Plug-in electric vehicle pioneers perennially proclaim that the electric driving experience is as pleasant as the dealership experience isn't. (Tesla stores excepted, of course.)

Recently the organizers of the EV2015VE electric vehicle conference in Canada invited Quebec-based Bourgeois Chevrolet, a two-time award winner for its plug-in car sales, to share what they've learned from their success in selling relatively huge numbers of Chevy Volts.

DON'T MISS: A Third Of This Dealer's Sales Are Chevy Volt Electric Cars: How'd They Do It?

Green Car Reports approached co-owner Samuel Jeanson, and asked him to expand on the lessons learned by the dealership in selling plug-in electric cars, and in a very cold climate at that.

The most interesting news: Bourgeois emphasized that the dealership was seeing its electric-car buyers transition from the earliest adopters to the early majority, as evidenced from their different buying approaches.

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

"We have seen a shift in the last months, beginning around last October," Jeanson said. "These people come in and say, 'I have heard about electric car[s], can you give me some info please?'

"The only thing they know is that the car exists, and they are open-minded about considering electrics as their next vehicle," he continued. "They know virtually nothing or they have very low knowledge overall."

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Jeanson says the early-majority customers have been asking the right questions: what the electric range was, where they could charge, how much it would cost, whether they could plug in at home or at work, how long the battery would last, and so forth.

That contrasts with the early adopters, who "already had all these answers."

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

"They only wanted to touch the car, drive it, and buy it," Jeanson said. "They knew all about it because they had researched it and read about it."

"The only thing missing was the experience and the product itself. They were easy customers and 100-percent dedicated to plug-in cars."

MORE: Canadian Electric-Car Dealership Awards Honor Sales Success Stories

Early adopters were also often willing to travel to dealerships stocking electric vehicles.

Bourgeois Chevrolet's experience has been that the more recent early majority want to deal with their regular dealership.

2015 Chevrolet Volt

2015 Chevrolet Volt

To make sure that they are able to give electric options fair consideration, then, Jeanson said:

"Sales consultant[s] have to be ready and have the knowledge or we will lose the early majority for another cycle (5-6 years). It is critical that this doesn't happen because it will have a big repercussion on how electric cars are viewed by general public but also by the carmakers.

"This is THE test... The early majority are looking, curious, and interested--but no more. If the experience at the dealer level isn't satisfying, they will buy a conventional car ... and that's it."

Jeanson warned that helping customers give electric vehicles fair consideration can mean investing three to four times as much time with them as for a conventional vehicle sale. In business terms.

Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada [photo: RoulezElectrique.com]

Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada [photo: RoulezElectrique.com]

"You have to consider that we are doing everything that's necessary in the process to educate customers about charging stations locations, apps like Plugshare or EVChargeHub, government rebates for the car and the charging stations, installation of charging stations at home or work, how to drive properly..."

And the dealership can't provide this kind of education unless its salespeople are trained.

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

Bourgeois' staff get a day of technical training on the Volt – but then each new hire spends two full weeks driving the Volt.

And that's really worth repeating: Salespeople drive the Volt for two full weeks, as part of the process of learning how to sell it.

And perhaps that's the true key to their success?

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Given that electric-car owners invariably become electric-car evangelists, it follows that salespeople who drive electric long enough might develop the same kind of sincere enthusiasm that convinces potential customers to give electric cars a try – even if it takes a few hours to learn about chargers, incentives, and apps.

(As of March, 11 of the dealership's 23 employees now own Volts as their personal vehicles.)

It can't hurt, either, that customers are also offered three-to-five-day test drives – ample time to see how seamlessly (and silently!) the cars can meet their diverse driving needs.

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

Slide from presentation by Bourgeois Chevrolet on how to sell plug-in cars successfully, May 2015

When GreenCarReports asked if Bourgeois would be willing to share its training materials and/or process with other dealerships or organiations, we received the following hearty response:

"Yes, we have done it before and we would do it again. We are passionate about plug-in cars and just hope to put more on the road no matter who sells them ... We are entering a really nice phase for electric cars, a big one. I just want for the sake of EVs that all the players are ready. 'Cause one thing is for sure, WE ARE!"

[EDITOR'S NOTE: At the urging of interviewee Samuel Jeanson, we have edited responses and slides provided by Bourgeois Chevrolet for grammar and clarity.]

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