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Market Your Sales Professionals! Are you crazy?
Sounds crazy right? When the product that a dealership sells is cars, why in the world would you want to spend any dollars on marketing the sales professionals? Well I am here to tell you that there are some very good reasons. I was recently talking with a GM of an average sized, major brand store and trying to show him the value of effectively marketing the sales staff and the benefits that would come from that, and he brought up some thoughts that I believe are far to commonplace in the auto industry.
He suggested that it didn't make sense to market sales people because they are always coming and going, and the reason people buy is because of the name on the side of the building which is the only consistent thing there. He also suggested that it made more sense to have some third party create a walk around video of each vehicle on the lot, rather than having videos of his sales team introducing themselves to customers, following up with customers, and thanking those that buy from them. He failed to see that the value is in his true assets, his people.
This is a thought process that I have debated with consumers about for years. I truly do believe that people are assets, not things. Robert Kiyosaki defines an asset as something that puts money into your pocket, and a liability takes it out(more to come on this later). Therefore your customers, and your employees are the true assets. Now we do still need to market the product we sell of course, don’t get me wrong I am not advocating to stop advertising the vehicles themselves, I just believe that showing off your true assets in addition to the cars is a very advantageous strategy.
Take a look at how technological advances are so common place theses days and pair that with government regulations on auto manufacturers, and what you get is many similarities between each make and model. Now I am not saying that all cars are the same and created equal, I have my preferences when it comes to reliability, resale value, style etc… but what I am saying is that most cars these days have similar technology, safety features, options, and even colors. There are enough JD Power awards to go around that just about every manufacturer can claim some kind of “best in class something or other”. As an example, which new cars on the market these days come with BlueTooth? That’s right, all of them.
And which manufacturers advertise their prestigious JD Power awards and claim that their product is the best and try and come up with fun and intriguing commercials to convince us that they are right? Right again! All of them. Thats ok because that is their job, to make great products, and market them as best they can. Now to the dealerships…. At the dealership level we rely heavily on benefitting from the manufacturer advertising to drive customers to our websites and dealerships, and then of course we come up with our own kinky ads with plastic keys, sending out false hope that the customer might actually win that free car. We promise gift cards and fill our showroom with people that spent $15 in gas to come pick up their $10 Walmart card and waste an hour of their time(and ours) because they are not even in the market for a car, but they couldn't pass up the thought of cashing in their golden ticket or trying to cash that awesome check they got in the mail. Most of the ads that dealers send out are focused on price and have so much fine print that it takes up a third of the ad space. No wonder dealerships have a reputation.
The internet has made our lives amazing, all the information anyone could ask for is sitting safely in your pocket on that handy little device. Our customers know this as well and most all of them spend time researching online before the buy. They just wanted to make sure that the car they are considering actually does have BlueTooth before they get to your store. But lets backup a bit. The internet has also made our world much smaller. Customers can get all the info they need about their purchase from you through your website, but guess what, they get the same information from your competition. And let’s face it, chances are your vehicles are probably the same, the prices are probably the same, your websites are the same, your chat tool is the same, but hopefully your auto responder email is written much more eloquently than those other guys right? What is going to set you apart from the 3 other dealerships that your customers are contacting? Maybe its your talented sales professionals? Maybe showing your customers something different and starting to build trust and rapport with them while they are sitting at home in their PJs deciding where to go is a good idea?
Now why does it make sense to market your sales team? Well first off because they are your true assets in case you missed that part. Second, by investing in your sales team and helping them to be able to create more business for themselves and you, it just might help them stay with your dealership longer and thus reduce your loss from high turnover. Third, when people come to your dealership, the cars don’t talk to them, someone is there to greet them, do a proper investigation, create value for them, build trust and rapport with them, take them on a demo, facilitate paperwork, and do a delivery. The cars don’t do this. The sign on the side of the building doesn’t do it. Your army of balloons bobbing away in the wind doesn’t do it either. It is your talented sales professionals that are the ones who are ultimately responsible for that sale happening. You can have a thousand of the most perfect cars on your lot but without professional sales people it will do you no good. By marketing your sales staff you are giving your customers something different, you are showing them that you are real people just like they are and that you are sincere in wanting to help them and give them a great experience. When you market your sales people, there is no need for fine print, and no need to give away all the gross before they get there.
Speaking of gross, I held the record for the top five grossing deals in the history of my dealership. They ranged between $10,700-$14,300 between front end, accessories, and F&I gross, and this was at a Toyota store that was averaging about $2200 a copy round trip. Now before you ask me how I sleep at night, just let me say the those five deals were with only three customers, so there was some repeat business there, and they were truly some of my happiest customers and each one sent me several referrals. Now I can tell you without a doubt that I was not able to make that kind of gross and have customers that happy because I so skillfully pointed out that this particular vehicle has a fan speed selector for the AC, or because I was a master at showing them where the button for the BlueTooth was. It was because I focused on creating value for them rather than price, and I gave them a truly great experience and all that comes with it. These are some of the things that we should be marketing, at least in addition to our kinky ads with blowout prices.
I am a firm believer in selling yourself as much as the car, we all know that most people buy because they like and trust their sales person. So if that is true, then why not let your customers see why they should come to your dealership specifically. Its not because of the cars, they can get those anywhere. It’s because of your talented sales professionals that give your customers amazing car buying experiences. There is plenty of advertising on the cars, and most manufacturer websites do a great job of showing the features and benefits. However the only advertising most people see about sales professionals is the TrueCar commercial that hints that you can’t trust a salesman. I for one think it is time to give our customers something different and something better.