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The Internet destroyed the car business!” We’ve all heard it… From the best self-proclaimed “gurus” all the way down to tenured sales people. We have portals where customers can virtually park used cars side by side and they have many times more information on what’s available than the personnel at the dealership. The story’s always the same. It reduces gross profit, it puts the power of the price and the pace of the transaction into the hands of the consumer. Customers can avoid the showroom until they’re ready to pull the trigger.
The only way the Internet has destroyed the car business is because people look for reasons to not do the things that worked in the past and they keep playing with all the new shiny widgets that they don’t understand but won’t admit they don’t understand it.
When I entered the car business 23 years ago the only "sales training" I received was product knowledge and how to find customers. I was told to find a customer, land them on a car, fill out a buyers order (all the blanks), get a manager, sit down, shut up and listen. Lather, rinse, repeat. Pretty practical on the surface. And you know what was magical? It actually worked! It still does, by the way; the basics still work beautifully.
As a sales manager, 16 years ago, I’d interview and hire people and the first question I’d ask is "How big is your book of business?" That’s what was really important, how many opportunities could someone bring with them to the store. Has all of that been lost today? We need to get back to the basics as an industry and fast.
I was taught how to network and prospect and first and foremost how to stay in touch with my sold customers. Mining those contacts for additional sales and referrals was a big piece of the puzzle. I’d dig out customer files from five years back and call and work them. I called the lists of prospects the manufacturer sent the dealership that requested information via print media. I even picked up the phone and made cold calls, imagine that today. After a few years of doing this I had a book of business where I didn’t have to do these things anymore, then I went into management, sigh.
The internet has created an industry where we wait for the opportunities to come in, the art of finding the deal is lost. If it’s not lost then it’s hiding because no one talks about how to do it anymore.
What I was taught pre-Internet still works today and using the technology that’s available makes the job that much easier. Oh, and now I can use social media and the Internet to prospect too? Wow! What a great time to be in the car business! Just don't sit around waiting for things to happen… Make them happen!
Go find someone and sell something.
Paul Rushing is the Search Marketing Manager for iMagicLab. He brings over 15 years of automotive experience to iMagicLab and stays ahead of the curve on search marketing and social