Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: None

By Jared Hamilton on Dec 1, 2009

Why your Internet Sales Process matters more now than it ever has, and the 7 Process Points you must execute to be successful: masters-series-logoAdvanced marketing tactics like SEO and Social Media Marketing are a big focus in the industry right now. These marketing tools are very successful at moving the bar forward and YES your dealership needs to be involved.  However, if you are growing your arsenal of marketing tools you are also being more wasteful if your process is not nailed down.  Your store should not be investing more marketing dollars unless your customer funnel is proven to convert the customers into deals.  As the economy rebounds and you look to grow your marketing it's a perfect time to do a dealership process check up.  How does your store stack up? The Correct Internet Sales Process A successful Internet sales process is not rocket science.  There are 7 things every process should accomplish.  By executing these seven points consistently and with your dealerships brand, you will maximize your close rates.  Use this as a checklist to grade your dealerships process: 1. Quick Response time Yes, this concept has been beat into the industry but in this age of immediacy it continues to be one of the largest separators of success.  An hour to respond to an email is NOT acceptable.  Your response needs to be within minutes, if you cannot do this consistently restructure your department or use technology that can respond with YOUR price quote immediately. Do not measure, average response time, it's a bogus measurement.  Instead measure what % of the time you responded within 15 minutes.  Face it, if you don't respond quickly the chances of closing the deal drops dramatically. 2. Transparency in price, availability and trade Customers can get whatever information they want.  If they don't get it from you they will get it elsewhere.  Don't let that happen.  If they ask for a price give them a price.  If they want to know what their trade is worth talk to them about it.  Don't ever avoid a question.  Be transparent, be engaging, be a place they want to do business, answer their questions and give them a reason to come see you. 3. Provide multiple options When customers go online the regularly add features or submit requests on vehicles out of their price range.  They are curious, they are hopeful and they are human... trying for something better than current reality is just what we do.  Once you realize they are unlikely to buy the vehicle they submitted a lead on you realize the importance in providing options to them.  This helps engage the customer with you as they explore their options and come to reality of what the best car for them really is. 4. Sell the advantages of your product Again, customers regularly DO NOT buy the product they submitted a lead on.  Many even switch brands or bounce from new to used and vice versa.  Clearly the MYTH that Internet customers know exactly what they want is FALSE.  You need to "sell" your product. How do you do this?  Provide links.  Send them to your product landing pages, micro sites and the pages that tell your brand proposition.  If you don't have these pages built and optimized put that on your list of things to do.  Use OEM sites, outside news stories, social media profiles and your dealership ratings and reviews to boost your brand proposition. Do be cautious sending customers to sites you down own, you have less control but added 3rd party credibility.  Balance the pros/cons appropriately. Track these links.  Your CRM should be able to tell you who is clicking on what, replace the links that get no action and keep the content fresh. 5. Phone call to request appointment If the customer provided a phone number you have permission to use it.  Call them.  Confirm they got your email, start a conversation to get to know them.  The one piece of your product another store cannot is your relationship with the customer, be sure that relationship is strong.  Use a phone script, set an appointment and track your shows. 6. Long term follow up Most 3rd party leads close AFTER 30 days.  If you are a dealership that does a great job at following its customers for 3 weeks, congratulation!  You could double your closing rate if you could extend that follow up/engagement process follows for an additional 60 days.   Long term follow up should be more than automated emails or a dealership newsletter.  Include regular phone calls into the mix.  You are most likely better at building and maintaining relationships on the phone than you are at email.  Use this to your advantage. 7. Differentiated "customer friendly" sales process After you have done all this work to get the Internet Customer to the dealership, don't blow it with a bad "in person" sales process.  Continue to be transparent, answer questions, be a resource and over come objections.   You should close an exceptionally high number of your Internet appointments that show up.  It's ok to sell and be a closer, just maintain your customer relationship through the process and you will be fine. Dealership Internet Sales Success If there is one thing I would I would emphasis is consistency.  We are in the business of doing the little things a lot of times.  Measure every step of your process and report with your management team in weekly meetings.  Reward the process by keeping spiffs and awards focused on execution.  You cannot manage results but you can manage the activities that get the results.  The 7 activities listed above will get you results but most stores struggle in the execution of their process.  Hitting all 7 points consistently is an uphill climb.   Where does your store excel and where does it fall short?  What is the biggest tip you could offer your fellow dealers about executing your process correctly?  Please share...


Great info what ideas do you have for the first email should it be price?

Apr 9, 2013

Comments 1 - 1 of 1

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:


Jared Hamilton's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Consumers Are Taking Their Complaints to Social Media. Are You Responding?

    In the past, consumers were limited in their options when they had any sort of complaint or service issue with a particular business. Those options, however, have progressed and today’s consumers have moved on from phone calls and e-mails to air their complaints. They now turn to review sites and social media in an effort to get businesses to rectify a perceived wrong. Yes, some of these complaints may escalate into a revenge-sort of rant by an unhappy customer. But, oftentimes a consumer is simply at their wits end after attempting to get the problem solved via traditional methods. Consumers are now getting wise to the fact that taking their unhappiness to social media may be the best way to get their problem solved.   A recent article on, described several situations in which consumers tried to get problems solved via traditional methods, to no avail. One story involved a man who purchased a refrigerator which did not work correctly. After more than four service visits ...Read post

  • Google Auto Says Mobile is the Place to Be

    In a study published this month by Google’s Automotive division titled, “The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own,” it’s crystal clear that dealers need to have a strong mobile strategy in order to stay in the game.   The study breaks the car buying experience down into five moments. Three of them are dominated by consumers using mobile devices to gain information. This information is key to what they buy and where they buy it.   According to Google, the five auto shopping moments every brand must own are:   1.     Which car is best? 2.     Is it right for me? 3.     Can I afford it? 4.     Where should I buy it? 5.     Am I getting a deal?   Once the consumer reaches the, “can I afford it?” moment, they turn to their smartphones. “Search interest for MSRP and list prices is at its highest level ever, growing 25% in the past year, driven in large part by mobile, which accounts for 70% of these searches,” the study stated. Fr...Read post

  • This Week in Social Media

    Keep your customers in mind when you’re posting updates to your social accounts, and you’ll be sure to keep them coming back for more. No one wants a social media feed that’s log-jammed with nothing but sales pitches and offers, so instead, provide quality content that offers information on relevant topics of interest. Check out some tips to get you started when it comes to posting information that keeps your followers interested and looking for your online content...Read post

  • Don’t Creep Out Your Shoppers

    Many consumers don’t know why, but they do know that every time they reach out, their phone blows up with sales calls or they start receiving emails containing information about exactly the products they’ve been looking for—even though they haven’t communicated that information directly to you. Since your dealership may be able to gain insight into the consumer journey without individual shoppers handing the specifics to you, it’s important to approach the situation correctly and delicately in order to bring potential customers to your dealership instead of sending them running in the opposite direction. In order to approach your target consumers in a strategic manner, here are some tips to keep in mind...Read post

  • In this Age of Extreme Political Correctness, Should Businesses Care?

    If you’re on any social media platform, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen or heard of a multitude of topics where someone somewhere was offended. Not counting obvious religious, political or other volatile topics - there are many that seem, well, baffling. Take for example, the University of Ottawa’s decision to cancel its yoga class over concerns that cultural issues could offend students. Another recent example involved Starbucks decision to remove Holiday words and symbols from its traditional red cup which quickly went viral with detractors claiming that Starbucks hated Christmas. Target got into a mess recently with a Christmas sweater they sell that has the words “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” on it. People called them insensitive to those with mental health conditions. There are far too many examples of this recent phenomenon of unintentionally causing offense infiltrating and dominating social media conversations.   It’s a given that you can’t make everyone...Read post

  • Recall Masters Launches New Website: A One-Stop Source of Automotive Recall News, Data, Training and Communications

    Recall Masters, Inc., a leading provider of automotive recall news, data, training and communications, today announced the launch of a brand new website for the automotive industry. The company recently expanded its solution to multiple automotive businesses, including automakers, factory authorized dealers, pre-owned car dealers, fleet operators, rental car agencies, auto auctions, marketing agencies and other potential vendor partners. The website has been redesigned and expanded for more efficient navigation and to better explain all of the company’s solutions and product offerings. The site has also been built to fill a void as far as information and resources concerning automotive recalls. It is designed as a one-stop source of automotive recall news, information, marketing, training and other resources. Automotive businesses can visit the site to leverage the industry’s most comprehensive source or recall owner information for most every major auto make, get updated on all the latest news, and even request a free open recall report, tailored for their market area. Other educational resources include a recall communication sample, recall estimate by distance, recall summary report, Recall Masters Academy best practices curriculum, and company’s may request a free trial of the software services including API access and Inventory VIN Check. Read post

  • Want to Know Why Consumers Don’t Trust Us?

    The reason that consumers don’t trust us is simple… the messages we send them aren’t believable.   Point in case: Doug Demiro, a former manager of Porsche Cars North America, and now author of a popular column on automotive website Jalopnik, answered a reader’s question in his column that illustrates this point very clearly.   The question essentially boiled down to this: “Do those letters and e-mails from dealers saying they really want your trade-in actually mean anything? Do dealers really want your trade-in? Are they going to pay top dollar for your vehicle because they have some customer who desperately wants it?”   His answer: NO   Go ahead and read the article. It’s pretty much how consumers perceive these offers. The comments are also rather entertaining. It’s all consumers sharing experiences in which they received a similar offer and actually wanted to take the dealership up on it -- until they found out the dealer couldn’t deliver, or that the...Read post

  • Personalize Onsite Content for Users

    While marketing messages may fluctuate, most websites stay fairly static in terms of their offerings.  Different things may go on sale and different promotions may be featured on a site's home page or specials page, but rarely are those messages tuned for specific visitors.  However, it can pay to create custom onsite content intended specifically for each potential customer. Personalising onsite content amounts to having a site's images and copy change dynamically based on a user's cookies and browser history.  If a user has been searching for "cheap" items, showing a special discount to them might be more helpful, while someone that's been to a site already might want to be shown the last thing they were looking at.  Right now, this can be achieved with software.  In marketing, personalized content can be indirectly achieved via SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and directly via SEM (Search Engine Marketing/Pay Per Click). If a site isn't set up effectively to allow installing ...Read post