Putting It All Together
Automotive sales and marketing vendors, like technology providers in any other business or consumer field, are always demonstrating newer and faster tools. “Breakthroughs” are forever being announced and the “latest and greatest” is constantly threatening to disrupt the marketplace.
For dealers and GMs trying to keep up with all these changes while still focusing on their primary job — selling vehicles — this can be exhausting. Worse, it can be so overwhelming that they might not be keeping up with what technology can truly help them make a difference for their business.
Focusing on the right tools your staff needs and training them on using this technology to their fullest is an effective way to help your dealership compete and succeed in an increasingly complicated marketplace.
Defining Your Goals
One of the first, most fundamental things leaders in a dealership must determine is what they actually want to achieve. “A dealership must know what it wants to be,” said Jill Howard, director of client services for A2Z Sync, which delivers single-login solutions for everything needed in the automotive sales process. “Do they want to be more transparent? Do they need a digitized sales process? A more fluid menu process? Are they wanting to become a best-price dealer? A one-price dealer? Do they want to have one person lead the customer through the sales process? A lot of dealers don’t know where to start, but they know they want something.”
Another basic need is to determine if the tools they have in the store are effective or could be made more effective. “Transparency is critical, especially in the marketing world,” said Valerie Vallancourt, vice president of marketing for Outsell. “Vendors,” Vallancourt said, “should always be held accountable for results. If you can’t prove it’s working, it’s probably not an effective strategy. If you’re going to be spending money, you have to see a clear result at the end. You have to see that there has been engagement because of that vendor’s efforts.”
Today’s consumers demand both transparency and a quick sales process. Making sure your dealership can accomplish both of these tasks is critical for long-term relationships with your customers. Short cuts and stop-gap measures are not the recipe for success.
“Taking a short-term approach to customer service might make the month for your sales goals, but it can also mean losing that customer for life,” Vallancourt said. “Ask about best practices when evaluating vendors. Gain some additional knowledge. Think about things differently. Don’t be afraid to change with the times.”
The Human Element
While technology can be a fantastic tool, it’s only as good as the people who are operating it. Proper training not only makes the process run smoother for your team but also serves the customer better. And, the better your staff is at using the tools available to them, the more effective your technology spend will be.
One of the challenges dealers, GM and managers often run into, however, is staff members who are stuck in their ways and hesitant to try new tools and methods to boost sales. With the right approach, this is a challenge that can be overcome, Howard said. “I always want to seek to understand where this resistance is coming from. Is it just because it’s different and different is scary? Or, are there some questions they need answered that will help them be better and more successful at their job?”
Seeing results of well-functioning technology is the best way to “sell” the new methods in the sales process. “As people start to use it and they see their paychecks increase and that the new way is easy, they start to feel good about it,” Howard said. “The resistance goes away pretty quickly.”
Again, though, dealerships should select vendors who are willing to stand behind their products to make sure the dealership’s employees are using an effective tool. “As a vendor, you’ve got to prove it,” Vallancourt said. “It’s got to work for the dealership. In marketing, when you engage a specific customer and that person comes in to buy, it’s really hard to argue that.”
To make the most of the technology, uniform adoption is critical. “It’s important that everyone gets on the same process,” Howard said. “It increases both employee and client retention. It’s good for customers because they get the best sales process possible, but it’s also good for dealership employees, because it helps create a career path for people within the store.”
Innovation and anything new may seem scary, but times have already changed and no dealership can afford to be left behind. Some tips to remember from our series:
- Dealerships and consumers need to be on the same side
- Prepare for likely customer questions and how to answer them
- New technology and tools exist to make innovation easier
- Automation is imperative for giving consumers they experience they expect
- Evaluate current staff, vendors, and training practices to take your next step
The future is about putting the customer first, which we’ll discuss more on our webinar tomorrow at 2pm EST with James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, and Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync – “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership.”