As auto retailers continue developing omnichannel strategies, it's increasingly crucial that salespeople on the ground understand how their roles will evolve.
"We have some candid conversations with our sales teams about this," said Daryl Kenningham, Group 1 Automotive Inc.'s president of U.S. operations.
"The world is going digital, and customers have proven that they want to do business in a digital way, and we have to be able to adapt. And we have to be able to equip our people to adapt to that as well."
Many of Group 1's sales reps are receptive to what Kenningham calls a continual dialogue. After all, he pointed out, salespeople are often digital shoppers themselves, buying everything from pizza to plane tickets online.
One of the key aspects of a successful omnichannel retail operation is the seamless transition of a customer's online shopping journey when they show up at a brick-and-mortar store. That moment of arrival typically will involve salespeople.
Aaron Hoernke, marketing director at Eric von Schledorn Auto Group in Saukville, Wis., said that as the dealership group focuses more on omnichannel retail, it's considered dedicating one or two in-store salespeople solely to digital shoppers. The effort could include a separate and branded area for online shoppers to go when they arrive at the store.
"You come in, you meet this person, they know where you are in the process and they can kind of [expedite] the experience in the dealership differently than if you were a normal car buyer," Hoernke said.