A General Manager of a Toyota Dealership with 35 Years in the Automotive Sales Industry Talks About Internet Sales
Master Your Craft
Do you want to be successful in Automotive Sales? Do you want to sell 30, 40+ units per month? Do you want to make $120,000 - $200,000+ selling cars? Well you can! All you have to do is MASTER YOUR CRAFT.
The key to being successful in this business is mastering your craft, being the absolute best you can possibly be. But why is it that EVERYONE wants to sell lots of cars and make lots of money and only a small percentage ever achieve that level? Same reason why there are so many people that want to be professional athletes and why there are only the few elite professional athletes making small fortunes while the rest of the population watches them on television or pretends to be them on Xbox 360.
Do you think Michael Jordan said to his coaches and managers “Uh, I am Michael Jordan… I don’t need to go to practice”! No way… he practiced harder than everyone else because he was Michael Jordan. That is why he has 6 NBA rings… and his own sneaker!
Tiger Woods says that he hits 1,000 practice balls for every 1 real shot in a live round. There is a difference between hitting a golf ball 144 yards versus 144 and a half yards. One puts you next to the hole and one puts you a foot and a half away from the hole. You want to be as accurate as possible, as close to perfection as you can possibly get.
Anderson Silva, Undefeated Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) constantly studies his own performance as well as his future opponents performance by dissecting video footage of past fights. Literally spending hours and hours reviewing video footage of angles, punches, kicks. Looking for patterns, opportunities, weakness etc…
Success is a few simple disciplines practiced everyday repeatedly. So if you would like to master your craft you must develop the following three disciplines: Dedication, Desire, and Diligence.
The definition of Dedication is the quality of being dedicated or committed, i.e. Devoting oneself, time, and/or efforts to a particular task or purpose; The definition of Desire is a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen; and The definition of Diligence is a carful and persistent work or effort.
So how does this all correlate to the subject at hand, Mastering Your Craft. Simply put, if you want to BE the best, then you have to BE the best. Will Durant, a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
Success is earned, not given people; No one is entitled to greatness; everyone in the past, everyone in the NOW, and everyone in the future will have or has had to have an outrageous amount of dedication in their specific field of expertise, an extraordinary burning desire to win, and must diligently execute their detailed plans toward their idea of success.
I want to give you some bullet points of things that you should focus on mastering if you want to truly be that absolute best automotive sales professional:
- Communication(s) – As a sales professional, you need to be an effective communicator. You need to be able to clearly articulate your message and you have to do so with passion and style.
How can you master this skill?
- I suggest mastering the “Science of Communication”… Knowing that 55% of communication is visual perception and body language, 38% is tone and inflection and only 7% is the actual words that you use. You can study this online, you can take a course, you can go to a “communication” workshop or seminar.
- You can join http://www.toastmasters.org which is an organization that is dedicated to helping develop communication and leadership skills for professionals. It is like a “gym” for speakers / communicators.
- Video Record (or audio) yourself with prospects in the showroom or on the phone or in the BDC. Record yourself engaging a prospect, working a deal, dealing with objections / rebuttals etc… Then REVIEW the Video / Audio footage. Study it, be critical of what you sound like, what your body language is, what your prospects sound like, what their body language is. Try to identify loss opportunity, identify areas that you can improve and or utilize a different strategy or approach in a particular situation.
- Product Knowledge–
- You should truly be a master of your product(s). At the very least you should be certified through your OEM as a sales consultant but… Most OEMs have advanced training and certification. I suggest you look into what curriculum, what training, what OEM resources you can utilize to enhance your product knowledge.
- Most OEMs have “Product Launches” or Special Seminars / Workshops on new or enhanced models within their line up. You should ask your management team to send you to any and all OEM opportunities that come along.
- Study, Study, Study your product. Take all vehicles on test drives, get familiar with them. Not just conceptually but literally know your vehicles inside an out.
- Competition Knowledge… Do NOT just study YOUR brand. You need to know EVERYTHING about your competition. For example if you are a Ford Sales Consultant and you sell a ton of Ford F-150s then you need to know EVERYHTHING about the Chevy Silverado and WHY your F-150 is BETTER than the Silverado etc…
- Mastering Objections and Rebuttals
- Stop playing checkers… Start playing Chess. Document all of the “expectations” and “objections” you come across on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
- Identify the TOP 10 objections and or expectations and then create at least 5 POWERFUL responses for them. If you need help, get with other sales consultants, your closers, your managers, the owner whoever!
- Go online and search for the best objections and rebuttals. There are free sites out there like www.automotiveinternetsales.com that offer a tremendous amount of free information, word tracks, scripts, objections / rebuttals etc… use them!
- Practice them everyday… role play with your co-workers, with a friend, your spouse.
- Record them (video and or audio). Upload them to your ipod or burn them to a cd. Play them on the way to work and the way home, at the gym at night, when you sleep.
- Self Education –
- Read as much as you can about EVERYTHING related to your career as you can. If you don’t like reading, then buy the audio CDs. Here are some suggestions:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Secret
- From Good To Great
- The Purple Cow
- Who Moved My Cheese
- Read Automotive Trade Magazines (Like AutoSuccess)
- Subscribe to FREE newsletters
- Subscribe to ALL your automotive vendors newsletters, blogs, email lists like:
- Your Dealership Website Providers
- Automotive Social Networking Communities like:
- Search Engines…
- You can and should be Googling or YouTubing Everything that is related to your profession.
- Read as much as you can about EVERYTHING related to your career as you can. If you don’t like reading, then buy the audio CDs. Here are some suggestions:
This is only a small list of things that you need to master to truly be the best at what you do. If you would like me to give you a more detailed list or some free strategies or ideas please feel free to email me or call me. It would be my pleasure to help you-
SEO For Startups In Under 10 Minutes - Search Engine Optimization - Google
Q & A About Starting a BRAND New Internet Department (From Scratch)
I had a great conversation with a NEW Internet Director. She was a "rep" but this is a whole NEW venture in becoming a NEW Manager etc...
Q - Where to start:
A - You want break it down to 4 main elements, Products, People, Process & the Promotions.
- Department will be inside the showroom, deeply tinted, blinds for privacy.
- 5 workstations PLUs to for future evolution (You are going to want to make sure that you INCLUDE an ISC in the mix).
- Computers... Do you have dual monitors, head sets, What are you going to do for Digital Media? I suggest a separate computer for videos, pictures, articles etc... Maybe an external hard drive.
- ILM / CRM - Dominion... AVV Webcontrol. Mac Haik will be designing its own CRM (Microsoft CRM).
- Need Scripts, Templates, Voice Mail, Automation, Integration
- Reputation Management
- Social Media
- Video / Photos
3 Best Practices For Turning More Leads Into Shows - By Josh Vajda of AutoUsa
Auto Dealers Build Trust by Personalizing Follow-Up Emails
REPOST from DrivingSales.com Writen By Justin Braun. Auto dealers know the follow-up process is one of the most critical elements of lead conversion. This is especially true for leads generated through automotive live chat. To be successful in this business and build trust with consumers, dealers must follow-up with leads quickly and be precise and specific in their communication. For leads generated from automotive live chat, the chat transcript holds vital information about the prospect’s desires and how far along he or she is in the conversion funnel.
But, how can auto dealers be specific, personal and build trust in a timely manner?
Understandably, auto dealers hate to email out a price without first talking to someone. Dealers should simply focus on continuing to build the relationship with the prospective customer that was initiated by the live chat conversation while providing information that move the customer forward in the sales process.
In this blog, we analyze a real-life situation in which a dealer failed to follow-up appropriately with a chat lead. Then, we discuss appropriate and effective ways to follow-up with chat leads (and all Internet leads) so that they convert into sales and move forward in the sales process.
Below is an example of a failed follow-up process, straight from the chatter’s mouth…er, their fingers.
“Hello. Not too sure if you can answer my question. But how long does it usually take to get the bottom line price on a car? I originally inquired on 1.26.12 and then again yesterday. I have received the same auto reply/generic email thanking me for my interest.
Its okay. I just wanted to know if the manager would take the time to reply or if I should just forget about it and move on.”
Nothing is worse than spamming your leads with robotic, impersonal auto-replies. Something we stress to our auto dealer clients is to always be personal in your follow-up responses. As you can see from the last sentence of the chat, this ready-to-buy prospective customer has lost all trust is on the verge of giving up on the dealership.
So dealers, how would you salvage this situation and prevent it from happening in the future? Here are a few tips:
Send a personal email
A personal touch is all your prospects are looking for. It doesn’t have to be long – both you and the customer live busy lives – 3 to 5 sentences addressing the situation will salvage the sales process. Using the phrase, “My online sales assistant let me know you were interested in ______,” can be very effective. Fill in the blank and take it from there. Also, don’t forget to include a call to action. Never end an email with a statement! Conclude your email with a question to prompt a response.
Follow-up with relevant and specific information
Confirm special features/options on the vehicle ( something as simple as leather seats or advanced options like Bluetooth)
Confirm availability (and interior color and condition if it is pre/owned)
Send a pic of the actual vehicle and offer to send more
Give a bullet point of what the next steps are in the buying process
Explain advantage of buying from you
Remind the prospect of what is needed for the test drive( license, and whatever else they may want)
Provide info on what services or reconditioning on the pre-owned vehicle has been done
Read what is given to you
Read the chat transcript, form lead or any other consumer insights you have. Know what the customer wants and give it to them. It’s that easy! Remember that the chat conversation has already developed a relationship between your dealership and the prospective customer. An impersonal auto-response removes the customer entirely from the sales process and ruins your rapport.
By acting as an advocate in the follow-up process, auto dealers can provide consumers with information and then ask questions to assist them in moving forward through the sales process. Keep in mind that consumers don’t buy a car every day, week, month or year. Every “inside” tip you give prospects builds upon the trust already established by the live chat conversation.
Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation. A template email saying thanks for your interest just stalls customers and erodes any trust built during a live chat conversation.
Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation.
In addition to these tips, ActivEngage CEO Todd Smith offers additional advice that will not only help ensure auto dealers successfully transform chat conversations into leads, but will help them stand out in the marketplace during the critical follow-up process.
Hey dealers, is your website equipped to out-perform competition this holiday season? Your 2011 holiday planning should already be well underway but there a few last-minute tips to get you in the spirit of closing sales from web leads.
Cyber Monday is a marketing term created by companies to persuade people to shop online on the Monday immediately following Black Friday. Between November 28 and December 31, a record number of consumers researching their next vehicle purchase will be visiting your dealership website.
Forrester Research predicted in its U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2009 to 2014 report that the web would influence 48% of 2011 in-store sales, predictions which are set to come true. The average holiday shopper plans to do 36% of their shopping online – whether they’re comparing prices, researching products, or making a purchase (or an appointment to make a purchase). Data from Experian Hitwise indicates that website traffic increases in a troubled economy because buyers research purchases more carefully online to stretch shopping budgets.
Is your digital showroom (dealership website) ready for this spike in traffic?
To capture these leads, streamline your sales process and put your holiday marketing into high gear, try these tips:
1) Review online sales and customer-support options for better, more personalized service.
Integrating a live-chat option into your online sales strategy will help both you and prospective customers. Live-chat allows consumers to receive the full automotive shopping experience without having to leave the comforts of home. With the majority of consumers doing extensive research online prior to visiting a dealership, live-chat gives dealers the opportunity to engage website visitors in a personal sales process, answering questions, providing information and obtaining contact information. Live chat will save you time and money by transforming your already present website visitors into ready-to-buy leads and appointments.
2) Review last year’s SEO strategy
Which keywords sent the most and highest converting traffic to your website? This holiday season, create content and paid search campaigns with a high density of these best performing keywords. Drop the season’s worst performing keywords and determine which holiday-relevant keywords should be added. Doing so will maximize the findability of your dealership and inventory online.
3) Create a Mobile Site
Many holiday shoppers will be researching online and on their smartphones both before and during their trips to your dealership. Dealers would be wise to integrate the showroom experience with relevant, timely and personalized website and mobile app info. This can be done using QR codes that link to relevant videos, vehicle specs and inventory comparisons. Google is forecasting that 15 percent of total online search this holiday season will come from mobile. Dealers interested in quickly and cost-effectively building a mobile site should try out Google’s new GoMo initiative.
4) Ask for an email address wherever you can, both online and in-store.
Design an email strategy that includes holiday purchasing incentives and promotions. ”Email is still the king of Web marketing,” says Allison Howen, Associate Editor of Website Magazine. ”There are about three times as many email accounts as there are Facebook and Twitters users combined, according to a recent study from Smarter Tools.
5) Act fast to plug your leaky conversion funnel with split testing.
Use your web analytics to determine the pages on your website critical to conversion that have the poorest engagement. Use Google’s simple A/B Split testing solution to see how subtle changes to buttons and forms can make a big impact on your conversion rate. There’s no better time to start testing than now and there’s no more critical time to achieve your highest conversion than the holiday season.
6) Add social sharing to product pages to turn customers into sales channels.
Ask showroom visitors and customers alike to rate your dealership on your Facebook page (as well as other rating sites). Encourage consumers on the lot to check-in via Social and incentivize the sharing of photos and testimonials of their in-store experience. Keep your social profiles updated with holiday specials along with pictures and videos of inventory. Also, resolve customer service issues on Facebook or Twitter to publicly display your customer service chops.
Remember dealers, these strategies are not just for the holidays. Don’t stop just because it’s December 25. Take advantage of the last six days of the year by ramping up the promotion of year-end sales on your website and social media. Don’t forget to record your holiday season metrics too. They will come in handy next year.
When did you start your holiday season digital marketing strategy? Do you plan on implementing any of the mentioned strategies? What can you share with the online community that will help dealers be better prepared for next year?
Who should be running my internet department or bdc?
This is another question I am asked from dealers all over the country — and the dealers who don’t ask me this question really should. While I acknowledge the fact that there are many different types of dealerships, please have an open mind to what you are about to read.
First, I am sure that we are all aware that 88 to 98 percent of people go online before they ever step foot into the dealership. We also know that social media is the No. 1 form of communication in this country. The problem that I continue to see, however, is that many dealerships in this country still don’t view the Internet or business development department as a “real” department.
Too many times I walk into dealerships and you can immediately feel the tension in the air; it’s an “us vs. them” mentality. There is dissention on the floor, frustration, anger and even sabotage — not to mention disrespect. I often hear the same thing from Internet coordinators, managers, directors and BDC reps; they are neither appreciated nor respected, and are treated as the “stepchild” in the dealership, and that goes from the dealer to the GM to the GSM, all the way down the food chain.
And, as we all know, perception is reality. If the dealer feels this way — that the manager of the department isn’t a “real” manager — they aren’t going to have an idea of who the right person is for the job, or what type of a pay plan to put together. They might not give this manager authority in the dealership. They might only make this person a “manager” in title only.
They also might put in place the wrong people. They have people who aren’t working out on showroom floor, so they give them a shot in the Internet department. Or, they might hire someone computer savvy because they feel that qualifies them to run an Internet sales department. Dealers also hire young people because they feel they can relate to the prospects better. These are all wrong strategies. The Internet Department or BDC in the dealership should be a major department, on a level with the new, used, finance and fixed ops departments. We are focusing on Internet “sales” department, but it goes deeper than that (Internet sales, service, parts, body shop, finance,
aftermarket, leasing, fleet, special finance, etc.).
Here are some facts: The average dealership delivers approximately 100 units new and used a month. An average dealership has approximately 10 salespeople, a finance manager, a sales manager and either a GSM or GM. All of that goes into selling about 100 units. Now, I have dealers who tell me that they want to sell 50, 100 or 150+ units per month from their Internet department, but they don’t want to treat the department as more important than the other departments or profit centers in the dealership. Furthermore, they want to put in place the wrong type of person to manage and run the department. They don’t want to pay the Internet sales director like the other “real” managers in the dealership. They also do not allow them to have any “real” manager authority, but they will put all of the responsibility on that person’s shoulders.
So, what exactly is the right profile? Who should run an Internet sales department? First and foremost, you want to make sure you have a person who is an automotive sales manager, or at the very least have someone who is a great sales consultant and closer with the potential to be a great sales manager with the proper training and support. Let’s go deeper: If you are trying to run a department that delivers more than 100 units a month online, you should have at the bare minimum a great sales manager, or even a GSM or GSM-caliber person running that department. Answer this question: Would you ever have a non-salesperson run your entire dealership, or even be a GSM at your dealership?
You want a sales manager in that department who can drive the momentum in that room. You want someone who can put a deal together and can even desk a deal if necessary. You also want to have someone who will be respected by the other managers and the showroom sales force — not just by the Internet department.
So, how in the world do you expect to deliver that number of units without having the caliber of individual I just outlined? The argument is that dealers need someone to manage the Website, take pictures, create videos, get testimonials, handle I.T., take care of the CRM/ILM, handle online reputation management, SEO, VSEO and all other forms of digital marketing. I agree 100 percent — all of that needs to be taken care of. However, I do not think that the Internet sales director or Internet sales manager should be that person, especially when you are trying to deliver 100+ units per month from the department. You should either hire a person to do those jobs, or outsource those duties. Anything else is not going to be as productive in the long run. They are, at a minimum, two different jobs.
Don’t freak out if you are a current Internet sales or BDC director and don’t fit the profile I just mentioned. And don’t freak out if you are a GM or dealer who just hired someone who doesn’t fit the profile outlined in this article. I would say, if they were the “right” individual who you believe in, get that person training on product knowledge, I would have them get certified as a sales consultant from your OEMs and I would get them certified as a sales manager by your OEMs. If you have to invest time, money and training to get the department head at the level of any other department head in your organization, it is what it is. If you don’t, you will suffer.
The bottom line is that having the right Internet sales / BDC director is crucial to the success of the dealer’s online initiative. If you have any questions about this article or if you would like some examples or ideas of ways to ensure your department’s success, feel free to e-mail me or call me.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry.
Dealer Principal of Perruzzi Toyota, Bill Finocchiaro and a 5 year Dealer Synergy client is interviewed by Automotive Internet Sales about his Internet Department & Dealership
Bill Finocchiaro is the Dealer Principal of Peruzzi Toyota and a 5 year Dealer Synergy client!
Dealer Synergy is proud to share in the success of Bill & Peruzzi Toyota... from 15 units a month online to now OVER 100+ units ONLINE and 84% of their dealership's leads come from ONLINE!!!!
Congrats and Thank You Bill!
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