Nissan Fixes a Problem: Salespeople Who Aren't So Hot at Moving Trucks

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

To think of the Nissan brand is to think of nameplates like “Sentra,” Rogue,” and, just maybe, “Pathfinder.” That’s traditionally as truck-like as a non-gearhead’s thoughts get after hearing the automaker’s name. As it continues to position itself as a serious truck maker and Detroit Three competitor, Nissan knows this needs to change.

While the little Frontier has graced our landscape for two decades, the process of purchasing one usually comes down to looking at the window sticker, asking if it comes in a cheaper version, then perusing a very basic list of features. Little different than buying (or selling) a car or crossover. That works for the simple Frontier, which sells great despite its advanced age, but it doesn’t work for would-be Titan buyers who stop in at a Nissan dealer after kicking the tires over at the Ford shop.

With this in mind, Nissan’s now moving its Titan-boosting efforts into the showroom.

According to Automotive News, Nissan salespeople are the latest improvement area for the automaker. While the current-generation Titan and its new, larger Titan XD sibling bowed for the 2016 model year, sales staff apparently still need guidance on how to sell them to truck people.

“There has been a lot of training — and a lot of training is needed,” said Tim Hill, a Florida Nissan dealer owner and chairman of the Nissan National Dealer Advisory Board.

“A lot of it’s new for Nissan dealers. Before, we had basically one model of the Titan. Now we’re going more head-to-head with the domestics, offering many different truck variations. That’s a learning curve when you haven’t been selling full-sized trucks.”

Buyers interested in the Frontier aren’t likely to ask about payload or towing, but you can be sure Titan buyers will. As well, the current crop of Titan models are far more varied than the singular model of the past. Gas and diesel power, multiple cab and bed configurations — the Titan line resembles that of other serious full-size pickups, and salespeople had better know what buyers want to hear.

“It takes specialized training to understand the different customers in the segment,” Hill said. While the in-store training focuses on the Titan line, rival pickups aren’t going unmentioned. It’s doubtful a buyer will walk into a Nissan store without cross-shopping other trucks, and that’s why Nissan staff need to know the gear ratios of both a Titan and an F-150, he said.

“When you’ve been selling cars and crossovers that don’t come in these different configurations, you’re just not used to it.”

On the product side of things, Nissa has done seemingly everything in its power to make the Titan an appealing package. A stripped-down version for work crews, single cab models for the contractors and public works departments, plow attachments, and a factory lift kit are just some of the tactics Nissan has employed to gets buyers into the model. It seems to have paid off, but there’s always room for improvement.

February sales of the Titan line in the U.S. rose 25.9 percent, year over year. Over the first two months of 2018, Titan and Titan XD sales, collectively, are up 35.7 percent.

[Image: Nissan]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • George B George B on Mar 19, 2018

    I'm starting to think that salesmen have about as much to do with sales as a crowing rooster has to do with a sunrise. Both annoy you with a lot of noise, but have little influence over events. Good products at a good price sell in spite of the salesman, not because of him.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Mar 19, 2018

      Often, the problem in the sales game is the sales person and/or the sales manager. " Good products at a good price sell in spite of the salesman," is absolutely correct but in more times than not, the sales person or sales manager wants to dance when the buyer does not. The basic question, a direct approach, of "How much does the store need to sell this vehicle for?" brings consternation and upset to the sales staff. This is contrary to what they have been told is the game of selling, upselling, and padding the final transaction price. And then they're surprised that the prospect walks out the door, leaving them wonder, "WTF did I do wrong?"

  • on Mar 20, 2018

    Titans along with any quarter ton are large sedans with an open trunk. Take one look at an XD rear axle, leaf suspension and six hole wheel pattern.

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.