Video contest helps train car salesman

MIDDLEBURY — Chris Hanfield, a Vergennes resident who is a salesman at Foster Motors in Middlebury, knows a thing or two about getting people into the right automobile for them. He’s been moving cars and trucks off the lot for four years.
Recently he left his comfort zone of the one-on-one pitch, convincing an individual that he or she should purchase a particular vehicle, and made a foray into selling cars through a promotional video. With the aid of fellow Foster’s employee Dan Shefetti behind the camera, Hanfield produced a video touting the new Dodge Dart and entered it into a nationwide contest of Chrysler sales professionals.
Late last month Hanfield’s video sales pitch was picked as the best out of 17 dealerships in western Vermont and upstate New York. It garnered fourth place in all of New England.
As a reward, Chrysler Area Sales Manager John Bishop came to town and took Hanfield and Shefetti out for a celebratory lunch.
“They earned it, they did a great job,” Bishop said.
Under the parameters of the “Dart Walkaround” contest, a sales representative had to create a video in which he literally walked around a Dart talking about and showing all of its features. The sales rep was scored on whether he mentioned each of 53 different features on the car, such as the 13.1-cubic-foot trunk, plus given additional points in 10 categories having to do with presentation, such as offering a test drive.
“There’s a little bit of style and showmanship, but you also talk about the safety and utility of the car,” Hanfield said.
Hanfield and Shefetti set up their video in a Foster’s garage and spent hours taping and retaping each shot to get it just right. Hanfield said with practice, and a little coaching from Shefetti, he managed to make his presentation “more fluid and delivered in a suave manner.”
He said the two of them had a lot of fun making the video, which can be viewed on YouTube, and he credited Shefetti for many of the creative touches.
This kind of contest is not uncommon, Bishop said. There is so much information available to consumers today that often they come to the showroom or the car lot with as much information as a sales representative; so when the sales rep is able to answer the standard questions easily, it builds the customer’s confidence in them. That pays off when it comes to closing the sale.
Hanfield said making the video helped him hone his sales pitch. He felt he already knew the answers to questions that consumers would have, but getting the practice of presenting the answers verbally has helped him answer questions more smoothly when a customer puts him on the spot.
Has it helped him sell the Dart? He answered confidently on the day of his lunch with Bishop.
“I sold one today,” he said with a smile.

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