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Jared Hamilton
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Jared Hamilton

Jared Hamilton Founder - CEO

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Does this sound familiar? As an ISM have you work a lead, set an appointment and then it appears the guest didn’t show as promised… then hours later you see their name on the deal board next to another sales persons name?  You approach the sales person and get the response, “They didn’t ask for you, how am I suppose to know they were an Internet customer?  I’m not giving you half a deal now since I’ve done all the work, all you did was send them an email.”


Lets face it, this happens. A lot.

The tensions between Internet departments and retail floors are real.  ISMs feel skated by their retail counterparts and the retail sales person doesn’t believe that an ISM deserves part of the deal “for just sending an email.”

With over 80% of the population using the web to help their purchase experience, these disagreements are not going away.  What ends up happening is you dampen employee moral with the bickering.  Managers get involved and an employee is left feeling like their manager doesn’t support them.  It’s a downward spiral.  The consensus I get in talking with ISMs around the country is that the number one complaint is their managers don’t support what they are doing.  If arguments over split deals are prevalent in your store you run a high risk of losing your ISM, especially if they are good.

My question is, why are the Internet and retail floor separated?  Generally a dealership has 10 retail sales people to 1 ISM. Doesn’t it seem backwards to have 90% of your store is focused on retail deals yet 80% of your customers are focused on Internet transactions?   Better yet, if over 80% of your customers are focused on the Internet, why not just do away with the separation of the floors all together and train everyone to work with the “Internet Buyer?”

The excuse I hear the most is that dealers are afraid of losing gross.  However, the facts are you are more likely to lose the customer by not treating them right, especially if they are armed with information (as 80% plus of them are.)   When more than 80% of your customers are on the web and using it to direct their purchase experience, it does not make sense to dedicate any less than 100% of your staff to serving the this once “niche market.”  Its not 1998 anymore when people were questioning if the internet was a fad… its for real and ALL your staff better be involved.
 

Jim Chamberlain
I don’t think split deals are going to end because you make everyone an ISM. You will still have the same problem of salespeople NOT asking the questions that may take the customer away from them. They know that if they work it long enough, before they get caught, they’ll get the deal. This happens because Managers won’t enforce policies. Selective enforcement will do even more damage to your staff moral. It’s really pretty simple. Set a standard. If the ISM does their due diligence and the customer comes in, it’s their deal. I don’t care if someone else sells and delivers it. They STOLE the customer. You won’t have to do that too many times before everyone gets the message. It should be the same if someone skates a showroom up. Every customer/up/internet lead should be in your CRM. Take 30 seconds to look up the customer. If they are in CRM and meet your standard for Previous Customer, Up, Internet or whatever, they are turned over to the appropriate salesperson. If you don’t do this, how will your salespeople ever see the value of following up with prospects and maintaining relationships with customers? “Why should I do all that work when anyone standing at the front door can steal my customer”? As far as making everyone an ISM, I think that’s a huge mistake. About half the salespeople I have tried to train in my Internet Department could not structure a sentence or paragraph. Their spelling was atrocious. I had one guy that constantly spelled his own name wrong. I think he knew how to spell it. He just didn’t pay enough attention to notice. I know we have spell checker. But, he didn’t use that either. The other problem is that they try to use the same word tracks in an email that they use on the sales floor. Every salesperson in the dealership needs to understand how the internet has changed the buyer and the buying process. I would not allow every salesperson to work the Leads.
Dave Erickson
I've been trying to convince the owner and each new GSM for years to convert to mostly Internet Sales for a few years now. It seems the owner and the few GSM's he's gone through would rather avoid the issue all together or postpone it as long as possible. At first I was laughed at but now they admit it's "inevitable" and "the future". To me it seems like someone who's using dial up telling everyone a diner party last Thursday that highspeed DSL or Cable internet is the future and it's inevitable that we will all upgrade someday. No one knows how to respond to this awkward statement made by the dial up user because everyone else at the table upgraded over 10-years ago. The sad thing is that I'm at this dinner party listening to this dial up user profess the future of high speed internet being the future every day I come to work. I wouldn't even know how to break it to the guy that even my phone is 3G, high speed internet is free throughout the city, at the cafe next door, and even in our own showroom. The sad reality is he still has yet to even send or receive a text message and admits you doesn't know this "computer stuff". What's he do here then? He walks around laying into everyone about the top button of their shirt. He writes $10 high gross sales bonuses for the retail floor. He has no more responsibility today than a manager of a Bath and Body works in a shopping mall yet he's paid like CEO of a small software company. The point I'm trying to eventually make here is that the leadership in many dealerships today have never done "internet sales" nor are they qualified to understand how a full conversion could be implemented and managed going forward. If they did it would already have been done. We would be leading rather than waiting to follow. We would realize it's already here. In terms of converting the sales staff at most dealerships it's probably not possible. Most of them will have to be let go. Receptionists at most dealership are probably better qualified to do Internet Sales than the Retail sales guys out on the point right now.
Jared Hamilton
I feel you Dave and I completely agree that much of the "leadership" in the industry is not qualified to understand or execute a transition like that. I actually spoke about the very topic at the Digital Dealer Convention in Las Vegas last year. I believe many of the dealership leaders have had an unfair advantage. General Management and Change Leadership are very different things, they require different skills and offer vastly different results. Many of those who have been greatly successful will really struggle with the changes in the market, but that isnt to say they cant learn to change, and change, and change... because thats whats required now constant evolution. I dont feel its for everyone at this stage (having 100% isms) but I do believe its the future and eventually most stores will be there. It will just take time. At my last store we did convert 100% of everyone to internet, it was lots of hard work and we did lose some people, but in the end our sales tripled. Its a bit ahead of its time for now, but it wont be so much in a few years.
Stan Sher
This is part of the reason why a lot of stores started having a BDC or CRC where the department handles leads and passes them off to the sales floor. This is the way to get rid of the split deal problem. The problem with the BDC or CRC is that they are working the customer differently which often leads to problems when the customer comes in to the store and deal with a sales person because the person has not worked them all the way and expects to try to work them as a regular up. I mentioned before that everyone should be capable of working internet leads start to finish. If we know that 80% of the customers coming are were on the internet, why not have 80% of your sales force as the internet department and the other 20% handling the floor? This is something to try and consider. If the store has overflow, an Internet rep can take an up and they can have a rotation planned up. It is important to have an assistant for the internet department, perhaps one assitant for every three internet people to help follow up with dead leads and new leas that are assigned when the sales people are busy working deals. The showroom is not always packed with customers and there is so much down time with sales people goofing off that this might be a way to put everyone to work hard and make deals. I guarantee the dealership will perfom better as a whole and sell an addition 15 to 20 cars per month. This kills all laziness.

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