Archive for July, 2014
Recently, DealerFire staff of the female persuasion decided to take a painting class together for a little girls night out. As part of the class, we had pre-chosen a piece of artwork for inspiration and then were led step by step through the painting process by a seasoned instructor.
As each of us let loose of our inner artist and our masterpieces began to take form, individual creativity and personality was slowly revealed. And while each of us were given the same tools and were shown the same technique, each painting took on its own form.
Some of us were harder on ourselves than others. Some singularly seemed more beautiful than the next. Some skies were more blended and some grasses more lush. A few adventurous souls stepped out of the box and added their own flair or painted something different altogether. (more…)
Last week, Eric told a bit of his story and perspective on online car sales in the blog post “Selling Cars – Still a Priority?“. This week, we’d like to formally introduce you to Eric Bolster, DealerFire Regional Sales Manager.
Bolster joined our team in July 2013. A brand new father, he still finds time to enjoy hobbies that include being in the outdoors and anything related to cars. (more…)
The point to this flashback is, I believe passion sets the great salesman apart from the salesman that struggles to make numbers each month. However, some will argue that a great car salesman doesn’t have to be passionate about cars at all. Some would say a good work ethic and ability to be good with people is the only requirement. One thing is for sure, if you are not following up with your leads, you aren’t selling anything.
I grew up with my father teaching me a strong work ethic and independency that I am grateful for to this day. As soon as I was able and upon his urging, I gained a work permit and began summer employment at a Fortune 500 retailer while the rest of my friends planted themselves at the community pool.
This company taught me to call shoppers “guests” instead of “customers.” It was a different way of thinking back then, but is in line with exactly how it should be. People on your lot, on your website or in your showroom should not only be called guests, but also valued as guests; as if they were guests in your home and not only your dealership, you should be fulfilling their wants and needs.
Fast Forward: Now fast forward, I combined my retail experience and my life interest and turned to…CARS! I brought youth, high energy, a need to succeed to the dealership. I went to work early to make coffee and stock the fridges with beverages for guests and most importantly, called or emailed website leads from the night before.
I asked an older, cowboy boot wearing salesman I looked up to, “Why don’t the other guys fight to call these website leads each morning?” I’ll never forget his reply. He told me, “If you have the energy to entertain those tire-kickers instead of selling cars, then go ahead.”
Soon after doing my morning routine, I found myself moving up the whiteboard grid on my sales manager’s office wall and other salesmen noticed more and more guests come into the showroom asking for me from conversations that all started from website leads.
Today: Now, years later, you can’t ignore an internet lead. If you are in a dealership and get first-party leads directly from your own site or your paying to get your leads from third-party vendors, it’s honestly the new “name of the game” to selling cars!
And we all know that the first-party leads that come right from your own website have a higher chance of closing and are easier to close, but the point is that they are ALL important, right?
I pose this question based on my own recent experience that have me pondering if Internet Sales Managers, General Managers and even Dealer Principals know what’s going on in their own dealerships.
It started when I began my hunt for a new vehicle. Still being in the auto industry, I knew exactly what I wanted out of my next new car, but needed to find the dealership who had it on their lot. Finding new, used and Certified Pre-Owned versions of the perfect vehicle wasn’t hard, so I narrowed it down to price and submitted my personal information through the website, willingly giving my email, cell and work phone numbers.
Each morning I would check my email inbox and spam folder (just in case) and look for voicemails or missed calls, but was let down. I moved on and submitted a new lead to the next dealership, providing my email, cell and work number once again. The cycle repeated itself and I found it to be more effort on my part than that of the dealer. I was shocked to realize that dealers throw money to lead providers, hire people at dealership level for the sole purpose of gaining leads and invest in lead converting websites to have me on their doorsteps knocking waiting for no answer.
What Happened Next: In three weeks, I submitted eight leads to eight different dealerships of which one emailed me back to let me know that they were sold out of 2014s and 2015 models would arrive in late July; however, never asking further interest questions nor any effort in inviting me to the lot for a different option.
I did have two automotive CRM auto-responders send the generic “Thank you for your interest, a sales rep will be contacting you shortly.” But the contact never happened.
Only one dealership actually called and emailed me and asked to learn more about me, invite me into the showroom to drive the vehicle and and follow up to answer questions I might have.
- Four dealerships never did anything with my lead information
- Two dealerships that failed to follow up on a CRM auto response
- One dealership that didn’t care to sell me anything
- One (and only one!) dealership that did it right.
After this personal experience, I thought about the automotive industry and all of those in it who talk and write books on this very subject and then remembered a quote from the great, Zig Ziglar who said “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” I think that quote fits this perfectly to what is going on here.
Not only is this a training opportunity, but wouldn’t you call this a profit leak? I knew what I wanted, what I could afford and was willing to give someone my business, but I was the one putting in all the work. To me, any incoming lead, sounds like an easy conversion and an easy payday, so why wasn’t selling me, the guest, a car made a priority?
The Solution: So how do we fix this? If you’re an internet sales manager, a new car manager, used car manager, general manager, vice-president, part owner or dealer principal, you need to be aware of how your leads are handled in your own dealership!
Ask yourself things like:
- Is my team calling leads?
- Do they introduce themselves and the dealership?
- Are my salesmen using my marketing dollars to convert online traffic into car sales?
One way to gain answers and accountabiility is by digging into your CRM and read the notes, assuming those notes are transparent and entered correctly.
The best way, however – the most honest way to answer your concerns and to gauge if this is a profit leak for your dealership – is to test it. Create an email address set-up via MSN, Google, Yahoo or another and submit a lead and grade the response, if any, in terms of your own key performance indicators for time, friendliness, quality and thoroughness.
Takeaways: By treating your shoppers as guests, understand they have needs and wants and by having a team on the other end of that lead ready and willing to follow up with any guest who takes the time to share their contact information, you can then plug this profit leak, make many more contacts, build or repair the dealership’s reputation and most importantly – MOVE MORE UNITS!