealerships, leading to inconsistent customer experiences and negative effects on the brand. It’s important for dealerships to align their customer experiences with the brand’s message. This will ensure consistency and improve customer perception. This ultimately results in greater brand loyalty, increased customer satisfaction, and higher sales and revenue. For example, automotive companies are increasingly prioritizing environmental values and sustainability initiatives. Training programs that emphasize these values can help ensure that employees are knowledgeable and committed to promoting the brand’s environmental mission.
2. Train employees on the latest sales techniques of the organization: If retail salespeople are not trained on the latest sales methods, they may struggle to communicate product value effectively. This can result in lost sales and missed opportunities. Additionally, outdated sales techniques can create a negative customer experience, which can harm the company’s reputation. The complex nature of an automotive purchase adds an additional layer of difficulty to the sales process. Customers are often overwhelmed by the choices and options available to them, and the high ticket price can create additional barriers to making a purchase. Salespeople need to effectively communicate the benefits of the product, while also understanding the customer’s needs and budget constraints. Handling the complexity of this sale and staying updated about the competition is crucial for success in automotive retail. Salespeople must be up-to-date on product features, offers, policies, etc. to efficiently and effectively close a sale.
3. Build core competencies: If the company does not develop expertise in competitive knowledge, it may remain unaware of emerging trends, technologies, or innovations in the industry. This can result in an inability to keep up with competitors, which can lead to lost sales and declining market share. Additionally, a lack of knowledge about the competition can make it difficult for retail salespeople to effectively communicate the unique value of the company’s products to customers.
4. Train employees on product knowledge: Without comprehensive training on product launches and features, retail salespeople may not effectively sell new products. This can lead to lost sales and missed opportunities. Additionally, customers may not receive accurate or complete information about the products, which can lead to dissatisfaction and negative reviews. Failure to showcase the company’s unique technology can make it difficult to differentiate from competitors. Customers may not be aware of the benefits of the technology, resulting in lost sales. In addition, a lack of technical knowledge among retail salespeople can lead to incorrect or incomplete information being provided to customers, which can lead to dissatisfaction and lost sales.
5. Handle customer service requests effectively: Failure to manage customer service effectively can lead to negative reviews and harm the company’s reputation. Without comprehensive training, retail salespeople may not be equipped to handle customer inquiries or complaints, which can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. This can result in lost sales and a decline in customer loyalty.
In conclusion, training plays a pivotal role in overcoming the challenges faced in automotive sales. The rapidly evolving industry demands continuous learning and adaptation to stay ahead. It is important to address the specific needs of salespeople through targeted and efficient training modules. This way, companies can equip their teams with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively navigate the competitive landscape. Embracing innovative approaches, interactive content, and scenario-based learning can empower automotive sales professionals to thrive in an ever-changing market, driving success and customer satisfaction. RapL is a leading provider of digital training and productivity solutions. To know more about how RapL can enhance your training initiatives, contact us at email@example.com.
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