As I was talking strategy with a good friend of mine who is a GM of two rooftops we got into a discussion about which strategy is most effective in the automotive internet sales world i.e. coordinators vs. floor sales people making the calls.
We all know that the hardest part in the Internet Dept. is getting people on the phone. As you know you have what is called connection percentage or ratios that prove that less that 20% of the calls that are made on a daily basis actually result in getting the customer on the phone. The day-to-day mission turns into e-mails and phone calls and some really progressive departments have implemented video e-mail.
As I discussed into detail with the GM it really takes a dedicated person to be on the floor taking ups and having the opportunity to have Internet leads sent to him/her. What happens unless this person is very dedicated is that he/she makes 10 phone calls in the morning if you're lucky and then an up walks through the door. Now doing fact finding with the customer, caring the customer up, building value, presentation/demonstration, silent trade appraisal and my favorite working numbers, F&i then a through delivery and hours have passed by. Equally relevant, while all this is going on Internet leads aren't waiting for him to get finished they're coming in while all this is happening and by the time the sales person gets back in front of the computer after taking lunch when the deal was complete his/her response time is around three hours!! Now I haven't even mentioned the follow up month to date that should be going on during this time.
My friend's response was the cost of having coordinators which I understand affects the bottom line. What is interesting to me is that we'll spend $150K on advertising for the month now when the sales person sells that customer we don't split the deal or put an additional pack on the deal to help recoup the cost of advertising. And even better yet we all know the customers that we don't sell that most of these customers are never logged into the CRM or they leave without a T.O. and if they are logged the notes read "showroom up" not detailed notes of why we couldn't put the deal together.
Having people who's job is to pound the phones all day with a experienced director there for a T.O. and/or to work numbers for the customer that want's the "best price" is the most effective strategy I have seen unless the sales people that get leads aren't allowed to take ups. I would rather have 5 coordinators making a total of 500 calls a day versus 5 sales people barely making 100 calls per day. The numbers don't lie the more calls you make the more people you're going to get on the phone, the more people you get on the phone the more appointments you're going to make, the more appointments you make the more people are going to show, the more people that show the more cars you're going to sell!! Appointments sell cars....
This is Internet sales 101 however, unless there is leadership in place that understands the dynamics of a E-Commerce Dept. there will be a struggle between the owners and those that understand the basics of Internet Sales. What's even more funny is when I asked how many appointments his sales people set per day he was angry and tells me that they don't set enough appointments and that's why they aren't selling more cars. Duh, how can they set more appointments they're selling cars, waiting for an up and making 10-20 calls a day. Sounds like a oxymoron to me.
Good luck and good selling!!
Does your dealership have a process in place for a quick transition from the sales floor to the finance dept? Are your customers waiting for a hour or more to get into the finance office? Does your F&I producer come out to meet the customer before the consumer get's to his/her office? Ladies and gentleman I could go on and on with questions that I talk about with automotive managers and what we find is very concerning.
First, the transition from the sales floor to the finance office should be seamless. I was in a Toyota store a little while back and they had what was called a finance lounge. Now the goal with their finance lounge was to remove the customer form the sales floor over to a much more comfortable lounge so that while they were waiting to get into the F&I office they could begin the process of getting logged into the Toyota system database. It is a very upscale lounge with Ipad's at each chair and snacks if someone is hungry. Now unfortunately most dealerships have a completely different process in place and it's as follows: the customer just agreed to purchase your vehicle and now they have to sit in those hard chairs and round table for the next hour while they wait to get into finance!! What do you think most of these people are doing while waiting to go to finance; they're talking about how maybe we're moving too fast we didn't plan on buying today, let's get on our smartphone and see how much the car we just bought is down the street or even worse after a hour of waiting you go to get your customer and they're gone!! For the love of God this is not what people want to deal with after they just made the next biggest purchase next to buying a home.
Consumers after they give us their business need to be in the F&I office as quickly as possible. Another brillant strategy is to have the F&I producer get out of his/her office and come out to the sales floor to meet the customer for a interview to build some rapport and gather field intelligence. What this does is make the process much easier when you present a menu to sell products.
In this day and age the old school way of doing business has to change. Their is too much money on the line to take the chance of conducting business as usual.
I was talking with a GSM today and he had no idea how many calls his coordinators were making per day. Equally relevant, is that I talk with people that have positions of authority in the dealership all the time and it's unfortunate to see the majority have no clue when it comes to their E-Commerce Dept. The E-Commerce Dept is the heart of your sales dept and the sales staff are the body i.e. without a heart the body will die. We also talked about a store that they have a few miles away and the GSM mentioned that at that store the leads are given to sales people. WOW!!! As we know the sales staff are not going to consistently follow up with the leads and unless the consumer buys within 5-7 days most salespeople are never going to call again.
Now the purpose of this blog is to spend some time talking about the importance of your coordinators making 120 calls per day. As you know you have a 11-14% connection ratio when making phone calls. In other words per day if you make or take 120 calls you will get 13 to 16 people on the phone per day. The thing that blows my mind is that I know of stores that have coordinators that make 50 calls per day. When you look at your connection ratio that's only 5-7 people per day!! I speak from experience in regard to coordinators making every excuse for why they can't make 120 calls per day. I've been told "I don't have anybody else to call" and when you check their leads in the ILM they have people that haven't been contacted in days. Even better I've been told that "I don't want want to bug the customer."
The key to success in your E-Commerce Dept boils down to the coordinator's pounding the phones!! 50 calls per coordinator is not got going to get the results that the owners/GM/GSM are wanting to see. Demand excellence and put spiffs in place for the coordinator's like you have for the sales staff and watch your E-Commerce dept grow to the point where it's generating a major percentage of total sales.
The Social Media Statistics for 2013 across Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest provide us with an interesting opportunity to review where we may want to spend our social media dollars and time in the coming year. Quicksprout recently published the below infographic outlining the major differences between the three social networks with some key statistics you should be aware of.
Of course gender is always a key consideration when weighing up social media statistics, and Pinterest is certainly a good option if you’re target audience is women. Boasting the highest female user base, especially if you’re looking to sell online, Pinterest has a strong higher education and high earnings base which is sure to prove valuable in an e-commerce scenario. On the other hand if you’re marketing to men, you may want to look at Twitter or Facebook as the social network of choice in 2013. Both Facebook and Twitter boast similar user base statistics and present an excellent opportunity if your target audience is middle class male workers with University qualifications, so check your selling point.
With the previous target audiences in mind, when it comes to igniting e-commerce spend online, Facebook is king, however recent statistics have shown there is growing value on Pinterest. A driving factor which defines this is the visual nature of both these social networks, and is something Twitter has not fully embraced thus far.
When it comes to time spent online in 2013 across social networks, it’s quite astounding to note that Pinterest users spend over an hour on average which is almost unheard of. When compared with Twitter’s 36 minutes and Facebook’s 12 minutes, this is unusually high, and presents an unparalleled opportunity for those looking to sell, especially in the home and entertainment industries. Although Pinterest’s time on site is very high, it should be noted that both Twitter and Facebook users’ time on site is excellent and not to be discounted.
In summary 2013 is shaping up to be a changing year in the online social media landscape. The Pinterest user base and relationship with online spend is likely to grow, Facebook is likely to roll out more products changing the landscape time and time again, and the Twitter user base is likely to grow, however Twitter needs to counter the issue of visual content quite quickly to compete in the e-commerce space. When considering where to spend your social dollars, be aware of your target audience, and wherever possible take the time to improve the visual nature of your content and you should begin to see some great results.
In the automotive industry we can't unfortunately just spend all of our energy on just one media site it's imperative that we have a strong presence on all the aforementioned sites. In some industries your target market may be a certain age however, in the automotive industry our target market is all age groups.
It's imperative for dealers not only to just place emphasis on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. But it's also important to have exposure with the other sites like YouTube, LinkedIn, Craigslist and online classified ads just to name a few. Dealers are really dropping the ball when it comes to building brand awareness which will give a competitive advantage to the dealers that have a strong exposure on all these sites. It's like what Sean Bradley says when teaches about Googleopoly. Your dealership must dominate the first page of natural Google when consumers begin the research and buying process.
Last but not least some very intriguing information that I wasn't aware of was the amount of time that users spend on Pinterest versus Facebook and Twitter. Very compelling when you look at Pinterest users that spend over an hour online versus Facebook 12 minutes and Twitter users at 36 minutes.
Marketers across the globe are constantly plagued by the question; “should I spend my dollars on social media marketing, or search engine marketing?” To help answer this question, MDGAdvertising has produced a really nice infographic breaking down some of the various campaign components you would generally look at when assessing a marketing campaign. These include:
MDG’s review of Lead Generation performance included SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing as the key metrics. The research which included interviews with more than 500 marketing professionals across B2B and B2C companies produced a single clear winner for lead generation; organic SEO. Although difficult to achieve without a lengthy campaign and a number of outside considerations, organic SEO is a clear winner for lead generation. But one must ask the question, at what cost? Because of the time and expenditure involved in achieving quality search rankings, is this a fair assessment when considering the ROI? Maybe long term, but this metric is very interesting none-the-less.
The Brand Awareness component of this infographic produced social media as the winner according to rankings in terms of objectives. Brand Awareness ranked #1 for social media marketing and #3 for search engine marketing. From my experience, this research is pretty undeniable. Search is great for lead generation, but social is excellent for brand awareness, and certainly a great bet for a quick return on your investment.
With this in mind, although there is still great value in using social media for targeting local users, consumers still rely on search for their local information requests. Consumers will almost always use search to locate information on websites as their starting point, and that includes services such as Google Places. Although social media has great potential in this area, search is still the winner at the moment if you’re looking to reach a local consumer base.
However if it’s interactivity and engagement you’re looking for, marketers will choose social media as their preferred platform, but interestingly not by as much as you would think. Although social media was a winner with 65% of marketing professionals stating they would use social media for increased interactivity, SEO scored 54% and Paid Search scored 34% indicating strong value across both of these channels if handled effectively.
Finally, with changes to search engine algorithms constantly in the mix and strong signs that social signals such as likes, tweets and +1′s affect search performance, the good money when comparing social vs search, is actually on a campaign that includes a mix of content marketing for SEO, and some strong social support for that campaign. As marketers survey the social and search landscapes, we are set to see a large shift toward marketing campaigns that comprise both platforms to achieve a well-rounded result for the content owner.
I agree with the conclusion that organic SEO is the clear winner for lead generation. The first thing that came to my mind was the value that video brings to SEO. When your business dominates the first page of natural Google for different searches you don't give the competition an opportunity to market their business. For example, if you have video in place that shows why your brand is better than your competitor when a consumer does do a search for your competitor your video will dominate the search. Equally important, is that like the article states search is great for lead generation but social is great for brand awareness. I've seen way to many owners that are from the "old school" not understand the value of social media for their business. So many still think that if they build these amazing dealerships that buyers will storm through the door however, that strategy may have worked in the 80's but it's a failing strategy today. In today's market we know that we must fish where the fish are.
At the end of the day consumers still rely on search for local information requests. And your mission if you accept it is to utilize SEO/SEM/PPC, social media and VSEO so that you can capture your consumers at the ZMOT or at their point of interest.
Powerful video testimonial from the Jones Family that was at a dealership across the street and they walked over looking at the Ford Escapes and ran into a closer that sold them a 2011 Ford Escape!! Sell or be Sold!!
This video is a prime example of why we must maximize every opportunity that we have to do business. We all know that 67% of customers never come back so why take the chance of never seeing that customer again when you can seal the deal while they are there and at the highest point of mental ownership. If you don't believe me call them two days and you might be saying "Oh what did you get." Good luck and good selling.
Are you building value during your presentation/demonstration?
In Part 3 of this series I'll go over the issue of spending some time outside of work perfecting your skills. As we know in the automotive industry when you start your career most never receive any real training or if there is training it's very rudimentary. When I started in the business I was given a box of about 20 VCR tapes and told to sit in a room for two days watching them. Equally relevant, during this two day marathon I had a sales professional come in the room and talk to me for over a hour about how I was going to hate the business. Upon completion of this worthless endeavor I was given an office, directed to where the forms were and told to shadow a 6 car a month salesman.
How many great people have we lost in the automotive industry due to this lack of training? This strategy is setting new people up for failure and most importantly it's not giving new people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. What's even worse is that I know stores that still have this strategy in place for new hires.
We must analyze true professionals to see what separates the Oscar winner or #1 draft pick from the pack that never make it. Do you think that a #1 draft pick just showed up for the game and never perfected their skill before the game? The movie start that get's $20 million a movie do you think that is by coincidence? The student that graduates with a 4.0 do you think he/she spent time outside of class studying? What's inherent in all these professionals is that they spend a vast amount of time outside of their field perfecting their craft.
Do we think that the automotive industry is any different? If you want to take your career to the next level it's imperative that you also sharpen your saw!! Study websites, listen to lectures, read books and go to seminars to help increase your human capital. Those that make the real money in this business have a strategy in place that made their dreams a reality. Successful people take it upon themselves to become the best in their industry and that's why they are compensated as such.
Last but not least we must look at what we do as a career not just a job!! Those that have the career mindset will put in the extra effort to take their career to the next level. Good luck and good selling....
The value of video testimonials is a strategy that every automotive dealership needs to have in place as a part of their social media online presence. Photo's are very important too however, the impact that your video will have on the consumer is much stronger with video.
With the average dealership selling 100 units a month imagine the impact that the dealership would have if a strategy was in place to get either a photo or a video of every sold customer, customers in service, customers in the bodyshop and customers in the parts department just to name a few. We know that most stores nationwide are not taking advantage of this opportunity to dominate the market with these videos which is great for the stores that do to steal market share from stores that are sleep at the wheel.
Now what is awesome about these videos is that one can take these videos and spread them like wildfire all over the Internet. There are multiple video sites that the dealership can use to upload these videos to and then use different titles for each site to dominate other dealerships. For instance, imagine if a consumer did a search on Google and typed Ford Mustang Manhattan, KS and your video shows up as the first result on the first page of natural Google for your dealership which is by the way over 50 miles away. The consumer that would have went to the local dealership has now clicked on your video which takes them to your social media site with links to your inventory and video testimonials of happy customers. Now who do you think that consumer is going to call?
It's great that most dealers are asleep at the wheel and still operate under the premise of if we build a dealership they will come. What this does is gives a competitive advantage to the dealership that understands this strategy and crushes the competition online.
I had the pleasure of watching a very informative webinar last night that really brought home the importance of having a robust dealership presence online. I truly enjoy studying the shift in advertising from the traditional way of doing business to the modern way of doing business. I've seen dealerships that had all the right brands under one rooftop but sell 70-90 units a month while their competition sells over 200 units a month; due to the fact of poor leadership, nonexistent online presence, horrible culture and negative online reviews about the dealerships service dept. (a service customer is 7 times more likely to buy at the dealership that he/she uses for service) just to name a few. The days of just building a multi-million dollar facility and waiting for the customer to come is over!! We know that by the time the consumer actually gets to your store (unless a real pro made contact during the ZMOT and you never seen the consumer) they are no longer at the point of interest but now at the point of sale. Look at these alarming numbers:
- In 2006 the average consumer visited 4.1 dealerships and conducted 68% Internet research.
- In 2011 the average consumer visited 1.3 dealerships and conducted 84% Internet research and some conducted over 90% Internet research depending on the brand.
- In 2000 dealer ad spending was newspaper 52%, Internet 4.6%, T.V. 15.5% and radio 14%
- In 2010 dealer ad spending was newspaper 22%, Internet 23.7%, T.V. 20.1% and radio 16% (and of course we know that Internet ad spending is much higher now in 2012).
And when I have sales people that are friends of mine call me and tell me how slow it is and how they only got 5 cars out and it's the 25th of the month; yes some are LAZY however, some are at a store that in 2012 the owner and GM does business like it's 1980.
SEM and SEO is such a interesting subject that if you want to bring value to your store it's imperative that you study these ideas because when you begin to talk with your owner or GM about what you're studying you will become a valuable asset at your dealership or the competition will hear about you and start calling you. Good luck and good selling....
Are you building value during your presentation/demonstration?
The first variable that I would like to go into is the matter of getting the consumer excited about making their next biggest purchase next to buying a home. I've been studying the Ritz Carlton Gold Standards and I would like to place emphasis on one of the standards called the "three steps of service." It's defined as follows:
- A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest's name.
- Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest's needs.
- Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest's name
Imagine for a second if your dealership gave every customer a Ritz Carlton like experience. Are you aware of the value that it would bring to your dealership!! Equally relevant, imagine how much easier it would be to close the deal with this added value.
Let's look at some issues that may start the buying process off on the wrong foot:
1. 30 people standing outside like a pack of wolves.
2. Putting your cigarette out as you approach the customer.
3. The attire that you are wearing looks like it was balled up in the corner.
These are things that one would never see at the Ritz Carlton and that is why people don't mind spending the extra money due to the fact that their is a perceived value. You must separate yourself from the old way of doing business and let the customer know that you take the opportunity to do business serious. This added value will be needed when you are $200 away in payment or needing a cash investment that he/she didn't consider prior to coming to your store.
Last but not least is be a professional!! Act like you're at the Ritz Carlton when dealing with customers and watch how your numbers grow i.e. offer your customer something hot or cold to drink, give them a tour of the dealership, take them to the bathroom don't just point where the bathroom is located and if the owner or GM is walking around introduce your customer to those in executive positions. We must learn that we are in the "Wow" business which means we must have a strategy in place to "Wow" the socks off our customers.
I'll go over the other variables soon good luck and good selling....
Are you building value during your presentation/demonstration?
In the automotive industry we must learn the difference between building value versus just giving the car away. We've all seen the sales professional that sells 15 cars for the month and makes $1,500 i.e. 15 mini deals. How demotivating to spend an entire month putting in 60+ hours and then see a less than average paycheck; I truly believe the solution to this problem is one must learn how to build value and hold gross while your presenting your four square. I've heard too many people complain about not making any money and at the end of the day he/she must look in the mirror and analyze themselves.
Here are a couple things that I believe will help end this epidemic:
- Stop letting the sales manager/closer close 99% of your deals i.e. become a closer not a order taker!!
- Get the consumer excited about making their next biggest purchase next to buying a home
- Spend some time outside of work perfecting your closing skills
- Get better with product knowledge
- Always assume the sale
- Don't wait until the first pencil to close the sale ask closing questions during the sale
There are many more but I just wanted to point out a few that I believe will help with helping people get better with holding gross. Good luck and good selling.....
Ok the month is pretty much over now and I wanted to reach out to everbody in regard to the amazing transformation that we have went through here in our E-Commerce Dept. As a E-Commerce Director I've learned that there are many things that the director needs to be doing on a daily basis.
- Making phone calls with the coordinators!! Have you heard of the saying "Lead by example." Before I would barely make phone calls during the day; NOW I'm right in the middle of combat banging out calls also!! My goal every day is at least 50 calls and most days I'm making 60-80 calls with my team. Productivity has increased drastically and the team has much more respect for me now that they see that I don't mind getting my hands dirty.
- T.O. Every time that a valued internet customer says that they want to wait to make a purchase or they are no longer in the market etc; I want to talk with the customer. The goal of this strategy is not to micromanage but to give the consumer options that the coordinator may not know existed. Being that I sold cars for five years I have learned that many customers want us to educate them on the best way to buy a car. For example a customer leaves the dealership that didn't purchase a vehicle I'm going to call that customer and thank them for coming in and when the right time presents itself ask the customer why he/she didn't buy. I've been told "I don't have the money for the down payment" WHAT!! "Mr/Ms customer if I can get this deal to fit into your budget with no money down can we earn your business?" I have had customers respond with "Absolutely."
I truly believe that a dealership with a strong E-Commerce Dept and equally relevant EVERYBODY at the dealership supports the E-Commerce Dept there will not be a dealer in town that would ever be able to compete.
Now that we have a full month under our belt with our new E-Commerce Dept I wanted to give everyone a update on how great things are going!! We have been meeting expectations and what's even better we have exceeded the expectations that the owner had for our dept. I truly must say that the Dealer Synergy 10 step process works. Now, I know that you're asking yourself "J.R. how can you verify that the process really does work?" Well great question and guess what I have a answer for you; not only do we have the numbers to prove that the process works but even better we have mystery shopped the competition here in Kansas and I'll be the first to say that 99% failed with flying colors!!
The SWOT analysis that we have conducted proves as follows:
- the automotive internet sales in our market doesn't have trained phone ninjas
- the opportunity for us to steal business from competitors is open
- 99% of the stores that we mystery shopped had NO PROCESS in place for inbound and outbound phone calls
- we truly can say that we don't forsee any threats from other dealers (but we'll continue to train just in case)
- our strengths are not only do we have the best automotive brands but we will continue to be trained phone ninjas AND we have a process in place
We're really excited about what the future holds for us here at Dick Edwarsd Auto and we fully plan on maximizing every opportunity that is presented to us.
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