Selling EVs requires full team contribution

Sources: National Automotive Dealers Association; Adrienne Roberts. “Dearth of a salesman: Auto dealers struggle to recruit, retain younger workers,” Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2018.4 Deloitte Insights |

Dealerships selling EVs may need to take a lesson from NHL teams.

Is your dealership an authority on electric vehicles? If so, ask yourself this: Is it your store, or is it the EV experts in your team that provide that authority?

Now, in your team — who exactly knows EVs? If the answer is “Jason, our best EV salesman”— that tells me your dealership is missing out on sales, and that your EV business line is at risk.

Here’s why: the automobile industry is notorious for hard-to-retain talent. Recent research by Deloitte conducted in the United States, reveals that it’s not uncommon for dealers selling the biggest volume brands to see annual turnover rates of up to 60 per cent for their salespeople, and up to 50 per cent for their service staff.

If your approach to selling electric cars is to staff your team with “the one amazing EV salesperson,” there is a more than 50 per cent chance that next year, you will no longer have that expertise in-house. Ultimately, this will put your EV sales back to zero. That’s why, in an industry with so much turnover, putting an entire dealership’s EV expertise in the hands of one or two individual salespeople is unacceptably risky.

Of course, having some staff with acute expertise in eMobility is important, but it’s not the only way to build your EV business. As it happens, there is one strategy that will not only mitigate the impact of employee turnover, but also increase EV sales.

Here’s what you need to do: focus on a baseline of EV product knowledge across departments. This is dramatically underestimated in the importance of growing your EV business in a way that can shield you from volatile talent.

It’s like winning at hockey. In 30 years, the NHL team with the season’s top goal scorer won the Cup only two times. Stanley Cup winners are usually the ones who have players that support their best goal scorers.

Selling EVs is no different.

Reception, maintenance and repair, F&I, and the go-to parts departments, might not be the ones that close the EV sale. But they do have an impact on EV buyer confidence. How they express what they know about EVs contributes to your authority.

It’s like winning at hockey. In 30 years, the NHL team with the season’s top goal scorer won the Cup only two times. Stanley Cup winners are usually the ones who have players that support their best goal scorers. Selling EVs is no different.

In fact, a lack of comfort in explaining the product can discourage potential EV buyers who are ready to purchase, but won’t do so from a dealership that seems unfamiliar with the eMobility lifestyle they reflect on — things like “it seems expensive” or “it seems complicated to charge on the go,” or even “it seems difficult to buy and install a home charging station.”

And, in the event that the EV expert is out for lunch or not on shift, the client might think other dealerships have better EV information.

Now, if the importance of having an EV baseline across departments doesn’t resonate, consider this: imagine you were interested in buying an Italian cooking course and considering three schools. Instead of commuting to all three, you start with a phone call.

“Hello, I’m interested in your Italian cooking course and I see that you have different chefs and time slots. Which one would you recommend?”

“Hello! Do we? Oh, I wasn’t aware. Let me ask my colleague, one second.”

Five minutes later.

“Hi again! So, it looks like the only person in our company who knows about the course just quit this morning! Please come visit us for more information.”

Although perhaps an obvious example, ask yourself: would you make the commute? Would that phone call be enough to interest you? Or would you cross the name of that school off your list?

Now think of a prospect calling in to learn about your EV offerings. If the reception desk answers with uncertainty, do you think the buyer would come visit your dealership? If the answer is no, then it’s clear what to focus on.

At the end of the day, establishing your authority means having employees who know what they’re talking about and are able to express it well. It really comes down to explaining the EV with simplicity: its features and benefits, and most importantly — the lifestyle that comes with it.

This strategy mitigates the impact of employee turnover, because it ensures that each department can still provide quality information while there is a void to fill. However, this strategy is also about maximizing EV sales. When done right, EV product knowledge is the most competitive value proposition a dealership can provide.

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