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Hundreds of dealers have discovered the value of equity lead and reputation management by attending, the 2011 Nationwide Seminar Series TURNING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS INTO REVENUE. If you were unable to join us, there's still opportunity to learn what so many others already have. You can still find out how to leverage your relationships and the data from customers you already own to drive significant revenue, right from your own desk!
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888-502-8954 Autobase has provided auto dealers with the premier Automotive CRM since 1988. As the most experienced CRM provider in the industry, Autobase delivers marketing and sales solutions that help nearly 80,000 auto dealers and their dealership staff tofind, market, sell, and retain more customers, more profitably, every day. www.autobase.net
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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 success in 10 seconds or less
32 34 38
stop whining about price
you’re building equity with social and reputation management...aren’t you?
the power is simple:
The Next Direction in Digital Marketing
harnessing the power of personality for your brand
mobility in marketing
Are You in the Fast Lane or Being Passed By?
mobile shopping is a reality
Invest in Mobile and be Ready for Your Shoppers
h.i.c.c.u.p. your way past competitors on facebook
Susie Horne, Account Manager John Warner, Sales-Improvement Strategist email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The Making of a Digital Marketing Juggernaut
Brian Ankney, Account Manager email@example.com
the ‘how-to’s’ in prospecting – and the results
vendor Profile: VinSolutions and AutoTrader:
another branding lesson
Dave Davis, Editor & Creative Strategist firstname.lastname@example.org
the psychology of a T.O.
How to Quickly Overcome Objections and Move Forward Using the Softening Strategy
what would happen if you prioritized your advertising dollars on leads that are easiest to close?
The Truth about crms... SeanV.Bradley
sales & training solution 26
leadership solution 26 36
is your dealership asymptomatic? GlennPasch
Thomas Williams, VP & Creative Director email@example.com
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Susan Givens, Publisher email@example.com
vinsolutions and Autotrader: The Making of a Digital Marketing Juggernaut Publisher’s note: Although we don’t often cover automotive sales news, in favor of providing sales-improvement help to our readers, we believed there are enough professionals in the industry affected by these events that it warranted coverage. AutoTrader continued to surprise the industry when they announced they were acquiring VinSolutions, an automotive digital marketing company that serves manufacturers and retailers. “We are thrilled to acquire VinSolutions and add it to our best-inclass portfolio of dealer software solutions companies,” said Chip Perry, president and CEO of AutoTrader.com. “VinSolutions will further ramp up our dealer solutions product suite to provide dealers with a simpler, more functional one-stop-shop solution of Internet marketing software tools accessible by the dealer through a single sign-on tool.” VinSolutions software tools will be offered on a flexible a-la-carte basis with no long-term contracts, and dealers’ will have the flexibility to work with their other software vendors, since AutoTrader promotes open platforms and integration across its software solutions and other dealer software tools. VinSolutions.com evolved from a startup inventory management company to the 33rd fastest growing software company in the United States according to the Inc 500. VinSolutions took off after the company released their all-in-one dealership marketing system a few years ago. VinSolutions was founded by entrepreneurs who had a vision of building one solution that tied together all the technology a dealer needs to market their dealership online. Led by CEO Mike Dullea, the company experienced growth of more than 100 percent a year over the last few years after releasing their new solution. “I was spending too much money with 15 different companies that did not integrate,” said Todd Crossley from Gary Crossley Ford, the No. 1 Ford retailer in the Kansas City Market. “Now I have one system that does everything, from managing my Internet marketing to desking to service, in one tool that is easy for my team to use. We are spending less for one system that does more than the 15 it replaced.” “Dealers were complaining about working
with too many tools that didn’t talk to each other, so we built one tool that could replace the rest” said Dullea. Dullea worked with Matt Watson, one of VinSolutions’ founders and CTO, to build an “all-in-one” sales and service marketing system that is DMS agnostic. “If you can think it, Matt and his team can build it,” Dullea said. “His team releases enhancements every other Tuesday based on requests they receive directly from the users.” As a result, VinSolutions users help them build a platform that includes search marketing; online advertising; social media marketing tools; Websites; Internet lead management; CRM (customer relationship management); sales force automation; sales management and desking; appraisal; finance; used vehicle market pricing; inventory management and distribution; handheld inventory marketing tools; window stickers; automated video tours and targeted marketing with e-mail, text, mail and telemarketing services. Their “Dealership Marketing System” is one of the first companies to include complete mobile integration so dealers can access reports from any mobile phone that has access to the Internet, including Blackberry, Android and iPhone. Currently VinSolutions is certified by all major OEMs and integrates with most DMS companies, including certified integrations with ADP, Reynolds and Reynolds, AutoSoft and Arkona. VinSolutions also has alliances and integrations with CARFAX, Autodata, RouteOne and DealerTrack, as well as vAuto and Kelley Blue Book, both of which are also owned by AutoTrader.” To launch the new all-in-one dealership marketing system, Dullea recruited the help of a few industry veterans who had a proven track record of helping other companies grow. Dullea recruited Sean Stapleton as their chief sales officer and Kendall Billman to lead their Web marketing initiatives. Stapleton was the EVP of sales at Who’s Calling where he helped create a new category of call monitoring and measurement, and Billman helped develop Web platforms for both Third Coast Media (acquired by Reynolds and Reynolds) and AutoONE Media. Dullea also recruited Sean Wolfington to join VinSolution as a mentor and advisor. “We brought Wolfington on board because he led two of the biggest digital marketing companies in the industry, (CyberCar and Automark, which Reynolds and Reynolds bought in
2001 and BZResults, which ADP bought in 2006) and his experience and advice has been invaluable,” said Dullea. “Mike and Matt built an extraordinary team with talented guys like Kendall Billman and Sean Stapleton, the best salesperson in the industry,” said Wolfington. “Dullea is a relentless leader who has built a fantastic team and Watson built an extraordinary technology platform.” VinSolutions digital marketing system has been widely recognized in the industry. Recently they won the DrivingSales award for their Website, Internet lead management tool and their new VinLens product, a customer information application that lets dealers see who is on their site and what they are looking at so they can deliver custom messages and promotions based on what’s important to the customer. VinLens also lets the dealer see where the customer has been before visiting the Website so they can track their advertising better. VinSolutions also took the top prize at the Automotive Website Awards for building the most complete digital marketing system in the industry. Consistent with AutoTrader.com’s approach to their previous acquisitions, VinSolutions will be a subsidiary of AutoTrader.com, and the current management team will remain intact, led by Mike Dullea (CEO) and Matt Watson (CTO) from their headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. “Our team is very excited to join forces with AutoTrader.com because we are both passionate about helping dealers use the Internet and innovative technology to grow their business,” Dullea said. “Together we will strive to constantly improve how we serve our dealers and how we help them attract, serve and retain their customers.” Both AutoTrader and VinSolutions are pioneers in the industry, so it will be interesting to see how they can leverage all the synergies to serve their dealers better. One thing is for sure: Neither company has a reputation of standing still for long so it will be interesting to see how this new partnership helps dealers and the industry move forward.
Susan Givens is the publisher of AutoSuccess. She can be contacted at 877.818.6620, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
another branding lesson
Last month we talked about de-branding a store by the actions we take and by the advertising we do when it is inconsistent with the culture — or the desired culture — of the dealership. This month, let’s talk about “branding” versus “direct impact” advertising. Let me state up front as a disclaimer that I am in the direct mail business and may be a little bit biased; however, the chicken came before the egg on this one. I firmly believe what I am about to preach — and I practice it. Many times, we have to make the decision inside the monthly advertising budget between a direct results (or “promo”) type of campaign, or to launch a branding message campaign. When it comes to this decision, remember that when using direct results advertising, it does still in fact brand you by getting your name out in front of the public. It will brand you as an aggressive dealership seeking the business and ready to make deals. However, it does not work in the opposite direction. Branding
messages and stereotypical advertising does not always provide direct results. For example, say you launch a branding campaign with the message “Hey public, we are in business 75 years and we love you!” You can’t expect to sell a car on Saturday as a direct result of this message. So, if you can find a way to advertise with a direct results message that you believe is consistent with the personality of your dealership, you will see the long-term branding results, as well as immediate results. A perfect example of this is a dealership with a small “branding” message buy on the radio. You may as well just keep the money because there is a dealership with a large “direct results” buy completely dominating and dwarfing your branding message. You must tell the customer something that they care about. They really do not care how long you have been around (as long as it is more than a year). What they care about is that you plan to give them more
“So, if you can find a way to advertise with a direct results message that you believe is consistent with the personality of your dealership, you will see the long-term branding results, as well as immediate results.” for their trade than any of your competitors. The dealers who are advertising this way will be the ones who are remembered and, after all, isn’t that part of what branding is? Troy Spring is the president of Dealer World. He can be contacted at 866.906.7884, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
On October 15, 2010, I sold vAuto to AutoTrader Corporation. Few experiences could be more gratifying than starting a business in your home with an idea and seven short years later, have it acquired by an industry leading media giant. To be sure, the sale of vAuto was the realization of a dream, but not the fulfillment of a mission. I needed to ensure that the sale was not just good for me, but also our employees, dealers and AutoTrader. Therefore, how everyone would win was a question that needed a clear answer.
addition, we now know the price point at which they are most popular. With this information, the dealer’s used car buy lists will begin automatically populating with those winners that meet their stocking objectives.
Fulfilling the Mission
Next, the system will automatically search the vast network of Manheim auctions to determine the location at which such vehicles will be sold in the coming days. Once these auctions are identified, they’ll be ranked by the likelihood of being able to purchase the vehicle at or below the target amount. This ranking will be determined based on the prices of the most recent identical vehicles sold at each location. Once the matches are found, a dealership representative will be notified with a request for approval. The dealership representative can specify the minimal acceptable condition grade and, with a single click, a proxy bid will be submitted on their behalf. When the target vehicle is acquired, it will be immediately transported and instantly posted on the Internet with a price, photos and a complete description.
For many years, I recognized an opportunity in the fact that Cox Enterprises owned both AutoTrader.com and Manheim auctions, the preeminent retail and wholesale automotive marketplaces. In spite of their common ownership, these two giants were run independently, and largely without strategic connection. To me, this appeared to be the greatest of all opportunities for everyone. Recognizing an opportunity and acting upon it, however, are two different things. The recognition of the opportunity was the justification for the sale, what is ultimately to be unveiled will be its fulfillment. Therefore, mapping a strategy was one of the first priorities to fulfill the promise to the industry. To do so required a thoughtful analysis of both today’s and tomorrow’s industry challenges. What follows is an overview of and insights to my thoughts about the future of the business, dealers and technology solutions. A New Day
As the domestic auto manufacturers return to profitability and employment rebounds, the optimism of the American automobile dealer returns. Evidence of renewed confidence can be seen in growing numbers of dealership renovations, inventory expansion and dealer’s lifestyle enhancements. To many, the current outlook appears to be a longanticipated rebound from the trough of an unusually harsh but all-toofamiliar industry cycle. The American car dealer has seen it all before and has once again persevered and emerged triumphant. With a broader perspective however, there are many new realities and unfamiliar challenges awaiting dealers. One such new reality is a margincompressed used car market. With shortages of used cars and historically high wholesale prices, dealers have found the sourcing of used vehicles at reasonable prices to be a complex task. A New Way
As a result of the AutoTrader acquisition, vAuto will soon introduce a new game-changing solution for the sourcing, stocking and merchandising of used vehicles. The new solution begins with the recognition that AutoTrader.com is a giant voting machine. Millions of cars on this site are voted on every day by car shoppers using their mouse. With the ability to tabulate the votes on a weekly basis in each market, the winners can now be declared — those cars that are most sought after by used car shoppers. In
Along with each vehicle on the buy list will be a dollar amount that the dealer can justify paying for the vehicle. This amount will be automatically calculated by subtracting from the optimal selling price, the dealers profit objective, average reconditioning costs and transportation.
A New Competitive Edge
Traditionally, dealers have made profits by using strategies and tactics to maximize transactional gross profits of new and used vehicles. Today, however, it is both the wholesale and retail markets that largely determine the transaction profit, rather than the persuasion of talented sales people. Progressive dealers who have recognized this new reality have found success in improved profitability with focus on velocity, rather than large gross margins. Although it has been extraordinarily difficult for dealers to adopt this new strategy, it has proven to be effective. Dealers who joined the competitive price bandwagon early enjoyed success at the expense of their traditional higher-priced counterparts. Now that more dealers are pricing aggressively, the challenge is to find the next competitive edge. The good news is that there are new advantages to be found; however, they may not be easy for many dealers to adopt. One such opportunity for competitive advantage is to modify the organizational structure and business process of the dealership to create higher efficiency and greater profitability. This is presently being achieved at many dealerships by transitioning to little- or no-negotiation sales. These dealerships are able to employ fewer managers as well as lowerpriced and easier-to-find sales consultants. Some of these dealerships have even eliminated the expense of dedicated F&I personnel, as they’ve split this responsibility between sales consultants and the few remaining supervising managers. The results are a lower cost of sales, faster transaction time and improved customer and employee satisfaction. Key to the transition to little- or no-negotiation sales is an understanding
that documentation must replace negotiation. Systems like vAuto’s RealDeal provide salespeople and consumers the ability to arrive at consensus by documenting the prices of all identically equipped competing vehicles in the market. In such cases, the dealer’s vehicle does not need to be the lowest price, but rather the dealership only needs to credibly demonstrate why lower-priced vehicles are not of the same value. The differences are automatically identified by mileage, equipment, condition, number of previous owners, accident history and the selling dealer’s service and warranties. The result of using RealDeal is that both salespeople and shoppers derive satisfaction while the dealership maintains the gross profit that it anticipated when the vehicle was priced. In fact, most dealerships today using the RealDeal system are negotiating less than $200 per vehicle from their original asking price. Another opportunity for competitive advantage is a restructuring of the dealership facility. Today, vehicle shopping occurs more in the virtual than physical realm. Large, expensive, high-profile facilities are luxuries that most dealerships can no longer afford. Dealerships of the future should be located in desirable and accessible commercial areas, but not at the proverbial corner of Main and Grand. These new dealerships should be positioned on one-and-a-half acre plots and be built vertically. The ground floor should be a modern corporate-compliant showroom with an open-air parking structure above. Such structures are low cost, relatively maintenance free and, with proper lighting, can accommodate customer parking as well as new and used car display. Similarly, it is not economically efficient to perform mechanical repairs on the most expensive real estate in the community. Service and parts need to be located off-site in lower-cost commercial or industrial parks. These locations need only be accessible, safe and clean. Perhaps likeminded dealerships will ultimately create service center parks as their predecessors did decades earlier with their sales facilities. Because it’s difficult for dealers to extricate themselves from present land and buildings, this transition will require cooperation and partnership among the dealer, their OEM and municipality; all three are key stakeholders in the dealership’s continued viability. The New Breed of Buyers
Another new reality facing dealers and one that also supports the physical restructuring of the dealership is the fact that Gen Y buyers prefer less human interaction in the car-buying process. With shrinking margins and technological advances, progressive dealers are beginning to invest in systems to facilitate true e-commerce automotive sales transactions. Today, buyers can already research vehicles online, find them in dealer’s inventory, get a price, dispose of the trade in and arrange financing without ever visiting a dealership. Meeting the sales-process desires of the Gen Y buyers while reducing selling costs through the use of technology is, therefore, inevitable. The New Breed of Dealers
Scale and centralization of operations will also become a priority for profitability in the years to come. The fact is that one CFO, one operations manager and one used car director can and should perform management oversight across multiple locations. Shrinking margins and higher costs make it increasingly difficult to support profitability with a self-contained operation under one roof. Such advantages will become available to organizations that scale locally and/or regionally as opposed to those with a national footprint but without geographic concentration. Further, single log-on technology systems will be used to facilitate mission-critical functions across the enterprise. It will no longer be cost effective or operationally efficient to support separate systems at multiple locations. CRM, desking, new and used vehicle inventory management and similar systems must be standardized across all locations. Future dealerships will be more like sales outlets rather than self-contained dealership operations. The landscape of family-owned single dealerships will dissipate
in favor of corporate consolidated enterprises. Many of these enterprises will continue to be controlled by families, but operated in accordance with standards of corporate governance and efficient markets. Conclusion
While there continues to be great opportunity in the American automobile industry, today’s dealers and solution providers must recognize that the emergence from the most recent sales cycle slump comes with a host of new realities and challenges. The mission of AutoTrader, vAuto and its growing collection of subsidiaries is to anticipate and meet the needs of dealers in both the present and future. The mantra within the AutoTrader, vAuto and other subsidiary companies is to place the dealer’s interests first and create value for the company by anticipating and fulfilling dealer’s needs. Since the AutoTrader acquisition six months ago, I’ve been inspired by the aggressiveness, intelligence and competency of the management team. I’m also impressed by the genuine dedication of the field team to serve the interests of dealers and transform their roles into ones of trusted advisors. While there is still much work to be done, I am part of a team that is positioned to be an industry leader of marketing, merchandising and sales solutions. With strategic vision, professional management and financial strength, I am confident that our mission will be fulfilled. As said by Charles Darwin, “the future belongs not to the strongest, nor the smartest, but the ones most ready to adapt.” Dale Pollak is the founder of vAuto and a best-selling author. He can be contacted at 866.274.1226, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
what would happen if you prioritized your advertising dollars on leads that are easiest to close?
There are a lot of options when choosing how to invest your advertising budget. Normally, you may think of dividing your budget across channels such as TV, Internet, radio, newspaper, direct mail, e-mail, social media, etc. Why not look at it a different way? Why not put the priority on attracting leads that you have the highest probability to close? In other words, what if you divided your advertising budget based on referrals, previous customers and conquest (new) business? If you prioritized your ad spend based on the closing percentages of these segments, how would your advertising budget look different? There are multiple channels to target each of these segments. With referrals and previous customers you can use e-mail, direct mail, the telephone, social media and texting, and you can combine these with micro-sites. With conquest or new business, you have options such as third-party leads, TV, radio, newspaper, Internet, direct mail and e-mail (assuming your prospects have opted in). So, out of all these opportunities, which will give you the greatest return on your investment? Last month, I wrote an article on setting up a referral process. Without question, referrals will give you the greatest return, but you can’t survive on referrals alone. So, based on your advertising budget, where do you invest most of your money, and is it prioritized based on what gives you the greatest return?
Are you better off investing into third-party leads that are distributed to dealers all over town, or investing in pull-ahead programs right out of your own customer database? If your goal is to sell more vehicles, what is the easiest way to get there? Are you going to have a higher closing percentage with a third-party lead or a previous customer who can actually upgrade his or her vehicle for no money down and actually lower his or her payment? With today’s innovations, dealers have more tools at their disposal than ever before. Like anything, you’re only going to get what you put into a program. With used cars in demand, how important is it for you to acquire more trade-ins from your previous customers? Imagine marrying your dealership’s customer database and vehicle inventory with current manufacturer incentives and the specific profit level you would like to achieve. Then complex algorithms generate a list, pairing customers with the vehicles in inventory that they are eligible to trade into for lower payments. Using the Black Book value of the customer’s current vehicle and his or her current payment and financing information, the customer is matched with a new or upgraded vehicle with no cash down and often a lower monthly payment. Is this lead easier to close compared to a thirdparty lead? How much do you invest in a program like this compared to third-party leads? How much do you work with your staff to make
sure these types of leads are handled correctly? Perhaps the most amazing benefit to this type of innovation is what can be done through the Service Department. Imagine these same calculations being run every business day with your dealership’s new service appointments, thereby matching your appointment customers to vehicles currently in your inventory. Today, the tools to sell a vehicle have never been more innovative. Are you prioritizing your advertising dollars in systems and processes that create the type of lead you have a better chance of actually closing? How would I prioritize a budget? I would prioritize these segments in this order (of course only you can choose which programs and channels work best per segment for your store and personnel): 1. Referrals (you must have a good referral program and process) 2. Previous customer offers (both sales and service) 3. Conquest I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Scott Joseph is the president of J&L Marketing, Inc. He can be contacted at 888.835.1689, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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you’re building equity with social and reputation management...aren’t you? Trying to find time to get the important things done along with selling cars and making a living is hard enough. For today’s dealership personnel, adding social and reputation management to the daily work plan seems ludicrous. Who has time for that? This article is for those who are trying to find answers to those big questions surrounding social and reputation management: “How can being proactive with social and reputation management actually result in a better bottom line? ” and “If I invest the time, effort and resources to manage my online reputation and social assets, how can I actually build tangible equity in my business?” There are a few obvious intangibles. Being courteous and responsive is good. Being positive and talking up your brand and your dealership is smart. But aren’t these things we do naturally as salespeople when the opportunity arises? I am not talking about these obvious intangibles. I am referring to tangibles that result in more sales, higher profits and repeat customers. I want to offer a few tips on how to turn your social and reputation management into tangible equity for your dealership. While reading this, remember a couple important things: • Everything you do online should be centered around SEO. • With SEO, original content is king. Social Management
If you do not already have them, get your dealership clean, professional Twitter and Facebook business pages created. Promote them aggressively. Run promotions to increase your fans and followers every chance you get. Do this first and do it right away (Sounds obvious right? Stay with me here because we are setting the table for the tangible equity part). Here is the hard part with social: You actually have to be social. Download some apps on your smartphone. Set some alerts. Get engaged socially. And yes, answer every question, reply to every comment, and get involved in every conversation relevant
to your business and look for creative ways to tie your audience to your brand and showroom floor, such as having your used car manager tweet about a hot trade in you just appraised. The result is more business now. More importantly, it cultivates more followers, fans and engagement, equaling more social activity. Reputation Management
There are a number of techniques for managing your dealership’s reputation online. Examples include monitoring popular forums or blogs related to your brand or dealership name, subscribing to RSS feeds that funnel up-to-theminute information via e-mail or a Web browser and tracking your brand or dealership’s “buzz” online with technology such as Google Alerts. By far, the method of reputation management that is given the most credence, and the one we will pay close attention to, are online reviews. As you know, Google has changed the way our potential clients enter our digital dealerships by providing an additional layer of consideration for the consumer prior to the click through. With a tug on the subconscious of the consumer, Google now displays those little yellow stars as a snap shot of your reputation right next to the link to your Website in search results. Most dealers are now scrambling to address this new reality with internal procedures to solicit new and consistent positive reviews from the happy customers hoping to offset and strengthen their mediocre averages brought down by the previously buried reviews from upset customers. If you are not taking this action, do it now. Compiling positive reviews at every turn. Offer discounts and promotions in exchange for reviews for your dealership. Do it with urgency. SEO
The importance of all of this is the content, which you can leverage for high-powered SEO. If a consumer writes a 200- to 500-word review or post about your dealership, the brand you sell or the specific model they purchased, good or bad, isn’t that 200 to 500 words of keyworddense content served up on a platter for you? Here’s the tangible equity part: Some automotive
technology and Website vendors are building applications designed to help dealers effectively and proactively manage social and online reputation. You can, however, manage this via free apps on your smart phone, or with free browser plug-ins or for free in the back end of these social sites. Most important, these applications may not answer the big questions asked earlier in this article. Our advice to dealers reading this and looking to answer those questions is to seek out an application that does indeed allow you to more effectively and proactively manage both social and online reputation, but one that also is architected in a way that delivers equity that you can actually see and results that are tangible. Find a SRMS (social and reputation management system) that harnesses your efforts and hard work, and delivers that content directly to search results in the form of indexed pages in a slew of geo- and brand-search markets. Imagine you are a Lexington, Kentucky Ford dealer. A local consumer searches for a Ford F-150 near Lexington, Kentucky, and Google’s first page is saturated with positive reviews or Facebook posts left by your dealership’s loyal customers — and you have 237 reviews averaging 4.7 of those little yellow stars at the same time. Wouldn’t that be great? Bottom Line
If your social and reputation management investment does not yield tangible equity, it may be time to adjust some priorities. Get engaged, be proactive and make certain you are not over-paying for SRMS applications that deliver zero equity for their investment. In today’s car business, it’s all about finding efficient, revenuepositive ways to increase the bottom line. If I can help you by answering questions or providing additional information on how to turn your dealership’s social and reputation management efforts into tangible equity, please contact me with the information below. Mark Springer is the president and COO of BluSolutions Dealer Websites & Automotive SEO. He can be contacted at 866.835.0921, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the power is simple: The Next Direction in Digital Marketing
One thing most used vehicle and Internet managers don’t want or need in their lives is complication. The industry has equipped dealers with all kinds of technologies designed to make these managers’ lives easier, but has that been the true outcome? For example, the industry has given them tools of all kinds to help them merchandise vehicles online and respond to Internet leads originating from those online showrooms. As useful as these technologies can be, they can require more staff effort than should be necessary. In fact, dealing with various systems for listing and managing online inventory, comparing online prices with competitors’ and driving shoppers to the dealership Website inventory pages — the most “ready to buy” end of the sales funnel — can be frustrating. It can be frustrating because orchestrating all these disconnected processes requires work. It requires staff to log into each system and then flip from one screen to the other to move
through the online vehicle merchandising and sales processes. Not only is all this effort time consuming for already-busy Internet managers and staff, but the effort often results in less-than-ideal online vehicle presentations prone to listing and pricing confusion, out-of-date listings and prices and other errors. If you want to sell more cars on-line, your online listings must be compelling, current and consistently merchandised across all online sites in which you list inventory, especially the dealership Website — potentially the dealership’s most powerful inventory sales tool. Furthermore, all this activity must be as automated and hands-off as possible so staff can concentrate on closing leads — not on merchandising inventory.
Most online buyers visit a dealership Website when they’re close to making a final vehicle and dealership decision. Nothing will send them scurrying off your Website faster than Website inventory that’s presented, described and/or priced differently from IMN Spotlight™ reports enable you to create the other listing lists of your most engaged subscribers sites where your dealership also lists and target those ready to buy inventory. from your dealership. Ready to sell?
Introducing – Your Buyers.
A Digital Leap Forward
Drive customers in for sales, for life. Visit www.loyaltydriver.com Innovative Enewsletter Solutions loyaltydriver.com | 1-800-818-4071
Apps are currently being developed in the marketplace, however, that will soon make possible multiple, real-time daily data extraction, compilation and distribution from your dealer management system to your dealership’s Website inventory, key online carshopping sites and the resulting leads right into your CRM.
Internet managers the ability to update vehicle inventory descriptions and prices any time of the day or night — across most of the online sites in which you list inventory — so they can be sure to have the freshest, most appealing online inventory possible. Killer Apps to Sell More Cars
Seamless integration of your key digital marketing components — your Website, CRM and online inventory management software — means comprehensive digital marketing results from one source. In addition, other exciting online marketing apps will make it a cinch for dealers to build powerful and affordable online selling juggernauts. Some of these exciting apps include those that deliver: Improved lead processing: Leads from third-party sites, craigslist and the dealership Website will now flow directly into the CRM, so leads don’t drop through the cracks and so you then convert more of your digital marketing investment into vehicle sales. Improved vehicle listings: Solutions that help you create and manage the most compelling and comprehensive vehicle inventory listings and descriptions on the Internet. Improved vehicle merchandising: Enriched online content to attract more eyeballs and sell your listings. These tools include human voiceover video, ad writer and custom comment generators, YouTube and craigslist easy listing tools and direct-to-auction (OpenLane and Smart Auction) tools. Improved dynamic content: New tools will upload “live” walk-around videos to YouTube and to the dealership’s inventory pages, as well as to sites like AutoTrader, Cars.com and many other sites. Improved social media tools: Jumpstart and ensure ongoing involvement in your Facebook and Twitter efforts. These are exciting times in auto retail digital marketing. The “power of simple” — integrated CRM, Web and inventory management — is simplifying how easy it is to use and benefit from modern online inventory sales and management tools, while improving how dealers capture, merchandise and sell vehicles online.
This new integration Skip Murphy is sales director with Trinity Suite. technology will He can be contacted at 866.295.9491, or by give used car and e-mail at email@example.com.
2/25/2011 9:13:45 AM
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harnessing the power of personality for your brand
Last month, I shared with you that the fastest, best and easiest way of creating a successful, highly profitable business or career in the automotive industry was to position yourself as a celebrity expert. Over the next few issues, I’m going to share the key steps and strategies you need to follow in order to build a powerful celebrity expert brand. If you follow these steps, you’ll stand out way ahead of your competition. However, in this section, I want to share one secret that will take you to a completely new level. That secret is the power of your own personality. Overcoming the dull, corporate approach every day in my work, I meet people who have amazing personalities. Then I go and check out their blogs, their articles, videos and books — any of the ways they represent themselves in their business world. I often discover that they are totally flat and stale — they have a dull, corporate feeling.
I have to tell you that if you truly want to be the celebrity expert in your market, you have to do the exact opposite. This dull, corporate approach is not what your clients and prospects want. They want to know who you really are. The fact is that we connect best with people we can relate to; who are like us in some way — whether it’s the way they think, their lifestyle, their age, their background...whatever. So, if you want to build your celebrity expert brand, your expertise has to align with your personality and who you’re trying to connect with. This may seem scary at first, but you have to let people in on who you truly are. You’ve probably heard it said that success is 10 percent what you know and 90 percent the rest. I’m not sure if these numbers are correct, but I am sure the message is spot-on. In short, people have to know you before they’ll listen to you. If they don’t know who you are, then they don’t know if they should take your
advice. So, you’ve got to let them in.
And yes, that does mean you need to show them your quirks and idiosyncrasies. Now, there may be things you don’t want to get into — such as politics and religion — but you should be aware that the more polarizing you are, the more magnetic you will become to those who are like you. Polarizing for Success
The more you let people know who you really are, the more they’ll either see themselves in you or they’ll see they’re not like you. So, it’s also true that the more polarizing you are, the more you’ll push some people away. But the benefit of that is that the people who identify with you will be even more attracted to you. You can probably think of personalities right now — whether in business or in entertainment — that you cannot stand. You just can’t figure out how they have such a big following. Well, it’s because of this rule. There are people who feel like them, and the more polarizing they are, the more they’re drawn to them. I’m going to show you exactly how to position yourself so that the right potential customers are attracted to you. But let me start by sharing a little about me and how I started my journey. My Celebrity Expert Branding Story - Part 1
My story dates back more than 82 years — and no, I’m not that old! That’s when my greatgrandfather opened the first Frank Myers store. And, to most people, it seemed obvious that I would follow in the family footsteps. However, I had other plans. I wanted no part of the car business. I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. From the age of five or six, I only wanted to be a rock star, radio DJ, or an actor. I guess that’s not too unusual for a five-year-
old, but I actually started to live my dream pretty quickly. When I was eight, my brother and I got a couple of the neighborhood kids together to put on a play in my backyard. We practiced every day for two weeks after school. I made posters by hand advertising the play — remember, this was before PCs, and there was no Kinko’s. We made copies using carbon paper and put them in the neighbors’ mailboxes. We didn’t charge admission, but I did pass the plate. We may not have had an audience of thousands, but I did manage to get $55 in donations —that’s not too bad when you’re only eight. I gave my two friends and my brother $5 each, which left me a hefty profit of $40. So, I was lucky enough to learn three very important lessons early on in life: • I loved being on a stage in front of people. I loved the applause, the accolades and the celebrity! (The money wasn’t bad either!) • Marketing something — in fact, anything — came naturally to me. • If you were creative and didn’t mind a little hard work, you didn’t have to spend a lot of money marketing to get great results. I’ve learned lots of valuable lessons that I’m going to share with you over the next few issues, plus, next month, I’ll teach you the secrets of matching your expertise to your perfect market.
Tracy Myers, C.M.D. is a noted small business marketing and branding solutions specialist, best-selling author, speaker, car dealership owner and entrepreneur. He can be contacted at 866.860.0029, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
Sales success in 10 seconds or less
How to Quickly Overcome Objections and Move Forward Using the Softening Strategy What can be accomplished in only 10 seconds? If you’re in sales, a 10-second segment of your process can determine whether you close the deal, end the conversation or at least keep the process going. How is that possible? You’re about to find out. This article is focused on the five to 10 seconds of a sales process that is most important — the point of initiating trust and rapport with your customer. For those who may be confused, let me explain. Establishing customer trust and rapport is an ongoing effort. However, initiating it (and even nurturing it) requires only a few seconds of salesperson compassion in response to customer objections. I call this the softening strategy. Depending on the nature of your business or your customer, this five- to 10-second act of empathy may take place once, or may need to be repeated multiple times over the course of the sale. Yet despite this fact, the reward you stand to receive is well worth the wait. Selling doesn’t truly begin until customers start objecting. Although customer objections are often feared by veteran salespeople and green peas alike, they present an opportunity to establish a relationship that will result in a sale. One of the most common mistakes salespeople make is that they talk about themselves or their product as means to build rapport. Trying to impress your prospects with personal feats will not help you get paid. The more the prospect feels involved in the conversation (meaning the more the prospect talks) the stronger rapport and the greater the sales. The softening strategy is one of many tricks to get the prospect talking. The Purpose of Softening Strategy
Ever hoped the next customer you approach won’t express any objections? Chances are you have. After all, who wouldn’t love to just take orders? The reality of the situation, though, is that customers do have objections. And in the automotive sales world, they tend to have a lot. When customers vent their opposition, don’t get defensive. Understand that customer objections are not personal attacks against you. There are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Your goal as a salesperson is to find that story in between the lines. This is where softening strategy comes into play. Instead of defending yourself or your product, softening strategy takes the pressure out of customer objections by using acknowledgement, alignment and coaxing to move the process forward. When both the customer and the salesperson put their guards
down, a mutual understanding is established and rapport is initiated. Softening strategy offers a non-combative approach to addressing customer concerns. The Softening Strategy Practice
If you are currently or have ever been in a relationship you know what can happen when the two of you don’t see eye to eye. Let’s say your mate is dealing with a dilemma, and you happen to have the world’s best advice. If that advice isn’t presented in just the right way, you and your advice won’t be taken seriously, or will result in an argument. In the sales world, this scenario happens between salespeople and customers every day. All too often, salespeople counter customer objections by responding with a statement like, “Yeah, but…,” or “You should….” You can fill in the blanks with whatever reason you like. Unfortunately it will never take away from the fact that this statement is argumentative. Arguing with your customers will not make them like you, and people buy from people they like. Softening strategy helps you prove your point without being confrontational. The steps are easy: 1. Acknowledge the customer’s concern 2. Align with their position (even if you don’t agree) 3. Coax them into hearing your side of the story and let them choose what your next steps will be Here’s how this strategy might play out in a car sales scenario: Customer: “I’m just looking today.” Salesperson: “I understand.” (This is where the salesperson acknowledges the customers concern.) Salesperson: “I hear that a lot, and it’s OK.” (This is where the salesperson aligns with the customer’s position.) Salesperson: “Let’s pretend you were considering doing something, what would be the most important things about a vehicle that you need to know?” (Do not use the word “buy” in place of the phrase, “doing something.” It can trigger customer defenses.)
would you like me to ask you? What is important to you?” Like this example illustrates, the goal is to get the customer comfortable with entering the next stage of the process. The customer respects your ability to acknowledge and align with them, which opens the door for you to interject your opinions and advice. Letting the customer make the final decision to move forward puts the ball in their court. They feel in control. The Importance of Tone
On many occasions, sales requires a knack for acting. The ability to align with or acknowledge something you don’t agree with isn’t an easy feat. Whether you’re able to pull it off or not is very much dependent on your tone. Those less experienced with the softening strategy can often come across as condescending. That’s not a good thing when looking to build a relationship. You want to always appear sincere. Radiating sincerity in non-sincere situations, however, often requires a lot of practice. Don’t be afraid to test your abilities out in conversations with people who are not prospects — for example, a waiter/waitress, your spouse, friends or family. Just like movie stars continuously work to improve their acting ability, so should you. If your tone isn’t perfected, your chance for success dwindles greatly. There are literally hundreds of ways this strategy can apply to car sales scenarios. If you are interested in learning additional softening strategy word tracks and reading more role play scenarios utilizing this technique, please request G&A’s Guide to Improving Sales Talent: Softening Strategy by sending me an e-mail with the subject line “SOFT.” Matt Baker is the vice president of sales for G&A Marketing. He can be contacted at 866.618.8248, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
OR Salesperson: “I know you’re not going to buy today. However since you are here, let’s pretend you were. What kind of questions
“Selling doesn’t truly begin until customers start objecting.”
mobility in marketing
Are You in the Fast Lane or Being Passed By? One simple truth can be said about the automotive industry, and that is the old proverb that “the only constant is change.” Auto dealers everywhere have weathered the economic tides of change as much as any U.S. industry to date. Just as new technologies can advance product lines, makes and models, consumer’s expectations evolve with regards to relevant and timely marketing and branding messages or content. The consumer today is in more control than ever before over what they hear, see and feel in the
digital world. Why do people text instead of call? Why do people listen to commercial-free radio or use digital TV recorders? The answer is simple: They demand to control more and more the types of messages they receive and when and where they receive it. It has been said that in the future the consumer may no longer have to seek out the products and services they need and want; the products and services they need and want will find them. Marketing strategies will not be about traditional resources, but rather who can best provide the consumer with control over that marketing vehicle in order to deliver their message. The cyclical world of marketing can be directly linked to time periods that introduced the next great “disruptive technology.” Where the 80’s, 90’s, and the first decade of the 21st century can be indexed by new digital solutions made available by the Internet (Websites, e-commerce, e-mail, pay per click, social media, etc.), the arrival of mobile platforms to deliver rich media content will lead the field for the next decade and beyond. The value proposition of mobile from a marketing standpoint could be argued in the past, but the argument no longer holds water thanks to tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft advancing their mobile agendas at freakish speeds. The research group IDC found that in the last quarter of 2010, smartphones surpassed global PC shipments for the first time ever — a trend that looks to widen the gap with the current iPad and tablet craze. As an owner, manager or director of an organization or department, we are often overwhelmed by the process of vetting out the “right” marketing idea or solution. Throw in a tool that involves something new involving technology and it becomes easy to table that discussion until a time when our brains are better rested. It’s worth the time and effort to stay abreast of the state of mobile technology, though, both through education and by seeking out technology that can help you simplify and consolidate your digital marketing efforts. Mobile is becoming the most relevant marketing channel due to the ability, through the right platform, to deliver differentiated and immersive mobile experiences. Marketing pundits worldwide agree, that this will be the key to long-term customer loyalty and retention. Consumers are quickly transitioning from a “point and click” environment to a “tap to call,” “tap to schedule” or “tap to share this offer” environment. What is your dealership’s mobile marketing strategy? Peter Bond is the president of Automotive Resource Group. He can be contacted at 866.447.0238, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
is your dealership asymptomatic?
I recently related a story at the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp about this topic. The short version is that my son has some ongoing medical issues and my wife and I are very vigilant in monitoring his progress. When he had to have a certain procedure, the doctor remarked that he must have been showing this sign or that sign, to which we responded, “No, he wasn’t.” That day I learned a new word: asymptomatic (meaning, “not showing symptoms”). I thought about this and it struck me how certain businesses can also be asymptomatic. Everything looks great on the surface, but lurking below the surface are potential problems that only will surface when it is too late. To drive this point home, how many of you reading this article inspect your processes with the same intensity when you have your best month versus when you had a month that missed expectations? How many of us focus on our top performers to understand what they did to achieve results so that we can take certain behaviors and implement them across the other team members? Many of us are so pleased we hit our goals that we focus on the next month without ever thinking, “How did we do what we just did?” Maybe we give our team praise — “Great job, let’s do that again!” (See my column in April’s issue regarding specific feedback). Now, understand I am not saying that you should not celebrate success, but what I am saying is that each month you should be focusing on the execution of processes, not only on results. Focusing on “how” things are executed can help you better train your staff so they can replicate success. First, let’s review what to do if you achieve the results you desire.
This can be very tricky because most times no one looks into what you did to achieve results; everyone is just happy you did. What you need to ask the employee is, “What did you do to achieve the results?” Notice I asked what they did. This allows you to understand their process, but, more importantly, they understand what they did so they can repeat the behavior.
the person’s effort. If you see they are trying and they are almost there, then I would retrain them. By asking them what they are doing, you can easily see what part of the process they are missing and can tailor your training to that specific part of the process. Make sure to document the training so that you have something to refer to later.
One of the most important things you are doing is complimenting them on what they did. We as people repeat behavior that makes us feel good, so if they are getting compliments when they achieve success, they are more than likely to repeat the behavior, thus achieving continued success.
If you have trained and retrained but the person is still not getting results, then it is up to you to document the failure and have a heart to heart with them. Most of these conversations fall into two categories:
This also allows you to have a benchmark in case they ever fall into underachieving expectations. You have their process that you can review and see if they are skipping a step or have taken a step for granted. This allows you to easily get them back on track. What if someone has not achieved the results you are expecting? This first place to look is if they have been trained to do this task. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked that question when I am helping someone, only to find no one ever trained him or her correctly. They may have been told what to do, but no one showed them what needed to be done. Remember, telling allows interpretation by the listener. Showing leaves no room for interpretation. If they have not been trained, then train them correctly. If they have been trained, I recommend training them again. This time, you have trained them so later you can look them in the eye and know training is not the issue for not achieving results. If you have trained them and they still are not getting results, you have to make a decision if you want to retrain. Much will depend on
The person is really trying but just is not suited for the position. There are many people who come in and give it their all and you want them to succeed, but results are not there. You have to be honest with them and give them one last chance, or maybe there is a different position in your company. The person is not even trying. This person needs to be documented and the conversation is a wake-up call. Most times, they can do the job but they are choosing not do. These are very dangerous employees to keep on board. Too many chances will impact your other employees who see poor performance being rewarded. My advice is cut ties as soon as you can with proper documentation. By doing this type of inspection each month, you will be anchoring in behaviors that achieve results and address any that will not help you be successful. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Looks can be deceiving and success can be a very strong hallucinogen. Celebrate success by rewarding execution of process, not just results. 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 email@example.com.
mobile shopping is a reality Invest in Mobile and be Ready for Your Shoppers If you haven’t yet heard of the three-screen lifestyle, you’ll soon become aware of it. It’s the ever-growing lifestyle of consumers with a TV, computer and now a smartphone. Modern marketers are finding creative ways to reach these consumers who are riding the growing wave of “always-on” instant availability. Recent research finds that U.S. mobile Internet users are engaging in shopping-related activities at a rate that actually exceeds desktop usage. Any way you look at mobile, it is transforming the way your customers shop and interact with your dealership. Dealerships that are not investing in mobile shopping technology are at risk of getting left behind. The good news for mobile initiative dealers is that mobileoptimized Websites can raise engagement as much as 85 percent. This isn’t meant to scare anyone. Mobile Websites are just another marketing channel to reach prospective customers. What better gift could a customer give you than to have your dealership available in their pocket 24/7? You’re probably a smartphone user, right? At any given time, how far away is your phone? Personally, I know the farthest my phone ever gets from me is my nightstand. A recent study done by Adobe* has some statistics that will get your attention: • 53 percent of mobile shoppers rated product and pricing information as most important • 66 percent of mobile shoppers prefer shopping via mobile browser vs. in an app
• 46 percent of first-time mobile shoppers access a retailer’s site by typing the Website into the browser • For consumer researching and browsing product information, 81 percent prefer mobile browser, and 19 percent prefer mobile app • 71 percent of consumers prefer a mobile browser over a mobile app when comparing products and prices • 53 percent of consumers spend one to five hours per week shopping mobile Websites Auto dealers have gone through the TV phase, are living in the computer phase and have now been given a new frontier for marketing: the smartphone era. For dealers, mobile can be a highly influential marketing channel. For automotive retailers, it provides the unprecedented immediacy of shopping your store when the need strikes the consumer. Think of mobile not strictly as a purchase channel, but more as a marketing channel to drive consumers to an action (lead conversion) and to serve them information whenever they’re ready to buy. Mobile shopping is still in its early days, but auto dealers absolutely need a mobile presence to begin testing and measuring what works for their store, clients and region. Mobile will continue to evolve as user experiences catch up to the fast pace of smartphone technology. So, you ask, “What should I consider when setting up my mobile Website?” Here’s a list
of five areas to consider when you’re getting started with mobile (or to evaluate your current mobile site): 1. Minimalist approach to the user interface (UI), with a focus on uncluttered shopping experience. An example of poor UI would be putting too much information on the inventory list. 2. Your mobile Website must convert leads. Do you have consistent easy-tonavigate lead forms, touch-to-call or SMS functionality? 3. High-quality imagery. Touch screen smartphones have made incredible strides in displays. Does your mobile Website deliver rich media to the mobile browser? 4. Deep product details. There are several great ways to display as much vehicle data on a smartphone screen as there is on desktop browsers. Provide your consumers with as much information as you do on the desktop. 5. Robust search. Searching, sorting and filtering inventory could not be more important on a mobile Website. Customers are usually looking for a finite inventory set or a specific vehicle when searching on mobile. Google recently stated that mobile searches have increased by 500 percent from 2008 to 2010, and according to recent projections published by Nielson Co., one in two Americans will own a smartphone by the end of 2011. It’s time to take notice that the “must have a Website” era in our industry has now become the “must have a mobile Website” era! *(source: Adobe Scene7 Mobile Commerce Survey: Mobile Shopper Insights for 2011) Chad Polk is the CEO of AutoRevo. He can be contacted at 866.873.0031, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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h.i.c.c.u.p. your way past competitors on facebook Every dealership is trying to use Facebook to move their business forward and stay connected to customers. Why are some more successful at this than others? Content is the key to staying in touch with customers and keeping them informed. Use the H.I.C.C.U.P. approach to make your Facebook page more successful: Humor
Humor allows your audience to come away with a warm fuzzy feeling and a friendly attachment to your message. It doesn’t have to be industry specific, although it can be. You can do viral
searches on YouTube and/or sites that plug social media. Always watch a video all the way through before posting — you don’t want it to include any profanity or other unmentionables. Remember, video is king. Written blogs are being trumped by the clever, colorful and often fun video blogs. Interactive Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions to your group. For example, “what is your opinion on electric cars?” The purpose here is to begin the conversation. People posting their answers will create a community buzz. Letting the responses unfold naturally also gives you a marketing advantage, because you know what customers are looking for. Content
If you don’t provide interesting topics, information and current trends, current customers — as well as future customers — simply go away. Clicking “Unlike” on Facebook is just as easy as clicking “Like.” Smart, clever and challenging content will keep your audience waiting for more. With most dealerships having a presence on Facebook, competition will become fierce and you have to stand out. Current Events
If you haven’t done so already, get plugged in to all online media and/or trade publications. When something interesting pops up, pass it along. If something political occurs that impacts your industry, for example, let people know. Never make a personal judgment about the event; let your community unfold. Use Google Alerts to notify you of events and news feeds that pertain to auto sales. Use a program like Hootsuite to consolidate and tweet events out to all of your feeds and accounts at once. Utilizing Industry Facts
Keep your followers abreast of changes in your particular industry and relate them back to your own business. For example, if new models are about to come out, keep people aware by posting them on Facebook. Promos and Specials
Mention specials, promotions, new products and services. You can get creative here and run a coupon or contest. Talk about new employees, business awards or articles written by your staff. You can drive traffic to your business and services by using this concept. The one caution is that you shouldn’t overuse Facebook to market to your customer base. They can grow tired of it on your page, causing you to lose a potential client. To be successful, all categories should be represented on your posts daily. If you personally don’t have time, assign this process to an employee or virtual assistant. Generally, creative, idea-generating minds are the best individuals suited for this task. Genae Girard is a speaker, author and entrepreneur. She can be contacted at 866.263.5696, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
sales & training solution
stop whining about price Price cutting is a self-inflicted wound. Nobody holds a gun to your head and makes you cut your price. I know that many of you are thinking right now: “There is so much competition today that I can’t maintain profits,” “Everybody is giving everything away,” “The salespeople can’t negotiate,” and “Everybody knows our pricing from the Internet. “ Blah, Blah, Blah. Stop whining about price! Only about 10 percent of buyers buy on price alone. For that 10 percent, you can decide to lower your prices or let those customers buy elsewhere. Every person who has ever sold anything knows that the happiest customers are the ones who pay you profit, whereas the unhappiest customers
are the ones that you gave everything away to. Here’s a news flash: You don’t have to do business with them. It’s your choice. All things being equal, money will be the customer’s final decision. It is your job to make everything unequal. Customers consider the 3M’s: Money, Machine and Me. What are you doing to elevate the “me” part of the equation? The “me” part of the 3M’s stands for you: your process, the dealership, the service and the reputation. It’s the easiest part of the equation to change. Your dealership is unique and your customers need to know why. You have to believe that you are the best and that you are worth more. Many salespeople and sales managers have a flawed, weak belief system. If you don’t believe you are outstanding, you will make yourself a replaceable commodity. Every day you must work as hard on yourself as you do on sales. When you get better, your customers will get better. Do you work on yourself every day in the area of attitude, education, motivation, sales skills, customer follow-up and marketing? Let’s be brutally honest and forget about being politically correct — most salespeople stink at their profession. The majority of salespeople never work on the above skills. Can you really tell me that those unmotivated and uneducated idiots are the tough competition? Your only competition is in your own mind. Recently, while in Las Vegas, I shopped for shoes at Caesar’s Palace. At the first store I went to, I noticed the salesperson looked agitated to have to hang up the phone to wait on me. He was extremely rude and did nothing to add value to his store or differentiate himself from other run-of-the-mill salespeople. The second store I went to, I encountered a sensational salesperson who created rapport and sold value and quality. He knew his product and made a high price seem like a bargain. The first store lost two sales and the second gained from the first salesperson’s stupidity. Is the first salesperson and his inadequacies the norm, or was it an aberration? My experience says that unfortunately, he’s the norm. My hunch is that your experiences are the same as mine. Work every day to get better and show it to your customers. Work on your belief system. Don’t be a commodity, and stop whining about price. Price is the easiest problem to solve in the sale. For your free special report “10 Ways to Overcome the Best Price Questions,” e-mail me at the address below with “Best Price” 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
the psychology of a t.o.
One of the hardest things for a new salesperson to grasp is the significance of a T.O. The reason why new hires are resistant to the T.O. is because of the negative thinking behind the word. The only thing good about the word “turnover” is when it has the word “apple” in front of it. Think about it: If sales were a sporting event, you would be deemed a loser if you “turned the ball over” consistently; but a salesperson is required to “turn over” his customers. When a salesperson is hired, they are taught to be independent and thick-skinned, but are fearful of looking weak when they have to T.O. a customer, thinking the meaning of a “T.O.” is “I’m too weak to do this deal on my own,” thereby becoming resistant to their manager. As a manager, if you want more consistent T.O.’s, you should change the psychology of a T.O. “No” vs. “Know”
I know this may be hard to believe, but occasionally a salesperson will be confronted with a resistive customer; a customer who,
despite all efforts, is unwilling to pull in the same direction as the salesperson. The customer is not always saying “no” to the salesperson’s efforts; he may be saying, “know.” “I don’t know you,” “I don’t know what your motives are, “ “I don’t know if this is the right vehicle for me” or “I don’t know enough about your dealership” may be some of your customer’s concerns. If you want to be compatible with your customers, think like your customers do and address their “knows.” Be Double-minded
The thinking behind a T.O. is a different mentality for a salesperson versus a manager. To a salesperson, a T.O. should be thought of as “turning the objection.” The customer’s objections range from they don’t have time to not enough money for their trade, or a million other reasons why they need to “come back later.” The manager should think of a T.O. as a “teaching opportunity.” Turning objections over to a manager serves two purposes: The first purpose, the manager has a chance to turn a customer around and help put a deal together. The other purpose of a T.O. is an opportunity to teach “hands on.” The best form of teaching is by example. A manager also may be able to pick up on some quirky mistakes made along the way and coach the salesperson at a later time. All-time Assist
To use the analogy of basketball, a T.O. is grabbing the rebound and keeping the ball in play granting another opportunity to score (make a sale). After spending time with a prospect, the salesperson is fearful of going too far and losing a potential sale, which means they don’t go far enough. Timid
salespeople have skinny kids; you must exhaust all of your resources in an effort to make a sale. There should never be a time a customer leaves without buying and the salesperson says, “What if I would have….” Leave all of your efforts out on the blacktop. Keep in mind that you cannot lose what you never had. How can you “miss out” on a deal if you never had one in the first place? What does the commission pay for almost making a sale? When an objection is turned to a manager, who has no emotional attachment, he can assess the situation quickly and take action. Sometimes the customer is on the wrong vehicle, while other times it is as little as reinforcing what the salesperson has already said. There are also times the customer just may not be emotionally compatible with the salesperson, so a change of face is needed. A high percentage of missed sales are not due to price, but are lost due to an incompatibility with the salesperson (i.e. appearance, attitude or lack of knowledge); price was merely a smokescreen. Often, a change of face or different personality can reveal the true objection and thus clear the pathway toward a sale. Strength in Numbers
The Bible says there is strength in numbers; two are better than one. You cannot win a championship alone, it takes teammates; it’s called “The Rolling Stones,” not “The Rolling Stone”; surgeons don’t perform open-heart surgery alone, nor do pilots fly 747s to London solo. Why would you insist on selling alone? A T.O. is a joint collaboration of consultants and management in an effort to increase the chances of making a sale. If you are a salesperson, before you place this article in a discreet white envelope and stick it under your manager’s day planner, remember it is your manager’s job is to equip you with the necessary skills in order to become successful, but it is your job to do the work and turn your dreams into reality. Put a different way, a coach’s job is to prepare you for the game, but it is your job to take the game-winning shot. Players use all of their resources to win as a team, but are inducted into the hall of fame alone. Change the psychology of a T.O. and change your fortunes forever. See you on the blacktop. Marsh Buice is the sales manager of Mark Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep. He can be contacted at 866.535.5006, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
the truth about crms...
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is always on a dealership’s agenda in our 20 Groups, and they almost always come up in every single workshop. And this is how it should be — it is one of the most important tools and resources that a dealership has in its arsenal for automotive Internet sales. Over the last 12 years, I’ve seen Internet lead management (ILM) and CRM technology companies evolve to have amazing offerings. But over the years I still get the same question “What is the best CRM for dealerships?” The answer is complex, because there are different “flavors” of CRM, and what’s right for one dealership can be the wrong fit for another; we’ll get to that in a moment. The goal of a CRM package is to reduce redundancy by offering with multiple tools and consolidate to one centralized platform. That means if you have multiple tools / products that do the following: • Digital or manual showroom control system (desk log) • Service reminders • Permission-based e-mail campaigns • ILM tools • Phone up tracking system • Inventory management system • Call tracking software • Service appointment system • Data mining • BDC campaign management • Special finance • Reporting and analytics With the right CRM, you don’t need a separate tool to perform all these functions. Theoretically, the right CRM lets you consolidate all of this with a single technology platform. The benefit here is multiple. It’s certainly cheaper to pay for one CRM tool than having to purchase numerous tools individually. While an individual tool will almost always be cheaper than a full CRM, if you add up all of individual tools out there, the total cost would be much more expensive than the average cost of a CRM.
One of the most powerful benefits of using a single CRM solution, however, is the fact that all information is on one centralized platform. For example, if you have a prospect that sends an Internet Purchase Request, the CRM will have that in its database. If that prospect decides to walk in the dealership and is “logged” into the dealership’s CRM as a showroom prospect, it will be recognized immediately that that prospect was originally an “Internet opportunity.” Furthermore, if that prospect was ever in the dealership’s service department or did any type of business with that dealership, it would show up in reports. Most CRMs will calculate the amount of profit made from each customer, and the dealership can see the whole picture of a customer or prospect. This is important because if the dealership has the full picture on a situation, it can make better business decisions. Not all CRMs are perfect fits with all dealerships, though. CRMs can be designed to focus more on one area of sales than another. If your dealership also focuses on this area, it’s a good fit. If you don’t have a particularly strong Internet sales department, but your CRM specializes in Internet lead management, that can be a bad fit. You have to do your research before committing to a CRM solution. The best advice I can give is to stop trying to shove a round peg into a square hole. Too many dealers out there buy one tool, and then try to make it do what it wasn’t designed to do. I’ll give you an example. I have a dealer client that purchased a tool that was 100-percent designed for special finance. It was designed for a “special finance” department, and was designed by a “special finance” branded company. But the dealership uses this tool for its entire store, and they depend on it for their Internet sales department. The crazy thing about this situation is that the dealership doesn’t even have a “special finance” department. They bought this tool without researching the situation, and are now paying the price.
Here are some steps you can take before you buy a CRM: • First, simply ask yourself “What do we want or need a CRM for —Internet, sales, service, BDC?” When you answer that question, find a CRM that specializes in that area of need. • If, for example, you have an extreme need for Internet lead management, compare CRM tools that specialize in that area with each other. Find out why they feel they specialize in ILM, and find out what credentials they have for ILM. • Get references, and then actually call other dealers using the tool. Ask for references who aren’t in their marketing, and speak to the actual department you are investigating. Don’t ask the dealer principal or GM about Internet lead management; ask the Internet or BDC director. Get their real opinion from a day-to-day operational level. • Accept the fact that you might need to have more than one tool. For example, I have a lot of dealer clients who have multiple tools. They might have a full CRM and an ILM tool, as well. Yes, this goes against the myth that a CRM can do everything, you’ll be better off in the long run with the right tools for your dealership. Look at it this way: You wouldn’t go to the ophthalmologist if you had trouble breathing. The ophthalmologist is a doctor, but that’s not his specialty. Use this same mindset when selecting your CRM. Please e-mail or call me if you have any questions about CRM or if you would like a free strategy session/assessment on your current CRM solution.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sales & training solution
the ‘How-to’s’ in prospecting – and the results
Take a rookie and have them write down 250 friends. Get names, addresses and phone numbers for all. Then call all the people up and let the future customers know what you do. Ask them for all the members in the family, along with their birth dates, and put them in your system. Mail all of them four cards with your $100 referral offer on the back (but first check the laws to see if this is allowed in your state.) This is a very effective way to start in sales. Always ask “Who do you know that is looking for a new or used vehicle?” at the end of every call, and mention your referral fee if allowed.
You sell cars for a living.
I used to put my name cards on the cars every Saturday after work and take them off Monday mornings to get future clients. This is another way that is guaranteed way to get sales at no cost to anyone. Every day, go out and talk to at least 10 future customers and simply ask if they — or anyone they know — is in the market for a car. Do this every day and I guarantee someone will pay for your lunch every day of your life. Remember, I’m looking for a now customer and a future customer, as well. I will get their name, address and birth date if they seem really nice and are willing to help me. When you do this, it takes less than a year to get 1,000 names in your birthday system. Now you have something to work with. You have to build a “business within a business” by investing in yourself with prospecting tools. Learn the tools that allow you to make money while you are sleeping. Magnets, key rings, pens, ads in the paper and so on is just a start. Each month you must set aside money for prospecting tools, or you will be working the lot the rest of your life.
This is you
This is how your customers see you
Like it or not, some bad apples in the car business have made it tough for professional, customer focused sales people to shake the image of the slick talking salesperson. Carfolks.com helps by offering FREE personal pages to all vehicle sales professionals to build their brand, and our dealer marketing program provides an integrated solution that highlights the top performing, customer friendly dealers in the market. Don’t let industry stereotypes define you! Join the Carfolks Neighborhood today. Call 866-618-8257.
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All the money is in repeat and referrals, and this will happen in time if you do this every month. After a while, you won’t have to look for customers; they will look for you. That’s when you will work less and make more money. Talk to the winners who are doing it and you will get accurate advice. A rookie sold 41 cars in his fifth month at Alexander Subaru by learning this right away. Remember: There are more customers outside the dealership who are ready to buy than will be on your lot with the biggest sale. You just have to go get them. What comes with prospecting on a daily basis? Higher close ratio, bigger grosses, more fun, less stress, more time off and lots of fun because you stand out from the crowd. Do something different from the complainers. Do what the big fish do to be successful, because they eat the little ones. Prospecting is the best way to be successful and stay at the top.
Fran Taylor is the president and CEO of Taylor Techniques. He can be contacted at 866.848.9864, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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Tough Metro Market? Yeah, Right.
Antwerpen Hyundai dominates with quirky TV ads and targeted digital marketing Don’t talk to Antwerpen Hyundai about the typical challenges found in large metropolitan areas like tough competition, almost nonexistent customer loyalty and dwindling employee retention. The Baltimore-area dealership, one of the largest Hyundai stores in Maryland, has flourished despite the challenges. Quirky television commercials, a focus on customer service and a targeted
integrated marketing strategy has Antwerpen repeatedly capturing 30% of the sales volume for all of Maryland, and as much as 50% for the local Baltimore market. Meanwhile, it has grown its customer database by 20% while maintaining a high customer retention rate. First, Antwerpen Hyundai has set themselves apart from the crowd with a quirky style of television
commercials that is unique to the Antwerpen family of dealerships. “We have some crazy commercials and it’s become our claim to fame. Our TV ads have branded our dealership – everyone knows us when they walk through our doors,” says Michael Antwerpen, general manager of the Catonsville store. “My general sales manager, Jeff Glascoe, is in most every commercial with me. I think peo-
Success Story ple get a kick out of seeing us on TV and then coming in and working with us.” Recognizing the value of live-action ads Antwerpen Hyundai naturally moved beyond just television and now uses video to further promote their dealership online to appear on top of the leading search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and YouTube in their local market. Working with a video search engine optimization (VSEO) company has greatly improved their search engine ranking and page one results. “People would rather watch the movie than read the book,” says
Karry Moore, president and cofounder of www.Car-mercial. com, the VSEO company that Antwerpen Hyundai uses. “Google reports that consumers are 55% more likely to click on thumbnail video images than static links, so Google gives more ranking authority to video which gets them on the top of search engine results.” As a result in-market consumers see positive videos about Antwerpen Hyundai and the vehicles they sell when searching in their local market. Essentially Antwerpen is targeting their television spots to viewers online, so rather than only one percent of those who view
the ads on TV being in-market to purchase a vehicle, close to 100% of online viewers are in-market to buy a vehicle. Antwerpen customers are increasingly loyal which is tough for such a high volume dealer in a competitive market. One of their primary goals is to make sure that every customer receives the quality service that the dealership has built their name on. “We have some of the best sales experts in the business. Our highly trained sales team has earned a credible reputation with our customers over their many years of service and commitment,” Ant-
In a Nutshell Antwerpen Hyundai consistently captures 30% sales volume for Maryland and has grown their active customer base by 20% year to date with an integrated marketing strategy. • Antwerpen Hyundai has a unique style of television commercial that has branded their dealership. • Antwerpen Hyundai invests in their employees. Their highly trained veteran sales team has an invaluable reputation with customers which helps to build customer retention. • Antwerpen Hyundai utilizes Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) to dominate their local search engines with positive videos to promote their dealership and the vehicles they sell by working with a VSEO company called www.Car-mercial.com. • Antwerpen Hyundai successfully grows their dealership through the use of a targeted digital marketing platform that consistently communicates with customers from point of purchase and regular maintenance to in-equity status by sending targeted mail and email campaigns that reect the appropriate status of the customer’s vehicle. Antwerpen Hyundai works with www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com to execute this strategy. • Antwerpen Hyundai provides excellent customer service to keep their customers coming back year after year.
â€œAntwerpen Hyundai has had great success and grown its customer base 20% by implementing a targeted digital marketing strategy,â€? says David Boice, president of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com the targeted marketing company Antwerpen Hyundai uses.
Success Story werpen says. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s sales or service, when customers come in they see the same veteran staff year after year and I’m proud of that. Good people are hard to find and harder to keep, just like loyal customers. My staff is second to none in the business.”
“Every campaign promotes every profit center, new, used, finance, service and parts, which makes the rate of return dramatically better,” says David Boice, president of www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com the targeted marketing company used by Antwerpen Hyundai.
Antwerpen Hyundai also has grown its active base of customers by keeping their active customers active, reactivating customers who are ‘lost’ or not as active as the dealership would like, and finding new customers by targeting ready in-market buyers who are more likely to buy or service with their dealership. They send targeted mail and email with custom messaging that reflects the appropriate status of the customer’s vehicle that includes a thank you for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders to vehicles not yet in equity, but who may be due for maintenance, and very persuasive promotions like the Antwerpen Hyundai Vehicle Exchange Program or their infamous “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” offer, where customers buy one new Hyundai vehicle and get the second vehicle for one dollar – currently the second vehicle is a 36-month lease covered by Antwerpen.
“We’ve got it covered,” says Antwerpen. “We stay in touch with our customers regularly throughout the life cycle of their vehicle. People don’t just get a great deal from us; we take pride in keeping our customer’s cars in the same condition that they rolled off the showroom floor.” In fact, Jack Antwerpen, Michael’s father, authored and published a special children’s book that they give to every young family who purchases a vehicle with their dealership, “Mom and Dad Beware, Jack Says Yes to Routine Car Care”. “Better car maintenance also leads to better quality trades from customers when they’re ready to buy from us again,” says Antwerpen. “We’ve significantly improved the overall health of our trade pattern by also targeting in-market Hyundai owners with later model years. Hyundai is such a great brand and so reliable people naturally keep them longer. Last year we saw a
lot of 2000, 2002, and 2003 trades, but now our top trades are 2007 and 2008.” With all their success and attention to customer service, they naturally have systems in place to monitor customer-related activities such as inbound sales and service calls. Antwerpen is a stickler for monitoring customer’s calls to make sure every call is handled properly. “Years ago I realized the value of having our calls monitored to ensure excellent customer service, plus it’s a great training tool for our staff. The phone is a great asset if you handle it right.”
Published on Jun 13, 2011