We have a knack for creating new words - words that evolve into bonafide buzz-words, positions, or conversations that often remain on autoloop. One buzz-word that has seemingly disappeared, though, is still a widely known position on the dealer level is an "Internet Manager."
So What Is An Internet Manager Exactly?
One might imagine that back when the digital sector took off that anything that had to do with the "Internet" morphed into this position called the "Internet Manager." A position that - to this day - does not quite make much sense. In that, what does "managing the internet" even mean? Really? When in conversation, the "Internet Manager" might refer to the person(s) who manage the Internet Leads. At which point, s/he might simply answer the lead and hand it off to a sales consultant. Or in some instances, s/he might complete the sale from start to finish.
How Does That Even Work When More Than Ninety Percent Of Today's Customers Shop Online Before Going Into A Dealership?
This is a great question given that we know more than ninety percent of today's buyers shop online before going into the dealership, how exactly do we differentiate these customers? And more importantly, is it even necessary or beneficial to separate the customers? Whereby doing the above, can in many ways create unnecessary breakpoints in your dealer's omnichannel plan of action. Think about it, if the customer shops online without inquiring to then come into the dealership and is forced down a rabbit hole, it can and will create massive "breakpoints." Breakpoints that could have otherwise been avoided.
The breakpoints - while on the surface might not be noticeable - occur daily. One of the most significant examples of this is when it comes to pricing. For instance, if your "Internet Manager" is not working with the customer as they did not inquire online, and they wind up working with a "sales consultant" who believes that they have not been online and tries to sell it at sticker vs. the Internet price it can and will most certainly cause a breakpoint, which can leave the customer frustrated.
So while we might believe that it is harmless to not disclose "Internet Pricing" to a customer who we do not know if they have been online - we unknowingly caused a breakpoint in our omnichannel experience. Where the customer does not think that they have to blatantly let the sales consultant know they had already seen the vehicle online for a lower price. It is assumed in many instances that the price offered online is the price of the vehicle. For example, imagine if you were shopping online for an item, but did not call the store. As you did not feel that it was necessary to call the store to confirm pricing because it was, well, online! Now imagine you get to the store only to find out that the price of the item you searched was now $1,200 more than what you expected! Wouldn't that be frustrating? Sure it would. Well, it is just as frustrating for your customer whose experience has now gone off the tracks.
So Why Do We Even Use the Name "Internet Manager"?
That, too, is a great question. When you think about it, what does managing the "Internet" even mean? If anything, it is a customer service position whose goal should be to answer the customer's questions and get them to come into the store. Knowing that getting the customer to show up to the dealership is half the battle! Albeit, there are sales managers - to this day - that think the job is "easy" with the mindset that all they have to do is sit behind a desk and get people to come into the dealership. Where the "hard part" is for the sales consultants as they actually have to do the job and close the customer. Sure, it is no easy task to close the customer. But that is another topic for another article. Yet time and time again, the sales managers (and sales consultants) will simply blame the "quality" of the lead as the reason they did not close the deal.
The real crux of the conversation is that no, there is no such thing as an "Internet Manager." There are sales managers, sales consultants, and BDC centers for those that have them. The dealers who have "Internet Departments" with sales consultants who only handle Internet Leads are missing the point, and in turn, losing sales as they are unknowingly creating breakpoints in their customer's omnichannel experience. As multiple customers shop online - without inquiring online who "show-up" at the dealership. This can and will cause numerous issues on the dealer level. More importantly, with this model - it creates unnecessary tension - i.e., if only specific people can work with "Internet" customers, but are otherwise assisting a customer at the time they show up (and are the only ones allowed to assist them) they are willingly allowing the customer to become disenchanted as they wait to purchase a vehicle potentially.
If your dealership is caught up with having to have an "Internet Department" then it is highly recommended that they pass the appointment off to their sales managers. At which point, the sales manager can assign the customer to an available sales consultant. In doing so, you ensure that the customer is taken care of! Not to mention, if the "Internet Manager" is caught up with customers for three to four hours at a time with customers they are not making near enough customer contacts to bring in new business! This just gives them yet another reason to not make customer contacts. I mean, it can be a struggle to get them to call just twenty people a day!
Do you have an Internet Manager/Department? If so, what challenges do you face trying to make this work?