Back in the late 1980s, I was fortunate enough to ride a “S curve.” I was in the computer-aided design software field, employed by a software company as an Sales Engineer. I was the technical half of a sales team. The software we sold was revolutionary and ended up redefining 3D design. When I started the job, the product was relatively unknown. However, demonstrations of its capabilities blew engineers away. Of course, many were jaded, by years of “smoke-and-mirrors” in software demonstrations. Their experience caused them to fear what they weren’t seeing (i.e. possible bugs or limitations). Adoption was slow at first.
The CEO spoke to the sales teams about “S curves of innovation.” “Basically,” he said, “when a new, revolutionary product debuts, sales start off slowly. As more and more people get exposed to it, the ‘first adopters,’ buy first. These are the people that see where this new product can go, in its development, and want to jump on board as soon as they see it. Next, as those people gain experience in the new product, the tell their friends about it. Other sign up to see a demonstration. The sales curve starts to change. What was a gradual adoption of the technology, becomes a massive uptick, as the masses begin to see what the early adopters grasped from the beginning and jump on the bandwagon. As the years move forward, sales begin to slow down, either because everyone that needs the product has acquired it or a new competition (with a newer technology) enters the market and starts its own S curve.”
I said I was fortunate, because those who sell a new product, which is at the beginning of the steep increase in sales, become valuable personnel. In just three years, my income tripled! CEOs of companies attempted to recruit me, due to my in-depth understanding of this bold, new product. Life was exceedingly good.
I can definitely see the slope of the curve taking off. Looking at the S curve chart above, I’m thinking we may be around the 7 or 8 value, on the X (horizontal) axis of the chart. If so, that means there’s a very wild ride coming up very soon. Dealerships who failed to prepare will be left behind and, in my opinion, many will fail to survive. Back in my software days, I saw the demise of many venerated software companies. They had been leaders, in their day, but had failed to innovate. The just coasted on their past successes.
Innovation is not easy. Overcoming market inertia is not easy. But it happens every day.
A bit of advice here: In your career, YOU are the product. Failure to continually upgrade your skills will destroy you in the modern job market. We no longer need typewriter designers, whalers, livery stables, etc. I started my career in the oilfield manufacturing arena, as a machinist. I became a CNC machine operator (a manufacturing machine controlled by a computer program) and then learned to program those machines. I taught others what I knew and I became a manger. I was fat and happy.
Then, the price of oil collapsed. Houston was devastated. I had to move 250 miles away to find work. My income plummeted.
But I learned my lesson. I had grown my skills, but only as they pertained to my specific industry. When that industry collapsed, I was financially damaged. Take note oilfield workers, coal miners, etc: Renewable energy careers are on the upswing just as your career is on the downswing. Have you read much about it? Taken any courses to learn about it? Are you fat and happy, like I was? I highly recommend reading “Who Moved My Cheese?”
I’ve been talking about a tipping point for three years now. As I saw things, the “stickiness” of plug-in vehicles, or the strong likelihood that a plug-in vehicle owner would never go back to a solely gasoline-powered vehicle, as a building swell, of which most people were unaware.
As I mentioned in my February 2018 sales figures, in my 4-1/2 years as an “Evangelist,” I usually saw zero plug-in vehicle sales in January and February. Last year was the first exception. I sold one in each of those two months that year.
This year, I sold 3 in January and 4 in February.
And it gets better from there.
So far this month, I have sold 3 plug-ins and have commitments on another SIX for a total of NINE and it’s not even the midpoint of the month yet!!! These are solid deals. We are just waiting for the vehicles to arrive. The most I’ve ever sold in March was five Volts in 2016, when the 2nd generation Volts started arriving in Texas (the 2016 models were not available in Texas). Other than that one standout month, my best March was one plug-in.
What’s going on here?!?!?
The plug-in Chevys are not advertised in Texas (where I am located). Texans are proud of their oil heritage and by-and-large think of EVs as a fad (they’re wrong). Chevy dealers have goals established by General Motors for sales of various vehicle types. Classic Chevrolet has consistently hit around 400% of the goals. In my estimation, most Chevy dealers in Texas won’t hit the target we have, but things are heating up. Here’s some interesting info:
- I trade vehicles with other Chevy dealers, up to 250 miles away, to get the exact configuration my customer desires (or as close as possible). In the past, the other dealer always wanted a Silverado, Camaro, Tahoe or Corvette in trade for their Bolt EV or Volt. More and more often, they will ask for a plug-in vehicle to replace the plug-in vehicle I’m getting from them.
- Fewer and fewer dealers have any available for trade and some have been reluctant to let go of their plug-in vehicles.
- Dealers are now contacting us to trade for one of our plug-ins! This used to never happen!
It may be the optimist in me, but the boost in what would be a lackluster time for plug-in sales, has *almost* convinced me that the wave has truly started, in an indisputable way. Is 2018 the year we’ll look back on, as the year that plug-in vehicles began to roar?
I’ve been preparing for this for five years now. I’m ready.