>The Blur of Internet Marketing & Sales is Costing You Money


Using Your Salespeople to Market Your Dealership
on the Internet Loses You Sales
by Keith Shetterly, keithshetterly@gmail.com
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved
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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About keithshetterly

Independent Automotive Consultant. Former eCommerce Director for large dealer group, BDC Director, and Internet Sales manager. Marketing, BDC, Internet, Phone, SEO, PPC, Reputation. Everything from a small business background to Fortune 100 experience. keithshetterly@gmail.com
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One Response to >The Blur of Internet Marketing & Sales is Costing You Money

  1. michael says:

    >Keith, Every single one of your articles make complete since! So let me tell you a little secret. 90% of customers are shopping the internet (you already know that). The dealers that are the most successful in Houston are spending 80% of their advertising budget focused on Online-media. On the average 70% of that budget is spent with Autotrader.com. These dealers understand what you wrote and have the processes in house to effectively merchandize their online inventory with pricing, photos, comments, specials, video and etc. Dealers TV ads and print is still effective it just needs to be viewed on the internet now, NOT THE TV, OR THE NEWSPAPER …….The importance USED to be advertising on the most watched TV channels, and radio stations… (still important but should only be used for branding and take up about 20% of the advertising budget) now the focus is advertising on the most clicked on automotive websites!!! Autotrader.com is all the networks if you correlate it to TV and Newspaper….we are NBC, CBS, ABC, Turner, USA TODAY, WALL STRETT JOURNAL and etc rolled into one. We had 17 million customers shop on our site last month alone. The next most visited website was KBB with 8.2 million and autotrader.com just bought them. The people tuning in to Autotrader.com are people that only want to buy a car!!!! They dont go to autotrader or any other automotive related website to watch TV or read about current events. They are there to find the car and the dealer to buy from. The town of AutoTrader.com has nothing but car buyers in the population and I would love to see Demontrond be the Mayor!!! Managing the additional traffic that is generated from putting the advertising dollars in the right place (Autotrader.com and Online media) is a competely different ball of wax….and it is a great problem to have.In short your article is 100% true. I can tell you the top 10 dealers in Houston would say the same thing….but might fear their secret to success would be revealed.

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