Finance, marketing and media experience made Jon Ochetti ideal candidate for Outsell CFO
Outsell announced today that Jon Ochetti has joined the company as CFO, responsible for all areas of finance and accounting. As part of Outsell’s senior leadership team, he will also play a role in determining the company’s growth strategy.
Ochetti was most recently Vice President – Business Strategy and FP&A at the Star Tribune Media Company. Prior to that, he was Vice President – Finance for publisher Meredith Corporation’s marketing services agency, MXM. He also worked in finance positions at McDonald’s Corporation and KPMG.
“Jon has deep experience in media and marketing, and understands the challenges of moving from traditional to online media,” said Wethington. “That, combined with his financial background and expertise, made him the ideal candidate for Outsell’s CFO position. We’re excited to have him on board.”
“Outsell is doing so many exciting things in the automotive marketing world,” said Ochetti. “I think that the industry is at an important inflection point in that digital is really overtaking traditional media as the most effective communications channel. It’s a space I know well, and I’m thrilled to join this team.”
Outsell Wins AWA Award & Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award
Outsell announced today that it was honored with two sought-after industry awards. Outsell won the 2019 Automotive Website Awards (AWA) for Marketing Automation and with agency partner DSplus, was named the winner of the Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award (MEA) for the 2018 Toyota CH-R Launch Campaign powered by the Outsell platform.
Brian Pasch of PCG Companies announced that Outsell won a 2019 AWA Award in the Marketing Automation category for their Outsell 5.2 platform. Outsell’s marketing automation platform driven by artificial intelligence increases customer engagement and drives more revenue by transforming how dealers engage with customers and prospects throughout their individual lifecycles. Outsell launched at NADA last month major update to its flagship platform. Outsell 5.2 includes new features that make it not only the best solution for managing and optimizing cross-channel marketing campaigns, but also greatly enhance auto marketers’ ability to create and share engaging content to increase customer retention and ultimately sales.
The 2018 Toyota CH-R launch campaign was honored with a Summit MEA Platinum level award in the category Consumer Integrated Campaign. The campaign was designed to create awareness, encourage test drives and drive sales for 200+ participating Toyota dealerships throughout North America. The Summit Marketing Effectiveness competition recognizes marketing campaigns in 20 categories that change, influence, or reinforce a target audience’s knowledge, attitudes or beliefs. There were more than 1,400 submissions in this competition from 10 countries, approximately 9% of the entries were awarded and 3% received Platinum status.
“Thank you again PCG Companies and Summit International for recognizing Outsell,” said Michael Wethington, President and CEO, Outsell. “Our goal is to help automotive dealers transform their marketing and I am pleased to see we’re hitting all the marks. The Toyota campaign we developed with our agency partner is a perfect example of a well executed marketing communications plan that leverages the power of our AI-driven platform.”
2018 Toyota CH-R Launch Campaign
Outsell and DSplus devised a multi-step, individualized cross-tier marketing campaign that was central to the launch, and provided dealers with templates and directions, which meant very little work for the dealers. For several months prior to the launch, each dealer sent teaser emails regarding CH-R in order to gather behavioral data and measure interest in the new 2018 model. The results were impressive: more than 200,000 consumers interacted with the CH-R launch emails and microsite, moving thousands of CH-Rs off the lot for participating dealers, resulting in close to a million in sales. To view the award-winning campaign, visit 2018 Toyota CH-R Launch Campaign.
Brian Pasch, President of PCG Companies, produces the Automotive Website Awards. This year, the AWAs took place on January 24th, 2019—the night prior to the start of the National Automotive Dealers Association Convention. The City Club of San Francisco hosted the award show which presented dozens of awards to the best website and technology products on the market for car dealers, and two individuals. For more information about all the winners of the AWAs, please visit http://awa.autos/.
About Summit International Awards
This US-based organization, pilots three separate awards – the Summit Creative Award, Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award, and the Summit Emerging Media Award. It is not tied to an advertiser, magazine, trade association, ad club or other outside influence. The Summit Awards is independent, and international in its scope, and focuses on identifying superior creative and effective marketing. It conducts impartial, ‘blind’ judging events and, once completed, recognizes, celebrates and promotes creative, effective marketing on behalf of winning companies and individuals. Its judging process is impartial and free from outside influences. It withholds both the names of the judges and entrants throughout the entire evaluation process. This anonymity shelters all involved from any vested interest that may attempt to influence the award’s outcome. To learn more, visit https://summitawards.com/marketing-effectiveness-award/about-mea/.
DSplus connects brands, retailers and customers to help sell more cars. Using sharp insights and spot-on analysis, we put the right offers in front of the right people at the right time, so dealerships can turn shoppers into buyers – and buyers into loyalists. With our team of steadfast, hands-on account managers, award-winning creative whizzes and ultra-analytical social strategists, DSplus is ready to work with any Toyota and Lexus dealership to start driving sales. Check out our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Direct mail integration, Conquest enhancements, and inventory in social ads make Outsell 5.2 a standout marketing solution
From the NADA Show 2019, Outsell, which offers the only AI-driven marketing automation platform for the automotive industry, announced a major update to its flagship platform. Outsell 5.2 includes new features that make it not only the best solution for managing and optimizing cross-channel marketing campaigns, but also greatly enhance auto marketers’ ability to create and share engaging content especially in social media channels.
“Dealers struggle to measure ROI on marketing investments,” said Mike Wethington, Founder and CEO of Outsell. “In a competitive environment – and most dealers agree the economy has become more challenging over the past year – Outsell is an essential tool for helping auto marketers optimize results and the effectiveness of each marketing dollar.”
Specific enhancements in Outsell 5.2 include:
- The ability to create and execute on-demand campaigns for specific audiences
- Private offers that dynamically include personalized test-drive, sales and service incentives in email campaigns
- Direct mail integration, for true integration between online and offline campaigns
- Inclusion of new channels – display ads and direct mail on existing Conquest product – to drive increased reach and conversion
- New social ads features including Facebook Marketplace tools and the ability to promote specific inventory in social ads
- New content management capabilities that really separate Outsell from the pack – including new templates, brand compliance tools and the ability to measure/optimize content performance.
To learn more about Outsell 5.2 or to book a demo during the NADA Show 2019, visit booth #6258W or contact email@example.com.
Outsell will also convene a gathering of its Customer Advisory Board during the NADA Show 2019, bringing together auto dealer marketing leaders to discuss 2019 trends, long-term objectives, and how Outsell can improve its value to dealers.
“Outsell’s CAB meetings are the most valuable meetings we have all year long,” said Wethington. “We get to hear directly from customers about their objectives and challenges. The learnings from these events have a big impact on Outsell’s roadmap every year.”
Also at the NADA Show 2019, Outsell will broadcast a Facebook Live session with well-known auto dealer consultant and author, Brian Pasch, CEO of PCG Companies, to talk about how marketing automation is key to digital retailing.
2019 shaping up to be another strong year for Outsell, as auto dealers look to definitively measure return on marketing investments
From the NADA Show 2019, Outsell, which offers the only AI-driven marketing automation platform for the automotive industry, announced strong 2018 financial results, with direct revenue up 45 percent over 2017, and direct bookings up 28 percent.
“AI-based marketing solutions are in high demand as dealers seek to individualize their customer communications to enhance the overall customer experience,” said Mike Wethington, Founder and CEO of Outsell. “Outsell was the first to bring AI to auto marketers, and we are well established as the technology leader in the space.”
Outsell also offers the best platform for definitively measuring the impact of every marketing dollar invested, said Wethington.
Highlights from the year include:
- Launching Outsell 5.0, enhanced with even more artificial intelligence capabilities, providing automotive dealers with unprecedented insight into buying behavior and the ability to take targeted content to the next level, with automated, multi-channel campaigns that are individualized to each person’s exact preferences.
- Launching Outsell 5.1, an upgrade that makes Outsell the first to auto-generate individualized customer incentives proven to drive store visits and sales.
- Winning 10 awards for its products and its work with customers and partners, including the2018 WebAward Automobile Standard of Excellence Award, a Gold Stevie® Award and a Gold 2018 Summit Creative Awards.
“In 2018, we made major improvements to the Outsell platform, laying the groundwork for all kinds of enhancements in 2019,” continued Wethington. “Today at NADA, we announced Outsell 5.2, with new features that make it not only the best solution for managing and optimizing cross-channel marketing campaigns, but also greatly enhance auto marketers’ ability to create and share engaging content especially in social media channels. We are also working on some exciting enhancements around what we call private incentive offers that will help dealers provide the right incentives to motivate each individual customer without over-incentivizing – critical in an industry where dealers often spent 4-5 times as much on incentives as they do on advertising.”
First data study focused on marketing ROI for auto dealerships finds that many dealers invest to the point of diminishing returns
Outsell announced today that along with partners RXA and Vistadash it has completed the first data study focused completely on Marketing Return on Investment (ROMI) for U.S. auto dealerships.
Conducted in September and October 2018, the study spanned 300 dealerships, and looked at data on 420,000 customers, 3.5M customer interactions, and $72M in media spend. Outsell, RXA and Vistadash sought to measure whether auto dealers were allocating marketing spend across channels for optimal return. The study’s key finding: Half of dealers surveyed were overspending on at least one marketing channel – meaning they had invested to or past the point of diminishing returns.
Dealers struggle with measuring ROMI, and especially to attribute specific campaigns to a sale when there are always multiple touches. Outsell, RXA and Vistadash developed a methodology that enables them to calculate ROMI using the dealer’s Google Analytics and DMS data plus their self-reported media spend. This multi-touch attribution model optimizes gross profit by not wasting any money, not leaving any opportunities on the table, and finding the sweet spot for each place a dealer puts its money. 300 dealers provided these details for study analysis.
In addition to finding that half of dealers were overspending, the study found:
- Dealership size has an impact on ROMI, with smaller dealers seeing solid returns from paid media and referrals whereas larger dealers have the scale to see better performance from display and email.
- When it comes to conquest marketing, dealers need to go big or go home – if you can’t do it at scale, you shouldn’t do it at all as you’ll never achieve positive ROMI.
- About half of dealers are underspending on social media marketing.
- One out of every three dealers is overspending on Search-Engine Marketing (SEM). Most of that overspend is in branded search – paying for clicks for your dealership name. While this tactic works well for smaller dealers, it’s unnecessary for large stores who are already well known and get good results from organic search.
- While dealers have often believed they need to spend more on marketing in a large market, the study found that market size does not impact ROMI.
- Often, dealers could optimize their investments simply by shifting budget around – they don’t necessarily need to invest more.
“As John Wanamaker famously said, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half,’” said Mike Wethington, Founder and CEO of Outsell. “We set out to try to measure that, to set benchmarks for the industry and eventually to help any dealer calculate their own marketing ROI. The methodology we developed for this study could be applied at the dealer level to help them better understand how they can shift their marketing budget around for better returns.”
“Multi-touch attribution is a problem that’s been vexing auto marketers since the introduction of the Model T,” said Brian Pasch, founder of PCG Companies and a well-known advisor to auto dealers. “Outsell, RXA and Vistadash have cracked the code with this methodology – this data provides valuable insights that every auto marketer should take a look at.”
James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive, was one of four representatives to the Dealer Advisory Board for the Outsell research project. Kurtenbach had the opportunity to dive into the data for one of the company’s dealerships, Schomp BMW. “This data is gold for an auto marketer,” said Kurtenbach. “We were able to see where our marketing dollars are going the furthest, and where we need to reconsider investments. By re-allocating a portion of our existing spend – and not even adding any spend – we were able to generate a 17 percent increase in gross profit.”
To learn more about the study, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
RXA is a cloud-based software company that offers machine learning and artificial intelligence applications to help you make smarter, faster decisions. Learn more at https://rxa.io/.
Vistadash is the automotive industry’s premier marketing intelligence tool, giving automotive dealers the ability to consolidate and simplify reporting, as well as measure the quality of their online and offline marketing campaigns based on engagement. Its clear, user-friendly interface displays all the latest data trends at a glance, allowing users to quickly and easily analyze information and encourage smarter marketing decisions. For more information, please visit www.vistadash.com.
Learn more about Outsell at NADA 2019.
December 12, 2018
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.”
December 11, 2018
The Seamless Customer Experience
The modern dealership customer is one of the most educated, engaged and skeptical consumer in any marketplace. They will spend hours researching vehicles they believe will suit their needs, have a good idea of what the vehicle should cost and have their guard up against “typical” dealership tactics. They’ve also been trained, thanks to Amazon, Apple and other retailers, that transactions can be quick, seamless and efficient.
Increasingly, they are demanding this experience in all their transactions — which includes purchasing a vehicle. Far from being an obstacle, however, this mindset represents an opportunity for dealerships that are willing to examine their own processes and put tools and training in place to allow their staff to not only meet the customer’s expectations but exceed them.
New Mindsets, New Methods
For most consumers, a vehicle is the second-most expensive item they purchase. Therefore, this is not a transaction most enter into lightly. The vast majority only come to a dealership when they are ready to buy; they’ve done all their “tire-kicking” research online. Also, as Millennials become the most dominate force in auto sales, the concept of haggling for price is becoming outdated; they fulfill a lot of their shopping needs online, where the price is the price.
For the dealership, this new mindset requires giving the consumer a seamless, transparent sales process, where they can have their questions answered, experience what the vehicle has to offer firsthand and understand how the dealership arrived at the price presented.
The marketing that made the consumer aware of your dealership should also be transparent and complement the in-store experience. No surprises. No baiting and switching. The sales process starts with your marketing offer and, in the best case, doesn’t end; it continues because you build a rapport and become their dealership for life.
In order to build this kind of rapport, your dealership should be marketing to customers with targeted, individualized messages. Millennial shoppers demand to be treated as individuals and older generations have found that they, too, enjoy the personal touch. Once in the dealership, the path should be seamless, leading from the greeting to the sale to the delivery as one process, and not as a series of juddering handoffs.
Automation is the key to achieving both of these goals.
Using Automation to Get Personal
From a marketing standpoint, the consumer leaves a huge trail of information about themselves through their shopping behavior, both online and off. To take full advantage of the marketing opportunities that big data provides, it’s necessary to bring in a marketing solution driven by artificial intelligence. This allows the dealership to reach the consumer with targeted, relevant messages to bring them into the store.
Once they’re in your dealership, other automated tools can allow your salespeople to provide the customer with the seamless experience they demand. By using software that unites all the elements a salesperson needs to lead the customer along the path to the sale, the process is streamlined, allowing them to access all the information necessary without having to toggle between different programs, logins or interfaces.
These software tools free up the salesperson to do what they do best: build a relationship with the consumer and become their advocate throughout the sales process.
“Automation doesn’t mean that you are getting rid of the human element,” said Jill Howard, director of client services for A2Z Sync, a company that delivers solutions allowing single-login access to everything needed in the automotive sales process. “There still needs to be that human element and a conversation; somebody should be there to answer any questions that might come up. But through automation, the experience can be made more seamless and gives the customer a much more efficient path to purchase the vehicle.”
When salespeople are given the correct tools and training, the customer, the salesperson and the dealership all benefit from the process. There’s a flow to the sales presentation that can’t happen when there are awkward transitions. These breaks in the flow are where consumers start to second-guess their decisions or, worse, pull out their smartphones and start researching their choices again. Buying a vehicle should be both a relaxing and exciting event, rather than being stressful and confusing.
This only happens, though, when everyone is properly trained on the tools they’ve been provided.
Educating the Team
To provide the customer with the best experience, training should be established as one of the most important elements in the sales process, and that should be a “top-down” requirement. It’s just as important for the dealership’s leaders to take part in continuing education as it is for the sales staff.
“The more competent you are, the better that employee is going to feel about their job and their role at the dealership,” Howard said. “Also, it’s a much better experience for the customer to deal with somebody who can actually answer their questions right off the bat. Training is incredibly important.”
To maintain the seamless experience for the consumer, it’s important that the sales process is consistent throughout the dealership, and sometimes this means getting some team members out of their comfort zone. With the right tools in place, however, this discomfort is temporary.
“Most people want to do a good job when they come into work,” Howard said. “If your expectations are set, you’re trained and given the tools to meet those expectations, it makes the workday much easier and smoother.”
The modern consumer themselves may be trained with certain expectations about the sales process, but buying a vehicle is a special moment in their lives. The dealership that can help them navigate the sales path with professionalism and empathy will earn their business now and for the long term. By providing a seamless process and becoming their advocate rather than their adversary along the way, your dealership will become their dealership.
Which leads us into our final blog in this series covering how all of what we’ve discussed so far comes together, to then conclude with our webinar on Thursday December 13 at 2pm EST, “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership” with James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, and Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync, as well as a case study featuring Schomp and Outsell.
Automotive and technology experts from Schomp Automotive Group, A2Z Sync, and Outsell
Outsell announced today that it will co-host a live webinar with Automotive News on December 13, 2018 about how successful acquisition and retention through a ‘customer first’ and consultative approach can benefit dealers. Titled, “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership,” the webinar features speakers James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync, and Valerie Vallancourt, Vice President of Marketing at Outsell.
In today’s market, consumers expect individualized outreach and care out of every retail experience. With the right mix of technology and marketing automation, dealers can provide that to their consumers at every stage in the buyer lifecycle, from conquesting to purchase, to the next sale.
Attendees will learn during this webinar how to create seamless customer engagement that boosts advocacy as well as how to:
- Build a ‘customer first’ and consultative approach to marketing
- Implement new technology and tools to automate outreach
- Integrate tools already in place to make day-to-day processes easier
- Improve both acquisition and retention to increase the bottom line
James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync, Valerie Vallancourt, Vice President of Marketing at Outsell and David Versical, Chief of Editorial Operations at Automotive News (moderator).
“Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership”
December 13, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET
No Fear of the Future
Evolution is a natural element in sales because change is inevitable. Customers are changing. The marketplace is changing. The products are changing. And yet, in the automotive field, the idea of change is often resisted far more than in other sales arenas.
Dealers who want their business to not only remain profitable for the present but to grow in the future need to be on the lookout constantly for new tools to help them serve customers better and maintain the bottom line.
Effective Customer Contact
One area that has seen the biggest transformation in recent years is automotive sales marketing. Not so long ago, broadcasting blanket marketing messages, launching random email blasts and blindly sending out mailers in the hopes they’ll connect with an in-market buyer was all that was possible. Today, consumers ignore messages that aren’t relevant to their current situation. Fortunately, there are tools available to dealerships today to help them cut through the noise and reach consumers at the right place and right time.
Tools such as AI-driven marketing automation and predictive analytics help marketers zero in on the desires and shopping history of individual consumers in order to present information and offers that are relevant to their needs. This is done through the use of the volumes of data generated by a consumer’s shopping patterns, both online and off. There’s so much data generated, in fact, that it would be impossible for a human to comb through it all to find information that matters to individual prospects. That’s where the tools driven by artificial intelligence come in. Far from removing the human from the sales equation, having this kind of insight into the needs of individuals allows salespeople to better serve them and the dealership.
The “Average” Sales Path
Part of the difficulty of blindly marketing to a mass of consumers is that each consumer’s lifecycle is unique. When you take into account all the factors that figure into a large purchase decision — family, finances, vehicle preferences, personalities and more — it becomes clear that messages targeted to an individual would carry far more weight than a generic “come to our dealership” commercial.
With AI-driven marketing tools, dealerships can provide the information consumers want — sometimes before they’re even aware they want it — and be part of a back-and-forth conversation, rather than presenting an easily dismissed all-purpose sales pitch.
As long as you’re providing a consistent and relevant message, becoming that tap on the shoulder to let them know you’re always there, you stay top of mind when it’s time to make that next purchase decision.
Between This Sale and the Next
While the sales department can sell one vehicle, it’s often the service and marketing departments that keep the customer engaged and bring them back in for a long-term retail relationship. It’s important that the marketing message change after vehicle delivery so that the dealership becomes a partner with the customer in keeping the vehicle safe and reliable.
Automation is key to maintaining the relationship that was built in the sales phase. If left to busy salespeople, regular communication can be put off and forgotten in favor of making new sales and gaining new customers. And, as salespeople leave the dealership for one reason or another, customers become “orphans,” with no one remembering that client’s history with the company.
AI-powered tools can step in and help a staff maintain the connection between the dealership and the consumer. No matter what changes, you have consistent branding that’s going to speak to that customer. It’s that soft, dependable touch that lets them know you’re there to serve them when they need it.
What’s Old is New Again
With the evolution of “smart” marketing tools available to the modern dealership proceeding at a rapid rate, it’s necessary for dealers to keep track of the innovations and be aware of new technology. However, the future may have a resemblance to the past.
AI is going to continue to expand; that’s pretty obvious. Traditional marketing is making something of a comeback, but it is becoming more refined, pairing AI with direct mail, for example, where you’re not just blasting it out and hoping someone brings back a flyer. It’s putting a relevant message on a vehicle that the person may have been shopping for, putting that in their mailbox and pairing that with a potential offer.
Consumers are changing; dealerships have the ability to change with them and serve them better than ever before. Rather than fearing the future, the most successful dealerships are embracing it.
Now that you know you need automation, we’ll cover next how to use it to give that personal touch for a seamless customer experience.
Register now for our upcoming webinar December 13 at 2pm EST “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership” with James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, and Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync.
December 7, 2018
On the sales front, there are plenty of opportunities for a forward-thinking dealership to serve the customer, increase profits and build for the future. One element that can often be overlooked, however, is not how the vehicles are sold, but which vehicles are sold. Having an in-demand inventory makes the job of sales easier and can bring customers into the store with less effort. And, when it comes to acquisition, determining the trade-in value with the customer can make or break a sale. With inventory, GMs and dealers must have a strategy in place to answer three essential questions most customers have.
“Do You Have the Vehicle I Want?”
It has always been challenging to stock a dealership’s inventory with in-demand vehicles because tastes change, the availability of popular models can be inconsistent and local demand can be very different from national trends. Taking into account the access consumers now have to information about inventory — not only locally but on a regional and national level — a dealership can’t afford to have low-demand vehicles on the lot taking up valuable retail space.
Fortunately, the technology now exists where dealers don’t have to rely on guesses or gut feelings for what to carry. Inventory management tools are available to assist with both stocking and pricing in-demand vehicles. These tools use both the dealership’s data and data from the surrounding area to determine the best mix of inventory for a dealership’s unique marketplace. These tools also aid in determining popular trim packages and other features that help sell vehicles more rapidly.
For smaller dealerships, inventory stocking can still be done on a case-by-case basis, but you have to pay close attention to what the marketplace wants. This process is more time consuming and less accurate, so regardless of dealer size, an educated, data-driven process may still be necessary to achieve your goals.
“What Is My Trade-in Worth?”
In many cases, part of the sales process is making the customer an offer on their old vehicle. In earlier times, the manager would make an offer and the customer could either take it or leave it. That process has changed.
Today’s educated consumer has not only researched the vehicle they’re interested in buying but also has an idea of what their trade-in is worth. Through Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and other online guides, the customer comes in with a number in mind. That number, however, is often flawed without the customer realizing it. If not handled properly that flaw can sink the entire deal.
“People tend to not factor in what possible reconditioning the vehicle needs,” said Jill Howard, director of client services for A2Z Sync, a company that delivers solutions allowing single-login access to automotive sales tools. “These guides put different condition levels on their site, but many customers overlook that. So, that’s where that human element still comes in, for instance, to remind them that they have a big dent here where they accidentally hit that pole.”
When determining the value, a salesperson or manager must walk the line between what’s good for the deal and what’s good for the dealership. “As a dealer,” Howard asked, “what would you pay at auction for the vehicle being traded in?” Many times, a customer will be more receptive to an offer if they have some context.
“How Did You Arrive at That Number?”
The discussion about a trade-in should be part of the conversation much earlier in the negotiation than many salespeople realize. Springing what can be a rude surprise at the end of the process can ruin any rapport built with the customer along the sales process.
One way to do this is to bring the manager — or the person in charge of making the offer — into the process sooner. “One of the common missteps is having managers who hide behind their desks,” Howard said. “They never go out to look at the vehicle or speak to the customer. They simply try to get as much profit out of the vehicle without explaining the number.”
Customers demand transparency in the automotive sales process, and that extends to the trade-in negotiation. In addition, people often have an emotional attachment to their vehicle. When what they might consider an insultingly low number is simply pulled out of the air, it can sour them not only on the deal but the dealership as well.
Being able to show the customer how a price was determined using software that takes into account reconditioning, market value and other information can go a long way toward building trust. With this, what could have been an uncomfortable situation for everyone is now another positive step on the way to making the sale and creating a long-term relationship with that customer.
Once you have a good understanding and process for handling new trends in in-demand vehicles and trade-in negotiations, it’s time to consider other tools and technologies available to better serve your customers. Next, we’ll cover how there should be “No Fear of the Future.”
Register now for our upcoming webinar December 13 at 2pm EST “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership” with James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, and Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync.