Service advisers, not just sales execs, need sales training

Service advisor and a customer

It has long been customary for franchised dealer retail staff to receive sales training throughout their career. More often than not, training is instigated by OEMs to ensure potential car buyers are interacted with in a consistent, effective and ‘on-brand’ manner. It also gives manufacturers the opportunity to furnish sales executives with information about the features and benefits of the latest models to grace the showroom floor.

However, ‘soft skills’ sales training – equipping personnel to explain, sell, cross-sell and upsell – is typically not provided to service reception staff. The irony is that the aftersales department can be a far more reliable profit generator, particularly when staff feel equipped to sell products and services effectively. 

Service advisers need to possess a varied skill set. Interpersonal skills are a high priority, but they also need to build strong technical knowledge, get to grips with processes and paperwork, and gen-up on warranty terms and conditions. An ability to upsell products and services is crucial but is often neglected due to the demands of the other facets of the role.

 There was a time when service advisers might only be called upon to sell service plans, tyres, windscreen wiper blades and the odd air conditioning re-gas. Now there are extended warranty plans, premium lubricants, season-specific tyres, breakdown services and valeting kits. Trying to explain and upsell all of these items when you’re trying to keep the various other plates spinning is not an easy ask.

Without effective sales training, many service advisors will lack the confidence to upsell effectively, particularly when they’re under time pressure. Encouraging customers to part with more of their hard-earned cash when they’re already making a ‘distressed’ purchase of a service, or repair can be difficult, to say the least. Then there are the products themselves, which often require a fair amount of familiarisation to effectively communicate their advantages. Effective training is therefore essential.

Providing training helps unlock significant profit potential. Our own survey highlighted that 30% of customers would consider buying tyres when their car is in for a service, while 27% would consider new pads and discs, 26% new windscreen wipers and 20% a new battery. But customers typically won’t instigate these purchases themselves, especially if they’ve already queued just to drop off or collect their keys. 

Despite the benefits that sales training can bring to aftersales, many dealers are reluctant to invest. Staff churn rates can be very high, with staff often lured outside the sector. However, by offering effective sales training, aftersales staff are better able to secure commissions that will improve their overall earnings, and they also feel that the business is investing in them – both help to boost loyalty. And for the business, more sales bring obvious benefits. A win-win all around.

There are times when selling additional products and services is easier said than done. When designing our digital check-in solutions, we purposely built-in functionality that also allows dealers to offer their customers products and services away from the service reception. 25% of customers we surveyed feel pressurised to buy extra products and services at the aftersales desk, so it can be better to help them make an informed purchase decision in their own time – for example when checking in digitally at home.

Explaining the benefits of more complex products and services on-screen during check-in enhances take-up rates. Last year, our technologies helped dealers sell £5,048,908 worth of additional value-added sales through digital check-ins.

 By combining this added digital resource with effective sales training, dealers will avoid the risk of missing out on any additional potential revenue, and pressure can be taken off service advisers during peak periods, allowing them to deploy their newfound sales skills in a more relaxed and effective way.