Training Ride & Drive
Although motorsports is the only sport I follow I must admit that when I hear the term "Spring Training" I think baseball. It means more since I had a chance to visit DaimlerChryslers Spring Training Ride & Drive for its local Southern California dealers. Now you might ask why do salespeople take part in this program when they can drive their product all the time - well you see, this time they drive the competition as well.
Companies are starting to listen: If you want to increase sales you need a) a good product and b) a well informed sales person. This particle training session had more than 200 sales staff go through it during its' short stay in Southern California.
They had a chance to compare the new Jeep
Liberty as well as the new Sebring.
Gone are the days of plaid suit salesmen with deals of the century - what we have now is a well informed, personable sales force with eye on quality and customer service. Who would of though a car company would encourage it's sales force to drive the competition. The dynamic driving portions of
these programs are staffed by professional drivers, supplied by various of companies. In this case, we spoke with Skip Barber Racing's Lead instructor, Ed Zabinski to what does
Jeep Liberty program plan to achieve.
Instructor: "The Jeep Liberty is a new production vehicle - all the more important that a salesperson should see the strong selling points. The Liberty is a "no compromises" vehicle. It is as well behaved on the highway as the best
"soft-roader" SUV's and it has no equal as a true off road capable
SUV. Using 50 years of Jeep off road experience, the Liberty is equipped to handle off road situations that most SUV owners would never even attempt. It has true skid plates, better approach and departure angles and usable tow hooks. Most other SUV's have only a token off road ability."
Nika: "Now these
are tough courses -you put the sales team through the course - what should they expect?
Instructor: "The sales teams will go through a few hours of classroom training on the advantages of their product over competitor vehicles. Then they will get a chance to drive their product "back to back" with a competitor product on a course designed to showcase the advantages of the "hero" product. This gives them the tools to explain the advantages to the customer in the showroom, and on the demo ride."
Speaking with some of the sales people the general consensus was the Ride and Drive is essential training for anyone who wants to represent their product honestly. " You want the advantage of being able to know the differences in these cars. I want to explain the selling points of the Sebring, for example, in detail and I want to stand behind what I say" said John, a 10 year sales veteran from a local dealer. Each course outline was to prove a point and provide a comparison - such as body roll, stability, ride smoothness, cornering and acceleration.
Professionally run with courteous staff and eager participants, this "hands on training" does give me more confidence that when the time comes to buy a new car - I will have a well-trained company spokesperson to deal with. Now if only we could improve
a dealership's coffee!