By Ayush Maheshwari (Manager of Dealer Success at Upstart Auto Retail)
Inventory shortages are timely, but empathy is timeless.
Regardless of the economic or personal challenges involved in a customer’s car purchase, leading with the heart can make the experience overwhelmingly positive. You can turn a stressful transaction into a rich, memorable journey.
I got started in the automotive retail technology industry in 2000, and a lot has changed since then. But what hasn’t changed is the ability of one human being to make a meaningful connection with another. What I love most about products like digital retail is that they allow technology to take over the transactional steps so that salespeople can focus on making personal bonds with their customers.
Inspire meaningful connections to the role
Embracing the heart in automotive allows everyone at your dealership to think beyond their day-to-day and consider the purpose behind their work that develops their legacy. Of course they’re concerned with getting the sale, but when they prioritize advocacy for the customer’s best interests, they build long, joyful, meaningful relationships. Can you help your sales teams evolve from, “I’m selling a car,” to “I’m touching someone’s life”? Perhaps they can focus on the monumental role they have in making the car-buying dream come true for so many people.
To empower the development of this individual legacy of each salesperson is to recognize their unique impact on people’s lives. It means celebrating their individuality and letting them thrive as their distinct selves to be genuine and authentic personal guides for their customers’ major life decisions.
The cumulative impact of teams that take pride in themselves, their work, and the people they help can manifest itself as joyful reviews, loyal customers, and amazing referrals. There are additional benefits of higher performance and retention of those who feel valued, trusted, and invested in.
Foster career and personal development
Let’s think about employee retention, too. Recent stats place sales consultant annual turnover around 67%. And among the top five reasons for leaving a dealership is wanting to work a job “where I make a difference.”
But dealership employees can and do make a difference in peoples’ lives—so can we place more emphasis on this? Empowering a more human-centric approach to selling cars can help salespeople find more meaning in their jobs. Dealer leadership can help elevate the profile of salespeople as trustworthy resources for people making some of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.
When a salesperson appreciates their value in not just the deal and the customer experience, but the larger impact on customers’ lives, they can become more invested in their roles. And an employee who finds personal meaning in their career might end up sticking around longer.
Lean into automotive’s accepting culture
When I got into this business more than two decades ago, I didn’t have much experience and was nervous about breaking into a new industry. But I was thrilled to experience a welcoming embrace by the dealership world, which is built of individuals who work hard and that accept, even celebrate, your uniqueness as an addition to the industry’s community.
But that’s not always appreciated or showcased as much as it could be. I think we can change that—by embracing and showcasing this community’s natural gift for celebrating people as they are, connecting with them as humans, and being genuinely helpful.
By taking time to consider our legacies—personal, business, and industry-at-large—we can harness the innate positive energy within the automotive retail community. And with this communal energy, we can reinvigorate our industry’s resilience and its place in the hearts and minds of our customers.
And even with the proliferation of digital tools and automotive ecommerce, and by in fact leveraging them, we can highlight the undeniable value of human connection when it comes to buying and selling cars.
About Ayush Maheshwari
Ayush Maheshwari is a manager of dealer success at Upstart Auto Retail. Since 2000, he has worked in the dealership technology vendor space, helping ensure growth and evolution for dealers across the nation. In addition to his work in the automotive retail industry, Ayush has released a music album in India and hosted an online talk show in Chicago. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.