Employee retraining tied to consumer experience

A Quebec-based company has launched a bilingual online sales training platform to help dealers across the country improve performance and profits.

Relationship selling is a key factor in achieving success within the automotive retail industry — and employee training is at the core of it, according to Robert Levesque, President and Owner of Levesque Academy.

“The first thing to get slashed in a dealership or OEM budget is the training budget,” said Levesque, in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “When things slow down the first thing to go is the training when in fact it is the most important part. This is because today’s consumers are more educated and more informed than ever before.”

Levesque has been working in the auto industry since 1984, first in the retail space and then in consulting. His academy is based in the municipality of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! in Quebec, although his services are anything but a joke. The academy offers training, management and coaching to companies across Canada geared towards helping them grow their business at a “reasonable and affordable cost,” said Levesque.

“Studies have shown that on average dealers spend 64 times more on driving traffic through the door, than they spend on training their sales people handling this costly yet profitable traffic,” said Levesque. “Why spend such a large amount of your budget on bringing people to your showroom just to have mediocre sales people ‘serve’ them?”

In his experience, the greatest ROI is seen when dealers combine initial training with post-training support. This is because around 85-90 per cent of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days, according to ES Research Group. A 2015 report from Aberdeen also shows that when post-training reinforcement is introduced, 34 per cent more first-year sales representatives achieve the quota that was set for them.

On the consumer side, 80 per cent still consider a conversation with a salesperson to be most useful when gathering information at a dealership, according to a 2018 Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study. The report also reveals that 80 per cent consider the interaction with a real person (a friendly relationship with the dealer) to be very important.

It’s one of the reasons Levesque Academy launched a bilingual, online sales training program in February. “The idea is that, for $20 a month you can access first-class bilingual sales training and coaching with no contracts or term obligations,” said Levesque. The platform is “meant to help sales people of all skill levels, as well as to help dealers, offer very affordable post-training support to truly maximize the ROI of their training dollars.”

The platform includes an easy-to-use interface where users can register, browse and complete courses with printable certificates. They also offer other printable tools, coaching, webinars, podcasts and videos with industry leaders and professionals, and access to an online community/peer group.

Some memberships also allow sales reps to connect with Levesque directly for one-on-one training or online group training. The training approach is based on relationship selling.

Levesque said the low cost of the platform will help users take ownership of their selling skills and cover the cost on their own — allowing the dealership to improve performance and profits, while also reducing training costs and employee turnover.

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