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From: Jared Hamilton
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Chris Hill

Chris Hill E-Commerce Director

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Vendors Need To Connect On The Ground Level

As I sit and think about the sheer lack of training that exists in the car industry today. I find myself disgusted by the lack of expectations dealers have for their vendors. Why don’t we as dealers demand more out of the companies we’re handing over thousands of dollars a month to? Since when has the mere usage of technology these vendors produced years ago been worth so much to us? It’s sad that even top level vendors emulate each other nowadays and don’t have the insight to see where they are going wrong. Now I’m sure these words are pouring out of me from the sheer amount of exhausting hours I’ve put in over the last two weeks, retraining my auto groups management and sales staff to use so called cutting edge tools that vendors failed to train them on properly the first time. However, what I'm saying holds merit and should be taken seriously by vendors. 


Vendors today are missing the point. They throw millions of dollars at coders and developers to make some new and trendy program or tool but don’t pay the same respect to the implementation and training of the dealership staff that use them. Instead of hiring salespeople that know the dealer world intimately, they shift these tenured sales pawns from company to company thinking that if they throw together just the right team, their products are going to somehow take off. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Let me throw a little bit of real world dealership insight at you. If your vendor’s salespeople or product specialists have been removed from the sales floor for more than 2-3 years, they’re dated. Obviously there are rare exceptions out there but in reality 90% of these vendor’s front line people couldn’t be any more clueless as to how train dealership employees on how to implement or use their tools in a real world setting. 


I think back to one of my 2 hour training sessions today. As I stand there explaining the benefits of our vendor programs and how they can be used on a daily basis, I see the mouths of my salespeople and managers drop. They can’t believe that our tool has the ability to change every aspect of their day. They continuously shake their heads and plead to me that they never knew the system could do that. In reality, they were trained on it but the trainers or salespeople sent by the vendors aren’t car people and couldn’t relate to the dealership staff on how these tools can benefit them. I can go on and on with examples but I digress. The reason I’m writing this isn’t to go on a endless rant bashing vendors. It’s to get the dealer principles or general managers reading this to expect... wait no, demand more from their vendors. Don’t allow your vendors to simply come in and pitch on how great their products are, while quoting weak value building statements and showing you analytics that you don’t understand. Tell them you want them in the dealership, training your staff on how to use their tools on a everyday basis. 


Test your vendor’s sales people. Ask them to give you specific examples on how this tool can be used in instances that are valuable to you. If the vendors fail to connect with the audience using their tool, isn’t the fault of the trainers from that company? Don’t accept the same crap they regurgitate to every general manager out there. Their talking around you and your questions. Expect them to relate with you and your salespeople’s on a dealership level. What good is the tool if your staff doesn’t know how to really use it. I’m not talking about logging in to the tools backend and maintaining it’s utilization. I’m talking about using the tool in a innovative way that will set them apart from the rest of the dealers using the exact same program. When I shop my three nearest competitors and get the exact same popular CRM template from each there's something wrong. Don’t get me wrong it makes my life easy as a group eCommerce Director. It’s just sickening that this is accepted.    


There’s a reason why Auto Alerts does so well in certain territories. They actually have representatives that come to the store and know how to train dealership level salespeople in a way they can comprehend and relate to. I hate using examples because I’m not here pitching Auto Alerts. In fact we don’t currently use them in our group.  I don’t want any vendors that I use to feel I’m focusing this article on them. I’ve used just about every vendor out there over the last 5-6 years. Rare few of them are an exception to this. If you ask me, I suggest you request that these vendor executives start hiring people that were recent ground level dealership sales or management staff. These people speak our language, the vendors don’t. 

Chris Vitale
Love this article! Excellent points and very well written! Kind of like having a medical school class on how to perform heart surgery given by a flight attendant. What does the flight attendant know about heart surgery? Or, even better, reading a book from the original assembly line for the Model T and trying to apply it to today's modern assembly line. Kudos Chris, another excellent point, as usual.
Chris Hill
Thanks Chris! To be honest one of the best things IML ever did was hire you. You're a front lines car guy and exactly the model I'm promoting here. The way you connect with our managers and our sales people on a level they can relate to is a prime example of the right way to do it. Thanks for your feedback.

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