Leveraging the annual Ward's award program on the showroom floor and elsewhere at the dealership

Everyone knows that today's vehicle shopper is more informed than ever before, which makes a sales-person's job a lot more difficult. Solid features and benefits presentations quickly are replacing the hard sell based solely on price.

As a result of this trend, salespeople need information to jazz up those presentations. Customers want and need to know why they should buy this vehicle rather than the one on the lot across the street.

For the last several years, Ward's Dealer Business' sister publication, Ward's AutoWorld, has selected the industry's 10 Best Engines and honored them at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It began as a relatively low-profile award and has evolved into one the honored manufacturers now use in their advertising and even on price stickers. And it's an award program that dealerships and salespeople can utilize in brochures, advertising and on the showroom floor.

How can a dealer's sales force use Ward's 10 Best Engines? Well, first you have to sell the vehicles that are equipped with the winning power plants. This year's winners are:

- Audi A4 and TT's turbocharged 1.8L DOHC I-4

- Audi allroad's 2.7L twin-turbo DOHC V-6

- BMW 530's 3-liter DOHC I-6

- Ford F-150 and SVT Lightning's 5.4- liter supercharged SOHC V-8

- Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra's 6.6-liter diesel DOHC V-8

- Honda S2000's 2-liter DOHC I-4

- Mercedes Benz's 3.2-liter SOHC V-6

- Nissan Maxima's 3-liter DOHC V-6

- Porsche Boxster's 2.7-liter DOHC H-6

- Toyota Prius' 1.5-liter DOHC I-4 hybrid

If these vehicles are in your inventory, there are a variety of ways you can use the 10 Best Engines awards to move the metal.

Nissan, for example, has made use of the awards it has received in the past in its television and print advertising campaigns.

Saab has utilized its past 10 Best Engines winner in dealer materials and customer newsletters. Dealers certainly can do the same.

General Motors has used press releases, internal corporate announcements and billboard advertising to acknowledge the people who created the engines for which it has been honored.

And the Infiniti I30 luxury sedan carried the 10 Best Engines quote "May be the best V6 engine ever" right above the MSRP on its window price sticker.

Granted, automakers have larger budgets for certain kinds of advertising, but these examples are ideas that dealers can tailor to their own use.

At the very least, a sales force armed with the information of the following page, has a compelling story to tell an educated customer interested in performance and reliability.

After all, the most important part of an automobile, arguably, is its engine. Without it the vehicle goes nowhere. A good one can be reliable, but a great one can make the driving and selling experience amazing.