A lot has changed since I left behind the retail car sales industry. And yet so many things are still the same. I consider myself to have been truly fortunate to have been mentored by people who valued long term customer relationships over a fast buck, single sale. You may well imagine that in these days of fleeting attention, endless social media scroll and online price comparison websites that the value of that long term relationship is dead and buried. That the next click bait, the next ‘deal for the next 6 hours’ is all that matters.
You couldn’t be further from the truth.
So what would I be doing if I were still selling cars today? Especially specialist cars.
I’m so glad you asked.
My son spent three years at University gaining a degree in business. My son is selling cars. I am massively proud of him. Does that sound like an oxymoron? Many people with a superficial view of car sales may think it to be a very odd choice. Car salesmen cannot be trusted. They’re lazy, only interested in the next deal, self absorbed and commission hungry. You have a University degree and you’re working in a car showroom?
That’s the car sales person stereotype in people’s minds, even today.
And for sure. like any line of work, there are good people and bad people. People who show up every morning with the objective of the minimum work needed to reach the end of the day. And others who show up motivated to do their very best and make today an even better day that yesterday.
I’m proud to have known some of the latter. They taught me and mentored me.
The people I knew when I was in the business were professionals who cared. They didn’t wear sheepskin coats. They didn’t talk with east end cockney accents. They didn’t have big Rolex watches. Well, actually we did have the watches.
It’s a small boy thing.
Above all, we didn’t merely wish to sell someone a car once. We wanted them to come back again and again, trust us to make a profit, for sure, but not rip them off. We wanted to be the people they recommended their friends to go and see. The people who would show up on a quiet Saturday afternoon just to hang out and talk cars over a coffee. Long before Cars and Coffee was an internet thing.
So how does that transfer to the modern technologies employed to sell cars today?
1. If I were a salesman within a dealership, I’d have my own social channels, independent of the dealership. I’d get the OK of my boss and post on Instagram. Posting pictures and videos of the latest cars to arrive, saying what you think of them and who might want to drive them. That’s kind of obvious.
2. My Bio would say something like, “I’m Neill Watson, professional sales executive with XYZ Motors LLC, currently working with XXXX Brand.”
3. I’d be doing Facebook live at the launches and behind the scenes every day.
4. I’d shoot autobiographical style videos talking about passions. If, for example, I was with Porsche, I’d be talking of race results, the new electric technologies and how I see the future of car ownership
5. Post a ‘guess the car’ detail shot on my channels, some weird and iunique feature of a car sand ask people to guess.
These are only five examples I thought of simply as I write this. I haven’t even got started with my Moleskine notebook after a glass of Rioja yet…
So How Do You Go About Making All This Content?
You may well have looked at the list about and either seized up, spat your coffee out or laughed at the possibility of your boss ever allowing this.
Ok so lets take this one at a time. First off, your boss. And his boss above him.
Most dealerships are part of large dealer groups. They can be slow to respond, they have several layers of corporate responsibility, added to a large slice of legal team and all topped with an overriding terror of making a social media mistake.
Deal With It.
To start, if they are that big, they will certainly have a policy towards social media and employees. If you haven’t seen it already, go get a copy. Then make a start.
Chances are, the guidelines will be very conservative, with threats of instant dismissal, crucifixion, the usual corporate punishments, if you screw up.
Which is fine. Stay within the rules. I really don’t want to get you fired.
There’s still a lot you can do. Spend time staying on the company line, push the company mantra, then add a very small slice of you into it. Your own little personality.
Then as your channel grows and your boss relaxes a little more, you can allow your personality to shine through more. You can creep into the shots yourself, record a short piece to camera as you’re driving along, short chats with other staff members. All the while, you’re building your ‘brand within a brand’ at the dealership you work for.
So How Do I Make The Content.
It’s in your pocket. Of you’re reading this article holding it. You have a smart phone. It has a superb camera built in and also an audio recorder. There are a whole array of apps available to help you, the majority of them free. And even the ones worth paying for are really not expensive at all. If you need to edit the video, trim it a little, it’s easy to do. The tools are out there to easily edit both stills and video, both on your phone and already built into your desktop, Windows or Mac.
And don’t tell me you’re too busy. Sit down, figure out a weekly schedule and being to cue things up ready to go ahead of time.
You won’t find it easy at first. And for sure there will be times when you’re going to wonder it it’s all worth it. Stay the course, because when you get that feeling, the feeling that it’s never going to work, that’s when you are at the point of having a breakthrough. It’s the point where everyone else is giving up and the point at which your success will begin.
It’s really that simple. But it’s not easy.