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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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Paying Attention to What’s Important – Attribution vs. Customer Experience

Dealers spend far too much time focused on where the traffic is coming from and not near enough on what is happening with the traffic once we’re in contact. With so much attention focused on digital initiatives, it is no wonder consumers are now talking about a poor customer experience. We focused so much effort on the evolution in marketing that we forgot to keep an eye on the quality of CX.

As sales fluctuate, so do dealers’ advertising budgets. Just 15 years ago, a typical dealer might have a handful of vendors serving them. Today, any walkthrough of your accounts payable department will show that number has grown considerably. Moreover, any walk through a conference exhibit hall and you will find an endless amount of providers also looking to partner with your organization. This has caused us to change the questions we ask ourselves. Where we used to ask how to reach and serve customers better, we turned our attention only to… “Where do I need to spend my money?” This eventually morphed into, “Did I spend my money wisely?”

Over the past decade plus in automotive, these questions forced us to take a close look at the ROI. Were we getting a sensible return on investment? Back in the day, we all had a version of an ROI calculator that we could deduce what providers were allowing us to be profitable, and which were not. (Typically, this was determined by formulas wrote in an Excel sheet featuring stats such as lead count, sales, margin, and cost per sale. Some rang that up against the F&I’s sourcing sheets they did before vehicle delivery).

As leads dried up, providers began calling themselves “advertising sources”, opposed to one that would generate leads. Brilliant. How can they determine if we’re good at not if there is no way for them to see valid data? That’s when attribution models solved the equation. No longer a first point or last touch quandary, but multi-point attribution could pinpoint their basic value. So as dealers we comb through statistics regarding all of the sources that might have influenced a lead, visit, consideration, or sale.

Yet, if Google states the average shopper visits 18 different websites before purchasing a vehicle (out of 100’s available), how might a dealer wrap their head around what percentage of profitability is reliant on each provider? If you can’t direct money to all of the sites they visited, which bear the most fruit? If they visited all, must you give money to all? And as the questions tunnel deeper down the rabbit hole, we’re off in the weeds. We lost sight of the most important aspect of the sale: the customer’s experience.

Whether it be a great phone experience, a poor lead handling experience, a pleasant greeting, the lack of test drive, a great product presentation, or no introduction to a manager, consumers will make up their mind predicated upon how they’re treated; not just what information they gleaned from your website. No amount of money can fix a poor phone, lead, or showroom experience. Dedicating dollars and attention to bringing in traffic rather than handling that traffic professionally is putting the cart before the horse. Anyone who has sold vehicles will tell you much of a consumer’s journey and decision-tree has occurred in advance of their visit, but few will say the shoppers’ minds were fully made up.

One wrong move in your communication (peer-to-peer online or in-person on the showroom) will cost you a sale. At the upcoming DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas, my great friend Brent Wees of The Next Up and I will show you the attribution markers that are stealing your attention away from the task-based metrics that truly influence a sale. Our session is titled “The Results Are In… And You Are NOT the Father of the Sale”.

Yes, like an in-studio awakening from Maury Povich, it is time we pay attention to the elements that contributed to a profitable customer experience. What do you feel influences the customer most?
Your ad budget?
Where your inventory is listed?
Your displayed price?
Your impressions?
Your VDP views?
Your clean website?
Or how you communicate and treat your customers?

We feel the same. And we have the data to prove why it is the more attributable to a sale than a single ad dollar spent. Check us out at the DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas.

Chris K Leslie

Reminds me of the divide  between marketing and sales that we see in all types of business. 



Bryan Armstrong

Ironically the Sales floor can become that insatiable beast always demanding "MORE" yet failing to recognize that slowing down an properly handling the traffic they have would result in all the opportunity they need. 

In today's 8 Mile environment, you only get one shot.... 

Sherri Riggs

Joe great blog post! I'm really looking forward to your presentation at DSES!

Joe Webb

Thanks so much, Sherri!


Tracie Costabile

Agreed!  I've seen too many dealerships who are quick to cancel a rich source of high quality leads just because "our sales didn't go up."  If your sales didn't go up, it's not the fault of the company sending you the leads, my friend.  Thanks for this, Joe!

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