Meet A New Layer In The Sales Channel: The Genius

Credit: Jayme Soulati; Santa Monica Apple Store

Credit: Jayme Soulati; Santa Monica Apple Store

BMW went on a date with Apple and the former liked the latter’s “genius model” so well that it swiped the concept flat out.  That’s OK; it’s allowed.

In 2014, BMW dealerships across the U.S. will roll out “BMW Genius Everywhere,” the program that puts IT-savvy youngsters complete with iPad in hand on dealership sales floors to interact with customers.

Just like Apple’s genius program where (mostly) 20-something men (have you ever seen a female wearing Apple genius shirt in store?) patrol Apple retail stores to help customers, BMW is doing the very same…taking a page from a successful Apple marketing and sales playbook.

As more vehicles go high tech with bells and whistles only IT-savvy dudes can figure out, BMW is helping its sales team by intercepting the customer  with a barrage of cool information about vehicle tech features inside the car.

This new talent will stop short of selling vehicles, and they will be on salary and not commission. The program is set to coincide with the 2014 rollout of BMW’s i3 electric car. Cadillac and Lexus already have similar programs in the U.S.

Thinking About Customers

I love this marketing program.

  • It’s a steel bridge from the prospect to sales  with the girder being a genius aka college upstart hungry to work with nothing but geek to share.
  • It finally puts marketing and sales on the same team; marketing gets to help disseminate information to prospects about vehicle features and pave the way for the sale.
  • Marketing gets to LISTEN directly to the customer with face-to-face interaction the likes of which only happens in a focus group session behind mirrored glass.
  • Young students can work nights and weekends without interfering with studies during the day.
  • Sales people are passed a hotter lead from the genius who can share more features and functionality about a vehicle than the sales person would know (e.g. how the USB port works and whether there’s a way to make the car a hot spot when driving).
  • As for customers, interacting first with a genius means no pressure to buy.  Someone can listen to the good stuff, walk away and phone back and ask for a sales person.
  • The program is already doing well in the U.K. and will roll out across Europe.

Your Brand
Let’s think a moment about how this impacts your brand, and it doesn’t have to be a luxury brand to think about how to engage customers and prospects on a different level.

Your company should already be engaging customers via social media channels; however, is there also room for a 1:1 program where your team is on the frontline with prospects?

Let’s talk about what that program looks like…creativity is the name of the game to cut through the chatter.

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