Using Your Salespeople to Market Your Dealership
on the Internet Loses You Sales
What happens if your website needs maintenance, your SEO/SEM needs attention, your pictures and vehicles need launches online, and your Internet Salesperson is busy answering leads and calling customers? What happens to your dealership’s Internet sales lead coverage while your Internet Salesperson leaves their computer to sell a vehicle, taking the hours needed to confirm the customer’s needs, test drive, negotiate, close, and deliver? What happens to your vehicle sales when your Internet Department is also your Marketing Department?
You lose sales. Period. And that’s likely happening right now at your dealership.
Nearly 90% of our customers shop the Internet now, whether they call or email or come in: So, whether we accept it or not, we don’t have “Internet Customers”, we just have customers! However, the Internet Department can serve very well now as a needed rally point in order to modernize a dealership’s marketing and sales approach—too many dealers, however, risk their business by trying to do Internet sales and marketing with the same people. I also worry some dealers use an “Internet Department” as a “set it and forget it” strategy that is palatable to some of the dinosaurs in sales who resist change, but that’s a subject for another blog. Mostly.
Starting at the “classic” marketing strategy for a dealership in the past, we have had print ads that a sales manager would often author, and radio and TV that a GM or Principal would talk and appear in. None of these marketing efforts are interactive, and what customers they generated were easily put in “silos” of the phone-ups or floor-ups for sales. And not marketing at all. If we were very lucky, we even had a Marketing Director that coordinated all this to be effective.
Now, however, the Internet is the “newspaper” that interacts with shoppers from marketing well into sales, first providing information and pictures—and speech, when appropriate—and then attempting to get shoppers to give up contact information on their product of interest. Or at least call or come on in. In other words, marketing now participates in lead maturation down the sales funnel as never before.
Unfortunately, to some this just sounds like sales doing marketing, again, just like the sales manager creating the ads. Nothing new for vehicle sales, right? Should be fine, right?
No. First, the old way had the sales managers doing the ads, if not the GM/Principal. NOT the salespeople! With the rise of the Internet, many sales managers (and higher) didn’t follow the technology or know what to do with it, so they hired (or anointed) “Internet” folks who would sit at the computer and answer those pesky customer emails. And so the first doomed “set it and forget it” strategy for vehicle Internet Sales was born.
The Internet needs much more attention than “set it and forget it” to properly generate sales: Crisp, pleasant, direct, and single-click-to-Inventory websites; SEO/SEM, microsites; blogs; social media management, reputation management; specials, email blasts, coupons, pictures; eBay, CraigsList, AutoTrader; and more.
Exactly how is your “Internet Salesperson” supposed to do all that AND sell a vehicle through the process, from lead, to test drive, to negotiation, to close, to delivery? All without missing sales? Or without missing the necessary efforts on the Internet to generate more leads and sales?
Simply put, they cannot. And, by the way, print and radio/TV ads, greatly reduced though they may be, are NOT going away. They need attention, too.
What you really need, first, is a marketing person who understands classic media AND the Internet, and who can be effective in both arenas. And, second, you need an entire sales force—not just an “Internet guy or gal”—who can meet and close the most educated vehicle buyers in retail vehicle sales history who now walk your floors. And who are driven to you by all your media efforts, but who are product-educated and sales-matured by the Internet.
And that is how you stop losing, and start getting, the most sales!
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