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The Relationship Era

SXSW Can't Buy Me Like

When it comes to advertising today, things have changed. In some ways it’s due to social media. Oh, who am I kidding? If it wasn't for social media, most brands wouldn't be held as accountable as they are today. Even local businesses, car dealers in particular, rely on social media and review sites to tell their story beyond the cars themselves.

It's all about relationships.

Searching for “I Love Zappos” yields 2,000,000 results. Searching for “I Love Dow Chemical Company” yields 3, according to Bob Garfield and Doug Levy at the SXSW panel titled “Cant’ Buy Me Likes”. Thanks to their presentation, this number is sure to go way up as people discuss it (such as this blog). By contrast, searching for “I Love Satan” yields 293,000. It’s not a good thing to be loved less than the prince of darkness.

What has happened? Why is it that billion dollar ad branding campaigns get usurped by a YouTube video by a disgruntled customer? They described that scenario of United who has been pushing their brand forward for years with a familiar tune, “Rhapsody in Blue”, only to watch it fall apart when they had a disgruntled musician post a sing about them.

Again, it’s all about relationships.

Here are some quick takeaways that dealers can use to understand the way that things are really working in this relationship era.

“The reality is that thinking of trust as a means of encouraging a transaction is like having a child for the sake of tax deduction,” said Levy.

Purpose and incentives can go hand-in-hand, but people can tell the difference. If a consumer smells insincerity, it won’t matter how much good you’re doing in the world. Do good. If the world enjoys and admires the good that your company does, that’s great but it’s not the goal (at least it shouldn’t be).

“Brands that are admired for the totality of their activity perform better than companies that are only excellent at their business goals,” said Garfield.

Branch out. Being the best at what you do is great, but sometimes the things you do that have nothing to do with your business are the ones that last. What do you remember when someone mentions a brand like Goodyear? You might have thought of tires, which is their business. You also might have thought of a blimp over a sporting event which is not their business but helps to sustain their brand in a positive way. The same can hold true on social media.

“The fundamentals of relationship era marketing are trust, belief, purpose, and authenticity,”

Yes, yes, and yes. And yes. You have a relationship with all of your customers – past, present, and future – regardless of whether you want it or not. Embrace it.

This is where it goes wrong

Things were going great. The points being made by Garfield and Levi were insightful, well-researched, and thoughtful for most businesses. Unfortunately, their advice took a turn for the worse, not because it wasn’t valid but because the ideas that they were giving their audience of media professionals were incomplete. I totally understand the need to sell more books and to use events like these for teasers, but the concept of telling businesses to stop focusing on their primary marketing techniques and switch to finding funny videos of laughing babies and branding that way was a poor direction to take.

Will cat pictures be more liked than business-related posts? Of course! Does that make them more effective? Absolutely not.

I haven’t read their book so I don’t know if they expand on the concept in there in a way that won’t turn businesses in the wrong direction, but that doesn’t matter. They shouldn’t have hinted in that direction to the audience without giving them the caveats. I’ll go into more detail when I get back from SXSW but for now, don’t jump to YouTube and find videos of babies to post to your social media profiles. Hold off until I rebut.

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Building Customer Relationships

Building Customer Relationships

Training Tips from Dealer Synergy

One of the biggest keys to remember about automotive sales is building the relationship with the customer. From the first email to the first phone call, to the keys in their all builds the relationship. We all know that buying a vehicle is one of the most significant purchases in a person's life. If we are going to get someone to buy from us, we must earn their trust. We could have the best prices, best service departments, earn more awards, and give away the most to charity, but if we don't work on building a good relationship with our customers, it all goes to waste. When you greet someone on the phone or on the lot, the customers tie you to the entire dealership. Treating customers with respect will go a long way. Think of them as family (if you get along with your family). How would you want your parents, grandparents, or siblings to be treated if they contacted your dealership? Would you want someone to answer the phone and rush to the next call...blowing off most of what they said to rush to make their quota? No. You would want their experience to be pleasant. You would want their concerns heard and addressed. You would want them to feel comfortable and know they are getting the best vehicle to fit their needs and the best deal on that vehicle. Think about these things on the next customer you encounter. What kind of impression are you making on them? What are they going to tell all of their friends and family about you and the dealership? 

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In the early ‘90s an acquaintance received a new job assignment. He was to set up an outbound telemarketing department to sell off millions of dollars of off-lease computer equipment.


He assembled a team of “telemarketers” – accountants and administrative assistants from within the company. He sourced and obtained a prospect database. A sales and call management system – a CRM -- was evaluated and installed. In the meantime, caller phone-skills training got underway while he developed daily call goals and quarterly revenue quotas.


In the second year of its operation, this in-house effort generated $20 million for the company.


Do you see an application here to your business?


What’s your CRM doing for you?

Your CRM should be a money machine. A detailed plan for its use, operation, reporting and management is vital. Hold accountable every user in sales, service and F&I accountable for capturing customer data into it. Be sure these individuals use the CRM to stay in contact with their customers.


It should go without elaboration that daily CRM use for customer communication is important. However, to create a money machine from it put it in the hands of individuals capable of riding it hard.


Start your engines

The following steps are a guide to CRM profitability:


  1. Train internally or hire an individual to be your CRM specialist who likes speaking by phone. Their personality should project well to the listener.
  2. Establish specific calling goals and make them aggressive. Define specific calling objectives: mining customer data for equity-play customers; customers soon to come off lease; or, older vehicles you’d like returning to your service department.
  3. Ask your marketing person or agency to draft phone scripts. Scripts should detail key benefits and selling points for each call type. Train your specialist to use them to guide conversations.
  4. Include in these scripts a variation of the Road to the Sale. Craft the script so your specialist’s conversation brands your dealership.
  5. Determine your calling specifics. These include calling hours, call-out quotas and revenue expectations. Here’s a model: The number of dial-ups per day required to achieve X number of live calls X number of these calls that convert to X number of fruitful discussions = X number of sales opportunities. Decide to whom you will assign resulting live opportunities. This is the individual who will meet-and-greet the shopper when they come into the store.
  6. As management, track this activity to hold your specialist accountable for making the calls as required. Use these reports to monitor performance.
  7. Compensate based on the caller’s adherence to and meeting of the quotas and objectives. Add a spiff for every call resulting in an appointment set. Layer another spiff when the appointment shows (incentivizes proper appointment reinforcement efforts), and consider adding a percentage or flat commission when the appointment converts to sale.

These seven points provide a framework for turning your CRM into a true profit center. Truly, CRM application like this is a “numbers game,” which the right structure, the right objectives and the right specialist can turn into more “solds” on your lot and more ROs in your service department. 

Source - Automotive Digital Marketing (RePost) 

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