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As technology advances so does the buying behavior of shoppers across all retail segments, especially automotive. We all know buying a car is the second largest purchase made in our lives, an important one. Customers are on the search for comfort, their favorite color and most of all a good deal. Technology has changed how the in-market shopper finds the information they require to make a smart purchase decision. GM’s and Sales Management today are mindful of the fact they need an engaging website with some Google advertising and a social media strategy. Wait! What about the most important part? SELLING the vehicle! That shopper that spent 11 hours on line before filling out a form on your website, did they come into the store for an appointment? If the dealership is not converting at 25% or higher, from incoming lead to over the curb and burning rubber, we should all be re-eveluating our strategy. Instead of blaming the “type” of lead and chalking up iLead’s as BAD leads, maybe we should look at the big picture? Let’s dig in to what might be a hefty misconception.
Let’s analyze the situation; a lead comes in from an in-market, automotive shopper that has been online for an average of 11 hours. Every click equipped the shopper some tid-bid of information, all adding up to the perfect buying decision. The customer, excited and ready to buy, submits their information into a slick box on your website. Wamo - a brick wall. 15 minutes goes by, 30 minutes goes by… in some cases, hours go by with no answer from the sales team. FAIL. The reason I can speak so confidently to this is because I have mystery shopped literally hundreds of dealerships (I suggest you do this as well) and this seems to be the common outcome. Hold on, it gets worse. The dealerships that do reply within minutes are an “automatic response”. As a customer, we can understand this “auto” response after business hours, but 3:00pm in the afternoon, when we know the store is open? Come on…
Here are the facts. The customer wants instant gratification. The “technology shopper” expects and craves information right away. Everything else they do on the web is at their fingertips, why would it be any different connecting with a dealership through a call to action on the website?
We fall behind due to the technology world shifting quicker than the business can adapt. We have figured out how to get people to the website, how are we converting them into customers? At 10% conversion we have work to do.
Sales teams are made up of industry vets, who have large client bases and can close a deal with their eyes closed. These skill sets have nothing to do with writing a great email or responding to an iLead. You can’t fire the (Sales Vet) dinosaur makes no sense when they are top of sales. Are the dealerships hands tied?
Follow-up is another concern. Leads are rolling in across all facets. Google AdWords are bringing in phone calls and form fills. Banner ads funneling traffic to the site, more leads roll in. Your upstairs marketing is going well! Those Las Vegas conferences paid off! What is going on downstairs? Why is the conversion rate on leads to sales so low?
The first GM “UREKA” moment and common fix to this problem is, “Lets get a CRM!”. The GM believes that the dealership will do a one-eighty on a dime and expect that all leads will be logged, all phone calls will get noted, the receptionist will log the walk ins. Not a bad idea!
The reality is, this does not happen over night. Some cases (Dinosaur Staff) it won’t happen at all. (Sorry, not trying to be rude be I'm not the only one who has agreed that this is a MAJOR issue.)
Put yourself in the shoes of a sales vet or Dinosaur. You have been selling cars for 20 - 30 years. It was only 10 years ago that you had a pen, paper and a handshake that sealed the entire deal. Now you are going to ask that same individual who has had a routine for 20 years to change it? Guess what? You’ve discouraged the vet/dinosaur and he starts to roar! Time passes and the all the baby dinosaurs get rallied up going against your pretty little CRM. This is not an easy feat. Look how Jurassic Park ended…
I have come to the conclusion that if you want a well oiled machine that responds to the technology shoppers properly, in a respectable amount of time (2 minutes). Follows up with valuable, professional, engaging information. Logs the interaction with a complete set of notes… It’s time to bite the bullet. Create a Business Development Centre! (BDC) I can hear you as I write this piece “That’s crazy expensive, takes up a ton of time and resources. Our little dealership could never have a BDC” I believe you are mistaken and I would like to explain. Just as mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the in-market buyer has changed their shopping behavior. We need to adapt.
How to "find $$$ for the resources for a Business Development Centre:
With only 3 different ways to save money, you could possibly have $276,000 a year to support the lead driving, appointment setting, customer helping BDC department!
We need to begin to look at our dealerships differently. It’s time to shake our heads and look at how customers are behaving and then cater to them properly. That means our marketing tactics and more importantly, the structure of our sales floor.
As shopping behavior changes day by day and grows with technology that is provided, we have to shift our business and adapt our entire way of thinking. We are creatures of habit and it’s to easy to get caught up in the same old ways. Let’s shake things up a bit and agree it’s time to take your business to a whole other level. We know what customers want, it’s important we provide it. That means big changes. Call it a risk; I say a calculated one.
Ive been very frank throughout this piece. Please if your dealership has a process and you have won the battle of strong, processed follow up. Lets hear from you!