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Brad Bowers

Brad Bowers Principal

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Forget Transparency, Be Transaction-Ready

The talk these days is all about “transparency”.  Since consumers are doing tremendous amounts of research BEFORE visiting a dealership, since they are so well-informed, since they know what they want, dealers need to be transparent about everything.  One cannot argue with the data.  According to studies by R.L.Polk/AutoTrader and Google/Shopper Sciences:

  • The average car shopper starts the process online, spends
  • 19 hours doing research, and
  • References 18 different sources, but
  • Only visits 1-2 dealerships!

If shoppers are ready to buy and are only visiting 2 dealerships, are you closing 50% of your first time guests?  If not, I don’t think it is because you are not transparent, it is because you are not Transaction-Ready.  Sounds strange, right?  Of course your sales force is ready to sell a car. 

However, salespeople today are victims of technology.  Once a salesperson makes the initial contact with a car shopper, the number of communications escalates.  They call, email, and text each other many times.  And salespeople are constantly reminded to be responsive and get back with the shopper right away!  So who is “on point” looking out for the next opportunity?

Transaction-Ready Selling starts with being ready when the shopper is ready.  According to AutoTrader, even after consumers have done all their research, 69% do not phone, email, or chat with a dealer.  They just walk onto your lot!    Since there are fewer ups per dealer, your sales force needs to make the most of each opportunity, and that is best achieved with a closed floor.

With a closed floor, you are assured that someone is always vigilant, making sure no guest is missed.  There are no more pages for “Any available salesperson to the showroom”.  Guests do not make it all the way to the sales desk and ask, “Can someone help me?”  Managers are not telling salespeople who are standing around to “Go do your follow-up”.  And guests (especially women) do not have to run the gauntlet of salespeople standing outside the dealership waiting for the next opportunity. 

One argument against a closed floor generally pertains to wanting your best salespeople greeting the majority of guests.  Is that even possible?  Your best salespeople should have a lot of repeat/referral business so they are unavailable when guests come on the lot.  As a result, the majority of first-time guests are greeted by your most aggressive and greenest salespeople.  Neither group are high closers, but why give more opportunities to an aggressive salesperson who burns through a lot of ups?  This would be like moving a .250 career hitter higher up in the batting order so they can get more at bats!  It’s better to give more opportunities to the green peas and determine sooner if they have what it takes, or better yet, what they need to work on (more on this in the next article).

The other argument against a closed floor is that it is unproductive to have 1 or 2 people “on point” when there is no traffic.  However, it is impossible to predict when guests will step on the lot, so which is better: an open floor that NEVER matches traffic flow, or a closed floor that is organized and helps a salesperson manage their work?  With a closed floor, salespeople have MORE time to call back shoppers, answer emails, respond to texts and prospect. 

Finally, a closed floor helps you sell more cars without having to add salespeople.  Every Transaction-Ready guest is greeted promptly and given full attention, since the salesperson knows they will not be getting another opportunity until everyone else gets one.  By tracking each opportunity and the result, managers are able to identify areas that salespeople need to work on.  Interesting article on showroom statistics is here: http://bit.ly/WPckmT.   And managers become more productive since they do not have to babysit the floor. 

A closed floor is a big step towards being Transaction-Ready. 

Next step: Staffing the Transaction-Ready Sales Floor

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