The Camera Never Blinks

DANA POINT, CA Perhaps the last thing a car salesman coming off a bad month wants to do is face a video camera and tell all about it. But capturing the moment like that, if managers do it right, can aid both the staffer and the store, says Napoleon Rumteen. Ask them what they did wrong, what they did right and what's the takeaway experience, says the former dealership general manager and salesperson

DANA POINT, CA — Perhaps the last thing a car salesman coming off a bad month wants to do is face a video camera and tell all about it.

But “capturing the moment” like that, if managers do it right, can aid both the staffer and the store, says Napoleon Rumteen.

“Ask them what they did wrong, what they did right and what's the takeaway experience,” says the former dealership general manager and salesperson who admits to experiencing ups and downs in auto retailing.

“I've been all over,” Rumteen says of his car-selling days. “I've been a top performer and a burnout. I've turned buyers into shoppers, and shoppers into buyers.”

Today, he is a producer for Carmind.com, a dealership training firm that uses online videos that are short, edgy and amusing but still instructional for improving showroom sales performance.

“The segments are kind of like the TV show ‘The Office,’” says Jonathan Ord, co-CEO of DealerSocket, a customer-relationship management company that owns Carmind.

One of its videos, “Seven Car Club,” highlights a group of “sub-par professionals” who sell an average of seven cars a month when colleagues are hitting higher numbers. Interviews with the so-so performers reveal excuses and denials.

Rumteen is a big believer in the power of video, advocating at a DealerSocket automotive conference here that dealers use it in a variety of ways.

That includes online videos of cars for sale. “The dealership website should be a showroom, not a sales brochure,” he says. “Customers spend an average of six minutes on a dealer website with video, 60 seconds without it.”

One dealership manager at the conference says her store's email replies to customers include a click-on video of her saying a sales staffer will be in touch soon and giving her phone number for people who want to talk directly to a manager.

“A lot of them do call me, especially women and young buyers,” she says.

Another attendee says his dealership soon will post website videos of testimonials from satisfied customers. “So often, you hear about happy customers but don't see them,” he says.

But the boldest idea out of the suggestion box is Rumteen's proposal of recording dealership sales people either confessing their showroom sins or touting their accomplishments.

“Fire up the video camera and interview them at the end of the month,” he says. “Capture facial expressions and feelings. Sales people will tell you what they are doing right and wrong. They can train themselves.”

Dealerships can then use the recordings like a football coach analyzes game tapes to study players' performances, then address the negative and reinforce the positive.

Rumteem advocates showing salespersons videos of themselves as an exercise in self-discovery. “The videos can be exclusive to that salesperson,” he says. In other words, he advises against showing them at staff meetings or other group activities.

But he does recommend “making them part of the dealership culture.” For the underperformers, the video recordings can be a step short of receiving a written reprimand although, depending on the situation, “you may need to write them up, too.”

Sometimes, dealership managers unwittingly discover that someone has secretly video recorded, he notes. A staffer at a California store used a cell phone to surreptitiously record a manager ranting and swearing at a sales meeting. After a YouTube posting, the manager lost his job.

What does Rumteen see as the essence of sales effectiveness?

“Sales people who do the best have the customer's interests in mind,” he says. “Customers sense that and will want to buy from you. They sense if you are acting too aggressive or ignoring them as they stand in the middle of the showroom.”

A good car deal is like a well-cooked meal, he adds.

“You don't want it underdone, with the salesperson eagerly asking right off, ‘Would you like to buy the car? Would you, could you?’ But you don't want it overdone either. A 6-hour process causes customer fatigue.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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