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Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars [Chapter 3]: Power to the [Sales] People

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| by David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science

I’d like to begin with a subtle reminder of the harsh reality of how car shoppers in today’s technology-first world really feel about the car buying process. Below are a few highlights to help paint the picture…

  • 52% of car shoppers feel anxious or uncomfortable at dealerships and millennials are leading the pack in their dislike, with 56% saying they’d rather clean their homes than negotiate with a car dealer. (The Harris Poll Insights & Analytics)

  • “Stressed,” “overwhelmed,” “taken advantage” and “panic” were among the top 10 words used by female car shoppers when reviewing their in-dealership experience. (CDK Global)

  • Studies suggest that some Americans would rather get a root canal than take their car to a dealership. (Automotive News)

I could go on for days with stats like this, but we have more important things to discuss - such as how to change the current perception. The upside to all the negativity around car buying is that we have A LOT of room for improvement. And dealers aren’t necessarily to blame either. The problem is, what we’re told about consumer behavior in the digital age compared to what car buyers themselves actually do in the digital age are often two very different things.

We live in a constantly connected, convenience-based universe inundated with unsanctioned opinion and as a result, we’ve become conditioned to rely on technology to solve problems. We know the in-store experience is important, but we’re too fast to look to the latest technology to solve the problem rather than focusing on what we can actually control. Not just something dealers have the power to influence, but also something that may ultimately yield the highest ROI out of any available technology in the market…which is your salespeople. How did I come to that conclusion? Funny you should ask.

In the article, “What’s the REAL Cost of a Bad Salesperson?” I dissected the monetary difference between what good salespeople can contribute to your dealership over time versus what just one bad salesperson could cost you. A salesperson selling 15 cars a month yields about $270,000 a year in gross profit. Then when you factor in the lifecycle of the vehicle and any potential service revenue associated, you’re looking at a minimum value of $325,000 a year in pure gross profit for any one good salesperson. Read the blog if you don’t believe the numbers.

Now consider the reverse. One salesperson that loses 15 sales a month to one of your competitors is costing your dealership $325,000 a year in gross profit. Multiply that by just four people and you’re looking at $1.3 million in lost gross profit a year. But here’s the kicker. Without the right data processed through the right technology, you would have no way of knowing how many customers your salespeople interacted with that left and bought a car from someone else. Perhaps due to a negative experience?

A recent study from Cox Automotive suggests that initial experience may be more important today than ever before. The rate of car buyers returning to dealerships where they have previously purchased or leased from is increasing. 40% of new vehicle buyers in 2018 are repeat dealer customers compared to 31% in 2016. This is great news, but it puts even more pressure on getting it right for that first-time buying experience and, in most cases, your sales team is directly responsible for it. Customer loyalty and the chance of them coming back to buy a second or third car depends on the experience your dealership provides them with upon arrival. So your people better be armed and ready.

Jeremy Beaver, COO of Del Grande Dealer Group, told Automotive News, “Retention is the Holy Grail, and the experience is what drives retention. You have to shift away from a ‘visit’ mentality and think about a ‘lifetime value’ mentality.” I could not possibly have said it better myself. This is an example of a dealer that just GETS IT – both on the sales side and on the service side. Their Fixed Operations Director, Trully Williams said, “The technology enhances the experience, but you start with the fundamentals of people and process. You get those right and then add the technology.”

There is a seriously infinite amount of opportunity for improving your dealership’s operational process, and it starts with your people. Dealers don’t have time to guess who their good and bad salespeople are – that’s where the technology comes in. You can’t retain good salespeople if you don’t have the technology to know who they are. The right technology can tell you who is letting the most opportunities walk out the door. It can tell you which leads your people are struggling with and the exact time frame during the month they struggle with the most. There’s a lot technology can do to help your people and to enhance the car buying experience, but it can’t drive the car buying experience entirely. At least not before flying cars become a thing.

So before your brain explodes from all the numbers and reporting being thrown at you during any given moment, or from all the external pressure you’re getting to improve 50 different KPIs at the same time, remember that your people are what gives meaning to the metrics. Retention, should be your absolute number one focus and priority in the digital age – and that applies to both your salespeople AND your customers. Running a successful dealership ultimately translates to retaining good salespeople, but you need the help of good technology to be able to do that. Ironic, I know.

 

Stay tuned for the upcoming fourth and final chapter of Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars: The Executive Edition. Dealer Managers will learn real-life examples of how to apply new technologies to directly support the success of your salespeople instead of relying on technology to do the selling for them. The more you can do to help your employees be successful at your dealership, the more likely you are to retain them, which ultimately leads to everyone’s mutual benefit – not to mention the benefit of your bottom line.

Planet Honda Sees Surge in Targeted Model Sales with TrafficView™ & AutoHook's Private Test Drive Offers

Planet Honda enlisted AutoHook to help improve their overall sales performance by executing the following goals:

  • Increase sales specific to the models that represented the most opportunity for their store

  • Re-engage lapsed leads over 90 days old and convert them into showroom visits

  • Identify and eliminate ineffective lead providers to reduce wasted marketing dollars and focus on the leads most likely to close

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Learn how this dealer increased their overall close rate by 60.5% despite a 30% reduction in lead volume!

Click below to see the complete set of results.


Lies The Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars [Chapter 2]: Are We Using Technology as a Crutch?

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| by David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science

There is this perpetual echo of the word “disruption” in the car industry. What will be the next big disruption? What do we need to prepare for that will change everything we know about selling cars? The reality is disruption is largely incumbent upon technological advancements and the rate of societal adoption to these new, uncharted territories dominated by things like artificial intelligence and machine learning. These future “disruptors,” such as the rise of alternative online retail formats, subscription services or the transition from gas-powered vehicles to autonomous, connected cars are impossible for any one dealer or OEM to predict, let alone control.

Therefore, I’d like to propose a new approach. What if instead of the next big disruption we focused a little more on what we can control – the constants – the parts of the equation that aren’t powered by data or machines. What I mean by the constants is the people, or more specifically, the relationships that form when a customer goes to look at a car and has a positive interaction with a salesperson while doing so. The value of relationships when it comes to selling cars has been vastly undermined by the shiny new innovations of the digital age.

I think we’ve become so infatuated by the latest technology and the newest cutting-edge solutions to selling cars that we forgot about the fact that technology becomes useless without the people behind it who make it work. Relationships in the digital age still take precedence over technology and despite the advancements we have yet to see, technology in all its glory can’t replace social skills. All this talk about connectivity and connected devices yet I think we’re failing to connect the dots when it comes to knowing what will ultimately yield the highest ROI for dealerships, both in today’s world and in the future – knowing who your best salespeople are and how to keep them.

We as an industry need to stop using technology as a crutch. We’ve become so focused on the next big disruption in digital marketing that we’ve started to rely on the help of digital tools entirely, forgetting that cars are still bought and sold by actual people at actual dealerships. Deloitte’s 2018 Global Automotive Consumer Study reported car shoppers still rate physical interactions with a vehicle as critical to their buying decision – with over 8 out of 10 needing to see the vehicle in person before making a purchase decision. So, if this is the case, why are we spending the majority of our time and money on the minority of the buying public?

It’s all about striking a perfect balance between technology, the right data and the right people. It takes all three to get the job done. Technology is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to enhance or continue existing relationships, but it can’t create them in the first place. When it comes to the right data, we are extremely fortunate because our solutions are powered by the Urban Science® DataHub™, which allows us to be the first to know when a customer buys a car, what car they bought, where they bought and if they didn’t buy from you. And we get that sales data and the equally important defection data within days – not months.

In the same way that technology lacks value without good people, the right data can uncover things about your salespeople you otherwise never would have known. For example, you consistently see all these closed sales opportunities by let’s say, “John,” so naturally you think John is one of your best salespeople. But how many opportunities is John losing every month to one of your competitors? You’d never know without the right data. So it all goes hand-in-hand. The person selling the most cars may be losing more opportunities than he or she is closing, so your “best” salesperson can quickly become your worst salesperson when you can compare what they’re winning to what they’re losing at the same time.

Having that ability to layer sales and defection data on top of your CRM data is critical if you want to operate more efficiently. Without it would be like making decisions for your dealership based on a cost-benefit analysis but forgetting to include the cost part of the equation. It’s the only way to add enough dimension to your CRM data to make it truly actionable – instead of looking like Flat Stanley.

Having the right data combined with great technology can help your operations in a multitude of ways. It can suppress the leads in your CRM that have already purchased so your people can stop wasting time following up with them. It can pinpoint the ideal time and channel to re-engage your lapsed or dormant leads. Technology can help dealerships interrupt a customer while they’re shopping online and grab their attention just long enough to influence their decision-making process. It can also help ensure a customer chooses to visit your showroom instead of your competitors with things like test drive incentives.

The reality is technology will never be able to stop a customer from walking out of your dealership after a negative experience with one of your salespeople. Furthermore, when it comes to closing lead opportunities, your salespeople may already be at a disadvantage. A recent Automotive News dealer training webinar reported that as many as 98% of qualified leads fail to result in closed business. So instead of pouring all your focus into staying ahead of the next big disruption promising more and better leads, maybe we need to shift our focus back to the one thing capable of converting those leads into sales once they hit your showroom – your people.

Great employees are what gives meaning to the capabilities that stem from great technology. Your salespeople are the foundation needed to ensure data-powered solutions work in favor of your dealership. In a word, the future state of our industry’s digital landscape is unpredictable. But there are two things we do know. Change is constant and retaining great salespeople is still paramount. There’s not a lot we can do to control the rate of change, but fortunately for dealers, there’s a lot we can do to help our salespeople and to make sure we're holding on to the good ones.

 

Stay tuned for Lies the Digital Age Told You About Selling Cars, Chapter 3: Power to the [Sales] People to learn more about the importance of retaining your best salespeople and how to provide a better in-store experience.

Kia Motors Approves AutoHook’s TrafficView™ For Dealer Advertising Support Funds

AutoHook powered by Urban Science, the automotive industry's frontrunner in driving proven, incremental showroom traffic to dealerships, announced the official expansion of their dealer co-op program with Kia Motors America to include the Urban Science solution, TrafficView™.

TrafficView will be added to AutoHook’s existing suite of test drive incentive solutions already approved by Kia for Dealer Advertising Support (DAS) funds, including Web2Show and Lead2Show. TrafficView works by ingesting a dealer’s CRM data and matching it up against the daily industry sales statistics available through the Urban Science® DataHub™ to provide first-ever visibility into a dealership’s greatest opportunities and losses. The solution uncovers otherwise undetected problem areas across all facets of a dealer’s sales operations by layering in defection data to show lost sales tied to a specific lead source, model, geography, competing dealer or brand and even down to a dealer’s individual salespeople.

“TrafficView gives dealers the power to accurately measure the success and failure of both their marketing initiatives and internal sales processes so they can take action to reduce defections and improve their overall sales effectiveness,” said David Metter, President and Co-Founder of AutoHook powered by Urban Science. “We’re honored to have the opportunity to help Kia dealers execute upon the insights revealed within TrafficView and convert lost sales into showroom visits using AutoHook’s custom incentive campaigns.” 

AutoHook has already received outstanding remarks and industry recognition from dealers who have piloted TrafficView at their stores.

"We entered into our initial meeting with AutoHook searching for answers. After seeing our data in TrafficView for the first time, we left with a detailed game plan and immediately got to work implementing new strategies in areas where TrafficView identified specific weaknesses. We’ve already seen a dramatic decrease in defections and we’re extremely confident these changes will undoubtedly continue to grow sales,” says Joshua Clinton, General Manager of Gunther Kia of Ft. Lauderdale. “We look forward to reviewing TrafficView on a monthly basis in order to consistently stay ahead of the competition."

Kia Motors was the very first automaker to fund AutoHook’s private incentive offers through a co-op program back in 2014. Kia dealers can now choose from among four AutoHook product packages, all DAS eligible.

About AutoHook powered by Urban Science
Based in Detroit and a subsidiary of Urban Science, AutoHook uses scientifically proven sales and defection insights to drive incremental dealer showroom traffic and attribute sales in near real-time. With a complete view of traffic opportunity, AutoHook's private incentive offers convert leads at a low cost-per-sale for dealers and automotive manufacturers. For more information, visit DriveAutoHook.com or call (855) 532-3274.

CONTACT:  Lindsay Waller: lawaller@urbanscience.com

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.