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Even if you don’t believe, as I do, that high sales staff turnover is the number one issue facing the auto industry today; we certainly can agree it is right at the top of the list. There is not one positive thing that happens at our dealerships as a result of high turnover, and the benefits of low sales turnover are so obvious that I don’t need to list them.

High sales turnover has completely undermined training efforts. It creates the mental attitude amongst many managers to not bother training at all because they won’t be here in 6 months or others take the salmon going upstream approach; if they survive then we will invest some time into them.

Meanwhile over the past 10 years our customers have become more and more acclimated to the Internet and are gobbling up as much information as they can on product and price prior to coming into our dealerships. By most accounts 75-90% of our customers have done most of their selection process before they ever step on our lots.

This is leaving many dealerships in the position of having the least educated salesman talking to the most educated consumer. Since we can’t uneducate the consumer we better start investing and educating our sales staff.

I believe the manufacturers play a major role in helping us to resolve this problem and should work closely with their dealers about salesman’s retention programs. With all of the dollars that are budgeted for incentives they should slice out $100 or $200/car and designate it to our sales departments and reward top performers.

Short of having these conversations with your manufacturers or dealer council reps we can only effect what we can control at our dealerships and we better start getting serious about training so we can give our salespeople the tools they need to EARN a good living.

Let’s face it we are not brain surgeons or scientists !!! We are only selling cars and if we hire motivated, personable people that care, we should be able to make it a personally and financially rewarding career. Here are a few items that I think many of us miss with our sales staff:

1) Know what each salesperson’s personal financial needs and wants are?

2) Ask each salesperson what they feel they should produce to achieve their needs or wants. You may be very surprised how far off some salespeople are with what they think they need to produce vs. what they will earn if they produce what they say. It is in everyone’s best interest to clarify their earnings potential based on expected performance.

3) Train, Train, Train, Train- Take the approach of a college student that gets a degree and then goes after his Masters.

The college degree would be the basics:

  1. Product knowledge

  2. Meet, Greet, Qualify, Road to the sale etc.

  3. CRM- Your salespeople should know their CRM tool inside and out. They should look at it as if it was their own private secretary or marketing department that you gave them at no cost.

  4. Networking and Referrals- The lost art of the auto industry!!! Let everyone know what you do and ask for referrals. This is a must for any salesperson that wants to make serious $ in this business.

The Masters program would be the training on the following topics:

a) Internet Sales

b) Phone Call Sales

c) Service Retention-Equity Mining

d) Lease list and owner loyalty

e) Social Media as a way to sell cars TODAY!!! For the first time, technology allows your staff to effectively market themselves at no cost to the dealership.

As a dealer you need to be clear of what your expectations are from your sales staff. This might include:

  1. Sales goals

  2. CSI Goals

  3. Dress Code

  4. Attitude

Both setting processes and expectations is a great step in making sure you and your sales team are following the same path, and hopefully are on a long road together.

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Buffer

Facebook purists will pan this post. They will say that the best way to post to Facebook is to post whatever you’re doing or thinking right now, that “planning” posts is not only insincere but that it undermines the point of Facebook altogether. Their points are valid and noted. Now, let’s talk about reality.

Busy people who have their own social media and potentially the social media profiles of sites and companies with which they work need tools. It’s true that the best way to post to Facebook is through the native interfaces – Facebook.com itself and their mobile app. However, there are drawbacks. You can schedule posts that go on pages through Facebook.com, but you can’t schedule for profiles. Perhaps more importantly, Facebook has an on again, off again glitch with scheduled posts that often “batches” them into an unintended album for any posts that are not at least 24 hours apart. This holds true for mobile image uploads as well. The problem there is that these batched albums cannot be liked, shared, or commented on in the news feed. If they can’t be interacted with in the news feed, they don’t really exist. Nobody clicks through to interact with them.

These are some of the tools that I’ve used in the past or that I’ve seen others use that have shown to be effective. To be effective, they have to be easy to use, formatted properly, displayed well in the news feed, and “play well” with EdgeRank. Keep in mind, EdgeRank can be adjusted based upon interaction. For example, if your posts from a certain tool tend to get more likes than posts with other tools, those future posts from that tool will appear higher in the news feed. The opposite is true as well. If posts from a certain tool are not as effective, they’ll fall further in the feed and become less visible as a result.

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference. Which tools work for you? These work for me and people that I know, but that doesn’t mean they’ll demonstrate the same benefits for your posts. Go with what works. This is only a guide of a handful of suggestions.

 

Post Planner

This tool is invaluable to me. It allows me to manage my profile as well as my pages from within the Facebook environment because it’s an actual Facebook app. I pay for it and it’s worth every penny. I am able to control branding and links through it – everything I post has a link to my “app” which is a redirect to my blog. My only complaint is that it only works in 5-minute intervals. It would be nice to post at any time but I understand the constraints of the Facebook environment. Given what they had to work with, the end result was amazing.

 

Buffer

This isn’t just great for Facebook. It works nicely (maybe even better) for Twitter. I often cross post an image to both networks and this is the only tool I’ve found that handles that properly, showing in both networks as an uploaded image rather than a link. You can find the times that work best for you and set it up to post at different times on different days if you choose. It works chronologically so there’s no need to input times. You add something to the feed and it drops into the next available slot. Moving posts up or down is also relatively easy and there’s even a shuffle option if you’re scheduling a lot ahead of time.

 

IFTTT

The social media “recipe builder” is nothing short of brilliant. “If this, then that” allows you to connect your social profiles in ways that are changing the lives of users. It makes it simple to integrate so many different types of content that if I had to pick a favorite based upon pure ingenuity, this would be the hands down winner. For example, you can have a recipe that says if you post to Buzzfeed, the post will appear on Facebook as well and here’s how you want it to look. Takes a little while to master but once you get it, nothing will be the same.

 

Instagram

If you weren’t one of those who abandoned the service once they went rogue with their terms of service, you’ll be happy to know it’s still a very nice way to put interesting personal posts on Facebook. In fact, it’s my app of choice when posting images that I’m taking from my smartphone. Nothing fixes the low quality of smartphone images like a hipster-friendly filter. Don’t overpost – the app has a tendency to batch and appears lower in the news feed as a result.

 

Pinterest

Use sparingly. Pinterest has an interesting way of getting batched. If there have been two pins posted to Facebook recently, they show up side by side or one on top of the other with unique interaction buttons. It’s a nice way to mix it up, but it doesn’t appear as well on the news feed. Still worth the occasional post.

 

What NOT to use to post to Facebook

As with any good list of tips, there needs to be some advice about things to avoid. These are some of the tools that do not work as well on Facebook and should be avoided if the goal is exposure.

  1. Tumblr – For whatever reason, whether it’s just the threat of another addictive social network or a challenge in the coding, Tumblr posts that go on Facebook do not perform well.
  2. Foursquare – The app plays okay with the news feed, but people simply don’t like it as much. Even when images are included, people are less likely to interact with the excellent stalker app as they are when Facebook places integration is used.
  3. Twitter – I’m likely in the minority on this one, but I’m not a fan of any interaction between the two services. I don’t like Tweets that come through on Facebook and I don’t like when Facebook status updates come through as Tweets. Call me what you will but neither path seems to work as well as posting independently of each other, even if it’s the same content being posted.
  4. Hootsuite – I really like Hootsuite for Twitter and as an overall social media management tool. The Google+ integration and automation has been a lifesaver with all of the G+ pages that I manage. As a posting tool to Facebook itself, I had to stop using it a month ago. It just didn’t do as well in the news feed as the other tools available.
  5. Flickr – Just like with Tumblr, Flickr doesn’t do very well. It could be because Facebook spent a billion dollars on a direct competitor with Instagram. That might just be my imagination. However, I love using IFTTT to post from Facebook to Flickr, so not all is lost.
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Brand Yourself "Sales People"


While the other sales people at my dealership were freezing, chasing fresh ups outside on the blacktop, I was warm and cozy, tucked away in my office - glasses first into my MacBook building my personal brand.  It's not that I don't enjoy following customers around in the cold at a 20% closing ratio, it's more so that I wanted to focus on customer loyalty and presenting myself to the general public in a manner that would bring them directly to me…without all of the chasing that is.  So why did I choose to build a personal brand?  What made me feel that this was the best course of action?  

Every time you turn around, you see marketing techniques for DEALERSHIPS to differentiate themselves to the consumer and make their dealership really "stand out." Why, as sales people, would we not want to use these techniques to our own personal advantage?  You ARE the dealership.  You do the business.  You are the business.  The business is You.  So why not market yourself like You, yourself, are the dealership?  Simple and selfish - maybe…But definitely effective.    

These days, consumers are more educated than ever.  (Thank you Google.)  They are looking for a fast, efficient, and easy way to their product and service provider.  They want an expert that is knowledgable, trustworthy, and professional.  They won't stop their search until they feel that they have absorbed enough content to feel like they can make an educated decision with the professional that they are the most comfortable with. The objective of personal branding is to turn yourself, literally, into a brand just like any other popular item or service. You want them to feel as comfortable buying a car with you, as they do when they are at the super market buying their dependable every day household items.  Think about it..When you find a certain type of toothpaste, laundry detergent, cleaning product, or deodorant that works for you, what do you do?  As long as that product consistently meets your needs the same way every time, you'll stick with that brand.  What's even better, is that you'll tell others about that particular brand that has never let you down.  And they'll tell their friends.  And their friends will tell their friends.  Fortunately, these days, that happens faster than ever due to social media platforms. 

So how do you get started? Well, start with YOU.  Sounds simple, but you have to do it right.  Be yourself.  People want to rely on a real person, not a man-made marketing tool.  Like I said, just be yourself.  Easier for some people than others, but if you have to, just spend some time getting to know yourself and who you really are.  Being genuine goes a long way, especially in this business.  Next, you need to understand exactly what it is that your brand does.   Chances are, your dealership has a  "Mission Statement," and this simply your individualized take on that.  It defines what makes you different from every other sales person in your market.  What do you have to offer that makes you stand out about the rest?  i.e. Speedy process, free vehicle delivery to the customer's residence or place of business, 24 hour customer help line, etc.  Find out what is most sought after by the customers in your target market and figure out a creative way to offer it.  

What is the first thing that pops into your head when someone mentions a common, popular brand?  Their logo.  Is a logo absolutely necessary when developing your own personal brand? No, but I think that they are really a lot of fun, and they definitely set you apart from the rest of the competition.  People love and recognize logos.  Like I said, it's the first thing that pops into their head when they think of any brand.  Choosing your logo can be tricky considering it is what ultimately represents you as a brand and service.  It can be something as simple as incorporating your name or initials into something, or as elaborate as the carpet in the Taj Mahal.  

That all sounds great and pretty easy, right?  But here's where it may get a little bit tricky.  CONSISTENCY. Your mission statement and what you decide to offer has to be done THE SAME WAY.  EVERY TIME.  EVERY DAY.  TO EVERY PROSPECT.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  WITHOUT FAIL.. FOR AS LONG AS YOUR PERSONAL BRAND IS YOU.  If you don't follow this rule, there is no brand called you.  You'll still be outside chasing fresh ups just like "every other" salesperson.  You also have to be patient, this doesn't happen overnight; however, if you do execute this rule correctly, you will have an inbox full of prospects, and customers lined up out the door to see you.  Keep exercising this rule, and you will become the brand that they (and all of their friends and relatives) depend on.  As long as you are as dependable and have the same consistency as that favorite household product, the customer will return again and again and again.  In the business we all know that return customers have the highest closing ratios, pay the most gross, and give the best CSI.  Still thinking about taking your chances standing in the huddle, outside in the cold, waiting for the "up bus?"  I didn't think so.  

Robert Wiesman is an automotive professional at Massey Hyundai, in Hagerstown, MD.  Learn more at www.robertwiesman.com and www.yourhyundaiguy.com -or- (888) 815 9409.

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One advantage of dashboards like Hootsuite: stats

Purists will say that using apps and dashboards like Hootsuite or Buffer take away the fundamental interpersonal relationships that are built through social media. By scheduling posts or sending them through these tools, users won't be able to see the person behind the message, they say.

Marketers find other reasons to avoid dashboards, particularly with Facebook. The posts often do not carry as much weight as ones posted directly through Facebook, making it convenient but less effective to use tools. Both purists and marketers may be correct, but there's one major advantage that dashboards give us: statistics.

In this infographic by Hootsuite, we explore the usage trends of one of the biggest dashboard companies out there. The focus is on Twitter, but expansion into other apps and services allow these companies to start consolidating the overall posting process, particularly for businesses. Click to enlarge.

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Using Tools to Post Insights at the Right Times

A mistake that many make on social media is that they post things in batches. Rather than spread out the posts throughout the day, they load everything up at once. This poses a challenge for both businesses and individuals because doing so will (a) annoy your fans and followers as you "flood" their feeds with posts, (b) limit the potential audience since only a portion of your fans and followers are monitoring social media at any particular time during the day, and (c) reduce the overall exposure as you make EdgeRank and other algorithms "mad" with your batches of posts.

One way to avoid this is to use scheduling tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, and, of course, KPA Local Engage.

As humans, we often operate in batches. When we surf the web, we usually do so in longer stretches rather than in bits and pieces throughout the day. Unfortunately, that means that our engagement on social media is similarly batched.

Here's how to fix it:

 

Images

We all come across images that we want to share on social media. For sites like Facebook, you really don't want to post more than one an hour and probably no more than 4 or 5 a day. You have a couple of options to build your library of images to post.

I save the images in folders. Call me old school but I like housing the images locally (as well as through Dropbox) and sifting through them when I'm ready to post.

Another way to do it is to create an images folder in your bookmarks. Just save the link that contains the image and you can go through and post it later. Either way, you'll probably want to purge the images once they're posted - nobody likes seeing the same image twice. I do keep some of the best "timeless" images in an archive folder and include the date that I posted it in the file name. One such image that I posted in the past is the one shown above - Smokey and the Bandit is as timeless as it gets.

 

Thoughts

I'm a terrible mobile typist. Blame it on the fat fingers. As a result, I hate posting long status updates through mobile devices. If it's not an "in the moment" post, I use the voice recorder on my phone to save thoughts as they come to me. A couple of times a week I go through and transcribe these posts into my scheduling tools and spread them out throughout the day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm not a big fan of post dropping. On all of the networks other than Twitter, I schedule posts during times when I'm going to be online whenever possible. I like to be able to respond to people who comment on the posts, so just because it's scheduled doesn't mean I'm not watching.

Some posts are too timely for this method, of course, in which case I'll go ahead and struggle through my fat-finger syndrome to get them posted immediately.

 

Links

For the most part, I find my links early in the morning and schedule them throughout the day. Again, the timely rule applies; you don't want to schedule breaking news.

Occasionally, there are links that come along that are important enough to save and post in the future. These are usually resource links. For example, if you find a video that describes several tips and tricks on SYNC, you wouldn't necessarily just want to post it once. With a link like that, I would save it and post it again and again for as long as it was still valid. I've actually scheduled something weeks ahead of time knowing that it's valuable today and will still be relevant in 2 months.

* * *

As I've said in the past, I'm not a fan of using tools to completely automate your social media engagement, but if you use them properly you can maximize your exposure by posting the right content at the right times.

Hat Tip to Adam Ross for inspiring this post.

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Why I Use Buffer More Than Hootsuite

BufferApp

Hootsuite has been on a tear over the last year. They’ve picked up a bunch of agreements with the various social media sites. They have a hip interface and a good reputation for quality of service, uptime, and ease of use. I like Hootsuite and use it for many of our accounts, but it’s not my primary social post scheduling tool.

I like Buffer. It’s lighter and has certain things that make it superior to Hootsuite. Yes, there are drawbacks, but the advantages surpass the shortcomings.

The first thing heavy users will notice is the price: yes, the premium plan is $99 a month versus Hootsuite Pro which is $10 a month. Quite a jump. Quite worth it. Whenever you consider an investment into tools, services, or anything, you should ask yourself how much time can it save you and how much is your time worth. Buffer has proven itself to me to be worth the extra dozens of dollars.

Here are the time-savers that make me use Buffer more:

  • Instant Link Shortening – Hootsuite adds a step. It’s a very annoying step if you’re posting often. To shorten a link, you have to paste it into their link shortener and then push the button. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you’re doing a lot of posts it can become a major hassle. Buffer can be set to automatically shorten the link once it’s pasted in the post box.
  • Set Scheduled Times – With Hootsuite, you have two options: autoschedule or manually schedule. This option must be chosen for each individual post. The problem with autoscheduling is that the logic behind it seems a bit wonky and cannot be adjusted. As you can see to the right, some of the posts are scheduled close together (one was scheduled for 5 minutes after the previous posts – I had to manually adjust) while others are spread out more. It’s very random. I don’t like random. With Buffer, you set the times and the days that you want to post. One could make a very complex posting matrix if they wanted to, splitting up the posts at different times on different days.
  • Continued Selection of Account – This one might seem like nitpicking, but again if you’re posting often and managing multiple accounts it can be a pain. With every new posts, you must re-select the accounts on which you want to post. This is particularly annoying if you are posting batches.
  • Mixing Up The Times Between Accounts – You can select up to 5 accounts on which to post through Hootsuite. Whether you schedule them manually or autoschedule them, they will be set to go at the exact same time. With Buffer, your posts go into the next available slot. If you select 15 accounts on Buffer to post something, they will all go in at different times depending on how you have the scheduling set up.
  • Five-Minute Intervals – Some would say that it’s an advantage to have limited choices with posting times on Hootsuite. You can post only in 5-minute intervals. On Buffer, you pick the exact time you want it posted. This gives your posts a little more time in most feeds since several programs work with 5-minute intervals; posting off the interval means fewer posts to compete with during “posting time” on Hootsuite and other services. A minor distinction, but worth noting.
  • Images Posted On Twitter Are Actually Posted On Twitter – Buffer uploads images directly to Twitter, while Hootsuite loads them to Ow.ly. People have to click the link on Hootsuite posts to see the image, while on Buffer posts they can see the images inline on Twitter itself. An example of each is below.

Buffer Images

A Quick Note About Tools

One of the biggest advantages for Hootsuite is that it’s a great overall management tool. Buffer is just a posting tool. You cannot manage your followers, respond to interactions, or monitor your feeds from Buffer.

As with any tool, I wholeheartedly argue against the automation concept. Buffer is great to make sure that your posts are ever-flowing at an appropriate rate. It allows you to schedule messages that you feel will be better posted at a different time. It allows you to spread out your posts so that you aren’t flooding the feeds during times of exceptional creativity or discovery.

It does notreplace engagement.

You must, whether through Hootsuite, other tools, or through the native sites themselves, check what’s happening and interact. Just because you have a cool posting tool that allows you to be “active” while you’re doing other things does not mean that you don’t have to monitor them. In business, social media is much more of a communication tool than a broadcasting tool. The majority of my time spent on social media is listening. In fact, Buffer simply makes it easier for me to listen so I’m not always worried about whether or not my accounts are staying active.

Engage through social media tools (such as Hootsuite) or on the sites themselves. Schedule through Buffer.

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