Are you feeling inspired today? I am!
I just returned from the 2018 Women in Automotive Conference, held in Orlando, FL. This year’s theme was “Stronger Together.” I’ve attended the conference for many years and am always impressed by the carefully crafted agenda, which is filled with incredible presenters and activities to educate and inspire women — and men — in the automotive industry.
The conference included speakers from a variety of OEMs, Facebook, Google, J.D. Power, career and marketing strategists and many more. They tackled social media (do you know what’s on your sales reps Facebook pages?), negotiating salaries (talk about why you’re great while being great), changes to our industry (be activists for change) and so much more.
I always leave the conference motivated and excited to share what I’ve learned with the female members of our AutoSuccess team as well as our entire readership. While the focus is obviously to benefit the women in attendance, the majority of the information can be applied to anyone in the automotive industry.
Exceptional Service — You Had Her at Hello
I found one particular seminar to be especially motivating. Katie Mares is, according to her website, “a certified speaking professional (who) has inspired audiences around the world to think differently about customer service and leadership.” Her “Be Part of the Change” session did just that.
She spoke about the average car dealership sales associate/customer interaction, discussing how women want a relationship with a dealership’s sales associate, whereas men just want to get the transaction done.
“You are in the customer perception business,” she said. “It no longer matters what we think is exceptional service. It only matters what they (your customers) feel is exceptional service.”
But in order to gain a woman’s loyalty, her referrals and her attention, as a consumer, Mares continued, we need to move from “transaction” to “interaction” because for women it’s all about the connection.
“We have to put ourselves in their shoes to provide an experience that speaks to women,” Mares said.
Watch the way some of your sales consultants first acknowledge customers entering the showroom. Do your employees greet the woman or the man first? Do they only address the man throughout the conversation? Will the female consumer feel ignored?
Think of what would happen if the woman was greeted first, Mares suggests. She would feel “instantly welcomed, instantly valued, instantly part of the conversation.”
With women having a controlling vote in the purchasing process, wouldn’t that be a great start to a new car sales interaction?
“If we don’t find ways to make the change happen, customers will find other ways to purchase their cars,” she said. That alone is a great reason to take a look at the way your dealership approaches new customers and looks for new ways to deliver exceptional service.
This industry provides incredible opportunities for men and women alike. We can all be part of its growth. We can each bring our best selves to the table and keep our dealerships relevant and ahead of the competition.
As Michelle Morris, Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions, one of the keynote speakers, said, “Know your strengths, be proud of them… and be the catalyst for change in our industry.”
After all, we are stronger together.
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