MARCH 7, 2023
Owing to massive government and policy support, electric vehicles (EVs) are storming ahead like a phenomena in the automotive market worldwide. For instance, governments in France and the U.K. have decided to ban internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2040. Not surprisingly, according to Swiss global finances company, UBS, by 2025 one in six cars sold will be electric. As a result of such galloping growth, it is expected that electric car numbers will touch 350 million globally in 2030.
With strong media coverage lately, the public interest on the benefits of electrification of automotives has piqued. Gaining tremendous popularity, EVs pose unique challenges to sales reps who have to effectively sell them. The biggest challenge amongst many is that EV technology is quite new. Hence, most sales reps fail to grasp it properly, leading to poor sales pitching to customers. Technology like sales enablement and readiness can come to the rescue of sales reps to cope with the situation.
The EV India story
As the EV juggernaut rolls ahead worldwide beating the naysayers, it’s no different in India. The numbers reveal the EV India story:
- The EV market in India is expected to reach USD 17.01 billion by 2026.
- In 2022, India’s transport sector was expected to emit 375 million tonnes of carbon di-oxide, which is nearly 10% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emission.
- As per the Paris Agreement to address climate change, India is on course to achieve ‘Net Zero Emissions’ by 2070. To achieve this status quo, the Government of India has gone all out to encourage the use of EVs.
- As of October 2022, traveling in an ICE vehicle in India incurred a cost of INR 435 for a distance of 100 km, while the same distance in an EV costs only INR 97.
Understanding selling in the universe of EVs
The most prominent challenge that EV dealerships face is under preparedness of its front line sales reps. Another sore point that dealerships face is to stay abreast of the new EV technology trends sprouting up relentlessly. This is amplified when a growing number of customers who want to buy EVs know more tech through online research than sales reps. They are more informed so ask more technical questions and require deeper insights in a sales interaction. Sales reps face acute drawbacks when articulating to buyers about the differences between electric and ICE vehicles, the total cost of ownership (TCO) and battery know-how. They also don’t make the cut when explaining about the environmental and technical benefits of EVs. This lack of preparedness boils down to the poor sales training they undergo.
The first point of contact for most EV customers are the dealer sales reps. Hence, sales reps function as ambassadors of the particular EV maker. Their failure translates to diminished sales for the manufacturer. The resultant poor job satisfaction due to missed targets triggers high churn amongst sales reps. That adds to the misery of dealers.
What can be done to enlighten sales reps about EVs?
Around 90% of potential customers visit showrooms for test drives and other processes related to purchase of cars in general, where they want to touch and experience the vehicle. The same holds good for EVs too. It is here that the sales rep comes into total focus. Training is provided to sales reps on EV models displayed in the showroom and those on the pages of their brochures or website.
The stakeholders in an EV purchase by the customer at the dealership:
There is a chain of key stakeholders influencing an EV purchase by a customer at a dealership showroom. They include the Dealer Principle or General Manager, Manager of Finance and Insurance (F&I), Sales Managers & Sales Reps and Technicians. The Sales Managers & Sales Reps are the first to interact with the customer over phone, email, in-person or online. They brief the customer over availability of certain models of EV, charging time required and type of battery used. They also take the customer for test rides, indulge in price negotiation and close the deal. The F&I Manager develops the contract with emphasis on warranties, finance planning for the customer, insurance modalities and offering of charging station and its installation at home. The General Manager liaises directly with the automotive manufacturers for overall EV infrastructure at the showroom. The Technicians provide vehicle servicing and guides the customer on maintenance of their EV.
The practical approach to sales rep training:
All the aforementioned stakeholders need proper training about EVs and its selling. If there is a mix of ICE and electric vehicles available at a showroom, sales reps need more incentives (commission) to sell EVs over ICE vehicles. This is primarily because most sales reps have sketchy knowledge about EVs and they prefer the comfort zone of pushing ICE vehicles if there is no extra commission. This can change with proper training supported by good remuneration. Training with multimedia features help sales reps to have a visualization of the EV technology and its usage. If sales reps themselves have more personal engagement with EVs (like taking test drives in it), they can better understand its value proposition. Hence, they can favorably communicate the buying criteria of EVs like range, performance, service and day-to-day operation to potential customers.
What every EV sales rep should tell customers
Let’s start with the 3 broad types of EVs:
- Battery-Electric Vehicles: BEVs are fully electric cars wholly powered by a large battery that must be recharged regularly and are run by an electric motor. It is devoid of an engine or fuel tank.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles: HEVs run on fossil fuel and electric motors, hence called hybrid. It does not solely rely on fuel for propulsion. In fact, fuel and electricity takes turns to power the vehicle.
- Plug-in HEVs: PHEVs are hybrids with a large battery that is recharged by plugging into an external power source and also has an engine powered by fuel.
The Plus Points of EVs:
- Absence of oil changes or other engine maintenance issues.
- Quieter and have more instant torque than ICE vehicles.
- Convenience of overnight charging, especially at homes, thus avoiding trips to fuel stations.
- Lower TCO incurred over lifetime usage versus an ICE vehicle even though an EV is more expensive to buy.
The Minus Points of EVs:
- A single full charge of the battery provides limited mileage versus fuel powered vehicles.
- At present, there are few battery charging stations for an EV while on long road trips especially in India. Thus, it is mostly suitable for local driving here.
- Battery power gets exhausted soon when driven faster or on an incline or in cold temperatures.
Sales reps need to present information regarding the plus and minus points of EVs straightforwardly to customers. Glossing over the constraints of an EV can result in customer dissatisfaction after use which may invite backlash. Additionally, proper after sales enquiries by sales reps will result in goodwill and positive referrals from customers. Educating customers on the beneficial aspects of EVs for the environment is very important. It increases their sense of participation for the larger good of all beings residing on planet Earth.
How can sales enablement tools solve the training challenges of EV sales reps?
Sales enablement tools powered by cutting-edge technology can play a significant role in addressing the sales rep training challenges faced by sales reps selling EVs. These tools can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales rep training process and help sales reps overcome the following challenges:
Lack of product knowledge: Sales enablement tools aid sales reps with access to product information and resources that they can use to build their knowledge and understanding of EVs. This can include interactive product demonstrations, technical specifications, customer testimonials and case studies.
Slowness to sell: Ideally, sales reps should be ready to sell even from Day 1 of onboarding. It is expected of them to sell more, faster. With sales enablement tools, sales reps selling EVs are speedily promoted to the position of ‘fit to sell’ than after traditional non-digital onboarding.
Resistance to change: Sales enablement tools can help to break down resistance to change by providing sales reps with a clear understanding of the benefits of EVs and how they differ from ICE vehicles. This can help to increase sales reps’ confidence and enthusiasm for selling EVs.
Limited access to training resources: Traditional coaching restricts learning outside the workplace. Mobile first sales enablement tools give sales reps access to training resources outside of the office or on the go. This can include online training modules, videos, webinars, and interactive simulations.
Inadequate reinforcement: AI led sales enablement software can help to reinforce the training process by providing sales reps with ongoing access to product information and performance analytics. When they are drip fed information at opportune customer facing times, sales reps can face customers confidently increasing their credibility. This results in closing of more deals. With greater job satisfaction achieved, sales reps churn less too.
Companies can achieve increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, and a more motivated sales team by adopting sales enablement tools. Basically, it ensures staying ahead of the competition. And it can be done with Streamz, a leading AI-based mobile-first sales enablement and readiness platform.