>How to Sell Technology Products to Dealerships

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By Keith Shetterly, keithshetterly@gmail.com
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved

Technology products:  CRMs, websites, SEO/SEM, Social Media, telephony, and more . . . Well, it’s still very easy for a technology person to get excited by a technology sales pitch—but the days when the bulk of non-tech people running dealerships just bought new technology in the blind hope to somehow, someway advance their business are gone.  In today’s marketplace, dealerships need a solid sales return on any technology purchase.

I’ve sat through many technology presentations given at dealerships and hosted at GM and Chrysler meetings and then listened later in the hallway to every dealer principal and sales manager say “What the *&^@$! did that tech guy say??”  What you’re seeing on the faces in that audience when many of you sell technology is polite (mostly!) confusion, not a real comprehension of your product or your fancy acronyms.  I guarantee it.
I often use my “Golf Example”.  Think about which would be most successful after a dealer principal makes a great tee shot:
A: “Jerry, we will put more sales on your books by making more buyers come to your dealership!”, or
B: “Jerry, we can show in Google Analytics the improvement in website hits from SEM and SEO efforts that use our tools.   We can also show you how to tell how ‘sticky’ your website is and how to improve that.
C: “Jerry, our CRM will automatically accept XML Internet leads into our ILM from any lead provider.”
All are true statements about products.  Which would get the principal’s attention?  Example “A” would, of course, no doubt about it.
So, are “B” or “C” then the second step at the next golf tee, or maybe later at the clubhouse, where you explain the technology?  NO.  You never want to explain technology to a principal or executive unless they specifically ask about it OR it helps differentiate you competitively.   And in those cases you say things like “Our product’s proven and exclusive XYZ technology gets more people to your website, to stay on your website, and to come in your door for sales!” or “Our product’s XYZ technology will rapidly put you far ahead of your competition in actual sales.”  Or “Our XYZ CRM will get you solid sales from referrals and be-backs!”  And so on.  And you save your technology pitch for the core “geek squad” you will probably find at the dealership.
And relying only on the technology contacts in any “geek squad” inside a dealership (even at director level) to persuade their executives and owners to make technology purchases from you is the wrong approach.  Why not make the non-tech principals and sales managers your strongest proponents?  Business results excite these folks, so stay on that point:  “What is your impact on improving their sales?” is the rule of technology sales to dealerships.
So maybe you know an exception to this rule, a true “geek” that runs a dealership set?  Good.  Sell them!  However, why would you ever use exceptions of any kind to drive your approach to the bulk of your sales?  If you’re doing that, maybe you’re also somewhat a “geek”, and technology is your comfort zone—and that’s perhaps the most common mistake in any kind of sales effort, to try and pull a customer into your own comfort zone rather than working inside theirs.  
And have faith in your product:  Dealerships well know that they actually own their own vehicle sales process, and your product still has to be used properly to product positive results.  Even the worst sales floor can and will benefit from your product when applied correctly—right?  Otherwise, why are you even trying to sell it to them?
Exactly.  And now you’re ready to sell technology to a dealership!

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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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