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Let's face it, we still live in a marketing-based world. And nearly all of it still screaming for attention, sales, mass following, validation, acceptance and more while typically ignoring what matters most. Yes, it's morphed and transitioned and (partially) gone to the place called online but it is created and delivered in the same way it nearly always has. And for automotive, in both B-to-B and B-to-C arenas, the deliverables suck (we'll try to not use any more technical terms in this post).
It's not that the market, the public, the customers, the industry or even the actual providers don't expect any different, it's just that it's what's done. Is it that when you stop screaming "we're #1" it allows another company to scream the same thing, making it true? In the experience garnered by partnering with dealers all over North America, the most dissatisfaction expressed comes from dealing with companies screaming about top results while not backing it up.
Have we become so skewed that we'll actually do what we don't want to take part in ourselves? Or have we become so numb to the barrage of messaging that we don't notice? So let's take a layer off!
1. Old school. We practice what we preach, right? There is a lot of talk, once again, about "back to basics" and "blocking and tackling". Are you practicing what you preach, or is it time to get real? For starters, look at how salespeople are being "taught" typically, if at all. Motivational speakers? In-your-face, Glengarry Glen Ross "coffee is for closers" stuff (even though it may be true)? "Seasoned veterans that can do everything" sessions in your store? So...do you actually do that to customers? Do you talk to them that way? If not, why do you need it?
Salespeople are motivated by, wait for it, MONEY! If a salesperson is not on the ball, they may need a pep talk from an outsider for $5,000-$30,000. Right? More likely they need a couple days off, fresh air, a good book, some exercise and to get away from the naysayers at the dealership (which can also include management!). The first layer of the onion feel like the first burn of summer vacation...
2. Hyped 20 Group sales. For good and for bad, dealers talk to dealers that talk with other dealers. They recommend things. They invite speakers and presenters (don't forget the pitch masters) to their groups, associations and getaways. And then it happens: after providing a dealer/group with some great info, recommending appropriate partners, showing them how to best get the true answers as they consider the next move...you walk into the store that has been desperately needing a real kick in the behind treatment to get going, and alas...they had a round of golf with their buddy 86 states away and bought the same (fill-in-the-blank solution/vendor) because "they're selling cars like water".
No real research, no real competitive bids, no idea what they're doing. And, being as how it's automotive retail, after the install and training, the 30 days of excitement wears off and it's just another check. Until the next company comes in and..."nope, we don't need any new fill-in-the-blanks...we're all over it!". Yeah Bill (if you're a Microsoft fan or Steve if you like Apple more), you're all over it. That layer of the onion just put a divot in your business way bigger than the one you did on the 14th hole with your buddy.
3. Media. While that should be enough said, it still needs clarification. You are what you eat right? So, it is worth venturing a guess that you are what you read as well. Did you ever like a newscaster so much that the news was somewhat not as believable when someone else was on camera? That sure explains a lot in the automotive industry. A change of scenery is becoming more and more what the doctor ordered. Social media has surely facilitated the fact that a handful of sources is not as good as many good sources. Considering, at the same time, that there is definitely garbage out there called news, the world would just not be the same place anymore without the streams of great, timely and absolutely valuable information.
Or do you still get it from the same 10 people over and over and over? Better yet, do you get it from a place that sells what you end up seeing? Trust is absolutely required and good data is needed. So is a great line of questioning that deserves an honest, unbiased answer. Have you got your answer yet? The pain from that layer of the onion comes with a tear, a grimace and a cost.
Change is necessary, more than ever. And more than ever, things are remaining the same: The OEMs' ads. The Tier II ads. The vendors' pitches. The automotive media. The balloons. The gorillas on roofs. The radio spots. The newspaper. What are you trying to tell a public that is wide awake and ignoring it all?
Look outside, there's a new day. It's called opportunity. And it's not wearing yesterday's clothes. It's not driving a....oh boy. Better not go there. That onion might end up being really sour....
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