Women in Business - Jennifer Worsley: A new generation of car salesperson
Jennifer-Lynn Worsley is a new breed of a car salesperson. At twenty-five years old, she’s a top sales rep at an Audi dealership in Brampton, Ontario. I connected with Jen on Instagram over a year ago and have watched her grow her brands' awareness and interactions online. Now with over eleven thousand followers, I wanted to get to know the girl behind the funny posts. I was also curious to know how much of her account she used to generate business and how much was just for fun.
I met her at the dealership, and after a tour of the new facility, we sat down at her desk to chat.
Jen chose to be in car sales. She first applied to a Toyota store near her home that was hiring a Product Specialist. The position was none commission, and that appealed to Jen who was working at McDonald's at the time and had no sales experience. “I like cars, it was close to my house, so I thought it was perfect. You got paid hourly no matter what happened. I had to have an OMVIC license, and I showed the car, did test drives with customers, did the follow-ups, but didn’t present numbers to the customer – that was the managers' job. It had its pros and cons. The bonus was on CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index). That was a flaw, because if you are a top person, then you wondered what you were really getting out of it. The people who didn’t want to work, would just go and hide and so if you were doing well, then you weren’t really getting anything out of it. It’s a great way to start in sales, cause you’re learning.”
From a nine to five BDC position at a leasing company to a Delivery Specialist position at a Mercedes Benz dealership, Jen was pushing to be sales.
“I was in cadets previously, and I did two-three month military contracts in the summer. I was offered a coaching position for three months in England, and when I came back, the Audi store offered me a sales position.”
Jennifer has now been working at the Audi dealership as a Brand Specialist for a year and a half.
Q: What was the training like at Audi:
“When I first started, I told them I didn’t have any formal training and didn’t want to fall on my face. They (the dealership) weren’t really about the sales training and more about making the customer like you. That’s what sales is, and they said; ‘We don’t want to warp you in sales techniques.’ I was so nervous at first, but it was working. My first month on the floor I did 12 cars, and that’s unheard of, and I just tried to maintain doing well. Then I went through more brand training, and that’s more what Audi focuses on. It’s more about the brand rather than about sales techniques. It’s about the sales process and never about closing techniques.”
Q: What are the things that you like about being in sales at a dealership?
“First it’s the people that I work with. I’ve never worked with such a good team, genuinely. We get along so well, and I haven’t had that in my previous jobs. But also I really like what I do. I talk to people all day and if it’s a nice conversation, then my day flies.”
Q: Do you feel pressure about having targets and quotas?
“It does get tough, don’t get me wrong but I feel like the sales managers get the brunt of it. When I was at Benz I had to sit through the sales meetings to know what was going on, and people were getting grilled all the time, about hitting their targets, and their jobs would be threatened. But here if you’re closing two or three sales, the managers will pull you aside and ask what they can do to help you. My sales manager will ask me what he’s doing wrong that’s preventing me from selling more. If we’re not doing well it’s not just on the salespeople, and we don’t feel the pressure that way. I never feel like I’m going to get fired because I had a bad month. It’s more about; what can we do to get you to do better, let’s talk about it, and let’s work through this. They are so helpful in that way. And that makes me love my job because I never feel like I’m going to be gone if I have a bad month.”
Q: What are some of the things that are more challenging in your sales position?
“I get in my head all the time. So if I have a bad streak, I get really down. It can be the best paying job where you’re so happy, or it can be the worst paying job, and you’re upset.
Another challenge is the customers. If a customer is a jerk, then it can be tough to smile. When people are rude, it can be tough to get over sometimes.”
Q: How do you deal with rude customers?
“I’m not sure… I try to continue to be nice. Or if I’m off my game, then I will go on my phone and browse through social media or talk to my manager and ask what to do.
Ani: That’s a big deal – customer behavior can affect your well being and in turn your job.
“Being in this area, most male customers don’t want to deal with me. They will specifically ask to not deal with a female. And sometimes I have to explain that I’m the only one that’s available right now.”
Q: What about the people who come in and ask for a female sales rep?
“I do get those too, and they tell me all their bad experience with a male rep. It’s usually other women who come in and ask for a female sales rep, and those are the best relationships and the people that you stay in touch with, and they will come back for years, and you build that and then even if you move you tell them that regardless of what brand they want, you can help with their next car.”
Q: Would you say “car sales” stereotypes are still around today, even if it’s a female sales rep?
“Customers tend to think I’m lying because I’m in sales. That makes it really hard. I’m trying to work with someone, and they think I’m lying. Or the customer is lying to me because they think it will benefit them somehow and that’s really frustrating.”
Q: How do you see the car business progressing?
“I do think about that. A lot of people say that dealerships won’t be a thing anymore, and everything will go online, but I still believe that you will need to test drive and feel the car. You can’t test drive a car online. I know Genesis and Tesla are doing the stores inside the mall, so I’m not sure. I can see the finance office being obsolete soon. I do know that you will always need to test drive the car no matter what before you buy. There will still be a need for us somehow, but I’m not sure how considering how things will be changing so drastically. I do hope that the negotiations part of the sales ends. I hope it becomes more of a fixed price.”
Q: Do you think that’s do-able and would you want that?
“A while back, there was a girl I use to follow on Instagram; Laura Drives. She worked at a Toyota store in the US, and I remember the dealership she worked at was ‘Your Best price.’ There were no negotiations, and the prices were the best price. That always seemed interesting to me.”
Q: Do you think that would affect the sales commission?
“I can’t imagine other dealers beating the price by that much so unless you’re working at a dealership that’s far you can’t be that far off. Cause often we can beat another store by $5/mth to get the deal.”
Q: Do people come here often telling you they were just at another store?
“Oh Yeah! We get shopped so much. Customers will tell us; after you give me your price I’m going to another store. I always ask them; do you want to work with me or do you want to work with someone else to get $5 off cause that’s what it’s going to end up being. And they will tell you “no it’s worth it to me to get the $5 off/mth and ok.”
Ani: That’s when you’re relationships matter, and it’s about the salesperson and store. I know a lot of people, like myself, would pay slightly more to deal with someone that I like. That’s going to matter even more going forward as competition increases. It will come down to giving the business to the person you trust and like more.
Q: We talked about the business changing and the process changing but how do you see the cars changing?
“The focus is going to be more on electric. Audi is no longer doing diesel, and by 2020 they will be doing a lot more electric. I know that’s a priority for Audi, but I’m not sure how soon they will start to implement that in the stores.”
Q: How are they going to do that? At the manufacturer level they are producing the electric cars, but how are they going to implement the shift at the dealership level? How are they going to help you?
I think it’s going to be very slow, starting with the new e-Tron. A lot of people don’t know much about it. Personally, I barely know anything about electric cars and how they work. So more training hopefully. They’ve started to talk about it, and it’s very interesting. It was one of the big subjects that came out of a recent training meeting we had about Audi’s focus for 2020. Going electric is a big thing. At this point, they’ve just said it’s a goal that hasn’t reached dealer level yet.”
Q: Do you find there is a divide in the roles and positions at the dealership where there is a hierarchy almost?
“I don’t feel that hierarchy here. The GM is on the floor and will communicate with his sales team often. This dealership is also family owned, so it’s a different vibe here. Mr. Johnston owns it, and his sons are GMs, and they’re amazing. I love them. It’s not like the other dealerships I’ve worked at where you don’t talk to your GM or don’t make eye contact with the owners. That makes a big difference.”
Q: Ok let’s talk about how you’re doing things differently and how that’s working for you. Tell me about the tools that you’re using to get yourself out there.
“Social media is what I’m using mostly. I started an Instagram account when I was at the Benz dealership. I had a review, and they told me I wasn’t passionate enough about the brand, and I didn’t know how else to show that so I started the account. I started advertising the cars, and it picked up super quick. People like cars, and it was more or less for fun at that point. When I came to the Audi store I switched the cars I was advertising to Audi, and I started getting sales questions, leads and a lot of interactions. It’s made a huge difference for me. I probably get one sale a month just from Instagram. I also get people who have had bad experiences who want help.”
Q: Would you say the leads that are coming from your social media are from younger people?
Yes mostly young people, but not always.
Q: Are these interactions translating into sales?
“80% aren’t. I do get a lot that is your typical social media noise – but I get enough good ones that it’s worth the crap. It balances out.”
Q: Is it just an Instagram account that you’re using right now?
Yes, I did make a Facebook page, but I stopped it almost right away because I couldn’t manage both. It’s very time-consuming. It may not look like a lot, but posting even one picture takes up so much time. So yes, the Instagram account is all I focus on. I also reach out to doctors offices to share promotions.
Q: Do you mean cold calling offices?
“Yes we offer OEA and OMA, so if you have a license, you can qualify for a discount. I started going out to offices to let them know about the promotions in person and over the phone but I wasn’t getting the return on my time, so I stopped doing that. So then I focused my time on Instagram, and it works.”
Q: If money and time weren’t an issue, how would you improve your account?
“I do want to grow the account. Laura Drives as I mentioned earlier was the original inspiration to start the account. She had a blog and a YouTube channel, and she talked about the basic car stuff. She focused on girls who maybe didn’t know as much about car stuff, and I would love to do that, but that’s a whole other thing. When you’re in sales, time is of the essence.”
Q: Do you find a lot of girls are reaching out to you now?
“Yes, I’ve made a lot of friends from talking to other girls about cars. I’ve also had other girls starting in sales with Audi reach out and ask for tips from dealerships in North America and even sales reps in Europe. It’s cool to see how they do things versus how we are doing things here.”
Q: Would the dealership help you with social media related expenses?
“Yes, they cover half of what I plan to do. They’re amazing with that. They will give me things to raffle off, like tickets and accessories. They help with giving me ideas and things to post.”
Q: Some people still think that social media is just for fun.
“That was the idea when I first started. The dealership encouraged all of us to start an Instagram account, and they said; “Hey it’s working for Jen, so you should all do it.” But you need to understand social, and it seemed to work to my advantage that I’m a girl talking about cars.”
Q: So how do you deal with the sexual comments?
“My manager is amazing with things like that. He’s helped me with creepers. I’ve had people I was talking to about a car, and then they send me sex pictures – and that was a customer. Or a customer asking for a picture of my feet. When that happens, I don’t continue. It’s an immediate cut off, and I’m not interested in selling you a car anymore. It’s frustrating of course when you’ve spent the time with someone, and you’re negotiating numbers, and then he asks to take you on a date. That is the downside, cause I have thrown away business like that. The way I look at it is that I don’t want to sell a car to someone like that anyway because I don’t want to sell you one car now, I want to sell you all your cars.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
“I’ve always wanted to be a cop, and that is something that is still in the back of my mind. I’ve decided to go back to school to get a bachelor of commerce. I just wanted a university degree, and it’s something I had to do for myself. It’s going to take me a long time since I’m doing it part-time, but I always thought that it would take me a step higher. Even if it takes me 5 or six years, that time is going to pass regardless, but now at least I’ll have a degree, and I can apply for policing or decide to go into finance if I want.”
“I read the other blog post about Sarah Hindle, and I looked her up. I’ve followed her career, and I look up to her now and how she’s worked her way to be a GM. You don’t see other females in the car world often, so when you do see one who is successful, it’s so awesome to watch.”
That’s why I wanted to highlight Jen; because she’s doing so well and she’s not doing it the traditional way. Jen is using the tools that make sense to her and her audience. She understands it and its working for her. The sales process is changing and so can the tools.