HOW TO GET YOUR CUSTOMERS FROM THEIR KEYBOARD TO YOUR SHOWROOM...
People always ask me, "Tom what's the best way for me to manage my digital leads?" Some dealers insist it's more effective to use a cradle-to-grave sales staff approach. Whereas others are convinced a dedicated Business Development Center that sets appointments is the better way to go. Some dealers feel that it's small internet department with a one-man band is the answer. So, do you think you know what I'm going to say is the best way? Continue reading or watch now because the answer I give you might not be what you think.
FIRST AND FOREMOST THERE'S A SIMPLE REASON WHY DIGITAL LEADS ARE INCREASING AND SHOWROOM TRAFFIC IS DECREASING.
With the explosion of the internet and all of the data that is available, it's just not necessary for customers to come to the dealership to do research. They do most of that research online, which means once a customer does connect with you, whether it's on the telephone, on the internet, or in person, they're much closer to a purchase decision. This explains why the skill levels of the people handling digital leads have to be better than ever, along with strong and effective management processes to maximize, measure and convert to sales.
In 2002, customers were surveyed and asked how many dealerships they visited before making a purchase across the U.S. -- they averaged 3.5 dealerships. In 2016, the average consumer said they visited 1.5 dealerships before making a decision. This just goes to show you that consumers today that are reaching out are much closer to a decision than ever before. So, what's the best way to respond to a digital lead? Well, the answer isn't complicated, but it is dependent upon the kind of dealership you have, the pricing model that you use, the kind of digital presence that you offer and the type and size staff at your dealership.
SO, LET’S BEGIN BY EXPLORING SMALLER MARKETS OR DEALERSHIP SOLUTIONS.
Usually, these are stores selling 100 cars a month or less. Many of our clients that have smaller dealerships have had success with a small staff and dedicated internet managers that are hands-on with every digital lead and see the transaction all the way through. One of the inherent advantages to someone who is the first responder to an internet lead is that they head up the whole process and the responsibility is clear. Avoiding 'hand-offs' makes for fewer dropped balls and missed follow through. There's also not a lot of shade for the internet manager who is solely responsible to take that lead and take it from their keyboard into our showroom. Customers also will find a comforting consistency with this approach.
By staying alongside the same person throughout the process, familiarity will help build greater trust and build more personal rapport. We also find that your CRM will be more consistently used and updated as you’ll have fewer people to train. Again, the person in charge will have no else to blame if the data is not stored or recorded.
ACCORDINGLY, ACCOUNTABILITY IS A SHORT RIDE.
Clients are also looking for a personalized approach in the process. They will enjoy being able to speak to you digitally as well as meet live and in person. Another inherent benefit that dealers and managers both appreciate, is that a single or small internet staff is usually very efficient expense wise - The same person who is answering the leads is also selling the vehicle. This person remains in what we would call a productive role, generating gross profit to offset their own expense.
In many ways, this strategy is very measurable and makes it easy to see a return on the dealer's investment. Additionally, due to limiting the staff and expense, this model may reduce your turnover in the internet position as the income and opportunity are usually both more stable and measurable.
A player in this capacity is often savvy enough to provide multiple skills that make her or him more valuable to the dealership. In the end ladies and gentlemen, there's a reason why dealerships often default to this model when the other ones don’t seem to work. It's safe, simple and easily measurable. It’s affordable and usually manned by a well rounded experienced person. Your digital client will likely get a higher level of service accordingly. So, before you decide to criticize this model, consider all the things we discussed today. This solution may well be what you need to see measurable results from your digital dealership.
SO TO BE CLEAR, AM I SAYING THIS IS THE BEST WAY? NOT AT ALL!
While I’ve shown you reasons why this approach appears reasonable and maybe sensible, remember every play you run has a strong AND a weak side. For instance, one man bands can only play so many tunes. What I mean is, when that one person is busy selling a car, what sort of reliable response process can be in place for the next lead waiting to be replied to? If an experienced “all knowing” salesperson handles the call, how hard is it to avoid the types of questions customer ask that may well make it harder to get an appointment. Also, typical salespeople do not have great long range follow up skills, and we all know some internet leads require patient consistency. Selling/internet people might also be focusing too much on selling vehicles, and not marketing, updating and merchandising their digital “storefront”.
In the end, this plan may appear to have potential but trust me - it has way too many liabilities. It all depends on your dealership and what might work best considering the conditions we spoke about at the top of the show today.
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