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THE AUTOMOTIVE PARADIGM SHIFT: Is it Time for Science to Take the Wheel?

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by David Metter

In baseball, one slight alteration in the way a hitter approaches the ball can be the difference between strike one and a home run. If a batter’s swing is off by only a few millimeters, or even just a fraction of a millimeter, this makes all the difference in how powerfully they hit the ball, foul it off, or if they strike out entirely.

I believe it's time to take a step back and rethink, rewire, reverse, and reevaluate the way we sell cars today. In order to solve the problems dealerships face when it comes to their operations and overall sales performance, we have to change how we approach the ball. Once again, it's time to disrupt the game and attack from a new angle.

Vendors, dealers, agencies, digital advertisers, partners, and OEMs all have the same end goal - to sell more cars and gain more customers. The dealerships and the experiences customers have at those dealerships determine whether or not people buy cars - so dealer support is what it's all about.

The car business is in desperate need of a complete paradigm shift. Revolution starts with forgetting everything you think you know and making decisions based on facts and a scientific approach.

Thomas Kuhn is an American physicist and philosopher regarded by Stanford as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, if not the single most influential. The University of California, Berkeley, credits Kuhn for the defining paradigm shifts and the idea of scientific revolution as one in the same.

“Kuhn famously distinguished between normal science, where scientists solve puzzles within a particular framework or paradigm, and revolutionary science, when the paradigm gets overturned.”

During times of scientific revolution, anomalies disproving old theories are broken down, and new ones form to take their place in what’s known as a “paradigm shift.” So how does this relate to selling cars? Science’s definition of a paradigm shift is really just a fancy way of saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know…until you know.” Or in other words, you’ll never be able to know what you’re winning until you know what you’re losing. 

The fact is, science is the only paradigm to live by in the information age. Undoing everything we think we know is not an easy task, especially for an industry overpopulated with often unjustified ego. There is this mindset that dealers only need to measure themselves against themselves. But when you think about it, that’s a myopic way of looking at your business.

So if you sell 200 cars this month and you only sold 170 last month, that means you're improving, right? Not necessarily. To be able to see what’s really happening in your market, we need to look at the entire landscape of the opportunities you’re working. Selling 200 cars is great, but 240 is better – and having the ability to see all these existing opportunities without spending an additional dollar on your marketing, that’s revolutionary.

Another common misconception is that if you don’t sell a car within the first week or two of the lead hitting your CRM, that customer is not going buy. Seems logical, right? Wrong – and here’s a perfect example…

One of our dealerships was seeing a jump in sales between day 8 and day 14 post-lead in their CRM. They did a great job picking it back up and getting more sales during this time frame. However, in actuality during this same time, more than TWICE as many customers purchased from one of their competitors. The data shows that during days 8-14 when this dealership thought they were killing it with 60 sales, there were 150 customers, marked opportunities in their CRM, that they touched, that went on to buy a car somewhere else. That’s a problem.

When we approach this same data set from a scientific perspective, we see something entirely different that our industry has never thought to focus on before – the loss. If we can see all the opportunities you let slide through the cracks, along with the people or sources tied to those defections, we can then see a new side of an often-skewed story. We can’t just look at the wins, as there is a lot we can learn from knowing the number of customers our dealership encountered that left to purchase somewhere else.

Because the dealership in the example mentioned above had never been able to compare closed sales versus defections in this capacity, they really had no idea what was going on both in their own store and in their market overall. During a time frame where they thought they were winning, they lost 100 sales to same make competitors and another 50 to competing brands in their market.

So we start to see these ailments, or weakness that start bubbling up to the surface. It’s also so important to keep in mind that each and every dealership is unique – and that’s fact, not opinion. If you attack the way you sell cars with a science-based approach, you start to see sales and defection data differently than you’ve ever seen it before and the facts become crystal clear.

Never underestimate the power of knowing what you’re losing. Think about it this way; it’s a lot like choosing to watch a movie in black and white when you have the option to watch it in 3D HD, multidimensional color. Which would you choose when it comes to the way you view your CRM data?

 

CURB THE CHURN: How to Identify & Retain Your Best Salespeople

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by David Metter, Co-Founder and President, AutoHook powered by Urban Science

Dealership employee turnover rates are notorious for being amongst the highest out of all retail sectors. Unfortunately, dealers have been forced to absorb the spiraling costs associated with a lack in salesperson retention, which only appears to be getting worse. NADA’s latest Workforce Study reported salesperson turnover rates are at a record high of 74% - up 7% from last year.

What we don’t often talk about is the broader implications high employee turnover can have both on dealers and on the industry as a whole. Consequences of losing good salespeople can transcend beyond an individual dealership level, as any significant reduction in customer retention or customer loyalty has the potential to damage the reputation of an entire brand.

Dealers aren’t shy about communicating the adverse effects high churn has on their business, both in their operational processes and when it comes down to their bottom line. Wards Auto says, “The impact is significant, causing decreased sales and profits, and diminished customer loyalty,” which we know can be detrimental to the health of any business.

MAXDigital recently surveyed nearly 400 dealers in the U.S. and found 78% struggle with issues related to high staff turnover. The root of the problem is two-fold in that good salespeople aren’t just hard to keep, they’re hard to find in the first place. Ninety percent of dealers surveyed said “Hiring good salespeople is hard,” and finding candidates with previous sales experience let alone automotive sales experience is even harder.

 *Source: 2018 MAXDigital Dealership Process and Salesperson Turnover Survey    
  
  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 

*Source: 2018 MAXDigital Dealership Process and Salesperson Turnover Survey

Over time, chronic retention problems add up and can cost dealers hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year. A study by Driving Sales and Hireology determined the average cost of recruiting, training, and lost productivity for each salesperson is $45,000 (and that was back in 2016). In my last blog, we defined the value of a good salesperson over the course of one year to be more than $325,000 in pure gross profit. Add that to the cost of recruiting and training and dealers are losing out on over $365,000 per salesperson, per year.

The need for dealers to be able to identify their best salespeople in order to retain them is more critical now than ever before.

Why? Because people still heavily rely on face-to-face, personal interaction - especially when it comes to making big purchase decisions. The larger the purchase, the more inclined customers are to buy from someone they trust. Despite the abundance of online vehicle research tools at their disposal at any given micro-moment, relationships will always take precedence. And people naturally gravitate towards both consistency and what is familiar to them. They’re also much more likely to buy a second and a third car from the same person they already know and trust.

So how do we solve this industry-wide employee retention problem? There are three components that we know make up the formula for properly assessing your salespeople in order to help curb the churn:

1.     Know What You’re Losing

When it comes to evaluating the true performance of your salespeople, having the ability to view CRM data through a scientific lens is essential. CRM companies do what they do very well, but they only show one dimension of a highly multidimensional story – the wins. But what about the leads your salespeople touched that defected? Without that defection data, it becomes near impossible to properly identify the best performers on your team based on the opportunities they’re working.

In order to see who the real winners and losers are representing your dealership, you need a way to visually compare the number of leads each person sold each month in addition to the ones they lost and who they lost them to. Only then can you see who is really the most effective or ineffective because you have the complete story. You can make much better decisions on who or what needs to change based on a real visual of what you’re losing.

2.     Leverage the Right Technology – Rooted in Science

What we’ve never seen before at the dealership level, is science taking a leading role in how we evaluate our sales staff. If science-based technologies can tell you the people that consistently prove to be growing in a positive direction, or reducing their defection rates over time, then science can play a role in helping dealers implement compensation plans that serve and reward only their best people.

Keep in mind, it’s important to give newer technologies or data-driven solutions time to build, learn and improve. The more sales and defection data we can collect over time, the more accurate and actionable the tools that leverage this data will be at identifying your best (and worst) employees.

3.     Play to Your Strengths

I’ve been in this business for 27 years. If there is one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt, it’s that the chances of a salesperson closing a sale are greatest when the customer is physically in front of them. So, in addition to leveraging the right technology to evaluate your staff, leverage technology that will support what we know to be the greatest strength of any person that knows how to sell a car… get the customer in the showroom.

If the goal is to improve your lead follow-up process and eliminate inefficiencies in the way you operate (which by the way is always the goal) then it’s absolutely vital to have the tools in place that can pinpoint both the strengths and the weaknesses of your team. When it comes to retention, dealers are much more likely to foster an environment of happy employees if they play into their peoples’ strengths instead of wasting money, time and energy attempting to fix what they’ll never be good at. As stated in the national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, “People have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.”  

The takeaway here is to place a heavier focus on solutions that are proven to get people physically in the door, where you have a much higher chance of getting them behind the wheel for a test drive, building a personal relationship, selling them a car, and retaining their business. Test drive incentives are one tactic we know works. Pair that with a bulletproof lead follow-up process and what you’re left with is a prescription for lowering defections tied to your salespeople, higher close rates, and better-rewarded, happier employees.

In summary, everyone wants to retain salespeople and everyone wants to retain the right salespeople for their respective business. So many dealership compensation plans are set up to benefit the underperformers – which is completely counterintuitive to reducing turnover. Until now, it’s been impossible for dealers to adequately compensate their all-stars and overperformers because they’ve had no way to identify them. Moving forward, dealers can take this information and adjust their compensation plans to retain the right salespeople and make the necessary changes to get rid of the rest. After all, it would only make sense to reward the people that are rewarding you.

 

Morrie's Brooklyn Park Nissan Cuts Defection in HALF with AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA)

NISSAN DEALER CASE STUDY

Morrie’s Brooklyn Park Nissan wanted to prove a particular lead provider was consistently delivering high defecting leads to their showroom. They needed a way to validate their decision to cancel this service by showing incremental improvement in their sales operations after removing the lead source from their marketing mix.

AutoHook's Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) validated their suspicions and then some. Not only did they see a 61% average increase in salesperson performance after removing the lead source, but they were able to free up 40 man-hours a week and reallocate that budget towards their bottom line.

TCA didn't stop there. The solution helped the Morrie's Brooklyn Park Nissan see a significant improvement in their operations based on where they were losing the most sales, leading to a 50% reduction in defections to their #1 competitor.

 

See the complete set of results and how we did it. Click below to read the complete case study!

What's the REAL Cost of a Bad Salesperson?

| by David Metter

If you think good salespeople are expensive, try bad salespeople. In 2017 alone, dealership employee wages totaled over $66 billion and “auto retail continues to boast one of the highest average salaries of any industry,” according to NADA’s annual report. Combine infamously high turnover rates with a decently-compensated workforce, and I’d argue the ACTUAL cost of a bad salesperson in the car business is a lot more than you think. As someone who spent my first seven years at a dealership on the selling floor, I was always frustrated when it seemed like our comp plans served the worst salespeople, not the best ones. 

To attach a dollar amount to what a bad salesperson could be costing your dealership, we first have to define the value of a good salesperson by doing some simple math. According to Automotive News, last year’s average retail gross profit per new vehicle sold was just over $2,000. Let’s call it $1,500 to be on the conservative side. So, a good salesperson selling 15 cars a month at an average gross profit of $1,500 a car is generating $22,500 in gross profit a month for your dealership, or $270,000 a year.

But that’s really not their true value, and this is why…

A salesperson selling 15 new cars a month equates to 180 customers a year. Then you have to factor in the lifecycle of the vehicle and the potential service revenue associated. Let’s say out of those 180 customers, half of them serviced with you. And, of those 90, each returned for service five times over the car’s lifespan. That’s a total of 450 service visits. According to Urban Science, the cost of an average service RO is $128.88. Do the math, then add it to the gross profit and you get $327,996. (My math is below for anyone in question).

·      450 Service Visits x $128.88/RO = $57,996 + $270,000 = $327,996

So in reality, for a year’s worth of customers, we’re talking a value of over $325,000.

That number sets the stage for what a bad salesperson could be costing you – because you can apply the same logic to 15 lost sales, or defections to competing dealers. If you have someone you think is one of your top performers selling 15 cars a month, but they lost 20 quality opportunities, that’s the equivalent of $30,000 a month, or $360,000 a year in LOST profit. Are you willing to lose a third of a million dollars from employing just one faulty salesperson?

If that cost isn’t enough for concern, there’s also the fact that there could be multiple people under your rooftop disguised as your “best” performers. But when you overlay all the opportunities they touched that we know defected – or purchased from a competitor – on top of what they sold, the story shifts and their actual sales effectiveness comes into focus.

The takeaway here is it’s not just about the 20 cars you could have sold. It’s about the dollars attached to those sales and the potential future profit in service revenue and repeat buyers. We all know the closing ratio on a customer is higher if they’ve already purchased from you. Selling a second and third car to someone who already knows and trusts you is a lot easier than selling the first. It becomes easy to watch the total worth of a single good salesperson exponentially expand when you know their number of closed opportunities consistently exceeds what they’re losing – but you need that defection data to get the REAL story.

If Your CRM Could Talk…How to Expose Your “True” Top Salespeople

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| by David Metter

One of the only remaining constants in the car business is an overwhelming surplus of opinions. Unfortunately for Dealers, it’s almost impossible to silence the constant stream of opinion being pitched in their direction at all times – unless, of course, they choose to operate based on what they know. The beautiful thing about science is that it turns the volume of opinion down so much we can no longer hear its intrusive racket. What we’ve come to find is that the opinions within so many facets of a dealership’s sales process can be overpowered and replaced by science, ultimately resulting in Dealers selling more cars, operating more efficiently and employing better salespeople for a longer period of time. 

Before we had the type of data we have now, we could look at all the opportunities in our CRM, whether they were Internet leads, phone calls or ups on the showroom floor, and do sales match on those opportunities using registration data. The problem with that however, is that registration data is 45 days old and CRM data can be one-dimensional. Meaning, we could see how many opportunities we lost and what they ended up buying, but we had no insight as to where they bought or which salesperson touched the opportunity before they walked out and bought from a competitor…until now.

What’s been fascinating to watch develop over the last couple of years is the ability we now have to look at data in different ways than we’ve ever have before – and one of those ways is at the salesperson level. In the past, salespeople have been judged solely by how many sales they closed out of the opportunities they had in the CRM. So essentially, we could see their closing ratio under a one-dimensional view. But we couldn’t see what they were losing. Today on the other hand, due to innovations in what we can do with a Dealer’s CRM data, we get a much more accurate, three-dimensional view of how our salespeople are truly performing based on the complete picture.

We know not just how many cars each of our people sold, but how many leads they touched that walked out and bought from a competing dealership. And we know if those defections bought from a dealer within the same brand or a competitive brand. We can also dig even deeper into the quality of the leads they’re working to gauge the true performance of your lead providers. Couple that with the performance of your salespeople, and that’s when data viewed through a scientific lens becomes incredibly powerful and prescriptive. That’s when you can start making improvements and executing more efficiently based on what you know, rather than opinion.

When a great salesperson’s defections are almost pacing what they sold, Dealers can see right away when one of their “best” salespeople is actually losing way more than they’re winning, or burning through opportunities. By layering in this defection data on top of the sales data, you can see the true success and failure of each individual player on your team. CRM data is so important, but it’s not three-dimensional in the sense that you can’t see lost opportunities or defections on top of closed sales. Having this information gives you the actual true effectiveness of each one of your salespeople.

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Additionally, if one salesperson has significantly fewer opportunities but closes more sales than they lose, that all plays into the overall methodology of how effective they are. It’s just like in baseball when you have a 300 hitter, but he only gets 100 at-bats. He’s not getting regular daily playing time – but this guy is a 300 hitter! So, he should be getting more opportunities up at the plate. Same thing applies to salespeople that deserve to get more opportunities based on their true performance.

 

We can also track their performance or “batting average” over time to see if it improves or declines. Or, you can test to see if an individual’s batting average changes based on the number of opportunities assigned to them. Whether it does or it doesn’t, the important thing is we now have the necessary information to diagnose where our blind spots are along with a science-based prescription on how to operate more efficiently. Oh – and the best part? Dealers can rest easy knowing they can make decisions and take immediate action based on fact alone.

Route 46 Hyundai Sees Substantial Uptick in Sales with AutoHook's Add-On Solutions

HYUNDAI DEALER CASE STUDY

After recognizing success with the national Hyundai Test Drive Program, Route 46 Hyundai was looking for additional ways to drive even more showroom traffic and incremental sales.

  1. AutoHook+: In addition to the incentives offered on Hyundaiusa.com and their website, Route 46 Hyundai added the AutoHook+ solution, giving them the ability to incentivize existing, unsold leads in their CRM. They leveraged the Triggered Links function within AutoHook+ to deliver incentive offers via email and attribute showroom visits and sales back to this initiative.
  2. Post-Lead Solution: Route 46 Hyundai used AutoHook’s Post-Lead Solution to maximize their incoming leads from their other sources. The Post-Lead Solution automatically scored their existing leads to identify and target the highest intent-to-buy customers with a test drive incentive via email.
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Click below to see all the results and how we made it happen! 

Hyundai Dealer Case Study: Rogers Hyundai Sees Drop in Defection

ROGERS HYUNDAI SEES SIGNIFICANT DROP IN DEFECTION ACROSS OPERATIONS WITH

AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA)

Rogers Hyundai needed a way to make sense of their CRM data to expose inefficiencies in their sales process. They had no way of knowing which sales and marketing efforts were tied to the highest number of lost opportunities. They needed a solution to pinpoint operational areas of high defections in order to implement changes to reduce lost sales and close more deals.

Using AutoHook's Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) and the resulting action items AutoHook recommended, Rogers Hyundai successfully decreased their overall defections, while significantly increasing the performance of their lead follow-up process in just three months. In addition, TCA was able to prove the dealership's sales staff decreased defections during this period, with one undercover rock star who increased their closed sales by a whopping 118%!

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CHECK OUT HOW WE DID IT! 

The 2018 Big Data Landscape: You Can't Run & You Can't Hide

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by David Metter

Every New Year is accompanied by a revitalized, fresh new wave of energy. It’s exciting to hit that reset with button with a renewed sense of faith as we reassess our goals and make changes to be better. I believe 2018 in particular will be a year of overflowing opportunity, unlike any other. I say this because when it comes to both digital marketing and dealership operations, we’re starting off the year with a very powerful weapon that will eliminate instances of both assumption and uncertainty.

A calm quiet will take over the imperious noise of opinion. It will shatter the fear of the unknown and replace it with the confidence of proven science. Instead of basing decisions on what you think, you will improve your business by what you know.

Data is what is known. Data is rooted in science and in proof. Data is truth. And let me be clear, there is no escaping the truth that your dealership’s sales data will bring to the surface once it’s seen from all angles. Believe it or not, the value of the data that lives within your CRM and DMS has infinite potential to improve the way you operate. It’s all about looking at that data through the right lens in order to get a new, better, multidimensional view.

At Urban Science, we’re incredibly fortunate that we can take the data that resides in your dealership and break it down into 4 simple buckets that you can actually wrap your heads around, so that you and your vendor-partners can take real action.

  1. Lead Source
  2. Model
  3. Geography
  4. Salesperson

Because of the sales data we get every single day, we can infuse both sales and defection trends on top of every lead that hits your CRM in near real time. Not only do we look at the sales within any given dealership, but we also look at the sales that happened outside of that dealership. Then we use that data to evaluate trends, triumphs, and defeats within their processes, related to the four buckets listed above. That last one (salesperson performance) is especially exciting. Never in my career has there been a way to look at the true effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a dealership’s salespeople.

All of a sudden when you can see your data from this utopian, comprehensive perspective, you start to also see what you’re losing within the opportunities that you PAID for, driven by the traffic hitting your CRM. When you can see trends of effectiveness or ineffectiveness (success and failure), you then have the power to make changes that will make you better in all four of those buckets. Whether you’re working with a training organization, adapting to new advertising initiatives, or even changing pricing within your inventory, you can start making decisions based on factual truth, which will ultimately benefit all parties involved.

So instead of running your business hindered by fear of the unknown, the right data will give you the power to flourish in the light of certainty. Until now, dealers have been lost in the dark when it comes to the trends or holes in their processes simply because of a lack in the quality of sales and defection data at their disposal.

I’d also like to make it very clear that CRM and DMS companies are NOT at fault because they do what they do really well. It’s just a matter of infusing the right information into your system, much like what you see with data and analytics companies that integrate into Salesforce, the largest CRM company in the world.

As you set new goals and make changes for 2018, remember that data doesn’t lie and not even your #1 salesperson can hide from it. Data has proven time and time again that all those leads in your CRM who are marked as “did not buy” actually did purchase, and in addition, we know what they bought, when they bought, and where they bought. That information becomes super powerful – sometimes more powerful than we can even understand. I look forward to spending 2018 spreading that power across this industry so that we can all reap the benefits of the bigger, better picture.

 

 

 

 

 

What Dealers Don’t Know About Their “Best” Salespeople

by David Metter

As it turns out, what you don’t know about your salespeople can hurt you. I am not sure why, but we don’t often associate analytical tools as the best way to measure the performance of the people we hire to connect with our customers and build lasting relationships. I’m a common sense guy, so if my staff is hitting their numbers and selling cars, there’s really no reason for concern or to take a deeper dive into the opportunities they’re working…right? Not necessarily.

What I’ve come to accept over the last few years is that when good data is presented in a way we can easily understand, it has a tendency to challenge everything we “think” we know about selling cars. Too many of us think that we are the “Presidents of the I Think Club.” I learned that from one of the truly smart guys in the car business, Gary Marcotte, over 10 years ago and I've never forgotten it. 

Dealers have always been able to see their close rates, or how many opportunities each salesperson successfully converted into a vehicle sold. But there is an entire other half (or I could argue 2/3) of the story they haven’t been getting – and that’s how many opportunities they didn’t close and purchased a car from someone else – or in other words, their defection rate. When you layer in data that shows defection rates to competing dealers or brands in your market, it gives life to a story we’ve not only never been able to see before, but one we never even thought to look at before.

I sold cars for seven years, spent years as a sales manager, then the General Manager of a dealership and I eventually became the CMO of large dealer group with 1,100 salespeople to account for. It would have been impossible to analyze every opportunity every person in our organization touched – so the first time I saw this data in action I was blown away.

Take a look at the graph below. The blue line shows how many cars each individual sold during this 3-month time frame. The gray lines show you the number of opportunities that salesperson touched that went on to buy from someone else – whether it was a same make competitor in your market (light gray) or from a competing brand (dark gray).

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In this example, this dealership thought that John was one of their best salespeople. But when you look at your CRM data with a 3-dimensional lens and layer that lost sale (defection) data on top of it, you start to see the true story behind your “all-star” players. You see how many opportunities John touched that went on to purchase from your competitor down the street or from a different brand entirely.

In reality, Jordan is this dealer’s best salesperson. Based on the opportunities he was working, he sold substantially more than he lost. In fact, out of everyone, he lost the least amount of opportunities. So success doesn’t always translate to selling more cars than you did last month. It can also mean losing fewer opportunities to competitors.

Here’s another example. The screen shot below shows the actual effectiveness of a salesperson as they compare to the dealership overall. So in this case, Jim may only be selling 8 cars a month, but because he’s not getting all the opportunities, his effectiveness is 149% - meaning he’s outperforming based on the leads he’s getting. Bill on the other hand might be getting way too many opportunities and he might look like one of your best sales people, but he’s really only about 47% effective towards closing everything he touches.

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Your best salespeople are the ones who consistently deliver HIGH close rates and LOW defection rates. But you need that defection data to see who your real winners and losers are. Think about it like this, a pitcher that has a lot of saves, but has equally if not more blown saves, doesn’t really help the team. Or if a starting pitcher has 10 wins but has 14 losses, is he really a great pitcher? If you only looked at saves or wins, you might think so but when you can see everything at once, the story changes. This is the same sort of comparison.

Keep in mind that if a salesperson has a high defection rate, it may not always be their fault. Maybe they’re being assigned far too many leads than any one person is capable of handling. Or the types of leads they’re working come from providers with low overall close rates. There are all these other factors involved. But those are topics for a different day.

If dealers look at their business through this new lens, they will start seeing trends of opportunity and loss that they can’t see by just looking at their own data and what happens within the four walls of their dealership. In order to determine true success or failure you also need to look at the sales effectiveness outside of your dealership.

10 Key Takeaways from the DrivingSales Data Discussion of 2017

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by David Metter

I recently had the honor of co-moderating a dealer panel discussion at the DrivingSales Executive Summit. Together with fellow attribution frontrunner, Steve White, CEO & Founder of Clarivoy, and our dealer experts, Shaun Kniffin, Marketing & Technology Director of Germain Automotive Group and Ben Robertaccio, Marketing Director of the quickly-rising Morrie’s Automotive Group, we we’re fortunate to have a jam-packed room on the last day of the conference. I guess the panel title (or the speaker lineup) evoked some attention…

For anyone that missed it, I’ve compiled a list below of the top ten takeaways from THE DATA DOESN’T LIE: Shocking Discoveries in Automotive Attribution.

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1.    Sales Attribution > Traffic Attribution

As an industry, we need to entirely shift away from traffic attribution models and really zero-in on sales attribution – that’s where the good stuff is. Traffic attribution only gives you one slice of the pizza. It looks at the traffic that comes to your website and builds marketing strategies based on that alone. Roughly 75% of people that buy cars from you visit your website – so what are you doing to account for the other 25%? Traffic attribution doesn’t tie a sale to that site traffic, where sales attribution directly ties a car sold to the path that led to the sale. Furthermore, we have to factor in the reality that 71% of online users remain anonymous.

Ben Robertaccio, Marketing Director for Morrie’s Automotive Group says, “70% of people come into your dealership without first contacting you. Less than 10% contact you or convert through your website. If we don’t have data on the mass of our customer base, then we need to find better ways to understand them.”

2.    There are WAY too many KPIs to realistically keep track of.

Shaun Kniffin, Marketing & Technology Director for Germain Automotive Group shared their recent initiative to define the most important KPIs that exist within all the profit centers of a dealership. “Together we identified 127 KPIs as the key ones to follow. In digital marketing alone, we identified 27 critical KPIs. Our GMs all agree that between 4-16 of those 27 digital KPIs should be looked at on a daily basis.” But how many of them actually do it? Dealers are reported to death. They’re inundated with data and it’s often impossible to know where to start without enlisting the right help. 

3.    In a perfect world, EVERYONE’S data would reside in CRM.

It would be in the best interest of CRM companies to take into consideration what has made Salesforce so successful and apply that same business model to automotive. For just a minute, take yourself out of our industry. Put yourself in ANY other industry and ALL of the data resides within Salesforce. There are plugins within Salesforce that collectively make it better, more powerful, and virtually indispensable. Salesforce grew exponentially when they opened up those opportunities to make corporations that use Salesforce better. We don’t see that in automotive and that’s a very frustrating thing, and it should be more frustrating to you as a dealer because you are required to live and breathe within CRM every single day.

AutoHook’s data, Clarivoy’s data, everyone’s data should reside in CRM. If we know the behavioral traits specific to the customers in our CRM, our salespeople can simply look at their screen (just like you would in Salesforce) and immediately see every digital destination that customer has passed through. That’s what our salespeople need in order to have much more meaningful, efficient conversations with their customers. 

In a perfect world, there would be an independent 3rd party overseeing the validity of everyone’s data, as we know vendor reporting has the potential to be self-serving. But if we know we have clean, accurate data, then we as marketers can easily figure out how to help GMs make much better decisions with their budget. 

4. Google Analytics is a great tool…IF it’s set up correctly.   

Google Analytics has the potential to be a phenomenal tool, but it can also be complicated, involved and difficult to derive any real actionable insights from. How many GMs go into their GA dashboard every day? Not many. So how can we expect our managers to actually obtain any real value or insights from of GA alone?

Ben Robertaccio advises dealers to have their key goals and conversions set up properly in order to measure what’s actually happening - and that includes SRPs, VDPs, leads, chats, calls, texts, map views, etc. The best reports out there take GA data and feed in multiple other data sources to deliver a clear path towards correcting the flaws in your business.

A great tool is one that’s able to synthesize all the data and turn it into something dealers can actually use. Ben recommends AutoHook’s Traffic Conversion Analysis (TCA) powered by Urban Science data. “TCA feeds in CRM data, new vehicle registration data, our sales data, and what our competitors are selling, and it’s able to show me data like I’ve never seen it before. If we didn’t have TCA, we would have continued to spend, spend, spend, when it reality it was our process that was broken, and TCA was able to make that clear.” 

5. There needs to be massive consolidation of analytics tools in the market space.

Because of the intertype competition amongst tiers and players within the automotive vertical, we need to get to the point where dealers can know (or at least have a solid benchmark) of how many cars each vendor will help them sell per month.

Shaun Kniffin reminds us of the ugly truth that, “This industry has more snake oil than any other industry,” and he’s right! Additionally, there aren’t any real standards or benchmarks to let dealers know how they are doing at any given point because of the fact that every dealer and every market is so different. We need to push for more open data sharing, partnerships, and standardization amongst vendors and at all industry levels.

Ben Robertaccio makes another great point when he says, “I see this operational divide across industries: operations vs. marketing. We see it in every industry. But what we need to do is foster an environment where I show you results, you show me results and we work together.”

6. 3rd party listing sites like Cars.com & Autotrader are NOT lead generators.

Leads aren’t everything. Clarivoy Founder & CEO, Steve White says, “Don’t ignore the cumulative effect of the journey that took place to produce that lead.” People don’t just go to Cars.com and submit their information – it’s not that simple. Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus all those sites are not lead sources. Their responsibility is to expose your inventory on a grand scale.

Shaun Kniffin happened to be the very first Cars.com customer in Columbus, OH back in 2001. He says, “I’ve never looked at Cars.com as a lead source. A lot of GMs don’t understand how many VDP views these sites generate for their stores each month - it’s more activity than your Search Engine Marketing could produce in an entire year. It’s our job as educators to bring them to the forefront and say let’s put this into perspective – how do you replace all these VDPs? And that’s all part of multitouch attribution. Exposing that inventory is the #1 job of Trader, Cars, Gurus, etc.”

7. Using Last Click Attribution is a lot like…

Clarivoy CEO & Founder, Steve White, made the incredible analogy of comparing attribution to a hangover. “It’s a lot like blaming a hangover on that last beer you had. But in reality, it wasn’t just that last beer, it was the cumulative effect of the 10 other drinks you had before that. So that’s what you have to think about from an attribution perspective. There is a cumulative effect to all of your different marketing touchpoints.” Making really big decisions based on last click is just not the smart thing to do.

8. Dealers suffer from A.D.D. 

Which of course stands for, “Another Damn Dashboard.” Every vendor has their own dashboard. The last possible thing today’s dealers want is another report or system to log into. These dashboards have become nothing more than complex conundrums of numbers and statistics that lack meaning and more than anything, lack the ability to execute.

Kniffin says when it comes to their vendors, “I just want to know if you’re involved in the sale. I just want to know are you part of my math, are you part of my chemistry? Are you going to help me attribute more sales? As marketers all we want to know is how can we make these numbers better? How are you who manages my paid search going to make your numbers better and help us optimize our spend?” 

9. Hold Your Vendors to a Higher Standard

Ben Robertaccio emphasizes, “We all need to hold our vendors and our partners to a higher standard to make sure they are feeding into our analytics appropriately and ensuring the data they provide us with is pure and valid. In a utopian world, all our vendors would work together openly and all agree on how to measure things.”

10.  Don’t rely on your customers (or your CRM) to help with attribution.

If dealers were to ask their customers what their click path consisted of before coming in for a test drive, most people wouldn’t have a clue. The digital journey that takes place leading up to a sale is just that – a journey. It’s something that happens organically, over time, across devices, both at home and on the go.

Kniffin adds, “Single source attribution in CRM – THAT’S frustrating! We’ve challenged every one of the CRM companies out there, and it’s a crowded space, but the truth is, single source attribution does not help us develop a strong marketing strategy, period. And how much of that is really subjective data?”

Ben Robertaccio shares Kniffin’s frustration and follows it up with a good point, "Pretty regularly I don’t remember what I had for dinner the night before so how am I going to remember what traffic source influenced my purchase?”

 

Thanks to our friends at DealerRefresh, you can check out this panel discussion live from #DSES2017. Click here to watch The Data Doesn’t Lie: Shocking Discoveries in Automotive Attribution on Facebook Live.