My primary goal as a PR Professional is to assist my clients in achieving the most exposure possible and build top-of-mind brand awareness among their potential customers, namely auto dealers. To help better understand how to best position my clients for success, last year, I did a little research into how dealers perceive vendors and their practices.
I reached out to Bobbie Herron, Digital Sales and Marketing Manager for the Garber Automotive Group. Herron was named to Automotive News’ “Retail 40 under 40” list last year, and she was kind enough to share a few things with me that vendors do to irritate her, causing them to potentially lose her business. She also shared some best practice tips on how vendors can better approach dealers.
The blog generated a lot of attention and received many responses, varying from agreement to complete irritation. In an effort to balance the scales, Bobbie agreed to a second interview in which she shares some of the things that she feels vendors do right -- that help catch her interest and earn and keep her business.
Here is what she had to say on the matter:
- “Be personal in your approach: When vendors reach out to me trying to entice me to look at a new product, all too often the initial contact is via an e-mail template. Many times my name is misspelled. Or they assume I’m a male. Some of these templates are horrible and full of grammar and/or spelling errors -- just really sloppy work. I don’t want to be made to feel as if I’m just some random person on some e-mail list that a vendor obtained - actually, quite the opposite. Vendors who take the time to e-mail me personally – not as part of some e-mail blast – will get my attention. If the e-mail impresses upon me that they have done their homework about Garber. If they have identified specific ways in which they feel their product can help my marketing efforts be more successful. And, if they portray a genuine interest in Garber, they will get my attention.
- "Make me feel like I matter: People do business with people who make them feel important. I want a vendor to make me feel valuable. That I matter. Vendors can accomplish this by showing an interest in helping me use their product to its maximum potential. One way in which vendors can do this is through training. I’m not talking about webinars and conference calls, but rather in-store training with me and my whole team. It’s sad that there are times in which I find out about new features and products for services I already use by walking an exhibit hall at a conference. I purposefully walk an exhibit hall without my badge so that I can get honest demos (or sit in on one) from my existing vendors. Sometimes this is how I discover features I didn’t even know existed in my current services.”
- “Pay regular visits: I absolutely love vendors who visit my store regularly – at least once a quarter – in order to come and teach me, and any new employees, about their product. Everyone needs refresher courses. And new employees need actual training. Who better to train them on these services than the reps? They know more about their product than I do. Vendors who do this prove to me that they have a genuine interest in the auto group’s success level. I want a vendor to be my partner. I don’t want to be just be a sale, but want the vendor to care about our success just as much as we do. Instead of just selling us the farm, these vendors start with the meat of their product… the cows. We can plant corn in the next step of the improvement process. In addition, I love vendors who are willing to share information they have learned in the industry that could help us improve. Who knows their industry, products and best practices better than they do?”
“Manage my expectations by providing good data: I want a vendor who sets and manages expectations for results and is clear on what those results are based on. I don’t want some vague reports where I have to attempt to gauge the ROI of their product or service. I want data that will give me a realistic ROI based on the areas that matter to me – not what their bosses tell them to share. I expect my vendors to ask me what data or reports matter to me. If they throw in a few additional reports that they think I should see, that’s fine. This is a collaboration; a partnership. By asking me what’s important, then providing that data, it shows me that they recognize that what I think is important is relevant.”
- “Dealer Advisory Boards: I love vendors with dealer advisory boards. This shows me that they listen and give us (their dealers) a voice in building and improving their product. It’s not uncommon for vendors to focus on adding features that they think we want, when we’d rather see them tweaking their product for better or easier usability. It’s all about the customer experience. Vendors who listen, know their product, have great training and support, and give me a voice in building and improving their product, will keep my business.”
- “Friendship: Finally, I love that, through my vendors, I am able to make amazing friends. Not only within their companies, but also within the industry itself. Friends that inspire me, motivate me and make me stronger as a professional, as well as an individual. That’s my absolute favorite part.”
I think Bobbie makes some excellent points and hope this serves in some way as useful information.