Why your Internet Sales Process matters more now than it ever has, and the 7 Process Points you must execute to be successful:
Advanced marketing tactics like SEO and Social Media Marketing are a big focus in the industry right now. These marketing tools are very successful at moving the bar forward and YES your dealership needs to be involved. However, if you are growing your arsenal of marketing tools you are also being more wasteful if your process is not nailed down. Your store should not be investing more marketing dollars unless your customer funnel is proven to convert the customers into deals. As the economy rebounds and you look to grow your marketing it's a perfect time to do a dealership process check up. How does your store stack up?
The Correct Internet Sales Process
A successful Internet sales process is not rocket science. There are 7 things every process should accomplish. By executing these seven points consistently and with your dealerships brand, you will maximize your close rates. Use this as a checklist to grade your dealerships process:
1. Quick Response time
Yes, this concept has been beat into the industry but in this age of immediacy it continues to be one of the largest separators of success. An hour to respond to an email is NOT acceptable. Your response needs to be within minutes, if you cannot do this consistently restructure your department or use technology that can respond with YOUR price quote immediately.
Do not measure, average response time, it's a bogus measurement. Instead measure what % of the time you responded within 15 minutes. Face it, if you don't respond quickly the chances of closing the deal drops dramatically.
2. Transparency in price, availability and trade
Customers can get whatever information they want. If they don't get it from you they will get it elsewhere. Don't let that happen. If they ask for a price give them a price. If they want to know what their trade is worth talk to them about it. Don't ever avoid a question. Be transparent, be engaging, be a place they want to do business, answer their questions and give them a reason to come see you.
3. Provide multiple options
When customers go online the regularly add features or submit requests on vehicles out of their price range. They are curious, they are hopeful and they are human... trying for something better than current reality is just what we do. Once you realize they are unlikely to buy the vehicle they submitted a lead on you realize the importance in providing options to them. This helps engage the customer with you as they explore their options and come to reality of what the best car for them really is.
4. Sell the advantages of your product
Again, customers regularly DO NOT buy the product they submitted a lead on. Many even switch brands or bounce from new to used and vice versa. Clearly the MYTH that Internet customers know exactly what they want is FALSE. You need to "sell" your product.
How do you do this? Provide links. Send them to your product landing pages, micro sites and the pages that tell your brand proposition. If you don't have these pages built and optimized put that on your list of things to do. Use OEM sites, outside news stories, social media profiles and your dealership ratings and reviews to boost your brand proposition. Do be cautious sending customers to sites you down own, you have less control but added 3rd
party credibility. Balance the pros/cons appropriately.
Track these links. Your CRM should be able to tell you who is clicking on what, replace the links that get no action and keep the content fresh.
5. Phone call to request appointment
If the customer provided a phone number you have permission to use it. Call them. Confirm they got your email, start a conversation to get to know them. The one piece of your product another store cannot is your relationship with the customer, be sure that relationship is strong. Use a phone script, set an appointment and track your shows.
6. Long term follow up
party leads close AFTER 30 days. If you are a dealership that does a great job at following its customers for 3 weeks, congratulation! You could double your closing rate if you could extend that follow up/engagement process follows for an additional 60 days. Long term follow up should be more than automated emails or a dealership newsletter. Include regular phone calls into the mix. You are most likely better at building and maintaining relationships on the phone than you are at email. Use this to your advantage.
7. Differentiated "customer friendly" sales process
After you have done all this work to get the Internet Customer to the dealership, don't blow it with a bad "in person" sales process. Continue to be transparent, answer questions, be a resource and over come objections. You should close an exceptionally high number of your Internet appointments that show up. It's ok to sell and be a closer, just maintain your customer relationship through the process and you will be fine.
Dealership Internet Sales Success
If there is one thing I would I would emphasis is consistency. We are in the business of doing the little things a lot of times. Measure every step of your process and report with your management team in weekly meetings. Reward the process by keeping spiffs and awards focused on execution. You cannot manage results but you can manage the activities that get the results. The 7 activities listed above will get you results but most stores struggle in the execution of their process. Hitting all 7 points consistently is an uphill climb. Where does your store excel and where does it fall short? What is the biggest tip you could offer your fellow dealers about executing your process correctly? Please share...