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Kathi Kruse

Kathi Kruse President

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Social Flips the Table: Now, Let The Seller Beware!

automotive social media kathi kruseThese days of blinding authenticity and transparency are causing everyone, brands and individuals, to sit up and take notice.  What you say today makes it to the Internet tomorrow. We all know that’s for keeps. Your store’s brand and your employee’s personal brand are on stage every minute. Reputations can be shot with one misplaced remark or an unexpected recording.

Anthony Iannarino of The Sales Blog wrote a great piece recently on Greg Smith, the employee who resigned from Goldman Sachs by publishing his “resignation” in the New York Times.  Anthony points out some very valuable lessons for dealers, sales managers and salespeople.  At the core of Mr. Smith’s letter is the very heart and soul of what it means to sell and serve your clients. His indictment of his former employer reads like a manifesto for those who sell with integrity, respect and aspirations of being a long-term trusted advisor.

In his article, “Why I’m Leaving Goldman Sachs”, Greg Smith tells of how his bosses lost hold of the firm’s long-standing stellar reputation and integrity on their watch. He says, “I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival.”

Greg goes into how callously his fellow employees talk about ripping off their clients.  Managing directors referring to their own clients as “Muppets” (which has since gone viral) in company emails.

This was a wake up call for me because haven’t we all been flippant in creating our own inside names to describe customers?  In car sales, it’s an up, be-back, mooch, grape, laydown, second-baseman, roach, grinder, walk-in, appointment, gold balls…and those are just the ones off the top of my head! But I digress…

Take notice: Caveat Venditor (Let the Seller Beware).

Imagine the conversations that took place in the boardroom when Greg Smith’s article went viral!  I bet no one ever expected their words to be published in the NY Times, jumping off their screen that morning, to bite them in their naughty bits.

The Internet has reversed the balance of power.

Especially as it pertains to those who would cheat others. Caveat Venditor, or “seller beware” is the basis for buying now. When those you harm are going to immediately and permanently post your name, your company’s name, a picture of your store, and their story for all the world to see (courtesy of Social Media and online ratings), the shoe is most definitely on the other foot.

The charlatans and snake oil salesmen to whom Caveat Emptor, or “buyer beware” applies have always been tremendous transactional marketers who’ve never really been concerned about their client’s outcomes. These people may sell, but they have never been salespeople.

True sales professionals know that future sales have always depended on the buyer not having to beware!

I had the pleasure of working with the #1 BMW Salesperson in the world.  She has a trust with her clients that is unsurpassed.  Every one of her transactions is repeat and referral business.  While not all salespeople can be #1, I know many who strive for that everyday.  They’re finding their way in this new Social Media world, working to develop lasting sales relationships with their clients.

It’s a fact: auto retail will have to continue to fight the stereotype.

However, some salespeople (and dealerships) are poised to truly re-invent themselves.  They never have to think about buyer or seller beware because their customers are repeats and referrals. They’ve built their online reputations and Social presence through trust.  Their community thinks of only them when it’s time to do business and it shows in their bottom line.

What steps have you taken to lead your team into Social Business?

Kathi Kruse
Kruse Control Social Media Coaching & Training

Jim Bell
Great post Kathi as always. The scary thing is if an employee were to quit or get fired on bad terms, it could be detrimental to the dealership and their reputation if they go to that extreme. Has a salesperson done something like this? I have no idea, but now with social where it is, it wouldn't surprise me. We as dealers always have to keep a pulse of what is going on in the Internet world with alerts to try to fend some of that off if it were to happen.
Kathi Kruse
Thanks Jim! You are so right on! While we can hope that this type of thing won't happen, there's a real chance it will if the work environment is similar to Goldman Sachs (and I've worked at many stores where that's the case!). More and more, the need for a dedicated manager to oversee Social content is apparent. Between keeping their finger on the pulse of the work force, curating content for Social marketing and communicating with customers for online reputation, NOT having someone in the store could be hazardous to the health of the business.

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