Tag Archives: Car dealership

Don’t let Brand Loyalty Kill your Odds of Closing a Sale

Brand Recognition

family1920sSome would say, I come by may know-it-all nature, love of all things related to office stationary and appreciation for marketing and advertising quite honestly. Growing up, I was surrounded by award winning advertising and stacks of books and papers on marketing from the industry leaders of the 70s and 80s. They say that brand recognition begins as early as age 2… Well, I call shenanigans on this statistic. As young as 12-18 months, I have watched my siblings and my own children display preference for certain characters and branding. From the Teletubbies to Elmo and from certain bottles of shampoo to the forks and plates they like best.

Brand Loyalty

What makes both children and adults loyal to a certain brand? Some of the time, I believe it’s simply personal preference. We make a conscious decision based on our personal tastes, and what appeals to us, both as children and adults. This could be something like the body lines of a new model, vehicle specifications, trim and features or a signature color available from only one manufacture.

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Other times, and most often, our loyalties are influenced by those around us. Parents, siblings, family members we look up to, such as aunts, uncles and grandparent who influence a lot of our early preferences. Mostly by direct exposure to certain brands or their own tastes, but also by their behavior and philosophies. I guarantee, someone in your family has said “I will never buy a <Major Car Maker Here>.”

Think about the car makers which you have a poor opinion of personally. Now ask yourself why you feel that way. Was it because your Dad said he thought they were garbage when you were 9, and you have felt the same way ever since?

Brand Perception

Many moons ago, I decided I would never own a certain make of vehicle. The general consensus amongst my friends and family was that they were junk and unreliable. I have owned several vehicles from their competitors over the years. They were all adequate, but somehow lacking in one way or another practically. I once had a rental that was made by the manufacture, who I despised, and I realized… man, this is a really nice SUV. But still, I never bought a vehicle from them in the decade following the experience. I still believed that overall, this brand was not for me. And I have driven an SUV from their major competitor for the past 6 years now.

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As my family grew, we set out to find an SUV which would better accommodate all of the people (and Car Seats, *groan*) which I was now required to shuttle around from place to place. We looked at foreign and domestic, pick up trucks and SUVs, crossovers and (*groan*) mini vans. Nothing seemed to fit the bill.

Then, I saw an SUV driving down the road that I really liked… Low and behold, it was from the car maker I had written off decades before. Long story short-ish, we bought one. We even went a couple of model years older than my current 10-year-old SUV, and I am still extremely pleased with my new-to-me SUV.

Change Facilitates Change

Michigan_&_Griswold_circa_1920My entire perception of this Brand is changing. Because my Vehicle Needs changed and I was forced to explore outside of my comfort zone. As a sales person, you shouldn’t be afraid to present your prospects with an alternative solution to meet their needs. They may tell you they won’t consider a certain make or model, but if you ask what needs they are trying to fill with their new vehicle, instead of what they think they want to buy, you may be more successful at selling them.

It’s a widely known fact, that over 50% of car buyers leave the lot with a vehicle which was NOT the make and model they submitted in their initial lead as their vehicle of interest. And over 40% of internet lead submissions come from prospects who haven’t even settled whether they want a new or preowned vehicle, let alone the make and model.

Influence

oldcar3You have more influence over the type, make and model of vehicle that you sell, than you may think. Avoid pre-qualifying your customers based on what they say they want, and focus instead on what they actually need. Then match vehicles in your existing inventory to those needs. You may surprise yourself with how often your recommendations are heard. Instead of pigeon holing leads by provider, view each lead, as an opportunity to sell your prospective customer the “Right” vehicle, regardless of source.

P.S. What Brands are you most loyal to, and how did they earn that honor?

Automotive Sales: 4 Means to a More Efficient CRM

It’s a new year, and the automotive marketplace is now more data-centric than ever before. Customer Relationship Management is one of the most essential tools you and your dealership can use to organize, track and store this data and ultimately close more deals. Regardless of the size of your store, or how many rooftops there are in your group, the implementation of a CRM has been shown to increase productivity by as much as 30% when used efficiently.

The only way to ensure effective CRM use and increased productivity is to insist on standardization, accuracy and consistency. You must gain your entire team’s “buy in” first. Once you have established these attributes amongst your team, you may utilize the four points below to streamline your efficiency in its use. In turn, this will increase your closings, and improve your rate on return, specifically as it pertains to your investment in the CRM.

1.  Using CRMSuite ActivityFocus or a Lead Scoring System:

For More About ActivityFocus

For More About ActivityFocus

CRMSuite takes the guess work out of creating an effective algorithm, which will determine which leads are the “hottest”, within your CRM’s database. How often are your salespeople interacting with an individual? How frequently is that prospect engaging with your store? What time of day do they appear to engage with you more often? What medium (email, phone, text) do they respond to best? These are just some of the factors which the system takes into consideration when scoring leads.

A lead score is nothing but a score which is assigned to every lead entered in your CRM database. The higher the score, which is based on a proprietary algorithm that defines your ideal customer, the “hotter” the lead. By utilizing this feature of the CRM, the leads which are most likely to convert, are bubbled to the top, in real-time, for your sales people to contact. Giving sales people the deals which they will most likely be able to close, right now.

No need to fumble through hundreds of leads and make ill received calls. Most sales professionals spend nearly a quarter of their time simply searching for information. With a lead scoring system in place, they are able to target those leads, which are most likely conversions, with little to no effort. In turn you will see your number of closed deals increase each month. You’re not just closing more deals in less time. You are engaging those leads at the time that they are most likely to be willing to hear your message.

2.  Current Lead Social Data:

Social Data in Real Time

Social Media is here to stay. Now more than ever, people are sharing every aspect of their lives online. Though 45% of your customers interact with brands on social platforms; this isn’t as much about having a presence for your brand on social media, as it is about collecting your prospects social data for your own purposes.

CRMSuite “scrapes” all of the publicly available social data from your prospects profiles to aid your sales team in their efforts to close potential customers. Social Media data is an excellent source of up to the minute information… and it’s free of cost to you. This includes profile pictures and most recent updates which help you to better understand, and ultimately pitch prospects.

CRMSuite is “thee” most Social CRM on the market today. It collects everything from the leads most recent tweet to their alternate phone numbers as they have provided them to various social platforms throughout the years. It not only pulls all social data on your customer when the lead is created, but also automatically refreshes this information to keep the lead social data current. This means never missing the latest Updates and Profiles images on your customer. The proper implementation of a Social CRM system, such as this, has been shown to increase sales productivity by as much as 12% over time.

3.  Updating Lead Data in One Place: 

Desk the deal from anywhere

The background systems in CRMSuite can refresh social data automatically, sure, but interactions, contacts made, meeting notes and preferred phone numbers and addresses etc. are all manually input by your sales people. Inputting this data in a timely fashion, keeping it accurate and all in one place, is vital to the system and it’s ability to score leads. As well as being essential to your staff, for their future appointments and contact with this lead.

Most CRMs today are wonderfully equipped to allow all the relevant information to be input into the system, no matter what device you use to input it. CRMSuite is not to be out done with a user interface which lend itself incredibly well to Mobile devices as well as Mobile applications designed specifically to allow Sales People the freedom to conduct deals and engage with prospects anywhere. While keeping their data as up-to-date in the system as possible.

You can type the meeting notes, appointments, or other vital information in your tablet or mobile phone, and your CRM system will sync it across all devices instantly. This means no repetitive data entry, and tons of time saved, which can then be used to make that next contact due and schedule future appointments.

Management also greatly benefits from these features. Updating this information in the CRM provides visibility of work from each member of your team and management. Imagine never having to ask your rep the date of their next appointment, or how many calls they have made today. Imagine never having to deal with the nightmare of transferring leads and accounts with incomplete information to a new rep.

The ability to access and update data anywhere, anytime means reps are more likely to do it… which saves everyone time in the end.

4.  Smart Dashboards and Analysis:

Reporting and Analytics possibilities are limitless with CRMSuite

Limitless Analytics

Most CRMs come with a package of predefined reports. The way your store works and the way you measure your successes may not be the same as the dealership across the street. With truly customizable reporting, on a dashboard which is updated in real time, CRMSuite gives you all the tools you need to track and measure the metrics which matter to you most.

A top performer’s report can be a sales driver across the dealer group. A daily appointment report can be a productivity tool for management. A sales rep’s performance report can be a motivator. Custom reports can be a powerful tools to motivate and push sales people to close more deals. They provide the individual reps with a way to measure their own goals and for management to measure daily, weekly and monthly sales goals without pestering or micro-managing subordinates. At the executive level reporting can be more broad and provide the big picture store-by-store for the group, and month over month while assessing annual sales numbers.

The MyDay page has the ability to create multiple pages, with various customizable Apps, which can be tailored to suit any individual in the store. Smart reporting and real time analysis of the numbers, gives the entire team the power to model behaviors after what works. The better you define what is working at your store, or for a certain rep, the more efficient they (and you) ultimately become.

In Conclusion

It’s estimated that with proper CRM implementation throughout an organization there is the potential to gain as much as $6 in revenue for every $1 spent on CRM.

Are you utilizing your Customer Relationship Management tools to their fullest potential within your dealer group? What CRM efficiency tips do you implement within your team?

Set More Appointments: Videos Alone Will Not Sell Cars

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Branding yourself on Youtube is no simple task. Elise Kephart has managed to make her videos so popular amongst those in the auto industry that some stores are using them for training purposes. The Youtube Diva is on the cutting edge as far as incorporating the technology available to us today into her sales process. She’s also become quite good at it; being recognized by the likes of Jim Zigler as far back as 2010. She’s now sharing a lot of her insights at automotive industry conferences and of course, via her YouTube channel.

In the beginning Elise’s videos were very focused on the vehicle, which the customer had stated they were interested in. The vehicle on the lead, whether that was received via email or form filled out on the dealer website set the tone for the entire video. Her videos struggled to hold the attention of the prospect in todays busy world. They contained loads of information up front and rounded out at about 5 minutes run time a piece. Elise found that by pairing these videos down, to focus on starting that relationship with the customer, she had a lot more success and better customer response. Focus on the customer experience and the personal relationship, more than the vehicle and sales pitch right off the bat. You want to put the customer at ease, show them you are a real person and begin a friendship. Including video clip referrals from her past customers has also become a trademark of Elise’s videos which she send out to prospective new buyers.

This process has been tried and tested with exceptional success by Elise. Below is her process for contacting new internet leads step-by-step:

1. From your Office Line, Call the customer at about 9am.
a. Tell the customer that you have “Some Great News” and ask for a return call
b. Keep it short and non-specific but give your hours and contact information
c. Let the customer know that if you don’t hear back from them you WILL try them again later today
2. Send your Video email message immediately after your first call attempt.
a. Introduce yourself and your store
b. Tell the customer briefly what you discussed if you got ahold of them and thank them for speaking with you
c. If you left a voicemail, then give them your vehicle options that match the customer enquiry e.g. “We have the 2013 Honda Accord available in the red or white today”
d. Give the customer your direct contact information clearly and your On Hours in store
e. Make it Personal. Use the customers name and be casual and conversational
f. Keep your video under 90 seconds and under 60 seconds is optimal
g. Ask for the Call back and let the customer know that you WILL contact them again if you don’t hear from them.
3. From your Mobile Phone, Call the customer at about 11am.
a. Do NOT leave a message
4. From your Mobile Phone, Call the customer at about 2pm.
a. Again Do NOT leave a message
5. From your Office Line, Call the customer at about 5pm.
a. Leave a Message again with your contact details and hours in store today
b. Ask for the call back and explain that you WILL call the customer back again tomorrow if you do not hear from them before then

Some people may call this borderline harassment, but the simple fact is that the customer has requested this information, about a car that interested them, from your store. You may get some negative feedback on occasion, however for the most part it is your job to reply to these leads. Furthermore, you aren’t doing your job, if you don’t get in touch with the customer.

The goal is to Set an Appointment. You can’t sell a car if you don’t get that customer on the lot. How you begin your relationship with each lead will determine if you get that appointment set. Treat each lead as Elise suggests above and I bet you set more appointments. It’s our job to sell cars and put the numbers on the board sure, but giving the customer the most wonderful car buying experience should also be high on your personal agenda. Once you get the customer on the lot they can fall in love with the car. Videos and that personal touch will build trust and help the customer to fall in love with your store. It also removes the awkward from your first appointment as the customer feels that they have already met you and you can get straight down to business as soon as they arrive.

What’s your Follow Up Process? Are you utilizing Videos to Prospects? How are you accomplishing this while using CRM? Let us know in the comments below and share this article using the social buttons below 🙂

Original article published on Dealer20.com in late October 2013
Special Thanks to: Elise Kephart for allowing us to interview her and share her follow-up process within this article. Follow Elise on Twitter @theyoutubediva 

5 Ways to Create Happy Automotive Customers

In an age when you understand that your customer can price shop you in the five minutes you walked away to talk to the desk manager, simply by pulling out their mobile phone, how do you set your store and yourself apart? When price and availability of the vehicles on your lot can be so easily matched or beaten how will you set up not only repeat purchases but referrals from future prospects?

CRMSuite can Help:

  1. Excellent Customer Support –

    You already have the sincere enthusiasm, firm handshake and winning smile locked up. Use CRMSuite to help you respond to Leads, Follow up with Prospects and Make contact with each sold customer long after the vehicle has been driven off the lot.

  2. Transparency & Responsibility –

    You already own your sold customers and make sure that your store is with them from the initial receipt of the lead, through the sale and service, and back to their next vehicle. AutoPencil allows for total transparency during the desking process. Give your customer all of the numbers up front and in a clearly formatted, beautiful template which automatically calculates the payments etc. during the negotiating process. Never leave your customers side to go to the desk, and have your customer sign the deal right from the driver’s seat of the vehicle they love.

  3. Incentives & Rewards –

    OEM Incentives are great, but you want to give your customers a little something extra. Offer rewards for referral leads and use CRMSuite to track the lead sources and note customer rewards.

  4. Engage & Personalize –

    CRMSuite is thee most Social CRM on the Market. Using proprietary algorithms and public information we match customer profiles with your customer records within CRMSuite. View your customer latest activities and recent profile photo right on their record. Link back to customer profiles so you can be prepared to greet them with your common interests and useful information to build value once you’ve set that all important appointment.

  5. Measure & Analyze Satisfaction –

    Make goals for your team and implement ways to measure your customers satisfaction with them. Use the wide variety of reporting and MyDay modules to see all your numbers at a glance, updated in real time and drill down for detail right from your dashboard.

Happy Customer Infographic

Is Great Customer Service Enough to Set your Store Apart?

Recently, I had a decent, but incomplete, customer service experience with a large corporation. Were they polite, yes. Were they able to resolve my problem, yes. Would I recommend their company to my friends and family members? Hmm, would I? I mean, really think about that.

Your cousin casually mentions that they are looking for a new car, or a new wireless carrier or a new dry cleaner for that matter. Is there a company that you are so passionate about, that you would speak up and say “Hey, I know just the folks you need to call to take care of you!” I was HAPPY with my customer service experience, by the end of the interaction. However, I can honestly say that if someone I cared about, asked me if they should go to this corporation for their products and services, I’d be on the fence with regards to recommending them.

What does this mean?

This means you can have customers who leave your store happy. They feel like they received a fair deal and they love their new car. They received adequate service and overall they were pleased with the way they were treated. But when their Mom mentions that she is looking for a new car, they could NOT recommend you or your store to her. Their mother may even bring it up herself, “Didn’t you just buy a new car? Where did you go to get yours?” Your customer could even name your store and still their Mother won’t be convinced that that is the place for her to purchase her new vehicle.

How do you set your store apart, and set yourself up for referral business?

There is absolutely no substitute for sincerity and passion about your brand. You can’t just say “Thank you” or “We appreciate your business” or “We care about your experience with us today.” In fact, if you say it and don’t mean it, you’re actually doing damage. I recently had a CSR answer the phone with “Thank you for calling <XYZ Company>, where we appreciate our customers” and I almost laughed out loud… the woman on the other end of the phone sounded less than enthusiastic to help me and just the tone of her voice convinced me otherwise.

You can’t make people care about your brand or store. You have to find, and hire people who are passionate about helping your customers. If you are the salesperson in this case, and you are passionate about helping your customers, as well as sincere when you thank them for their business. I promise you’ll be more successful at gaining referrals than your less enthusiastic counterparts.

Learn how to create relationships that will stand the test of time

Your enthusiasm in contagious. If you are in management, this will trickle down to your reps. And if you are a rep this will be passed on to your customers. Have you ever had a day that was just like six mondays smashed together? We all have, right? Do you remember having an interaction with a stranger, on a day such as that, and it turning your whole day around? It could have been the grocery store or buying a new pair of shoes. Whatever the case, that person had a positive impact on your day, and subsequently you. This may have changed your perception of their Brand as well. In the same way that a negative experience would change your perception of a particular Brand.

The difference is that, to create a real impact with a positive experience, you have to work a LOT harder. The experience must be truly exceptional, and above and beyond the call of duty of your basic job requirements. within the company. There is a saying “People never remember a clean house, but they always remember a dirty one.” And the same can be said for Customer Service. People will remember the bad over the good nearly 1000 to 1. Your job is to figure out how to make your customer service excellent, exceptional and consistently awesome. And therefore how to create lasting relationships with your customers. Fostering a sense of brand loyalty and going to extra mile to ensure future business via referral.

The attached infographic has some tips on what makes for excellent customer service. How realistic do you think are these customer expectations or your business? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

++ Click Image to Enlarge ++
Why do Companies with Great Customer Service Succeed?
Source: Why do Companies with Great Customer Service Succeed?

What is the central hub of your store?

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What is your epicenter? Where does everything happen? What do you need for everything to happen? YOU! Your body. You are your own epicenter will limbs attached that assist you in your everyday life. If you were restricted from using one of those limbs, how difficult would that be? Not entirely impossible, but it would for sure make things more difficult. Nothing would flow correctly. In the car world, the epicenter is the showroom floor. Everything stems out from the Showroom right at the time you sit down and say, “I want that one!”

While in the automotive retail sector myself, I observed that just like the limbs of your body, all departments need to work together. This ensures we reach the ultimate goal as a store; get the customer on the road happy. Let me paint a picture for you: Mr. Customer walks onto the lot to be greeted by a salesperson, once a vehicle is selected, the next step is the showroom floor where all the magic happens. Numbers are agreed upon and Mr. Customer goes to finance. When the customer is waiting to enter finance, their selected vehicle is rushed to the back to be spruced up by the car port employees. Roughly 50% of the time, the customer is out of finance before their vehicle is finished. Many dealerships will then set up their customers first oil change. What’s that? Now the service department is involved? Of course it is! The limbs all work together.

You may not think all departments in a dealership need each other, but they most certainly do. All work in accordance! Lot, showroom floor, finance, car port and service. Those are just a few of the main departments. Many departments have people who work behind the scenes, most your customers will never see. How do we thank them? How do we show appreciation? It’s the little things! Pizza, Starbucks or even donuts on occasion. We all need each other to function. Show you’re grateful!

Have you ever taken a step back to see the big picture at your store? Has a certain part of the dealership ever fallen “short?” How did you overcome? I want to know!

6 Stereotypical Boss Profiles

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Does anyone truly like their boss?  Is your boss typical or not so much?  I have been working since I was 13 years old and have encountered many different types of bosses.  I have my favorites and then I have those who I wish I could forget.  I have bosses I still speak to and go to for advice.  Bosses, what a love/hate relationship!  Can you relate to the five types of bosses below?

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1. Best Friend-Ever
Have you worked for that person who wanted to be your best friend?  I have, sometimes a good thing but usually terrible!  With this person, you have an edge.  You can get that day off to hang out and shop or go do something fun.  You get preferential treatment, no crappy duties for you!  However, since this is your boss, you can’t say no!  You feel like you have to go to lunch with them.  You have to accept that invite to their weird house party.  You also feel like you have to do more for them than anyone else, like run errands or plan parties.  Best friend as your boss, maybe not so great!

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2. Invisible Boss
I love and hate the bosses who are never at work!  What is to love, you might ask?  Easy!  The fact that they are never at work checking in on you and making you nervous with their micromanaging and heavy breathing down the back of your neck.  What is to hate?  Agonizing all day on the days they do show up, wondering if you did something wrong, or if there is some big change happening which will affect you negatively.  What happened to make then suddenly show themselves and the unknown regarding how that affects you can make all those carefree days not quite worth it.

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3. Over-achiever
Ever have that boss who tries to do everything, all the time!?  It is great when you have a big thinker who likes to try new things but it can get out of hand.  I had a manager who would try to close deals, complete follow up, demo cars, and help in finance.  He was completely incapable of delegating.  It was nice that he tried a bit of everything but in some cases, it is best to do what you do best, and let others do their jobs.  This person tended to convolute things more than help them.  It may have cost me a couple of deals in the end, to be honest. But it was also nice to know that he kept the Sales Process fresh in his mind and had real experience of how deals went down at that store in order to make management decisions for the rest of the team.

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4. Jerk
I think a good portion of my dealership bosses were total jerks.  Main reason for me, they didn’t remember the time prior to being a boss.  They didn’t remember what it was like to test drive 5 cars, to sit through negotiations, to dig out 6 cars for an appointment to find the people cancelled or didn’t show up.  The jerk that didn’t step in to help you but once your client left, had nothing but crap to say about you and your lack of performance.  Jerky bosses can be frustrating because you feel like it’s you against them instead of the reality which is that you are both part of the same team.  Some bosses have yet to realize that the Football Coach management style doesn’t quite work on everyone.  These Bosses need to learn the best way to motivate all of their team members.

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5. Effortless
I have had maybe two bosses who made it look easy.  They’re born leaders!  They show their employees respect.  They listen to the staff and try to implement any recommendations which made sense for the store.  They genuinely show an interest in their team members lives by not just making small talk by the coffee pot or water cooler.  This is the boss who you want to invite to your home for dinner or out to watch the game.  This is the person within the company who you go to for advice.  Usually, these bosses remain friendly after they are no longer your boss.  You feel that they truly have your best interests, and that of the store’s, at heart.  If they all could be this way, the employment world would be so much more enjoyable!

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6. Micro Manager
We all know and Love… to Hate this Boss. They’re the one who checks on you constantly. Managing your every minute, of every day, like you’re an incompetent kindergartener who needs to be told when to go to the bathroom or eat your meals or smoke your cigarettes… Not that Kindergarteners are smoking cigarettes (nor should anyone be, for that matter) but for the sake of argument. These bosses will make you feel like you have to justify your every effort and decision. In fact you spend more time justifying your actions to them than you do actually Working a Deal. Honestly, with proper CRM implementation most of these bosses wouldn’t need to even chat with you about your efforts on an hourly basis. They could see where you are and what you are doing or have done with a few clicks… That might not make them so terrible after all.

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These are just a few examples of typical boss types that I have encountered over the years.  Do you have any examples you want to share? Which was your Favorite and which was your Least Favorite? Or what type of Boss are you?  Let us know your thoughts on Bosses or how proper CRM use has helped cure your store of a Terrible Boss.