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11,123 used vehicles sold 2010


percent increase in used inventory retail turns 2009 to 2010


dollars of average price concession 2010



to master the market Before Jack Anderson started using vAuto’s RealDeal at his 18 dealerships, he was accustomed to pre-owned customers questioning his prices. Not because his vehicles were over-priced, but because the customers weren’t confident that they were getting the best value. RealDeal changed all that. Jack replaced negotiation with documentation, reducing his average price concession, tripling his pre-owned turn and selling more used vehicles than ever before. “I’d recommend vAuto’s RealDeal to any dealer. My sales have improved and so has our customer satisfaction.” With vAuto, Jack is now a Market Master. You too can become a Market Master. Visit or call 877-828-8614 to learn how.

Jack Anderson, Used Vehicle Director West-Herr Automotive Group Buffalo, New York


AutoSuccess Magazine is published monthly at 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220; 502.588.3155, fax 502.588.3170. Direct all subscription and customer service inquiries to 877.818.6620 or Subscription rate is $69 per year. AutoSuccess welcomes unsolicited editorials and graphics (not responsible for their return). All submitted editorials and graphics are subject to editing for grammar, content and page length. AutoSuccess provides its contributing writers latitude in expressing advice and solutions; views expressed are not necessarily those of AutoSuccess and by no means reflect any guarantees. AutoSuccess accepts no liability in respect of the content of any third party material appearing in this magazine or in respect of the content of any other magazine to which this magazine may be linked from time to time. Always confer with legal counsel before implementing changes in procedures.© All contents copyrighted by AutoSuccess Magazine, a Division of Systems Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without express written consent from AutoSuccess. AutoSuccess may occasionally make readers’ names available to other companies whose products and/or services may be of interest; readers may request that names be removed by calling 877.818.6620. Printed in the USA. Postmaster: Send address changes to AutoSuccess Magazine, 3834 Taylorsville Rd., Building A, Ste. 1B Louisville, KY 40220.

sales & training solution

teddy nissan averages more than 60 percent sales call appointments set and consistently captures more than 95 percent of all inbound service calls



relevant reciprocity in a cyber world

marketing solution

Ryan Horne, Ruth,John Account Manager Susie Account Manager Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist


14 18

manage relationships to influence reputation



rate your dealership’s online performance in 5 easy steps


36 40 42

yeah i’ve got a mobile dealer website, so what?

the be-attitudes of internet car sales


The Reality vs. The Ideal, Part 1

custom music to your customer’s ears

Brian Ankney, Account Manager

32 MattBaker

leadership solution

Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist

VSEO Strategy Increases Internet sales 28 percent at napleton’s palm beach acura


How to Improve Your Closing Percentage by Painting Personal Pictures

SusanGivens MarkTewart

Lokey Mercedes-Benz discovers the fortune hidden in their inactive (lost customer) database



stories sell

how many sales opportunities will you lose today?




Death of the traditional salesperson, part 8

20 22 28 PogoParr

staying in business JohnBrentlinger

sales education today: RichardF.Libin

30 38

successful managers are successful teachers GlennPasch

congratulations, you’re pregnant MarshBuice

the high achiever’s guide to getting things done JoelleJay

10 16 24


Engage Shoppers, Monitor Online Behavior and Leverage Business Intelligence


Drive Sales with Live Chat:

Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director

2300 Hurstbourne Village Dr, Suite 1200 Louisville Kentucky 40299 | 877.818.6620 / 502.588.3170 | / |


Susan Givens, Publisher

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vseo strategy increases internet sales 28 percent at napleton’s palm beach acura In today’s market it is imperative for dealers to optimize their online marketing strategy. Video search engine optimization (VSEO) is one of the most effective means of generating the highest possible volume of quality traffic to your Web site. Dealerships like Napleton’s Palm Beach Acura, in West Palm Beach, Florida, recently implemented a digital marketing platform to help them optimize video assets to appear on top of the leading search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and YouTube in their local market to attract, sell and service more customers profitably. “Since initiating our VSEO strategy in November of last year, our Internet sales are up 28 percent,” said Terry Leeder, General Manager of Napleton’s Palm Beach Acura. Online video is a highly effective and costefficient means of advertising within the automotive industry. With more than 90 percent of consumers using the Internet to research and shop for goods and services, Napleton’s works to proactively dominate their local market online in an effort to reach the more than two million people living within a 30-minute drive of their dealership. “We’ve increased our overall online presence in this competitive market by targeting actual in-market consumers at the research phase of the buying process when they’re looking for a product and pricing in their local market,” said Brian Cole, e-Commerce Director of the Ed Napleton Automotive


Group’s 35 branded franchises, located in Florida, Illinois and Missouri. Napleton’s VSEO platform automates thousands of activities to ensure their dealership captures the most popular search terms and as many relevant keyword phrases related to the Acura brand as possible on all the major search engines organically with highimpact videos to increase their ”page one” results. With increased page one results, and more page one results than their competitors, Napleton’s statistically increases their chances of a consumer clicking on one of their dealer videos or links versus those of a competitor. “We have found that using VSEO is a very effective tool to push the competition off of page one on valuable search engine sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing,” Cole said. This practice has become vital to the success of their online marketing strategy. “People would rather watch the movie than read the book,” said AJ LeBlanc, vice president and co-founder of www.Car-mercial. com, the company that Napleton’s Palm Beach Acura uses. “VSEO is ‘targeted TV,’ and VSEO allows dealers to deliver their message to engaged consumers. Google reports that consumers are 55 percent more likely to click on thumbnail video images than static links, so Google actually gives more ranking authority to video which places videos on the top of search engine results,” LeBlanc said.

Google also indexes all video-sharing sites, not just YouTube. This means that the more video sites a dealer distributes their video content to, the more opportunity that the search engines will index those videos and consider it relevant content for search returns; the result is multiple listings for key words or phrases like “Palm Beach Acura.” Napleton’s Palm Beach Acura is ranked in the top-30 Acura dealers in the country and is third out of 48 dealers in the southeast region. As the No. 1 Acura dealer from Palm Beach to Tennessee, Napleton’s is also very proactive about online reputation management. While optimization is key for online recognition and presence, maintaining and managing content is equally important. Napleton’s makes sure the right message is out there. Napleton’s manages as much of their online exposure as possible to promote the positive message they want customers to see and they make sure their online content is accurate and streamlined to help consumers reach what they are looking for without having to go through too many hoops to find the information they need. When a consumer clicks on a page one result for Napleton’s they can quickly access information on vehicles, financing, parts and service, current specials, available inventory and more. Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at


leadership solution

the high achiever’s guide to getting things done

High achievers. Go-getters. Type-A personalities.

Whatever you call them, one thing is certain: These people want to do it all, and they want to it all right now. While having many lofty and simultaneous goals is a good thing, doing too many things at once can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. There just never seems to be enough time to make everything happen. But that doesn’t stop high achievers. They are determined to make everything happen, even if doing so ruins their day and everyone else’s in the process. Realize that the answer to getting everything done isn’t about doing less, especially since high achievers gain great happiness from getting many things accomplished. They’re determined to do whatever it takes to meet their objectives. Rather, this is about having a system in place that can simplify the process of doing many things fast — one that will bring you progress as well as peace. If you’re ready to supercharge the completion of your “to-do” list without becoming overwhelmed or alienating others, the following five-step process will help you get it all done, with less stress and greater results. 1. Make a Mess

If you’re like most high achievers, you likely have numerous sticky notes, lists, files, piles, papers, and a host of other items spattered around your office, on your desk and in your computer. Each one is meant to help you move forward to reaching your goals; however, as the piles and files grow, they become overwhelming, no matter how neatly you may have them organized. Therefore, begin by getting all of your ideas and notes in one place. Make a big pile of all the papers and items in the middle of your office floor or on your desk. Don’t leave anything out.


2. Sort and Purge

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start digging. Go through your pile of “stuff” and look at each item to determine what you should keep and what you can toss. For each item, ask yourself: • Is this idea or information still important to me? • Can I retrieve this information from elsewhere should I ever need it? • Is this information duplicated somewhere else? • Will this information or idea help me reach one of my goals? As you decide which items to keep, put them in separate piles or files as they relate to a particular goal or task. 3. Organize Your List

Look through all your “keep” papers and ideas to get clear on which goals are truly important to you and what steps you need to take. Put all your ideas and action items into one organized list, preferably on one page. You don’t have to painstakingly detail every action step at this point; the objective is to simply create one coherent “to-do” list, rather than have multiple lists floating around your office. 4. Rank the List in Chronological Order

Redo your list one more time, now paying special attention to the order in which you feel you should do things. At this point, you can also add more detail to your action items. In other words, you can list not only what to do, but also how to do it, who to call for help, which resources you may need, etc. You may feel as if you’re wasting time here by going over the same tasks, but trying to rank your initial ideas in chronological order is difficult until you can see them all on paper at once. 5. Get Going!

Now that all your ideas are organized, all you have to do is take action and tick off the tasks as they’re completed. No more thinking,

“Realize that the answer to getting everything done isn’t about doing less, especially since high achievers gain great happiness from getting many things accomplished. They’re determined to do whatever it takes to meet their objectives. Rather, this is about having a system in place that can simplify the process of doing many things fast — one that will bring you progress as well as peace.” planning and organizing; it’s already done. And most important, no more confusion of what to do when. Just look at the list, take the top task and knock it out. What could be easier? Mission Complete

This process works for a variety of scenarios, including special event planning, home and family goals, work and business projects, as well as long-range strategizing for professional and personal objectives. And while it’s designed for high achievers who tend to have many high-priority tasks going on at once, it works for anyone who simply wants to end the stress and chaos of having incomplete tasks hanging over their heads. By taking the time to complete this five-step process, you can finally meet all your goals and achieve the results you want. Dr. Joelle K. Jay, Ph. D., is an executive coach and the senior managing partner of the leadership development firm, Pillar Consulting. She can be contacted at 775.324.5377, or by e-mail at

Drive Sales with Live Chat:

Engage Shoppers, Monitor Online Behavior and Leverage Business Intelligence.

Shoppers’ online behavior and expectations about vehicle purchases have changed dramatically, and your communication should reflect these changes. As the evolution of Internet technology and innovation continues to accelerate, consumers expect more choices and instant gratification. For example, live chat has become the “1-800” phone number of today. In the 1980s, businesses were slow to offer toll-free numbers. As more companies provided them, it became a consumer expectation to conduct business. The companies that didn’t provide toll-free numbers began to lose prospective customers, while those that did gained more customers. Live chat now follows the same path. Innovative dealers began to offer it early on, and now consumers expect this alternative contact experience. It is true that technology has given consumers more control, but it’s also true that technology can give you more power to track and analyze shoppers’ behavior. By offering consumers a faster, more interactive online experience, you can leverage technology behind the scenes to capture more data that can be turned into business intelligence.

we engaged people on the site. Live chat is perfect for this. People have questions but many don’t want to call or come into the store to get answers.”

By now, most dealers understand that live chat is a required component of a successful online marketing plan. Chip Diggs, director of Internet sales and marketing at Zeigler Automotive Group, began using live chat on his dealerships’ Websites more than six months ago. “Even a year ago, we weren’t convinced that we needed live chat, but now we know it’s a necessity. Most Website visitors expect it, and you can actually lose shoppers if the service isn’t available. Chat has enabled us to ‘soften’ the first contact with clients. We invest a great deal to drive traffic to our Website, and we finally realized that we would earn more leads from this traffic if

Making the important decision to deploy live chat is a start, but understanding the staffing requirements is just as important for success. Some dealers have the internal resources to manage chat from within the dealership, but many do not. It is critical to understand that dedicated chat reps are required for effective live chat. Further, the reps must be trained in best practices for the unique communication requirements of chat. If your dealership does not have staff members who are committed and trained to manage chats, then it is essential to use a qualified service that can handle the chats for you.


Jim Bell, Internet performance and marketing director for Don Ayres Honda, began researching live chat options more than a year ago, and deployed chat last winter. “We all know that a lot of people search for automotive information while they are at work. Many of them can’t talk on the phone while working because they are being monitored. Sometimes even e-mail is monitored, but they can ‘stealthily’ use live chat. We constantly chat with Website visitors during the work day who give us their phone numbers and tell us to call them in the evening. By the time we talk on the phone, we’ve already given them valuable information and begun building a relationship. It’s a great service for everyone involved.”

Successful Live Chat Requires Highly Trained, Dedicated Chat Reps

“If you’re planning to manage live chat from within the dealership, the biggest challenge is staffing,” Diggs said. “You must have dedicated, highly trained staff to handle the chats. You will lose shoppers if they think chat is available, but no one responds to them. We have an Internet team with 10 trained sales people who manage our chats. We now typically sell 125 to 130 vehicles per month just from Internet sales, and live chat is an integral part of this.” Bell takes a different approach. “We don’t have the internal staff to manage chat, so we use ActivEngage’s full service live chat, ActivConcierge. It’s great because the chat reps really make our Website visitors feel like a part of the dealership, and all chat transcripts and contact information are tied directly to our BDC. Our customers consistently tell us how much they like having live chat available on the Website, and we don’t have to worry about managing the chats from within the dealership.”

Data Drives Internet Marketing Success

Once live chat has been deployed and properly managed, it’s time to look at the tracking and analysis that turn mere data into business intelligence. Measuring online data is a start and can help you better serve consumers, but refining that data is the key to leveraging its true value. Measuring and refining relevant data allows you put it in perspective, and learn how to use it to improve your business. While looking at numbers on spreadsheets may not be particularly enjoyable, examining data via interactive charts and graphs, within the context of your overall marketing plans, is always illuminating — and actually can be fun. Further, three levels of consumer data should be captured and analyzed: visitor, engagement and conversion. Visitor data lets you know how shoppers find you and how they navigate your Website. Engagement data tells you where and how they take action. Conversion data lets you know where and when they take the crucial step of moving from visitors to qualified leads.


Connect the Dots with an Internet Marketing Dashboard

Now that you’re tracking the data, an online marketing dashboard is essential to refine it and realize its full value. Advanced dashboards allow auto dealerships, dealer groups and manufacturers to track all marketing metrics — including Website analytics, conversion points, ROI and more — from a single Webpage. Historically, monitoring dealerships’ online marketing from multiple campaigns, vendors and sources was time-consuming, complicated and sometimes impossible. Now, however, technology allows this consolidation, and the best dashboards quickly and easily display all marketing campaign performance. The most advanced online dashboards also have a single login that enables dealerships to see exactly how their Internet business is performing in one location.

Live Chat with Business Intelligence and the Bottom Line

Automotive retail success is still (and always will be) all about creating an outstanding customer experience, but today we must use online technology to meet and exceed shoppers’ expectations. Consumers spend a lot of time online, and most are now trained to expect instant gratification. Live chat, coupled with business intelligence, helps you provide this gratification and sets you apart from your competitors. With the prevalence of text and instant messaging, most consumers are comfortable with, and even have a preference for, live chat online. In the end, it comes down to improving the bottom line, and live chat that incorporates data tacking and analysis consistently yields outstanding results. “On average, we set appointments with half of the people we chat with,” Diggs said. “Of those appointments, we typically close 80 percent. Live chat is now one of our highest percentage closing tools. It’s really amazing. Clients who use live chat are ready to do something. It’s on their minds right now and they want someone to help them in a noninvasive way, and they want that help immediately.” “We’ve already had hundreds of chats in just the first few months of use,” Bell said. “We have increased our sales leads, and have been pleasantly surprised that parts and service leads have also increased. Some people even use live chat to schedule service appointments. There is a high return on the investment and it’s a great convenience to shoppers. In fact, some shoppers will even leave your site if live chat isn’t available.”

The foundation of success is creating a great customer experience, whether shoppers are in the showroom, on the phone or online. And with more than 90 percent of vehicle consumers conducting research and shopping online, it’s not enough to merely have a nice-looking Website — with a form for shoppers to submit their contact information before Analytics dashboards should incorporate all marketing data from live you even help them. chat, phone, e-mail, third-party lead sources, Website analytics and any other sources used. The data can then be integrated and analyzed to Diggs summed it up: “In the past, customers had to give up their information provide dealerships, dealer groups and manufacturers advanced business before we gave them anything. Chat now allows us to give before we intelligence to create the most effective marketing and sales mix. A receive. Once we answer questions and send requested information via single online dashboard login also ends the inefficiency of creating and chat, shoppers are much more comfortable and willing to give us their monitoring multiple reports, and puts the most important information contact information. It’s sort of like having to deposit money in the bank into an interactive visual display, helping you connect the marketing dots. before trying to make a withdrawal. We start the relationship by giving, so it’s no wonder that live chat leads have such high closing rates.”

Mobile is Now Mandatory

It is also important to note that consumers increasingly access the Todd Smith is the founding partner and chief executive officer of Internet via mobile devices and expect full Website functionality on activEngage Inc. He can be contacted at 866.891.1193, or by e-mail at hand-held devices. Mobile applications are now available to offer dealers advanced chat functionality on mobile devices. Web-based, native mobile applications provide full live-chat capability, unlike other mobile offerings that merely allow text or instant messaging. Further, with advanced technology, live chats can be seamlessly transferred between mobile devices and computers. For example, a dealer can be at his/her desk chatting with a customer and the shopper requests detailed information about a car on the lot. The dealer is then able to effortlessly transfer the live chat to his/her mobile device and continue the conversation while walking to the vehicle of interest. In addition, Sales Associate: Hello how can I chats can be moved from the mobile device back to the computer, with help you today? no interruption in the communication. Chat transcripts and contact Tom Smith: I am looking for a information are then seamlessly entered into the dealership’s ILM, CRM 2012 Chevy Silverado or DMS, with no manual data re-entry. Sales Associate: I can help you with that!

activConnect™ Toolbar


marketing solution

manage relationships to influence reputation The need for online reputation management (ORM) is indisputable, especially following massive changes made by Google last October. And with new customer forums created daily, dealers can no longer ignore the importance of a strong online reputation. Ultimately, it’s about selling and servicing more vehicles; first, however, we must understand what it is and how it works. True reputation management tracks customer actions and their opinions around your brand, reports on those actions and opinions, and influences the content posted by engaging with consumers at strategic points in the sales and service cycle.

Active involvement in one’s online reputation has quickly become a vital component of any successful branding strategy. This holds true for the auto dealer as it does for his favorite restaurant down the street. The sea of online consumer forums (Google Places, Yelp!, Yahoo Local, etc.) is a significant voice with which to contend when promoting your dealership. The game changes frequently, so managing this expansive sea can prove difficult when going it alone. Finding a reputation management solution that works for you, with your existing processes and your data, is fundamental for success. Exactly how does a dealer best manage his online reputation? More and more, dealers are paying attention to what the online community is saying about them; but simply tracking reviews, while necessary, is a far too passive response. You may solicit ratings as a means to improve online reputation, but a successful reputation management strategy must go beyond mere solicitation. Above all this, the ability to influence consumer interactions will take a dealer’s reputation management to an entirely new level. By far, the smartest way to drive reputation management is through relationship management. Think about it: No matter how strong or weak, positive or negative, there is always some level of relationship with your customers. In fact, the stronger the relationship, the stronger the influence you have on consumers to post content that will leave your competition green with envy. Your prospects and customers — everyone managed through strong CRM processes — are the very people you can influence the most to leave positive, compelling comments about your dealership online. The natural link between a strong CRM and a successful ORM strategy is undeniable. That link leverages the existing relationship to generate online content and turn it into measurable ROI — a crucial component far too often missed with most ORM solutions. CRM-directed relationship marketing engages customers at just the right times through their preferred media preference. This timely engagement is the key to generating a high quantity and quality of responses. The final step is simply to distribute this valuable content across sites such as Google Places, CitySearch, and DealerRater; and do so in such a way that maximizes reputation wherever your prospects might find you online. Reputation management is practically overdiscussed these days. To keep clear of the ORM fog, stick with the basics: Employ an agile strategy that best utilizes your CRM and lean on a provider who can help make sense of the jungle. Then, having influenced your brand consistently across the Web, you can enjoy the profitable fruit of a five-star reputation.

Bryan Anderson is the founder of Autobase. He can be contacted at 866.667.9659, or by e-mail at


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Empowering Connections “It is very important for me to have a company like that has one login for everything. One platform allows us to be efficient and provides us with analytics that we need to help run our dealership. We have built a strong relationship with our Account Manager, and they are proactive with recommendations on areas we can improve upon. What I like most is that everyone at is willing to help.” Ben Weir General Manager Vehicle Operations, Pearson Ford




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leadership solution

successful managers are successful teachers In this competitive marketplace, a successful business needs not only a great company vision but also great managers to see it through.

customer’s needs. Keep that up.” Now, that is something they can repeat. It is a specific action that the employee can duplicate.

what they did previously, and see where they may be cutting corners. It should be very easy to get them back on track.

Examine any successful dealership’s business module and you will find a great manager there turning each goal into reality. A great manager understands how to take hold of a company’s vision and translate it into processes and procedures that will accelerate their staff to the top.

My second point is: All feedback must be an action the employee can emulate.

I have been asked what percentage of time should be dedicated to the top performers. That depends on your day’s activities, but I suggest at least 40 percent of your training time should be spent with your top people. They are the ones who will be there for the long run and their bad days impact your bottom line more.

We are all here today and in our current positions because many people took the time to teach us how to succeed. Our parents, our teachers, our friends, our coaches in sports and other business people — if you think about how many people impacted your life through teaching or coaching, it is overwhelming. The best of this list made an impact because they took the time to show you how to do something and you applied the training and learned. That is the mark of a great manager. So how did they do it? Excellent communication. How many of you in sales or service have heard the following: • “Good job. Keep it going.”
 • “Your numbers are dropping — let’s get it rolling.” • “You’re killing it today!”
 • “Come on, you can do better than that.” • “Last month we missed our sales goal. This month we need to knock it out!” In my many years of delivering training to managers, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to address these same issues. So, can anyone tell me how the employee is able to improve from that vague feedback? Let’s first address the “Good job, keep it up” feedback. My first response to the manager would be, “What is ‘it’? Could you be more specific?” This leads me to my first point: All feedback must be specific. Maybe the manager could have said, “Great job. You are asking the proper questions we designed to discover the


Helpful hint: When thinking of feedback, if you cannot get up and demonstrate how to do it, then you are not being clear enough. This type of feedback makes your follow-up easier. When you return, the person either will be doing it or they won’t. If they are, then again, compliment them, as this locks in the behavior and they will continue to achieve results. If they are not doing what you need, it will be easy to get them back on track as long as you are specific about what you expect them to do. Now let’s look at another popular feedback phrase: “I need you to pick up your numbers.” My response to the manager would be, “How can I pick up my numbers? Did the numbers fall on the floor?” Sarcasm aside, I want each manager to realize what they are actually saying versus what they really may be trying to communicate. What they could say instead is, “I need you to listen to what the customer is asking so you can provide the correct information. This way, you will book more service appointments instead of dropping so many calls out of frustration. This will lead you to close more sales.” Again, in this case, the feedback was detailed and actionable. A word of caution: Managers can be lulled into a very dangerous comfort zone when their teams are achieving the results they expect. They do not dig into why their people are getting results. Successful people understand what they need to achieve to attain positive results so they can repeat that behavior. Make sure you spend time anchoring in the proper behavior among your top people. Make them aware of what they do to get results so they can repeat that behavior. This way, if their performance drops for any reason, then you can see what they are doing, match it against

One last point: Let’s discuss the opposite of a good communicator. I believe unsuccessful communicators fall into two categories: The “Love to Hear Myself Talk” teacher — They take too much time, too many examples. Somewhere during the training, they are focused on how smart they are, how well they are doing and lose their audience. The listener shuts down and stops hearing what is said. This, in turn, frustrates the teacher and both spiral into a place where nothing can be taught or learned. The “Look How Much I Got Done” teacher — They are focused on speed and moving on to the next task. This type of teacher assumes everyone picks things up as quickly as they do. They do not take the time to make sure the information is anchored in and able to be applied properly. They come across as if they are talking down to the staff. Then upon review, the people do not grasp what was taught and the teacher would never think it was their fault and the listener spirals to the place of no learning. Managing a successful team is teaching people to change behavior to achieve success. If you are not willing to put in the effort to correctly communicate what you are expecting, then you are wasting everyone’s time. Have patience and a sense of fun. If you are not enjoying the process, why should anyone else? Glenn Pasch is the COO of PCG Digital Marketing and the president of Improved Performance Solutions. He can be contacted at 866.611.0998, or by e-mail at

How about a brand new, hi-tech, impossibly easy to sell product that sets your store apart from the competition? How about a new high margin profit center for your F&I department? How about a product that prevents lost sales by notifying you of low battery levels? How about all this AND being able to locate every car in inventory, at any time, from anywhere?

Introducing VehSmart™, distributed by G&A Marketing.

What is VehSmart™? It’s the newest and most advanced in-vehicle communication system. It combines the power of GPS/Satellite with cellular technology, so your customers can connect with emergency services, roadside assistance, or get live help 24/7. VehSmart™ has more advanced safety & security features than the most popular “on-demand” service. And it can be installed quickly and easily on any vehicle - new or used.* Plus, VehSmart™ gives you the ability to locate every vehicle in your inventory, accessible anytime, from anywhere. VehSmart is a registered trademark of VehSmart Services, Inc.

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OUR MISSION: To be the industry’s best at leading dealerships to achieve maximum performance through marketing, training, consulting and motivation.


marketing solution

lokey mercedes-benz discovers the fortune hidden in their interactive (lost Customer) database Lokey Mercedes-Benz was looking for a new approach to increasing customer loyalty. They wanted to recapture customers who defected and save customers from leaving them in the future. They focused their efforts on a customer pay service clinic and achieved incredible results. Program: Lokey Mercedes-Benz, located in

Clearwater, Flordia, utilizes Mercedes Benz Service Clinic Program through Mercedes Benz Preferred Vendor, J&L Marketing to bring back inactive customers and create a customer experience that keeps customers loyal.

Program Objectives:

• Create a lasting customer experience • Reactivate customers who no longer use the service department  • Sell original Mercedes-Benz parts  • Demonstrate competitive pricing with independent shops and educate the customer on the importance of factory-trained technicians  • Introduce new product line-up

Significant Results Reported by Lokey Mercedes-Benz:

• Customers were engaged with technicians and advisors and enjoyed the process • Large percentage of attendees were completely inactive and many had not visited the center in more than two years  • High quality of customers — measured on percentage who became active again by immediately having service work done or scheduling a future appointment  • ROI of 11 to one within only three days of the clinic with many more customers scheduled in the following weeks  • 61 customers attended who have not visited the dealership in more than a year  • Out of the 61 inactive customers, 20 customers attended who have not visited the dealership in more than three years


Description: The program performed data

analytics that identify which inactive customers were most likely to provide the greatest potential in terms of response and profit.

The program then identified behaviors of these inactive customers (when they were active) by analyzing past usage, spending, other behavior patterns and how those behaviors started to change before they left Lokey. By recognizing “changing customer behavior,” additional analytic algorithms were created to identify customers who are “at risk” or have a likelihood to leave Lokey in the near future. The final marketing list was made up of a percentage of inactive customers, customers whose customer pay spending was diminishing and people who have never visited the dealership. This meant Lokey did not have to deal with vehicles recently in or customers who come in on a regular bases. Just over 100 vehicles were inspected during the clinic. The clinic was a multichannel direct marketing campaign that involved e-mail, direct mail, personalized micro-sites, and a virtual BDC. The virtual BDC set the appointments, confirmed each appointment and followed up with every customer. For Lokey, What Made This Clinic the Best They Have Been Involved With Was:

• The quality of the traffic generated by the data analytic work • The fact that the marketing was complete turn-key • Best practices preparation approximately one week prior to maximize the clinics potential • The process was laid out in advance and everybody knew their part. Jack Mathews, SD, had everything planed out in advance. • Lokey held a meeting at the start of each day with each other and the virtual BDC team to review any minor changes that were

being made to the process. • Sufficient time was allowed so it did not come across as being rushed. In most cases, a half hour or longer was spent with the customer at the car.  • The customer stayed with the car throughout the process.  • The process started with the technician performing a road test with the customer.  • The customer stayed with the vehicle into the shop for the inspection.  • Technicians were rotated to allow turns for all. Effort was made to match customer to technicians. Each technician performed an inspection then went back on the line until it was his turn in the rotation again.  • This was a chance for technicians to show their skills and knowledge. Technicians requested business cards by the second day. The customer wanted to be sure their technician was the one that worked on the vehicle.  • Follow up and track customers who did not commit to needed repairs and maintenance Lokey inspected just over 100 vehicles, with 61 of those vehicles having not been in for more than a year. Of those, 20 had not been in for more than three years. In less than a week of the clinic, the return on investment was $11 for every $1 spent. So far, one new vehicle was sold, and the Lokey expects these numbers to get even higher as the follow ups continue. For a complete worksheet on how you can get your dealership to increase customer loyalty by implementing special programs in your dealership, e-mail or call me with the information below.

Brad Sipes is a sales trainer at J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at


Saving the Sale

sales & training solution

how many sales opportunities will you lose today? Even in our digital age, 75 percent of all auto purchases still begin with a good, oldfashioned phone call. Unfortunately, the average dealer converts fewer than 20 percent of their phone-ups into appointments, and most can’t tell you the reason why. Mishandled phone leads are a problem for even the most successful dealerships, and every lost phone lead is a lost potential sale.

• Salesperson does not ask about customer needs and makes no attempt to start a deal How do you save those opportunities? First, train your staff in call-handling skills. Second, get management involved in prompt follow-up to lost opportunities. When a manager quickly gets involved, the conversion rate can run as high as 75 percent.

Here are some of the most common reasons those It isn’t possible for a sales manager or general leads are lost. You may recognize some of these: manager to review and follow up on every phone call to the dealership. Fortunately, today • Caller spends too long on hold and hangs up several companies provide deal-saver services • Disconnected caller doesn’t call back that review calls for the dealership and notify • Salesperson says a car has been sold without management when they discover a mishandled suggesting an alternate vehicle sales opportunity. • Call handler does not attempt to ask for an appointment • Salespeople are in a meeting and receptionist Dealers Should Make Phone takes a message Inquiries Their No. 1 Priority • Caller is transferred to voicemail The most successful dealerships subscribe to • Call handler lacks specific knowledge about services that identify marketing effectiveness, product, inventory or financing options capture caller information, analyze telephone • ShipCarsNow-UsedCarDealer-1/2 Busy salesperson asks the caller to call pback skills andJan notify management horizontal 2011 issue, when senttheir 12/10/10 • Calls become rude or unprofessional intervention is needed to save a deal.

A call tracking and call recording system is critical to saving deals that would otherwise be lost. Surprisingly affordable, it can give dealers a second chance at a potential sale. You should compare call tracking services and subscribe to one that identifies not only the source of each call, but also the content and result. Your call tracking system should identify training needs and notify you of missed opportunities in time for you to save those sales. Some key features to look for in a call tracking and call recording system: • Not only record and report, but also review and analyze calls • Separate prospects from non-prospects. • Alert the sales manager at the dealership, providing the caller’s name, location, telephone number, specific inquiry and the reason why the call is a sales prospect • Provide a daily report of all phone calls with a brief summary of each call, including the name of the sales person and the ad source associated with it • Report in real time By utilizing an up-to-date call tracking and call recording system at your dealership, you can be sure you’ll never miss another call again. Pogo Parr is the vice president of sales for CallSource. He can be contacted at 866.690.2139, AM p 1 of 1or by e-mail at

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ome things obviously don’t make sense, like the headline of this article. Yet other ideas are just as illogical. Here’s one: Our dealership can’t afford a strong online presence. Today, car dealers cannot afford to not be online. Online is the very first place 93% of car shoppers go. But how do you tell dealers this? The answer: Turn the proctologist into a brain surgeon. In other words, use absurdity

usually ahead of them in hi-tech shopping. What we do is catapult yesterday’s car dealers into today’s marketplace. And we do it seamlessly and painlessly. “Like all good ad campaigns, first arrest attention. Those are the cartoons,” Colome said as he continued. “They speak the truth, tilt at several sacred cows and turn over a few traditional automotive apple carts. Ever heard of a ‘Sales Prevention Manager?’ Why not have two vultures hovering “Who Needs An SEO? Here’s The Moneyover a dazed salesman Making Scheme I Was Telling You About!” who hasn’t had an ‘up’ all day? They that presents a real-world problem, SAM are all fair game.” will offer the solution. “This industry is “Dealers want to be on the leading experiencing a huge edge, but they don’t want to be on the transition,” added bleeding edge,” Colome emphatically Colome. “Most car states. “Consumers want to know a dealers are either not dealer’s reputation. Eighty-six percent of on the internet, or on the 93% online shoppers look into a car it in the wrong way. dealer’s ratings. That means the dealer has They know it, but they to professionally manage their online don’t know what to reputation. Even more important, most do about it. Even customers don’t get past the first page in worse, there are a lot their online search. At eXtéres we make of hucksters selling sure our dealers are there.” internet and website This will be a multimedia, intraboxed fog. ” What “No, No, Not Yet. Just Because He Hasn’t Moved industry campaign. Look for it. better way is there All Day Doesn’t Mean He’s Dead.” Enjoy it. eXtéres will employ direct than cartoons … mail, online intra-industry sites, along with reality to punch through the cartoons that humorously and publication advertising. We want message clutter. And that’s where eXtéres’ point out absurdities and everybody to know what we’re doing … new cartoon ad campaign comes in. They wrong-headed thinking? starting with this very ad. Call us take what could be dry subjects like However, no problem should be today at 888-378-4118. “Search Engine Optimization” and “Online presented without the solution … Reputation Management” and breathe and that’s where SAM comes in. new life into them. SAM stands for Search Asset Management. She has long been “Too many dealers are stuck in a time warp,” explains Dennis Colome, VP of eXtéres’ most recognizable image SAM Sales and Marketing for eXtéres. “The … a sexy android who represents Search Asset services we offer are so vital to a dealer’s 22nd century solutions for the Management survival … dealers whose customers are 21st century dealer. For every ad

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sales & training solution

death of the traditional salesperson

Surveys continually show that people dislike buying a vehicle. Although the numbers have gotten better over the years, people still dislike the car-buying experience. The key word here is “experience.” Everything you do is sales and selling. Every person in the dealership is in sales. Everything the customer sees is selling. What message is the customer receiving? Selling today is not about feature-benefit selling alone. Any dealership that is being trained primarily on feature-benefit sales approaches is boring their customers to death and practicing “me-too” sales approaches. Imagine a good old-fashioned water slide. I like to call these “slippery-slides.” When you get on a slippery-slide, you start at the top and you effortlessly slide down with nothing to obstruct your destination. In traditional selling, we teach a road-to-the-sale process that is akin to making a customer go through an obstacle course. Have you ever seen a person at the end of an obstacle course? That person is tired, drained and spent. Do your customers feel the same way?

Here are some points to observe in your dealership: Do your customers experience an easy, simple and pleasing first impression and perception? Website a Receptionist a Inventory Merchandising a Salesperson Greeting a Process Websites — The best Websites aren’t often the prettiest or have the most bells and whistles, but are simple and easy, catch a customer’s attention and invite, engage and create a call to action. What is the “TOT?” What is “The One Thing” you want your customers to do who visit your site? Your Website sells. Receptionist — Has your receptionist ever been trained? Do you ever pay attention to how he/she greets customers on the phone or in person? Most dealers would be shocked if they took the time to “look under the covers.”

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Your receptionist sells. Inventory/ Merchandising — Go across the street from your dealership and look back. Get in your car and drive by your dealership from every angle possible. Look through the eyes of the customer. What do you see? Where is the natural sight line of your customers in relation to your dealership? What message are you conveying and are you inviting and engaging your customer? When your customer pulls on the lot, do you have clearly marked directions? Do you have clearly marked and easy access to parking? Is your inventory clean, grouped and aligned

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in a way that it displays absolute fanaticism and perfectionism towards creating a “wow” experience for the customer? Is your lot clean, painted and policed on a regular basis? Your inventory and the merchandising of your inventory sell. Salespeople and Managers — Do your salespeople greet customers? If so, how do they do it? Yesterday, I walked into 12 different dealerships and the greeting at all but one of those dealerships was either non-existent or horrific. How does your dealership recover from a bad greeting? Many dealerships are spending a ton of time and money on Internet leads but not a minute or a dime on what to do when you get them. Yesterday, I experienced not being greeted at many dealerships. I experienced greetings from salespeople and managers who would not get out of their chair to greet me. I experienced many unexcited, non-smiling greetings that would make any customer feel uninvited and uneasy. I also experienced group greetings by managers and salespeople congregating in groups who stared at me but did not greet me. I wonder how your customers are being greeted? I am beginning to believe that all managers’ chairs should be removed from showrooms. Your salespeople and managers sell with everything they do or don’t do. Process — What do your customers hate about your process and why? Do your customers hate your negotiation process? If so, it is easy to fix. Train on how to negotiate without the customer feeling the negatives of negotiation or eliminate most or all of negotiation. Do your customers hate your F&I process? What do they hate and why? Remove the things they dislike or just proactively change the perception of the process. Perception becomes reality for a customer. Your process sells. Everything and everybody associated with your dealership sells. The question is, how well? For a free Special Report “Ten Things Every Dealer Must Do to Be Successful This Year” e-mail me at the address below with the phrase “Ten Things” in the subject line. Mark Tewart is the president of Tewart Enterprises, and the author of the best seller, How To Be A Sales Superstar. He can be contacted at 866.429.6844, or by e-mail at

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leadership solution

sales education today: The Reality vs. The Ideal Everyone you talk to says it’s tough to manage a dealership these days. The recession and recent spate of negative publicity have invaded the mindsets of salespeople, and negative attitudes permeate dealerships. Many salespeople who soared when people were spending without a second thought are finding they lack the basic skills of sales that are required to find prospects, bring customers to the store, help them find their right vehicle, and convert them to loyal clients. So, what are managers doing to help their salespeople to meet these challenges? How do they rate in educating their teams on the basic, core skills? Not well. Most have cut funds for education to the bone. Others send their people to “quickie” seminars promising to “triple sales in just one week!” Essentially, most managers are either doing nothing or looking for the magic ingredient — the quick fix. What they don’t realize is that it is the manager’s responsibility to provide ongoing




education in basic skills, new technology, trends, business and other topics that can directly impact a salesperson’s success — or failure. Let’s clear up a few myths first: 1. Education is not the same as training. Animals can be trained, but not educated. 2. Seminars don’t educate; they entertain. 3. For education to work, you must be clear about what you are trying to accomplish. 4. There is no “free” lunch — “free” educational programs are usually more costly than no education at all. 5. It’s impossible to learn it all — education never ends. 6. Education is not about books and lesson plans, it’s about changing behavior. Education is a personal activity that enhances an individual’s ability to use his mind. Now that we are on the same page, let’s look at the real world (what we typically find at dealerships) vs. the ideal world (what is really needed).

Many managers spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars recruiting the “best” candidates, many who were successful in previous jobs and put them to work with high expectations. As new hires, they are provided with a quick training, which usually includes a tour and introductions, getting supplies, an order pad and being shown to a desk. The assumption is that since they are experienced, successful salespeople, they need little training and no education. These new hires are like fish out of water. With no direction, they flounder and fail. Managers believe they made a “bad hire” and vow to do better next time. The reality is, the hire may have been good, but with no education on the processes that make the dealership successful, on the type of customers and clients the dealership attracts (or hopes to attract), on the way different departments interact and a host of other critical topics, they were destined to fail. Next month, we’ll take a look at areas managers must be conscious of as they provide their people with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

Richard F. Libin is president of APBAutomotive Profit Builders, Inc. He can be contacted at 866.450.6853, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

rate your dealership’s online performance in 5 easy steps

As an automotive Web marketing professional who interacts daily with principles, GSMs and Internet managers, I often get asked the same question; “How do I know if my dealership is performing well online?” I am never surprised when the question comes up. After all, online marketing is generally broad in scope and may encompass many different areas; Website, SEO, SEM, social, third-party portals, eBay, craigslist… the list goes on and on.

As a general rule and core business philosophy, I tend to focus most of my attention on the performance of dealer specific assets that do not also market competitor inventories. For the purpose of this article, we will maintain a similar focus. So, how do I answer this recurring question? I simply tell them, “You can find out for yourself in five easy steps!” Step 1: Gauge Your Dealership’s Saturation in Search

Step one is like a certain species of Chinese bamboo tree. These special trees are watered, fertilized and nurtured for the first four years with nearly zero visible growth. Then, something miraculous happens. Sometime during the fifth year, in a short few weeks, this same plant grows 80 to 90 feet straight up in the air. How does this happen without the tree falling over? Well, what do you think the plant was doing the first four years? It was growing — down. It was creating a foundation for sustainable growth (a strong root system). There are two types of tools you can use to determine whether or not your search saturation has a similarly strong root system. The first of which is a saturation report. Rank Checker by Mozilla Firefox is the one I use, but you may find others out there. Ranking at the top of page one on Google for a single search phrase is not the way success should be defined. Tools such as Rank Checker will display your Website’s position in search across the three major search engines for as many keyword phrases as you choose to input. I recommend tracking your rank across the top 180 or so key phrases you are trying to saturate. Once you have reached the desired position across the most important 50 or so, you have achieved a respectable level of saturation. The second saturation analysis tool is your analytics software, preferably provided by a third party. There are two specific metrics you should look at in analytics, both of which are good lagging indicators of your level of success in search saturation. The first is the percentage of traffic you are getting to your


Website from search engines. While there is no exact science to this, here are some general guidelines; over 75 percent = A+, 65 to 75 percent = B, 55 to 65 percent = C; anything below 55 percent is cause for concern. The second analytics metric you should examine is the number of different keywords visitors are using to find your site in search. Dealerships that are not well saturated in search typically have between 300 and 500 different “keywords” or “keyword phrases” being used to find them in search within a given 30-day period. Ones that have achieved higher levels of saturation in search usually have between 1,200 and 2,400 different keyword phrases for the same time period. Step 2: Analyze Bounce Rates

Bounce rate as defined by Google is, “the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.” A high bounce rate implies a low degree of relevance and/or trust from your visitors. A commonly accepted industry goal is 20 percent or below. The range for a typical healthy site is between 15 and 18 percent over time. If your bounce rate is above 25 percent, I would recommend taking a close look at two related areas. The first area to consider is your site design. When looking at site design, you must ask yourself a few basic questions: Is your Website simple and clean in design? Does it have inventory displayed “above the fold”? Is there an obnoxious or “spammy” coupon which pops up as soon as you land? The second obvious area pertains to relevance. If your marketing efforts result in visitors finding your Website who are looking for something unrelated, they will “bounce.” For example, if your PPC campaign is targeting folks outside of your geographic area, they will likely see your address and bounce. Step 3: Evaluate Site Performance and Conversion Statistics

The important thing here is to make sure you are collecting and analyzing available data. How many leads is your Website generating? Tracking lead-form submissions is pretty straight forward, but is that all you should be counting? Shouldn’t this analysis also include chat leads, phone ups and other prospects who found you on the Web and decided to drive to your dealership, rather than calling or filling out a form? Clearly, getting an accurate snapshot of how many conversions your

Website is producing may be difficult. So, let’s look at some other statistics, which are easier to access and analyze. Your third-party analytics account will show you statistics such as “average page views” and “average time on site.” Typically, a site in the automotive industry will have an “average page view” statistic between six and nine and an “average time on site” of around four minutes. If your bounce rate is in line, but your Website still falls short of these guidelines, dealers should use analytic reports such as “top exit pages” to drill down further. Step 4: Utilize Heat Maps to Evaluate Marketing Effectiveness

Third-party analytics software providers typically offer heat map applications such as Google Analytics’ In-Page Analytics. This type of technology will show you how many of your visitors clicked on each link of your Website. Google’s latest version of this product actually shows you this same information throughout the subpages of your site as well. To evaluate your marketing effectiveness, you first need to establish a list of goals you are trying to achieve. Do you want visitors to view your used car specials, the service coupon page or find your hours and directions pages? Once you have established and prioritized the list, compare it with your in-page or heat map analytics to see if visitor behavior matches your goals. If they do not align, consider taking action to intentionally drive traffic to those areas of your Website. You can also use this type of analytics tool to identify underperforming buttons, links and promotions on your site. Step 5: Look at the Big Picture

When analyzing your dealership’s online performance, you must consider the entire portfolio of Web assets, not just your dealer Website. How much traffic is your mobile site getting? What about your dealer blog, microsites and other dealer-specific Web assets? To get a true idea of your dealership’s effectiveness on the Web, ROI must be measured against performance of the entire portfolio. To receive a free and comprehensive analysis of your dealership’s online performance, contact me at the information provided below. Shane Boland is the director of sales for BluSolutions Dealer Websites and Automotive SEO. For more information, contact him at 866.388.1397, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

Stories Sell

How to Improve Your Closing Percentage by Painting Personal Pictures

Ever been faced with a customer objective you couldn’t overcome because the customer didn’t understand you? Or presented a car to a customer who was blind to the personal benefits the vehicle could provide? Chances are you’re no stranger to these rather frustrating situations. Recently, I received an e-mail from a sales professional at a large dealership chain. Although he was well experienced, he admitted he struggled when trying to get customer’s past their immediate price concerns. He understood that in order to increase his odds of closing a deal, he needed to make the car’s specific benefits more relatable to the individuals whom he’s trying to sell. After many e-mails back and forth, the salesperson was able to devise a simple communication approach utilizing analogies that helped him better illustrate the benefits to his buyers. As this salesperson ultimately discovered, building personal connections or strong points of relation with customers can be easier than it seems. All you really need are a few good stories. Stories add credibility. When executed correctly, they can make the excitement of a car purchase seem more real, or turn a customer’s objectives into no big deal. What Makes Stories Work

Perhaps the single most powerful asset of a successful salesperson is their ability to tell a compelling story. Take for instance the story of the struggling salesperson above. Having spoken to many dealership professionals who often fight with price objections, it was obvious that this gentleman’s concern was far from unique. While I could have made the same point by simply stating, “Use analogies to communicate more effectively with customers,” chances are you would not still be reading this article. Why? Because there would have been little if anything to capture your attention and get you personally involved. Presenting this principle in the form of a story helps to make the topic more relatable. Here’s the bottom line: No matter how persuasive the tone, no story will result in


a sale unless it focuses on something of importance to the customer. Gone are the days of memorized scripts. Effective story telling requires attentiveness to the customer’s personal situation or needs. For example, an F&I sales professional convinced an on-the-fence customer to purchase an on-demand safety and security device, after telling a sincere story about the importance of family well being. He explained an experience with his teenage son who was around the same age as the customer’s daughter. Coming home from a friend’s house late one Friday night, the salesman’s teenage son lost control of the vehicle and went into a ditch. Because there was no emergency alert system in the car at the time, no one was aware of his son’s accident for hours. Had he taken the initial opportunity to spend a mere $800 to install this device on his son’s car, help would have been dispatched just after impact and family would have been immediately notified of what had happened. The salesman’s story proved to be a powerful persuasive tool. Using common ground and emotion to connect with the customer on a personal level, the salesperson helped the customer realize just what was at stake should she choose not to buy. As a result, she was convinced to purchase a product which she previously saw no value in.

“What’s the best price you can do on this one?” Acknowledge the customer’s price concerns and consider using a story like this to combat the customer’s price objection: “You know I was in a similar situation last week when I was looking to buy a new TV. After looking around the store, I came across a well-priced model I really liked. When I asked the closest salesman what kind of deal he could give me, he smiled and said, ‘Sir, I’ve never lost a customer over price and you won’t be the first. But before we talk price, let me better understand what you’re looking to get out of this TV.’ After taking some time to explain what I was looking for, the salesperson helped me realize that the settings and features of the TV I was interested in actually didn’t fit my needs. Had I not talked to the salesman about what I really wanted, I would have purchased the TV and been frustrated with it’s underperformance. I’d sure hate to see you make that mistake with a car. Can you tell me what you’re looking for this vehicle to do so we can make sure your purchase will truly make you happy?”

Price objections are some of the most common initial road blocks when it comes to selling cars. Note how the story above flipped the common scenario back on the customer. Everyone understands the concept of getting the best price, which is why the story becomes so powerful. When executed correctly, stories like Be it a short analogy or a lengthy third-party this open the door to the lead’s analysis stage, tale, stories have the power to formulate pictures which is one step closer to a sale. in the mind of a consumer. These pictures tug at the heart strings and conjure up emotions, If you are interested in reading additional making situations appear more real. If the story sample stories or would like to learn more about you tell helps the customer realize that making creating effective sales stories of your own, the purchase will help them avoid pain or please e-mail me at the address below with the achieve pleasure, chances are they’ll sign on the subject line “STORIES.” I will send you a PDF dotted line. copy of G&A’s Guide to Improving Sales Talent: Using Stories, which will supply you with this and more. Stories to Break the Ice Often, salespeople and their managers aren’t quite sure how to interject this practice into the initial stages of a customer encounter. Let’s say Matt Baker is the vice president of sales for a gentleman arrives on the lot and is looking G&A Marketing. He can be contacted at at a used minivan. After being greeted by the 866.618.8248, or by e-mail at salesperson, the customer immediately asks,


leadership solution

congratulations, you’re pregnant

Hearing these three words can cause any new parent as much anxiety as being asked to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Questions and concerns toss in their mind like the ingredients in a Caesar salad. Among others, “What if the baby is sick?” or “What will the baby grow up to be?”

of not knowing if he or she is really cut out for this line of work. Questions swirl: “Can I sell? Who will I sell to? What if I don’t sell enough? What if I don’t cover my draw? Can I pay my bills?” Your stomach knots and churns, and you just may find yourself quickly heading for the nearest bathroom.

Starting a sales career can induce similar anxieties, and for good reason. In some basic ways, a sales career is similar to a pregnancy, proceeding through three trimesters.

Further, in the first trimester, the momto-be must get plenty of nutrients through proper nutrition. The main nutrient for the new salesperson is knowledge. You must know everything about your product and your customer should never know more than you do. Because the profession of sales is autonomous, you must be self-disciplined to learn everything you can about your product. Remember, in this brutal but lucrative business, your investment in time and knowledge will be rewarded exponentially.

In the first trimester, things are initially quite chaotic. Just as a woman’s body is going through stages, the newly hired sales consultant is suffering through a similar experience, including a metaphorical kind of morning sickness. Obviously, I have never had morning sickness, but I can imagine it is laced with a mixture of joy and pain. The metaphorical “morning sickness” for the new salesperson is the same, an emotional rollercoaster of joy (for being hired) to the pain


The second trimester lasts up to the seventh month. In this stage, the mother begins to regain her sense of feeling stronger and normal again. She may feel the baby kick as a new life develops within her. This stage is sometimes referred to as the easiest part of pregnancy — if there is one. Similarly, having survived the first trimester, the sales consultant now begins to have a sense of confidence. You begin to find your own grove and become more comfortable talking to and negotiating with your clients. But a word of warning: Don’t be lured into a sense of complacency, thinking that in a short period of time you have learned everything about this business. Many sales consultants become “30-day wonders,” listening to their sales

manager’s guidance for the first month or so and then suddenly jump to the erroneous conclusion that they know everything about the business. Trust me, you don’t. The biggest mistake a sales consultant can make is to stop learning once he gets on the floor. Learn everything you can before getting on the floor, but your education should never end. When the third trimester arrives, the expectant mother is both sensitive and anxious, knowing that the baby’s arrival is near. For the consultant, this stage means that you have studied not only your product but your competitors’ products as well. You feel more comfortable networking for new prospects while serving the needs of your clients. Everything you have poured into this business is finally producing your reward. Your “baby” has arrived. That arrival, however, now means you have the never-ending job of being a parent, with the responsibilities mounting as the baby gets older. Similarly, in your sales career, your job never ends either. As new products are introduced and client’s needs continue to evolve, you must constantly reinvent yourself. Your duties and responsibilities begin to change as you pile up more and more satisfied clients, giving each of them equal service, just as you would if you had more than one child. You wouldn’t do more for or love one child more than another. Each gets an equal amount of your time and love, though, admittedly, providing that equality can sometimes be challenging. In the end, true sales professionals, like good parents, are givers. They give their clients their best efforts, and as their own careers develop they share their knowledge and experience with the new hires entering the field. Rather than feeling threatened in any way by the newcomers, they mentor and teach everything they can, knowing that the only way to advance in life is to help others advance as well. Thanks to you, that struggling newcomer may eventually become a sales manager or director or dealer, giving others the same “leg up” that you were once given.

Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

teddy nissan averages more than 60 percent sales call appointments set and consistently captures more than 95 percent of all inbound service calls After discovering in early 2010 that approximately 20 percent of all sales calls were going to voicemail, and more than 30 percent of service calls were going unanswered, Steve Risso, president of Teddy Nissan, in the Bronx, NY, began keeping a watchful eye on all inbound calls, the phone system and processes. Every morning, Risso begins his day with a deep dive into the previous day’s calls. He receives daily reports that identify areas for improvement in marketing, call process, phone system and follow up. Calls are reviewed and transcribed in a few-sentence summary, and Risso uses these reports to customize training to improve their people, processes and results. “By charting our lost opportunities by hour and day, we are able to better staff and train specific departments when problem areas are identified,” said Risso. “Now, less than five percent of calls are missed for both sales and service, and voice mail is almost non-existent. We have much greater confidence in our ability to manage these opportunities.” As a result, Teddy Nissan has increased their advertising budget and has seen a significant increase in their return on investment. Teddy Nissan’s calls are recorded with ad source, time, department requested and representative who handled each call. “We are very surprised at the number of callers who request departments other than the ad source


line they call in on; for example, our Website sales line gets a lot of service appointments, and vice-versa,” Risso said. Risso is planning to start a daily competition for best inbound appointments set and best follow up results. “Phone calls are serious business. The phone and Internet are the dealership. Initially we spent millions on our showroom, but failed to realize our dealership is built first by phone or Internet communications,” Risso said. “I no longer focus on appointments that are set; rather, my total focus is on the calls that did not set an appointment. I receive an alert for every sales call that does not end with a hard appointment. Then I have key management get that door closed and the customer into the dealership. Once customers are here, 70 percent will buy a vehicle,” Risso said. Risso and his management team receive instant alerts when a customer call is mishandled so they are able to follow up with the customer immediately. The instant text alerts include a short summary of what happened and a recording of the call. “Teddy’s team has one of the fastest alert response rates of any dealership we work with,” said Chip King, managing partner of, the company that Teddy Nissan uses for call monitoring. “When a call is not handled the right way, Risso’s team immediately reaches

out to the customer to resolve the issue. The customer is usually pleasantly surprised by the quick response and in the end Teddy Nissan saves the deal or the day,” King said. “Our scores have us ranked at No. 1 in New York for Nissan,” Risso said. Another key benefit to their monitoring system is the ad-tracking. “We closely track our ad sources to see which ads are generating the best results, so we can shift more marketing dollars toward campaigns that bring in the customers,” Risso said. “This has ultimately saved me money. I put the budget where it needs to be to make the phones ring.” Teddy’s sales and service business has greatly increased by improving the customer experience over the phone. “Our service department has grown steadily as a result of using the information we get from monitoring our phone process, and our RO volume is up as well,” Risso said. “We set an all-time sales record in the Bronx for Nissan in 2010, in a down market, and now we’re pacing to sell 265 units for March 2011, up from a previous high of 225.”

Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at


sales & training solution

relevant reciprocity in a cyber world Close your eyes and envision this: 100 percent. Closing. Ratio. Can you imagine? Though most people would settle and be quite satisfied with anything above a 25 percent closing ratio of leads from all traffic and lead sources, we have only seen a slim 15 to 20 percent. Why? Let’s start by breaking it down more accurately. From true walk-in opportunities, we have seen between 15 percent and 20 percent. Appointments and be-backs represent 40 to 60 percent. A range of five to 10 percent are made in Internet opportunities, and 20 to 25 percent are from inbound phone call traffic. This next percentage is astounding. Ready? Approximately 75 to 80 percent of potential customers leave most dealerships without doing business with the stores they have shopped, and shopped and shopped again. Assuming this is true, it makes un-sold follow up processes not only necessary but critical to moving the needle north when it comes to a dealer’s closing ratio. We can improve un-sold follow up in simple, concrete ways that will put the dealer who did not close the car deal back into the driver’s seat. STEP 1: Knowing What to Say and When to say It

A study recently showed that the average person, per day, with all of the electronic communication they are exposed to (Internet, e-mail, social media outlets, etc.) is absorbing an amount of information that is equivalent to 175 newspapers. That is a lot of information. So, to get their attention, any message sent to them needs to be relevant and earn the customers’ attention — thus “relevant reciprocity.” In the past, many of the

dealerships we work with have been extremely successful in obtaining the customers’ best contact information by applying this simple but crucial sales method. The process for relevant reciprocity says that you must start by providing a benefit. We love the opening phrase “So I can provide you with the best information….” The key here is to start out by providing a genuine benefit that is relevant to what the customer is either asking for or is interested in. By doing so, your likelihood of obtaining the customer’s correct contact information is much higher. Also, you are more likely to gain the information they check most often and, even more important, respond to most often. Surprise the customer by finding them before they find you in areas like social networks, blogs or even by e-mailing them to share with them some fantastic piece of information about their original inquiry before they have the time or thought to come back to the dealership to “revisit you just in case” because they know they wanted to buy from you in the first place. STEP 2: The Social Network

Almost nine out of 10 people in the world today are utilizing some space for their social networking. People are applying these social arenas to their lives personally, professionally and even spiritually in many cases, and by connecting with both un-sold and sold customers through these portals, the car business can now be in touch with people in a way they never dreamt possible. How can a salesperson do this? In the same exit interview, or in small conversation during their appointment (phone, Internet, showroom or otherwise), the dealership personnel can simply ask if the customer frequents any of

“A study recently showed that the average person, per day, with all of the electronic communication they are exposed to (Internet, e-mail, social media outlets, etc.) is absorbing an amount of information that is equivalent to 175 newspapers. That is a lot of information. So, to get their attention, any message sent to them needs to be relevant and earn the customers’ attention — thus ‘relevant reciprocity.’”


the most common social networks: blog sites, chat rooms, on-line forums, third-party review sites, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, smartphones technology, etc. When they give an answer, we simply offer them our network page information and the best method for them to connect with us. This does require that we have a presence and a page set up in all of these areas, so it is critical that the dealership’s Internet department be on top of them, updating them often and connecting with both customers and prospects on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. STEP 3: The Exit Interview

Each and every customer who leaves a showroom floor, a service department, a parts department or even a receptionist area must be greeted the same way they came in, as when they go to leave. This means offering them free things like specials, invitations to “private” instore and virtual-store events, free stuff, service specials and more. In doing so, this allows the salesperson to kindly and gently request accurate contact information for each and every customer as they exit the dealership walls. As we first mentioned, a solid, defined and mandatory un-sold follow-up process is critical to increasing any dealership’s overall closing ratio. If more than half of the physical universe is connecting through a never-ending, alwaysevolving cyber universe, it is more important than ever that the car business get cyber connected with their customers and provide their people with a follow-up process that incorporates this new world into the traditional buying and selling process. One thing that will never change is the need for people to relate and have relationships of some sort with everyone in their life. Assuming this is true, it is critical that in every greeting, every meeting and in every exit that we start with the end in mind. How have I connected with my customers in the past, how can I connect with them now and how can I maintain contact with them for eternity? Erik Stuttz is the founder of Automotive Legends Group USA. He can be contacted at 866.386.0661, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

yeah i’ve got a mobile dealer website, so what? Even with all the talk of mobile dealer Websites, most dealers today are content to “just have one.” That’s like back in 1995 when a dealer would say “Yeah, I’ve got a Website”(not to mention it only supported Internet Explorer). Are you really content to “just have one,” when according to Google, mobile searches have grown 500 percent from 2008 to 2010? Another study closer to our industry, run in October 2010 by Brand Anywhere and Luth Research, stated that 88 percent of U.S. mobile phone users are more likely to buy from an auto dealer who has a mobile Website. Did we get your attention yet?

have a separate URL, then Google may look at it as duplicate content. Also, it is important to have a separate URL for analytics and tracking of site traffic. Mobile statistics may have a completely different set of metrics than your primary dealer Website.

So what should you look for when evaluating your mobile Website and provider?

• Are the buttons large enough for large fingers? • How easy is it to change your search filters? • How quick are the search results displayed? Slow mobile performance will run off consumers faster than anything else. • Can you save your mobile search? • How easy is it to navigate back to the inventory list?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Mobile Dealer Website 1. Does your mobile Website support all

smartphone browsers, not just iPhones?

The top three (Apple, Android, and Blackberry) represent 92 percent of the market, while Symbian, Linux and Palm hold eight percent collectively. If the top three are closely balanced in market share, don’t you think your mobile Website should support all mobile browsers? 2. Does your mobile Website support click-to-call? It sounds fundamental, but the functionality actually has to be built in. When a consumer clicks on a visible phone number, does it automatically place a phone call? Consumers are less likely to copy and paste the phone number into the call function of their phone, and much less likely to even know how to copy and paste. 3. Does your mobile Website have a separate mobile URL? Google has a separate index for mobile Websites. If your mobile Website does not


4. How easy is it to search and

filter inventory? This is an absolutely critical element of your mobile dealer Website. Shop your own dealership mobile site and see how easy it is to find a certain vehicle that you’d like to purchase.

5. Will photos show in an easyto-view format for smartphone screens? I see lots of providers get very fancy with photo viewers on mobile devices, and I can’t say that we didn’t toil for days on end over how we wanted to display photos. What we found in this scenario is that “less is more”— just make it “Apple simple” — where it just works. Photos should be easily scrollable without some sophisticated auto-play or other non-intuitive functionality.

The intended use of photos on a mobile device may be completely different than on a desktop computer. Mobile consumers may want to present the showcase image to their spouse or buddy; but in addition, they will check photos for confirmation of vehicle equipment present on the car. For example, I would check photos for 20” wheels, second-row bucket seats, navigation screen, exact color of flooring, etc. 6. Can you track conversions on your mobile Website? Tracking your mobile analytics couldn’t be more critical. A consumer may use a much more finite list of keywords when on a mobile device to find your dealership. For example, they may really focus on the “dealership name”

keywords and variations, or the terms may be more focused on “service” related keywords. You can only know what’s being searched by tracking mobile and desktop analytics separately. 7. Does your mobile Website have integrated CARFAX? I know in my own car shopping experience, one of the first things I check is if it’s a one-owner vehicle. As I browse on mobile Websites, I do the same thing. Make sure your mobile Website not only shows the one-owner logo, but also links to the full report. If it shows the one-owner logo in the inventory list, it’s even better. 8. Does your mobile Website support video on all smartphones, not just iPhones? Video has become one of the most powerful marketing assets available on the Internet. Why not have it on your mobile Website? Consumers who hone in on a few vehicles are very likely to watch the video of those vehicles. 9. Does your mobile Website use pop-ups? Nothing is more confusing to navigate through than multiple pop-ups on a mobile device. Remember: There’s no system bar with open window icons at the bottom of a mobile screen. Most mobile browsers require a user to look at a series of separate pages to figure out which window they would like to view. 10. Does your mobile Website support landscape view? When the iPhone first hit the market, landscape view was limited to very few applications. Today, it is almost a standard for all smartphone-based applications and browser pages.

Test your mobile Website orientation. How well does it perform in landscape view? Does it stretch according to screen orientation? Does it present additional information in a wider screen view? The growth in mobile shopping speaks for itself. The rapid adoption rate means consumers are starting to expect that their favorite dealership will have a mobile presence — making mobile dealer Websites both an opportunity and an imperative for the auto retailing industry. Chad Polk is the CEO of AutoRevo. He can be contacted at 866.873.0031, or by e-mail at


leadership solution

staying in business

Just because your Website is prettier than your competitor’s, you may think you have it made. You may think your name sells cars. It doesn’t. You may feel that your location is your ticket to success. It isn’t. You may think the brand you sell gives you an edge over your competition. It doesn’t. Maybe you spend 25 to 50 thousand a month on advertising because you think that will get the job done. It won’t. Or, because an ancestor started your dealership in 1492, you may figure that will carry you into perpetuity. Good luck. The only real and lasting advantage you have over your competition lies in the people who do your work. In today’s global economy, the only advantage any dealership owns is in the people they employ. How you treat your people will bring success


or failure. How you treat your people is more important than any other aspect of your business. You can hire the best people in the world, but if you treat them without respect, you’ll be miserable and your accountant will not be happy. On the other hand, you can hire average people, treat them like rock stars, go overboard with the golden rule, teach them by example, train them where they need training, and you can be as successful as you want to be. Across the board, employee abuse is rampant. Worker dissatisfaction is widespread. It is almost to the point in some places where workers expect to be disrespected and have their hours cut and wages lowered, all while they are being told that things are looking up. Why do good people leave the dealership? Because they’re making too much money? Because their benefit program is too grand? Because their manager loves them, stands up for them and inspires them? Because their manager

helps them reach their full potential? Because fairness, honesty and decency rule the day? If you are going to change anything in your business plan, change the way you treat the people who provide your paycheck. Don’t think that by tweaking your social media outreach that much new is going to happen. Updating the Website is almost old school by now. Twittering and tweeting is just another Internet flavor of the month. Changing your training program is so 1960s. Change your advertising? How, by offering lower prices than last year? A $9.95 oil change? Those things are an awful lot of work for mostly nebulous results. Do you want more, newer and better customers? Then stop relying on lower prices and more advertising. Earn more, newer and better customers. How? By treating your people like gold. The better you treat your people, the better they will treat your customers. Your best customers and their friends and family keep coming back for one reason, and one reason only — because of how they are being treated by your people. John Brentlinger is a sales and management trainer, executive coach and author. He can be contacted at 866.859.6504, or by e-mail at

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marketing solution

custom music to your customer’s ears From a dealer’s perspective, foreground music is most likely the last thought on their mind, and for good reason. For the past 90 years, there have been almost no choices. Traditional radio stations expose customers to inappropriate language, tasteless topics and competitors’ ads — right in your showroom — and nothing can make a customer rethink a $549 payment quicker than hearing an ad for the same vehicle with a $199 per month lease. To combat these pitfalls, some dealers have turned to service providers like Muzak and Sirius/XM, which offer music-only solutions, but still no custom branding or insert capabilities. Other, more risk-taking dealers have relied on their trusty mp3 player, which poses a music rights infringement risk and is simply not legal. But with no other options, what was a dealer to do? Big box retailers have adopted technology affording them the ability to not only provide custom music but also private messaging inserts promoting their features, benefits and other profit centers within the store. Unfortunately, the premium for a service like this was simply too high for the average dealership — until now. This type of foreground music option is finally a real, cost-effective option for dealers thanks to improvements in technology and efficiencies in its support. Now, while customers wait for numbers in your showroom, they can hear commercials about your customer loyalty program, free loaner cars, service discount program and other reasons to buy — not about your competitor’s lowest lease payment in history. While customers wait in the service lounge, dealers can share current new, used, service and parts specials. If service is particularly slow one day, flexibility to run specials unique to their business needs like brakes or oil changes is included. Now, the ability to deliver a targeted message to those waiting in the dealership and then convert them into additional sales, service and parts revenue is reality, and any dealer should jump at the chance. Just don’t forget to confirm inclusion of these important components


Flexibility and Control

The solution you choose should essentially provide an exclusive network that you oversee. Promotions and business priorities change frequently, and having the capability to change messaging, adjust insert timing and music mix should be available on the fly – preferably through an online account management tool.

“For the past 90 years, there have been almost no choices. Traditional radio stations expose customers to inappropriate language, tasteless topics and competitors’ ads — right in your showroom — and nothing can make a customer rethink a $549 payment quicker than hearing an ad for the same vehicle with a $199 per month lease.”

when seeking the right music and messaging solution: Custom Content

The best solution is one that will let you select a variety of genres that best fit your environment and customer tastes. It will offer the ability to setup unlimited inserts, and it’s support staff should have the expertise to make best-practice recommendations and production assistance.

Zoning Options

Different areas of the dealership will benefit from different music and messaging. You should be able to make this mix unique to your lot, showroom, service lounge, and any other specific area of the store helping to ensure the right customers are hearing the right message. Music on Hold

Too often, customers on hold are listening to dull elevator music, a looping message or nothing at all. The right solution will allow for on-hold customization and help to promote dealership values, brand awareness and overall services to hold their interest.

Installation and Support

Simplicity and ease of use are essential to getting a solution in place. Setup should be quick, straightforward and should not disrupt your daily operations. Professional support staff, who can help you to make the most of the solution, should be part of the package. Having a consistent message is important. Too often, customers on hold at dealerships are listening to a competitor’s guarantee to beat anyone’s price on service, parts and vehicles. Many choose to call this competitor for a $10 oil change rather than holding on your line. Preventing long customer hold times is whole other issue, but controlling what they listen to while on hold is no longer an issue. The new technology available today allows you to deliver a consistent message across the entire dealership and on hold, or to deliver different messages to different zones. Yes, you can have your showroom listening to loyalty perks and your service department and on hold listening to sales, parts and service specials. This allows you to deliver the perfect message to each customer. Ultimately, dealers should look for a solution that allows them to capitalize on every instore opportunities. Music sets the mood. Set the mood in your store for success. For your free copy of “How to Increase Sales, Service and Parts Revenue with Your Own Exclusive Music and Messaging Network,” please send an e-mail to the address below with the subject “REPORT.” Jamie Powers is the founder of Soundfox. He can be contacted at 866.803.0665, or by e-mail at


marketing solution

the be-attitudes of internet car sales

I train dealers daily and get inundated with questions on how to get and convert more leads, but it recently struck me that most advice is focused on bleeding-edge technology. It’s easy to forget what we once mastered and still need to master every day. I wanted to distill what I’ve learned into the core “beatitudes” of Internet car sales. Eight “Be-Attitudes” for Internet Sales: 1. Be Found — With nine in 10 auto shoppers

hunting down dealerships online and half of dealer Website visits arriving via search engines, you have to do everything to be found by searchers. That means sustained, aggressive SEO, often complemented by strategic PPC buys. You must set up your dealership right at Google Places and Yahoo! Local/Bing Maps. And while a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presence is a no-brainer, it’s what you post there that matters: It’s not about selling; It’s about relationship building. 2. Be Desirable — They found you, but is

what they discovered desirable? Your Website needs to look nice, but mostly it needs to be functional, with clear calls to action so it converts into leads. And given the massive importance of online reviews, (and their recent, radically heightened visibility at Google, etc.), you need to be 100 percent sure that you shine with a positive reputation at all the search engines/Websites consumers use. 3. Be Fast — You must respond to leads lightning-fast, because with any response stretching past a half an hour, you’re bleeding sales and gross. The biggest repercussion is that when customers “wander around online,” they jump from one site to another, contacting stores that are able to answer their questions.

Share with employees this scenario: A car pulls into the lot and a nice family gets out. They walk the lot, peering into car windows, checking pricing on hangtags. They glance around looking for help, but nobody comes. Up and down they walk, and in 30 minutes they get back into their car and pull out. A salesperson comes running: “Wait, I can help you, come back!” Wouldn’t that be too little too late? Dealers do not let walk-in traffic wander around and leave without talking to an employee. Why would you let Internet customers experience that? At a recent conference, Grant Cardone said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing every day.” Pull a report from your CRM tool every day to analyze how long after a lead:


1. A call was made 2. An e-mail was sent (response quality

at the car?” Your employees must ask for the appointment every time!

3. Notes were entered, indicating meaningful

Same-day appointments are golden and boldness captures them. At my old dealership, the GM had a great line: “How close to right now can you be here?” That line works! Do whatever it takes to get the customer in that day. Customer stuck at work? Take the car to their office. Customer needs to “get dinner first“? Order the family a pizza. Boldness and enthusiasm lead to incredible closing ratios because they’re contagious. Excitement breeds excitement, both for the customers and the staff.

counts; auto responders don’t) contact

Set a monthly calendar reminder to review Internet inquiry coverage. I found roughly the eighth of the month was perfect: not near midmonth/month-end closeouts, but early enough to address issues before the bulk of monthly leads rolled in. 4. Be Real — Too often at dealerships, it’s all about us and whether we’re “winning.” We need to focus far more intensely on each and every customer’s needs. They generally dislike the car-buying process and they’re on edge about paying too much. Work to alleviate their fears by training your people to build a relationship with them from the get-go. People like people like them! With e-mail follow-up, include an inviting picture of salespeople in the signature line (family pictures are great; people have a hard time resisting pictures of parents with their kids). You’d be surprised how less likely that customer is to distrust you or flake out on appointments. 5. Be Informed — Today’s car buyer is insanely informed, walking in with binders filled with specs, pricing, etc. When I secretshop dealerships, it’s shocking how few salespeople have basic product knowledge, when people are dropping $10,000 to $100,000. Can you imagine salespeople at the Apple store not being informed about the newest i-whatever?

Your people must know the product because it closes far more deals. That doesn’t mean they should spill their guts and create objections, but product knowledge in appropriate situations excites and converts cross-shoppers, and increases salesperson trust. Your salespeople must be able to answer objections and redirect them back to the appointment and close. Are your people all product-certified? Probably. • Does product training only happen at certification crunch-time to avoid trouble with the OEM? (That’s happened to me…) • Do you have a committed process/manager responsible for ongoing product training? • Do you train how/when to deliver product knowledge leading directly back to appointment-setting and the close? 6. Be Bold — It’s shocking how passive,

almost listless, salespeople can be in followup, with e-mails like, “Would you like to look

• Are your people ruthlessly aggressive, yet fantastically kind, in asking for appointments? How do you know? • Do you communicate daily about boldly asking for appointments? Do you role-play? • Do you spiff staff for each same-day customer they bring in? 7. Be Involved — For years, the Internet Department has been quarantined from the desk manager, the GM and dealer principal — it’s crazy and costs a lot of business. Most managers have never even worked an Internet inquiry, the main source of sales! GM’s, sales managers, finance managers and closers all need to get intimately engaged with Internet operations. At my former dealership, everybody (GM included) cycled through every aspect of Internet sales, working leads themselves for two days. 8. Be Unique — Most dealers have a bunch of local, same-brand competitors, so you must get creative with communicating what makes you unique. Whether it’s your sales staff or process, community involvement or promotions, get that story out. One example: At my former dealership we wanted to keep attracting more leads well outside our DMA, so I created a promotion called “Weekend in a Car.” We offered customers a weekend night at a nearby five-star lodge, where they could relax, hit the spa and pick up their car Sunday, taking a leisurely drive home. While only three percent of eligible customers ultimately took advantage of the offer, it was wildly successful and made us extremely unique.

These “Be-attitudes” are designed to help you perform a “check up from the neck up.” Hope they prove useful! Merla Turner is the director of dealer training at eXteresAUTO. She can be contacted at 866.520.3851, or by e-mail at

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Intelligent Marketing Plan Helped Brickell Motors Grow 1000% Under the leadership of Mario Murgado, President and CEO, Brickell Motors has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years combined by using intelligent, innovative and integrated marketing strategies that have helped the organization grow over 1000%. To build a successful business, Murgado knew he would need a highlyeffective marketing strategy to affect multiple marketing mediums including traditional, digital, targeted, social,

media, publicity, niche marketing, and reputation management. Murgado also felt strongly that pro-active involvement in the local community and effective advertising to the local Latino population would be key to the success of the Brickell organization. This Success Story highlights some of the processes and practices that Brickell Motors has developed to grow its organization over 1000% by attracting, servicing and retaining more customers profitably for less cost in a competitive metropolitan market.

The basis of Brickell’s strategy begins with market research. Brickell sought to identify consumers with the highest statistical probability of doing business with their dealerships and to target those customers and prospects with custom messaging based on the status of their vehicle. “We use a combination of manufacturer research, Polk market data and the dealer’s historic sales and service trends to map out which customers to target now and in the future,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of www.TeamVelocityMarketing, the targeted marketing company that

Success Story Brickell Motors uses. “With the market data and our state-of-the-art print technology Brickell not only targets the best customers, but is also able to talk intelligently to their customers based on their vehicle status,” Blackburn added. Brickell’s marketing strategy consistently communicates a cohesive message throughout the five year life cycle of the customer that begins by thanking new customers, providing maintenance and service reminders, recall notices, and extended service warranty information. Brickell also has sales retention campaigns that target off-lease and retail finance customers. All Brickell’s customer communications are delivered with a message that is unique to the customer’s status whether they are due for minor service or are eligible to upgrade to a new vehicle.

Additionally, Brickell incorporates bilingual messaging on all its marketing given the large Latino population in the Miami metropolitan area. With approximately 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the nation and represent over half of Brickell’s market. “For us to market successfully within the Hispanic community it is important to be in-touch with the emotional, cultural and traditional values of the community,” said Murgado. Brickell has always been actively involved in the community partnering early on with Camillus House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian services to men, women and children who are poor and homeless. “Camillus House extended its hands to the first Cubans who ar-

rived in this country. Partnering with this organization was a way to tell the community ‘we are here for you’, and we are still here for them today,” said Murgado. With the continued growth of the Hispanic and Latino population nationwide it is essential for dealers to understand how to market effectively to this demographic and Murgado’s background gives him a natural sensibility that is authentic. “It is very easy to work with Mario to market Brickell Motors because he is deeply involved and respected in the community so he is very aware of what consumers want and what they will respond to,” said Sean Wolfington, owner of, the company that does all of Brickell Motors’ marketing in both Spanish and English. “There are more Latinos in the

In a Nutshell Brickell Motors has sold more Honda and GM vehicles in the last 10 years than over the previous thirty years by implementing an intelligent marketing strategy across all marketing mediums. • Brickell Motors conducts in-depth market research to nd customers with the highest statistical probability of buying or servicing a vehicle with their dealership. • Brickell targets the best in-market customers and prospects with custom messaging specic to the customer’s vehicle status. • Brickell Motors uses Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear on top of the search engines for the most popular search phrases in their market. • Brickell has a comprehensive bi-lingual marketing strategy that targets the growing Latino community. • Brickell monitors all customer phone calls to ensure sales and service calls are being handled properly and alert management so they can save a deal today and customers over the long term. • The Brickell organization is deeply involved in the local community.

Success Story

Brickell Honda Promotional Materials

Success Story U.S. than there are Spaniards in Spain or Canadians in Canada, it is imperative to know how to market effectively to this population.” Always looking for opportunities to reach out to the community, Brickell also developed a special niche marketing program for local teachers with a “Back to School” promotion that honored all Miami area public and private school teachers with an exclusive special of only $50.00 over Brickell employee pricing on any new Honda in-stock, and the teachers kept all incentives. “We consider today’s educators pillars of the community who continue to educate our youth during a time of unprecedented budget cuts and economic adversity. We would like to extend this special thank you to them,” said Murgado. Their investment in the community is sincere, whether through special teacher programs or charitable works the Brickell organization is a true member of the community. Brickell’s commitment to outstanding customer sales and service has made them a stand-out in the Miami area. They are rated the #1 Honda Dealer in Miami by Google reviews so when you google Brickell Honda every result is positive which is not typical for most dealers. “To make it easy for our customers we built a web site,, that gives our customers step-by-step instructions on how to share their positive reviews,” Murgado explained.

Brickell is also a member of the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN), the 3rd most popular lead generation platform, after Auto Trader and Cars. com, which generates thousands of in-bound links that increase Brickell’s online ranking. “If you search google for “Miami Honda”, Brickell Honda pops-up as the first Honda dealer for the region and in a competitive online market that’s where you want to be – on top,” said David Boice, co-founder of AAN ( Brickell also utilizes Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to appear at the top of search engines for highly competitive search phrases. Consumers in the Miami market who search for vehicles online immediately find positive videos about Brickell and the cars they sell because Google gives 55 times more authority to video than text results, said Karry Moore, President of, the VSEO company that Brickell uses. “Video combines the power of sight, sound and motion that gets the customer excited and drives them to Brickell,” added Moore. Murgado has a passion for excellence and sets the bar high for his employees to make sure that every customer is handled with the utmost care, “We strive to clearly and honestly explain the products and services that we offer. Our customers want to be respected and understood, and it’s up to us to make this happen,” said Murgado. “Every call that comes into the dealer-

ship is monitored 24/7 and we send realtime alerts so the dealership can repair broken relationships before it’s too late,” said Chip King, owner of www.CallRevu. com, the company Brickell uses. “This system also helps us track our advertising to see what marketing initiatives are generating the most response – it’s a real eye-opener when you discover that calls you thought were simply coming in off our web site are actually initiating from other campaigns that directed consumers to our web sites. It helps us prioritize our marketing dollars more efficiently,” Murgado explained. “We spend a lot of money to attract customers and we want to make sure we exceed their expectations. My managers are alerted immediately whenever a potential problem or concern arises so that we can quickly reach out to the customer and hopefully fix whatever concerns they may have and create a customer for life,” said Murgado.

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AutoSuccess April 2011  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional

AutoSuccess April 2011  

The #1 Sales-Improvement Magazine for the Automotive Professional