Vehicle presentations need to be saved

Vehicle presentations are on the verge of extinction. They not only need to be saved — they can be, through modernization.

The Gray Whale, the White Rhinoceros and the Siberian Tiger were once on the endangered list and have been miraculously saved from extinction. The vehicle presentation, however, is now on the endangered list.

For decades, a vehicle presentation has been the staple of almost any showroom sales process, if not the main event. Yet over the past few years it has diminished, and in many dealerships it has disappeared completely. Let’s explore the four reasons this has occurred and why it should be saved:

1. Customers are well-researched and already know everything there is to know about their choice of vehicle.

True, customers are highly informed — maybe over-informed. They have done so much research that many are confused or overwhelmed. Customers may be able to recite the list of features included in their choice of package/trim, but may not know exactly what those features do. They may also be confused by the half a dozen or so names for the same feature. (How many names does blind-spot monitoring have?)

A vehicle presentation takes the customer’s research, simplifies it, and helps the customer take the information offline and relate it to a real vehicle. More importantly, successful sales consultants possess impressive product knowledge — information that increases the customer’s appreciation and understanding of the vehicle aiding in their decision-making process.

2. Vehicle presentations are too long and customers will not spend the time.

In the 1980s, OEM head offices would courier VHS training tapes to their dealerships of new vehicle walk-around presentations facilitated by product trainers. The presentations were generally 30-45 minutes in length and technically brilliant.

In the age of the internet, customers may no longer have the willingness or patience to participate in a 30-45-minute vehicle presentation. As a result, many dealerships have abandoned vehicle presentations altogether. Today’s customer may not want a long vehicle presentation, but what about an express version of about eight to 10 minutes?

3. Many sales consultants do not know what a vehicle presentation is or do not know how to facilitate one.

If they don’t know what a vehicle presentation is, they can hardly be blamed for not facilitating them. To be fair, many sales managers also do not know what a well-crafted vehicle presentation of today looks and feels like. In many dealerships, vehicle presentations are not taught, trained, encouraged, rewarded, and enforced as part of a modern customer purchase experience.

A modern express vehicle presentation is an eight to 10-minute integral part of a dealership sales process that includes the following baseline components:

A sales consultant-guided presentation with a customer in a 360 degree format, circumventing the vehicle. This could take place on the showroom floor, on the lot or at a scenic driver-change point during a vehicle demonstration drive (and should not be confused with the demonstration drive itself);

A presentation of the features, advantages and benefits at five or six predetermined points around the selected vehicle specifically tailored to the interests and lifestyle of the customer;

  1. Customer involvement by asking for their opinions and feedback;
  2. Customer interaction with the vehicle; running hands across smooth paint surfaces and interior fabrics, opening and closing trunks, tailgates, hoods and doors, storage compartment, and sliding and folding down rear seats, etc.;
  3. Sharing of vehicle and manufacturer awards and accolades;
  4. Sharing of interesting facts and trivia about the dealership and manufacturer; and
  5. Sharing of a strong “why buy from us” message; every dealership has impressive customer conveniences, services and programs.
  6. A modern express vehicle presentation informs the customer and builds value in the vehicle. There has been an explosion of vehicle safety, driving, comfort, and convenience technology in just the last three years. What the industry might already take for granted, is fresh, exciting and awe-inspiring to our customers!
  7. A vehicle presentation entertains and engages through vehicle knowledge (tailored to the customer’s lifestyle), enthusiasm and energy. It moves a customer from a logical state of mind to an emotional state of mind, allowing the customer to see the vehicle as something they want to own… now! It moves a customer to action!

A vehicle presentation differentiates the sales consultant and dealership from competitors. Because many dealerships do not treat the customer to a vehicle presentation, this makes a dealership stand-out. Customers will often reward the dealership simply because of the time, effort, and energy spent.

A vehicle presentation is a defining element of an informative, enjoyable, and exciting purchase experience.

A vehicle presentation can be facilitated with social distancing and customer safety. In a new era that will see a growing number of unaccompanied demonstration drives, the express vehicle presentation represents the opportunity for social connection with customers, relationship building, and the absolute necessity to share important and incredible product knowledge and features.

Some of Canada’s most successful dealer groups have placed a spotlight on this truly important aspect of the sale. This may save the vehicle presentation from extinction and have it be an integral part of the purchase experience in the next chapter of the post-COVID world.

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