The Opinions in this blog are mine alone and not the opinions of who I work for… In case that...
Are you ready for TWO big shots in the arm at Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition next week?
Don’t miss Jerry Thibeau’s “CRM Ninja Skills Unleashed” on Wednesday 5/8, from 8:30AM to 9:20AM. In this session Jerry Thibeau will focus on teaching you how to grow your business by coupling great CRM practices with outbound telephone techniques. You will learn CRM secrets that will help you build a solid base of prospects and more lifetime customers. Thibeau will also focus on the telephone techniques required to properly engage your CRM customers and prospects. This is a must attend session for anyone in sales.
- Learn how to make a great living from your CRM
- Learn CRM phone techniques that will result in more appointments
- Stop looking for ups and start creating them
Next, I will be presenting “Opportunity Calls, Don’t Miss It” on Thursday 5/9, from 11:00AM to 11:50AM. In this session I will go in depth on how to expertly handle an inbound phone call like nobody else. Attendees will be able to make an immediate impact in their sales success with their next phone call after this session. It’s time to get everyone on the same page of what definitely works and what doesn’t.
- Identify and understand the seven sections of a proper inbound phone call
- Improve your communication skills
- Maintain control throughout the entire phone call
- Overcome the objections that get many sales professional off track
- Establish credibility with the phone shopper
We look forward to seeing all of you there. Travel safe.
The book and recent movie, “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss, tells the story of Horton the Elephant who on one afternoon is splashing in a pool and hears a small speck of dust talking to him. It turns out the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a city called Whoville. Whoville is inhabited by microscopic-sized inhabitants called Whos, and led by a character known as the Mayor. His motto: A person is a person no matter how small. I think many can learn from the Mayor’s motto and apply it to their current Digital Marketing practices.
Digital Marketing in the Automotive Industry is all about the Whos. It’s about building and maintaining those relationships between the dealership and its customers. The customers are the Whos of course, no matter how small they may be.
Many treat the Whos more like Whats. They count them, they corral them, they segment them but they don’t listen to them. Many times they are just numbers such as 5,000 names on an email list or 10,000 hits to a web site. With that being said, many see success measured by an increase in activity of the Whats. For example, a better response rate to an email campaign or a certain percentage increase in time spent on each page of a web site. Although these metrics are important, they are not effective in building relationships. Many don’t believe they exist as people because they can’t see or hear them so they don’t market to them as people. In all reality the Whos do exist. Behind every email address and every click on your web site there is a living, breathing person with their own special needs, likes, dislikes and opportunities for those to reach out and make a new friend for their dealerships. To become better there needs to more effort to get to know them. Find out who they are. It’s not hard, they are all dying to tell us about themselves every time they click on something, fill out a form, watch a video, type something on the dealership’s Facebook page or fail to respond to an email blast. Every time they interact or choose not to interact, they are telling us something about themselves. The trick is to listen.
How many are really listening to what their customers are telling them? I mean really listening as if the relationship with them depends on it because it does. Are the relationships being developed by tracking and profiling the Whos? Making notes and keeping good records is the key here so dealers can give them what they want, when they want it. It is time to move from treating them as Whats instead of Whos.
At the end of the story, all the Whos get together and make a noise so loud that everyone could hear them. Don’t wait until all the Whos gang up and say what they want. Make the effort to start listening now and always remember that a person is a person no matter how small.
Let’s face it, we have a huge “feel good” mindset problem in our industry today and are failing to address the core issues that keep many of us from being truly authentic to our clients and ourselves. It’s the last day of the month once again and many will be closing out another huge month while others will justify, once again, why they fell short. It’s more than missing monthly goals. It’s also about the clients who have given us the opportunity and we missed their “goal.” Now don’t get me wrong, we won’t close every opportunity we face, but how many sales are we missing because of something we had control over? I am speaking dealership wide, not just the sales department.
Those who have this “feel good” mindset, and believe me, everyone reading has experienced it at one point in time or another should recognize it within themselves and work to be better. I would like to say this could be overcome by just waking up one morning with a 100% positive attitude and going about our daily activities in a good mood. Sadly that isn’t the case but it is a great start in taking action to become better at what we do. It’s time now to dig deep within and identify what mistakes we are making the put us in this position.
The “feel good” mindset does not only hurt us as individuals, it hurts the dealerships we work for along with our current and potential clients which is where I want to add more focus. Having a genuine interest to be of service is something the “feel good” mindset can and will overtake.
In my opinion, I feel that many of us have forgotten how important an authentic relationship is with our clients. I know many of you are reading this thinking that you really do value your clients and your clients love you. I can appreciate everyone’s attempts to defend their commitment to customer service and how much value you place on the customer experience as a whole but I think it may be somewhat over optimistic. Even those of you who are giving your clients the time and commitment needed; I am not convinced of the sincerity and authenticity put forth in the process. We are becoming too mechanical. Anyone else agree?
Again, we are here to learn as an industry and get better as an industry so if my opinions and honesty strike a nerve, I don’t care.
For most of us in the industry, the client is someone who arrives into the showroom, gets the presentation on the vehicle selected, eventually agrees on figures and makes the purchase. Many clients leave happy while others will have complaints on how we should have done something better and that’s the point when some in our industry shut down to the client and begin to question themselves, “why I am even here?” I find it very sad that the human beings we set out to serve often become the reason we begin to resent our chosen profession. Once this happens it is very hard to be in any other mindset other than the “feel good” mindset where all of the daily activities are geared toward false accomplishment. The good news is that we can turn this mindset around with both time and honesty.
Our relationships with our clients require both time and honesty. Bottom line. No exceptions. Thinking about that, I don’t know of any type of relationship that doesn’t. Do you? Our clients want us to listen to their stories, feel their emotions and take the time to really get to know them. That is what is important to them.
What I am getting at is that it is time we treat our current and future clients like real people. Giving them our real emotions and our honest feelings. Don’t laugh because it doesn’t happen near enough.
So how do we remove the “feel good” mindset from our memory bank? I would first suggest beginning the process by being truly honest, genuine and passionate about your profession, also in how you conduct business. Then, stop hiding behind the dealership waiting on business to come to you. Start engaging your clients, current and future, in everything you do. Get out in the social web platforms, create dialogue and spend time with those who will make or break your business. They are there waiting for you. I assure you once you show your authentic self, you just may have a client for life. Try it, you’ll see and I know you can do it.
I think we can all begin here with an agreement that stalking someone is bad. Personally, I find it very strange. Why is it then that some of our industry dealers use it as a viable digital marketing strategy, more specifically, email marketing? Now for some, it may be because they don’t realize what they are doing and may need some help with their strategies. Sadly, there are others that are too lazy to approach their digital marketing properly. I am writing this to help bring both sides of the spectrum more towards the center because from each side as they stand, it is hurting the automotive industry and beginning to give our digital marketing efforts a bad name.
Now please understand I am not talking about the nefarious forms of cyberstalking but rather those dealers who generate a list of email addresses from the CRM and constantly bombard the customer with the same “beginning of the month” or “end of month” email offer. Dealers should strive to become better technicians with their strategies and stop playing the numbers game while chasing that “open rate” or “click through” rate. Is that small percentage so important that you are willing to follow up with something of the same just a few weeks later? It is pushing customers away and creating more work down the road.
If someone walks into your dealership, you would welcome them, offer assistance, hopefully create some dialogue and continue from there. If you followed them around making suggestions on vehicles they have zero interest in or offering unwanted service work, I’m willing to say they would quickly become uncomfortable and leave your store.
From that point, two things are likely to happen:
They probably will never come back into your dealership for one. Then they will take ownership of your brand and begin to tell other people about their bad experience in person and in the social platforms.
This exact same thing happens online. If you bombard them with the same “expected” email campaigns, they soon stop opening and get a negative feel for your brand, which again, they will share with others.
The trap many dealerships fall into is that they think just because a customer has done business, joined your rewards program or registered to win that gift card that they have given you the right to blast them with irrelevant messages each week or month. Of course “opt in” helps you stay clear of anti-spam legislation but it does not diminish your responsibility as professional marketers and businesses.
It is important to remember that your digital marketing efforts are about matching buyers to your vehicles and service. It isn’t about throwing stuff at enough of your customer base or potential buyers hoping that some will be silly enough to convert. This matching means understanding who the customer or prospect really is and working out what they need and when they need it. In our automotive world, there are plenty of tools available to present us with the information needed to help us know more about our prospects and customer base. We are dealing with real human beings with real feelings on the other end. Take it serious and deliver relevant offers to the right prospects or customer base at the right time.
Customers have caught on to the auto industry’s “broad brush” digital marketing efforts. Dealers are spending more time and money than necessary with this approach. Email is a great communication channel, move away from the loose usage and approach with proper strategy.
Costner’s presentation on “Customer Loyalty” joins agenda that also includes Billy Beane of ‘Moneyball’ fame, Facebook, and Google
Chris Costner, Business Development Director, Southern Volkswagen at Greenbrier in Virginia has been selected to present at the fourth annual DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES), the most authoritative profit-building event for innovative dealers. Costner joins an impressive agenda that also includes high-profile keynotes from Billy Beane of ‘Moneyball’ fame, SEO ‘superstar’ Rand Fishkin, mobile experience expert Luke Wroblewski, renowned leadership trainer Jim Dance, and an exclusive presentation from Facebook and Google. The DSES will be held Sunday, October 21st through Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 at the Bellagio Las Vegas.
Costner will present a breakout session at the summit titled “From Customer Satisfaction to Customer Loyalty” on October 22nd, 2012. All speakers and content for the summit were selected by the DSES Dealer Advisory board.
“Chris was selected from an outstanding field of nearly 100 applicants, and we are confident that DSES attendees will learn a great deal from this extremely relevant topic. We are proud to add Chris Costner to our exciting line-up for 2012,” said DrivingSales CEO and Founder, Jared Hamilton. “His presentation on customer loyalty resonated with the dealer board, and will be an important part of the profit-building takeaways for summit attendees as they craft their 2013 business plans.”
Costner’s presentation provides the actionable best practices on customer loyalty that have helped Southern Volkswagen at Greenbrier achieve a #1 ranking by Volkswagen of America in both sales volume and customer satisfaction. The dealership is currently ranked as one of the “Top 50” Volkswagen dealerships in America.
“I am honored to speak at the DrivingSales Executive Summit, and excited to share best practices that I know will help my dealership peers increase customer loyalty,” said Costner. “While customer satisfaction is important, it is not enough: customer loyalty is where dealerships need to set the bar. We dealers spend so much time and effort marketing to convert prospective purchasers to buyers, but are we doing enough to build loyalty? My presentation will help attendees develop a strategy for earning that loyalty as well as for ensuring that customers form the right opinion of their dealerships through every customer touch point.”
The DrivingSales Executive Summit is 100% dealer driven and designed specifically for the most advanced dealer principals and dealership executives in the industry. The summit has a vendor-neutral policy, meaning no vendor influence on presentation selection and adherence to a strict dealer-to-vendor ratio. The DrivingSales Executive Summit is the only automotive conference where dealers decide the agenda, not the vendor sponsors. This translates into the highest level of learning for the dealer attendees versus other events where workshops are little more than glorified sales pitches.
Last year’s summit was standing room only, and although DSES 2012 will allow for an expanded number of registrants, it is expected to sell out quickly. Register for DSES at:
For more information about the DrivingSales Executive Summit, visit:
http://www.DrivingSalesExecutiveSummit.com or contact email@example.com. Stay tuned for DSES news as it develops on http://www.twitter.com/drivingsales and on http://www.facebook.com/drivingsales. Participate in the conversation with the #DSES hashtag as preparations continue throughout the year.
About Southern Volkswagen at Greenbrier
The year was 1978 when the Southern Automotive Group opened its first location in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Today, this massive conglomerate includes six core dealerships consisting of nine brands of automobiles, two state-of-the-art Collision Centers and over 500 employees on its payroll.
Southern Volkswagen at Greenbrier has been ranked #1 by Volkswagen of America in both sales volume and customer satisfaction and is currently ranked as one of the “Top 50” Volkswagen dealerships in America.
Even with all the volume awards, the primary focus of Southern Volkswagen at Greenbrier is to offer complete customer satisfaction and build customer loyalty.
Founded in 2008 and dedicated to the dealer community, DrivingSales is a business intelligence and data company that delivers unbiased*, profit-building information to make automobile dealers more successful through three distinct channels: DrivingSales Data, DrivingSales University and DrivingSales Media. DrivingSales Data houses the largest database of cross-vendor, dealership performance data in the North American auto industry and provides dealerships with the most statistically accurate performance benchmarks and metrics for their marketing and technology investments. DrivingSales University is a fully interactive online university that offers advanced profit-building strategies to automotive professionals through hundreds of classes taught by world-leading experts. DrivingSales Media connects dealers to peers and information through its global media assets, including DrivingSales.com, the world’s largest automotive social network; The Dealership Innovation Guide, an industry leading quarterly publication; DrivingSales Executive Summit, the top automotive conference for progressive dealers, and DrivingSalesTV, Web TV covering everything car-dealer related. Approximately one in every three dealerships in the United States has a registered member in the DrivingSales community.
*Vendor Neutral Policy: Dedicated solely to making dealerships more profitable, while also providing benefit to automakers and the industry as a whole, DrivingSales adheres to a strict vendor neutral policy through each of its channels. This means the company only provides unbiased information, not ‘pay-to-play’ follow up services — and never accepts payment in exchange for media coverage or lets potential advertisers dictate messaging or create bias in any of its channels.
DrivingSales Media Relations:
Melanie Webber firstname.lastname@example.org, mWEBB Communications, 424.603.4340
Angela Jacobson email@example.com, mWEBB Communications, 714.454.8776
Many dealers across the United States will be closing out a great month of sales today and all of you should be congratulated for the efforts put forth. It’s not over yet. The great news is that we still have this wonderful Saturday to dig down deep and make it a month we haven’t seen in some time. Again, well done.
Now that we lived that moment for a few seconds, what is your game plan for April? Do you have one? Do you approach the day wondering what will become of it or do you approach the day having a pretty good idea what will become of it? Are you spot on with every customer interaction, product presentations and handling objections the proper way rather than on the defensive?
I have noticed over the years, in all capacities, that customer’s objections haven’t changed much yet dealer personnel still stumble many times when challenged. Especially in one of our biggest profit centers: The F&I office.
Most of the objections we are confronted with can fall in one of the four categories:
· Product Misconceptions / Lack of Information
· Need Perception
· Fear Of Making Poor Decision
This upcoming week is one of my favorites for sports ending with The Masters golf tournament so naturally I have to throw in a sports analogy. Imagine you are the basketball coach for one of the Final Four teams playing. It is your job to prepare and condition your “team” in the fundamentals, develop a winning game plan and execute that plan properly. A big part of this game plan is to know what your team will be up against. If your team has been beaten by the same four plays, game after game, you need to start questioning ability. To all the F&I professionals out there, you have watched the game films, gathered your important information and also had a chance to see the playbook ahead of time. How do you plan to win?
It is very important to understand how customers like to make a purchase. Intangible products sold in F&I are made by a transfer of beliefs and enthusiasm mainly, in my opinion. It involves a super star presentation that is based on solid product knowledge developed with empathy for the customer. If you approach your presentation in this manner, you will sell the way they want to purchase. Your customer’s are buying a majority of the time because they want to, not because they need to. I can think back on many occasions when I have put off making a purchase on something that I needed but didn’t want, compared to how many times I have purchased something I wanted but didn’t need. Anyone else? I think selling is more motivational rather than persuasive and knowing that will help close more sales. We have heard over and over that people make a purchase when their perception of value exceeds the “cost.” Cost can be in terms of money, time or aggravation. Without a perceived need, all of the features and benefits of any product create no value and without value, no pricing will be cheap enough for the customer in front of you.
You see, each time a purchase is made; an internal conflict takes place with an emotional desire to have the product and the fear of paying too much or being taken advantage of by the seller. Customers then search for answers to help resolve this conflict by a series of questions listed below but not limited to:
· Do I or can I trust this sales person?
· Reputation of company?
· Will the product serve my needs?
· Does value exceed price?
· Do I want it now?
Looking at these questions, we need to ask ourselves if these are logical or emotional decisions. Is there any logic in trust? The customer may have your trust but their spouse may not. Your dealership’s reputation is subjective too. This is definitely an emotional thought process and value is the customer’s personal judgment. Customers are buying emotionally with just enough logic to justify their decision. Knowing this, is your F&I presentation built solely on facts, features and benefits? Many times I can remember as an F&I manager thinking if I can explain enough features and benefits, I will close on more products. Then “menu selling” made its way into our dealerships that taught F&I managers to present 100% of products, 100% of the time to 100% of the customers. Now please don’t get me wrong, I believe features and benefits along with a proper F&I menu presentation are key but “value” is created only when the product presented fulfills a desire or solves a problem.
With all this in mind, presenting that beautiful, well-prepared F&I menu and overloading your customer with features and benefits will only get you so far. Sure you are going to sell a few products but you will definitely end up with even more lost opportunities unless you, the F&I manager, take the time to sell yourself and the dealership. It’s time to truly identify “buying motivations” and demonstrate how the products presented can satisfy your customer’s perceived need. If you help your customer answer the five questions I mentioned earlier in a positive way, you will increase your chances of closing on more products. Only then will you no longer be in a win or lose situation with the customer but both of you will have won with you closing on more products and helping the customer by solving a problem.
Close strong and make it a great April 2012.