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.
Putting the Customer First
One of the reasons people want to avoid going to a dealership until it’s absolutely necessary is that they are anticipating a fight. Through their own experiences, the experiences of family and friends or just buying into the stereotype, many see dealerships as a battlefield where only the most committed walk away with a “good deal.”
If you want to earn a customer’s business — and earn it for life — your dealership must be seen as the opposite of what they expect. Instead of being their adversary, you’ve got to be their advocate.
The Same Team
The difference between an adversarial relationship and a mutually beneficial one starts at the very top of the sales funnel—the initial marketing phase. In order to be seen as different from the stereotype, a dealership must reach the consumer with targeted, relevant information. The good news is that there’s a staggering amount of data consumers generate through their day-to-day online and offline shopping activities to help a dealership accomplish this goal. To make the most of the data available that matters to consumers, however, tools such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics must be brought into play.
There’s a fine line between using the data and getting lost in it. You’ve got to make sure what you’re doing is relevant to each consumer. Utilizing AI is imperative because dealerships don’t have time to do this on their own. Tools such as the email blast have become things of the past. You want to make sure that your dealership is there for the customer and sends an individualized message at the right stage of their sales and maintenance lifecycle.
Getting Off to the Right Start
While a dealership needs to get the consumer’s attention, it’s important that you not overwhelm them by showing just how much information you have on each consumer through the use of AI. Instead, bringing up timely, appropriate messages is key to becoming top of mind and forging a relationship.
Using a “soft-sell” approach lets the consumer guide when they’re ready to buy without pushing the dealership’s agenda onto them. Timely communication — even just checking in to see where they are in their lifecycle — can help you capture a consumer’s attention.
The Modern Marketing Mindset
Successful dealerships have found that individualized communication gets consumers onto the lot in ways that “pray and spray” marketing can’t, and simply opening the doors and expecting business is no longer an option. You have to build relationships and the key is to start digitally.
To stand apart from the competition, dealerships must demonstrate they understand what the consumer wants and where they are on the path to sale or service. Tools such as marketing automation driven by AI allow dealerships to do just that and, as a result, can help them be seen as advocates rather than “pushy” salespeople in the journey to a new vehicle.
The Win-Win Scenario
While moving from the classic advertising tactics to a new, more focused approach might require a period of transition for the dealership in the short run, the effects will be worth it for both the business and the consumer long-term.
Preparing consumers with correct, relevant information about their vehicle of interest, the dealership and the process, allows dealers to build an offer with an educated customer who’s happy to be there, rather than one who comes in with their defenses raised, ready for a fight. Dealers can retain profit on each vehicle more effectively, get better reviews and word-of-mouth references and bring a customer back for servicing and additional vehicle purchases in the future.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series as we dive into the three customer questions dealers must be able to answer, and 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 5, 2018
On Thursday December 13 at 2pm EST, Outsell is excited to share the live Auto News webinar “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.
In the spirit of accessible dealer tips as we close out 2018, we’ve prepared a 5-part blog series starting tomorrow and leading into the webinar that will culminate with the live broadcast as well as a case study featuring Schomp Automotive Group.
- How Targeted Marketing Can Put Dealerships and Consumers on the Same Side
- The Three Customer Questions Dealers Must Be Able to Answer
- New Technology and Tools Allow Dealerships to Reach and Serve Customers Like Never Before
- Using Automation at the Dealership to Give the Personal Touch
- Using the Staff You Have and Tools You Need to Reach Your Goals
Register for the webinar HERE.
November 13, 2018
Outsell presents on marketing automation trends and strategies for 2019 and beyond
Outsell Account Executive, Patrick Watson, and Marketing Specialist, Andrew Swisher, presented on “Marketing Automation in 2019 and Beyond” at the invite-only 14th Annual Kain Clients & Friends Digital Success Workshop taking place November 13-15, 2018 in Lexington, KY.
This exclusive event hosted by David Kain of Kain Automotive features an impressive lineup of experts in and outside the industry to deliver fresh perspectives on everything dealerships need to succeed.
Outsell’s presentation focused on upcoming changes in marketing automation through:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cross-Channel Communication
- Account Based Marketing
- Individualized Content
- A/B Testing
With changes in technology and engagement, consumers want to be known, heard, and to see only what is relevant to them just like they experience with Amazon and Netflix. The answer is marketing automation, which allows the sort of individualization necessary to effectively engage each consumer short of writing a tailored message to everyone in a dealer’s database.
For more information on marketing automation, please visit: https://www.outsell.com/dealers/
November 9, 2018
Break away from email templates and use the power of data to connect with active car shoppers
The current sales landscape is an uphill battle with fewer consumers submitting web leads, purchased leads converting at lower rates, conquest marketing producing lower returns, and customer retention becoming more of a challenge.
75% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, and it is a lot easier for them to defect if they aren’t happy. That is why dealers can’t afford to limit themselves to a one-size-fits-all solution, especially with email templates that do not work on active car shoppers.
The classically conditioned spam filter
People today are so used to seeing spam and mass messaging that we filter and delete it almost without noticing. An email from a Honda dealer that displays their entire 2019 lineup and reads “picture yourself in a new Honda” with no personalization or specific relevance to the reader is likely to be marked as spam, ignored, or deleted – even by those who might be interested in buying a new Honda. Nothing screams impersonal like a templated email or advertisement.
Don’t give shoppers a reason to leave
Companies who continue to try and hammer home generalized formulas eventually feel the wrath of desertion. In fact, 34 percent of U.S. adults say they have broken up with a brand due to disruptive or irrelevant marketing messages, with 33 percent of those adults doing so because the message was generic and obviously sent to everyone. Shoppers expect you to know them, and when you don’t, they tune you out and listen to brands that do. This is important in the auto industry, where in-market targeting has become essential. You need to ditch that one-size-fits-all mentality and start targeting your audience members as individuals – not as identical peas in a gigantic pod.
Targeted emails connect with your audience
The way around this problem is targeted email marketing. Behaviorally targeted emails connect with car shoppers on a more intimate level. You can learn about consumers’ interests and needs, providing them with personally curated content. For example, if a shopper’s behavior indicates they’re interested in buying a minivan, you can send them emails with options and offers that speak to that model.
There’s also more money for you in this pursuit. For instance, people who buy products through email spend 138 percent more than people who do not receive email offers at all, making it worthwhile to successfully connect with and convert this portion of your audience. Add in the right individualization, and your campaigns will really take off.
Targeted messages are opened 14 percent more and receive 55 percent more clicks than non-targeted campaigns. While the advantages are clear, executing an effective email strategy can be a challenging process if you lack the right technology.
Formulating a targeted email strategy
The traditional targeted email strategy follows a consistent process.
- Gather data on your audience
- Divide the audience into segments
- Personalize emails for those groups and send them out
However, doing all of this manually has become a non-viable option in today’s fast-moving environment. Most dealerships simply lack the time to devote to such a long-winded effort. Behaviorally targeted email technology takes the legwork out of the process, automatically generating individualized emails for each customer based on their actions, interests, ownership stage, and more.
This will keep you from sending a “buy a new car” email to someone who bought a new car just last month or “you need a HEMI 4×4” emails to someone who is looking to buy a Prius. You can send the right message to the right people and then use their interactions with those emails to drive the follow-up process and progress shoppers toward the next ownership stage.
Targeting throughout the sales cycle
Another important advantage to targeted emails is the ability to reach consumers at any point in the sales cycle. For example, a well-timed, personalized email to an in-market shopper who has been pricing cars online can provide them with options from your dealership that are relevant and at the price point of exactly what they are looking for. You can also use this strategy to offload vehicles you are eager to get off the lot.
Connections like this should not end once the purchase has been made, however. Whether a customer is in-market, a new owner, or in need of scheduled service, you can reach them with tailored messaging to strengthen that relationship. Emails sent on a timely and recurring basis develop trust with the car shopper and owner alike.
Stop playing the guessing game
Quit playing the guessing game by sending customers what you think they want and start sending messages based on proven data.
Outsell’s automated all-encompassing marketing automation takes the guesswork out of the equation. Our unique AI platform identifies, connects, and converts prospects into customers for both sales and service profit centers. Contact us today to turn your communication efforts into a streamlined and individualized conversion machine.
Latest AI-driven marketing automation features help drive higher direct-to-dealer sales
Outsell announced today that it closed out Q3 with stellar financial results, with double-digit growth in direct sales.
“Q3 was an outstanding quarter for Outsell,” said Mike Wethington, Founder and CEO of Outsell. “Our main focus was completing a major upgrade to our marketing automation platform, Outsell 5.1, which launched this week, and helps further democratize the use of analytics and AI among automotive dealers.”
Highlights from the quarter:
- Outsell’s revenue continued to grow quarter-over-quarter, with direct sales revenue growing by double digits.
- Year-to-date, direct sales revenue is 43 percent higher than the same period last year.
- A big effort to deliver its latest technology platform, Outsell 5.1, at this week’s DrivingSales Executive Summit, that took place Oct 21-23 in Las Vegas. With this launch, Outsell is the first to auto-generate individualized customer incentives proven to drive store visits and sales.
- Outsell and partner DSplus were named the winners of the 2018 WebAwardAutomobile Standard of Excellence Award for our 2018 Toyota CH-R Launch Campaign.
- Outsell and DSplus were also named finalists for the Digiday Technology Awardsin the category Best Marketing Automation platform. Overall, Outsell and DSplus have won seven awards so far this year for the co-created Toyota CH-R launch campaign.
October 1, 2018
Why Salespeople Need AI Now More Than Ever
There’s an old saying:
Lost wealth can be replaced by industry, lost knowledge replaced by study, and lost health by medicine, but lost time is gone forever.
In an integrated digital world, driven by data and individualized consumer demands, salespeople are finding it more and more difficult to spend time on facilitating the necessary conversations they need to drive sales and interact with consumers. According to a State of Sales Report, sales reps are spending only 34% of their time actually selling, with a majority of their time spent on other duties to keep up with the changing expectations of consumers. This translates into lost opportunity, where the potentially hottest prospects are ones salespeople never get the chance to talk to.
When multiple automotive brands reported lower sales in September 2018 compared to last year, some upwards of 12% lower, ignoring what consumers want will only contribute to further sales decline as dealers finish out the year and head into 2019.
THE LOST TIME OF SALES
No matter the industry, the rise of technology and digital channel integration is changing the game for traditional sales. Data is king, and salespeople now report that more than half of their sales strategy derives from data-driven insights. On top of being able to leverage insights from large amounts of new data, the sales customer is also demanding an individualized approach over transactional relationships. So now, a successful salesperson needs to be a data scientist, communicator, marketer, and IT analyst all in one.
Not only have technology advancements generated vast amounts of data consumption, most of the sales process has gone virtual in response to consumer expectations of ease and personability. For example, currently less than half of sales are made in person citing a 12% net change just over the span of 3 years.
According to Trish Bertuzza, President & Chief Strategist of the Bridge group, “Among the many factors driving the increase in virtual selling, buyer preference stands out. Buyers are digital-first and don’t feel the need for face-to-face communications anymore.”
THE RISE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: A HELPING HAND
So how can salespeople acclimate to this newly integrated, individualized and data-driven consumer environment to beat the sales slump? The answer is in Artificial Intelligence. To utilize their time the most efficiently and effectively, many salespeople are turning to AI, which acts as the data scientist, marketer, communicator, and IT analyst salespeople need to focus on reaching those interested consumers that would otherwise get lost in the data. AI has shown to provide key support in areas ranging from intelligence forecasting to lead prioritization.
TAKE BACK YOUR TIME WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
At Outsell, instead of seeing data and consumer individualization as a burden, we use it as a secret weapon. Outsell makes salespeople’s lives easier with AI-driven, automated campaigns across multiple channels, giving you as much control as you want.
To learn more about the Outsell platform, visit www.outsell.com/dealers.
August 14, 2018
Capturing today's in-market car shopper through multi-channel targeting
The modern car shopper is active on a wider range of platforms, devices, and channels than ever before. The days of consuming only television and radio have long since fallen by the wayside and made room for a never-ending spectrum of data, entertainment, and information. From social media and email campaigns to direct mailers and out-of-home promotions, the ways we reach consumers has grown at a rapid pace – and is propelling marketing opportunities forward.
Within this ever-evolving landscape, effectively targeting the in-market car shopper across a complete range of channels often makes the difference between a high conversion rate and a loss of business. If you can tailor your message to reach your audience exactly where they are in their individual lifecycle, your business will see exponential benefits.
Here are some of the main reasons marketing across multiple channels is necessary in capturing today’s in-market car shopper.
Today’s car buyer is active on many channels
Today’s consumers are active across a wide variety of digital channels – especially when researching a major purchase like a car – making it necessary to target your audience in as many places as possible. In fact, 86 percent of car shoppers conduct research online before visiting a dealership, with the average shopper using approximately 10.4 sources of information before making their final decision. Shoppers can take their time and go to great lengths in researching all their options before completing a purchase.
With so many distractions online and possible purchase paths, the more frequently you can appear in the right places, the better. Whether it’s a sponsored Instagram post or a well-timed email, reminding them frequently of your offering will increase the likelihood of earning their interest.
Multi-channel shoppers are worth more over time
Studies have also shown that shoppers who interact with more than one channel spend more on average than those that interact with just one. If a customer is active on social channels such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and also email, you’ll want to favor them over someone who’s active on only one or none of those channels.
You need to embrace the multi-channel philosophy to reach your target audience in the most effective way.
Managing a multi-channel strategy can be easy
Just because car shoppers are active on a wide range of channels doesn’t mean you want to haphazardly throw brand awareness ads around. Such strategies will typically only beat your audience into exhaustion or annoyance more than anything else. What’s important is to strategize and execute a cohesive, unified plan across all channels that effectively builds a continuous marketing relationship with your audience members – on a personalized basis. Doing so takes an expertise of the web and marketing, applicable technology, and a fair amount of time – but you don’t have to do it alone.
Methods like marketing automation allow you to streamline your communication process and carry out a developing strategy that grows as you learn about your in-market shopper, allowing you to utilize the data necessary to guide you through a successful campaign based on actionable consumer behaviors.
Multi-channel targeting is continuing to grow
While multi-channel targeting is and has been an increasingly popular form of marketing, its relevance continued to grow in today’s digital landscape. Studies show that time spent connecting virtually with consumers has increased 3x more than time meeting with them in-person. More and more businesses are taking note of this, with sales reporting/analytics and account and contact management ranking as the top two sales technologies with the highest adoption in 2018.
If you don’t have plans to implement multi-channel marketing into your strategy, you’re going to miss out on the largest opportunity in the industry today. It’s time to adopt the tools and the know-how to take advantage of this trend and boost your dealership’s bottom line.
Which leaves the only question that matters: How to get started?
At Outsell, we offer the first AI-driven marketing automation platform to empower dealers and OEMs to create lasting relationships with customers while also driving incremental sales and profits. As the trusted platform of more than 1,500 dealers representing all major automotive brands, we are here to help you make the most of your marketing efforts and turn your in-market audience into lifelong customers.
Contact us today to take your targeting to the next level.
Live discussion with senior digital marketing execs from Dream Motor Group and Titus Automotive Group
Outsell announced today that it will co-host a webinar with Automotive News on August 9, 2018 about marketing strategies that apply to single-point dealers and multiple stores. The live webinar, titled “Dealership Marketing Strategies: Group vs. Single Store,” features experienced speakers Amy Rothenberger, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Dream Motor Group, Courtney Titus Barr, Digital Marketing Manager at Bruce Titus Automotive Group, and Jess Johnson, Senior Dealer Success Representative at Outsell.
Single-point dealers and groups alike are looking for more modern-day techniques to market smarter and use marketing automation driven by Artificial Intelligence to create more individualized customer engagement and efficient marketing plans. AI-driven marketing automation delivers 1:1 marketing that consumers expect today and allows dealers to create lasting relationships with customers while leaving the heavy lifting to marketing automation.
This webcast will provide dealer attendees with examples of real-world tactics and an overview of the solutions they used that resulted in marketing success as well as the relevant challenges they faced throughout the process. Attendees will also learn more from an expert point of view on:
- Expert points of view on developing a modern marketing organization
- Real-life stories about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to analyzing marketing efforts
- Practical advice on how to capture the most value from dealership marketing investments
Amy Rothenberger, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Dream Motor Group, Courtney Titus Barr, Digital Marketing Manager at Bruce Titus Automotive Group and Jess Johnson, Senior Dealer Success Representative at Outsell. Moderated by Hannah Lutz, F&I Editor at Automotive News.
“Dealership Marketing Strategies: Group vs. Single Store”
Online webcast at registration link
Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET