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sales data

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTION: Uncovering Big Data's Missing Piece

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by David Metter

The greatest marketing trends of all time began as insignificant ideas that eventually gained enough momentum to reach a critical tipping point – the point in which uncharted tools and technologies once overlooked by the masses are adopted by the mainstream. When ideas reach their tipping point, an infectious, unstoppable domino effect goes into play. The undiscovered becomes discovered, the unfamiliar becomes familiar, and the unknown becomes universal truth.

Just as the adoption of CRMs exploded in the early 2000’s and mobile marketing reached its tipping point circa 2014-2015, I believe big data has reached its culmination in 2017. I know this because I’ve seen the distinct black and white clarity today’s automotive data has finally been able to give to car dealers. 

For the past several years, dealers have lacked significant visibility into their market regarding:

  • Where and how they’re losing sales
  • Who they’re losing sales to (whether the customer is purchasing the same make or another brand entirely)
  • If sales are lost due to internal or external factors
  • True successes, failures, and trends tied to each salesperson, lead or traffic source, inventory, day of the month, zip code, etc.
  • Close and defection rates for all your leads and lead providers
  • Validation that you are stocking the right inventory and marketing it in the most efficient manner

… the list goes on.

What we know now is that all of the items listed above are finally within reach. It’s also important to note that the problem has never been the data. It’s that dealers have only been able to view sales trends within their own CRM and DMS. How can you possibly improve your sales effectiveness if you’re only comparing it to yourself? The inability to see the sales and defection trends of top competing dealers and brands in your market has been a HUGE roadblock for dealers... until now that is.

Today’s big data landscape has evolved to become 100% executable. We can quickly gain insights from data using a scientific approach that exposes lost sales by source at an aggregate level. By knowing your lost sales opportunities, who you lost them to, and where you lost them, a strategic path towards increasing sales and reducing defection rates naturally comes into view – despite what your market conditions may look like.

We can even take it a step further and look at success and defection trends tied to an individual person within your sales staff. For example, if someone has a high close rate AND a high defection rate, you can break down where these lost opportunities are coming from. You can see that person is being assigned way too many leads and then you can make smarter decisions in terms of how you divide up your employees’ responsibilities. 

When you can see where you’re losing sales across the board, you can then align your conversion goals, the operational training of your staff, and the way you drive traffic and leads into your dealership – so you can have the highest quality lineup of opportunities to close.

The advent of integrating automotive data to make more profitable operational decisions is similar in many ways to when CRM and DMS technologies were first implemented. Using these tools gave you a way to organize and streamline your process to help you sell more cars. The ability to execute smarter sales strategies using data analysis is no longer alchemy. It’s the current reality of this instant gratification world we live in, and it’s the weapon dealers need to be unstoppable.

Has the Promise of Big Data Finally Been Fulfilled?

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by David Metter

Big data has been a big topic in automotive for a long time now. At this point, I think we’ve all realized there is a limitless digital warehouse of actionable data that exists. However, the struggle remains in deciphering how all the pieces fit together and translate into more sales. At the absolute core of the car business, when all the digital minutiae and politics are set aside, being able to prove sales is the only way to know if something is working. Owning the ability to prove sales in near real time is unquestionably big data’s most powerful accomplishment as far as the car business is concerned.

Perhaps the focus has simply been in the wrong place, or maybe it’s the fact that the focus has been in too many places. Dealers have been forced to adapt, master new technologies, implement new ways to operate and sell more cars all while being pushed in a million directions, attempting to distinguish between gratuitous opinions and actual science. It’s easy for dealers to lose sight of the end game when they’re stuck trying to figure out how the pieces fit together and how to create the story needed to turn data into action. This is why a lot of people view big data as nothing but a big problem.

I’m going to make this whole big data problem very small. The only data you need to start with, the only data that allows you to take immediate action is sales and service data, nothing else - and this is the reason:

We know that when customers physically walk into a showroom, closing rates jump to roughly 60-65%. Therefore, leads are important, but there’s no argument that showroom visits are more important than leads, and sales are more important than showroom visits. That’s the trajectory. If you’re using big data for anything other than proving sales or service revenue, you’re wasting your time. Sales have always been, and will always be the single most important dealership metric.

You also have to look at the history and trends of your past sales and the sales of your fiercest competitors. Too often, some of the most influential players in this industry forget that no two dealers are the same and no two markets are the same. Therefore, the data you need to own more of your market share may be much different from other stores, including each rooftop within a large or small dealer group.

In a lot of ways, big data is like a hammer. We can all go to Home Depot and buy the same hammer, but what we use it for, and what we ultimately build with that hammer is contingent upon its user. Choose to use your hammer better and smarter than the competition. Know that in order to do so, you also have to know how your rivals are using their hammer – in other words, the sales and defection trends of competing dealers in your market. It’s impossible to cut your losses if you don’t know they exist. You need to view both your opportunities and losses from a 360-degree, closed-loop vantage point. Big data exists not only to show you what you sold, but just as importantly, what you didn’t sell.

To put things into perspective, know that the power of big data transcends far beyond the car business. On a global scale, true improvement and change can only occur if a problem or a need for change is identified. Over the last decade, big data has proven its ability to influence the world’s greatest issues, including social change, government policy, and industry laws and regulations simply by its ability to demonstrate a need. When a need is identified, it then opens up the door for change.

In the TEDx Talk, “Stories are Just Data with a Soul, Chris Coates paints a very clear picture that data exposes needs by telling stories. “These stories can help people leaving prison to find work and stay out of prison and build new lives. They can save someone’s eyesight or their leg. Data can give children in the most deprived parts of the country chances in life they wouldn’t otherwise get.” What Coates is saying is that data alone has the capacity to change a life. If big data can change lives, it can absolutely change the effectiveness of your sales operations.

 

Mining Your Data for Equity

by David Metter

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Our industry has a skewed perception of big data and its intended uses. I think that the term “big data,” has been overused and I believe it’s time to replace it with “best data.” Big data will only continue to get bigger, and I don’t think “colossal data” will ever really catch on or be worthy of a hashtag. So let’s open our eyes to what’s been missing from the information age and allow a little common sense to flow through our vantage point, straight into our dealership operations.

So what is the best data? If you asked 50 different people, you’d get 50 different answers. But these are just opinions, and opinions are noise. The best data is science-based, inarguable, and absolute. The best data is something you already have, and it’s located right within your own DMS. The data that matters most, before observing any other KPIs, is sales and service data – that’s it. If you think any other type of information is more important than if people buy cars from you and if they get their vehicles serviced from you…I’d advise you consider a different line of work.

If I were to purchase a dealership this very moment, the first thing I’d put into play is equity mining. I don’t own an equity mining company, and I’m not trying to sell you an equity-mining product. But I do know good common sense solution and execution when I see it. Equity mining takes the sales and service data you already have, and identifies opportunities to drive people actually in-market to purchase into your showroom or to your service department. It’s that simple.

According to Automotive News, “Equity-mining software, sometimes called data-mining software, enables dealerships to spot current customers who are in a good position to get out of the vehicle they have and into a new one for about the same monthly payment.” They also say it's been an absolute “gold mine” for one Honda store that has utilized it to fuel profit in nearly every one of their departments.

Top Equity-Mining Software Providers:

  • AutoAlert
  • CDK Global
  • DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar
  • Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • ELEAD1ONE Xchange
  • VinSolutions

AutoAlert has one of the industry's best data mining tools that uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal online trends and consumer behavior in order to provide actionable, in-market consumer intelligence. Their AlertMiner Retention Alerts will inform dealers of any and all profit opportunities as they arise. The software shows dealers when a past or potential customer’s contract is ending on a lease or purchase or if they can get a newer vehicle for the same monthly payment they have now.

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AlertMiner alerts dealerships of relevant consumer shopping behavior and when it is a good time to reach out (or not).

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DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar continuously scans your DMS in order to highlight customers that are in a favorable position to spend money at your dealership, before they shop your competitors. Their equity mining process is shown below. 

The choice is yours. Go with your gut, or go with the recession-proof combination of science and common sense. Common sense will tell you science has a higher probability of being right – despite your intuition and experience. Equity mining is at your disposal, waiting to help you reach past, present, and future customers when they are in the market to buy. You have the best data already (sales and service data), now it’s time to mine it and work it! It’s the difference between being part of the noise and being the first one to speak up when the moment is right.

Equity mining is exactly how dealerships get their ducks in a row prior to a campaign launch. It is how you avoid wasting money on prospects that are not considering a purchase. I believe in this concept so much is because it’s common sense in its purest form and much less complex than we’ve been led to believe.

VDP Views are the Top KPI…and Other Data Myths

by David Metter

MYTH #1: VDP views are the metric that matters most. 

Since when did VDP views become more important than sales? This is not an attempt to downplay the importance of driving traffic to your VDPs. Reputable evidence exists around VDPs being one of the last digital destinations car shoppers touch before visiting a showroom. But are vehicle details page views receiving significantly more attention than they deserve? Are dealers working backwards? Are we losing sight of our one true goal…to sell more cars? 

There’s no argument that with everything our industry is capable of measuring, it all comes down to physical transactions between customers and dealers, specifically units sold and closed service ROs. That’s what you measure before anything else. That’s the reason “big data” exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Dealers have more data at their fingertips than they realize, and it’s easy to get caught up trying to navigate and make sense of it all. Goals become blurred and dealers lose sight of the end game.

Allow me to remind you of the end game. When it comes to dealership operations, NOTHING is more important than increasing salesservice revenue, and customer retention – and I’m happy to take on anyone who’d like to challenge that statement.

I think our industry has completely overcomplicated the idea of big data. The role it plays is actually quite simple. When you break it down, VDP views are #5 on the “what to measure” list. Below is the infrastructure of the order in which you achieve your end game of more sales, closed service ROs, and repeat buyers.

1.    Sales Data: Securing accurate and timely sales match data is paramount. There is nothing more important. Leverage sales match data to see if a customer bought from you or somewhere else? What make and model did they choose? Was it your brand or a competitor’s brand? Monitor your pump in and pump out percent to hold onto sales in your PMA.

2.    Service Data: Measure your closed service repair orders – especially during the critical period from after a sale to the first recommended service appointment. This is where most dealers experience the biggest drop off in retention. Did the customer come to your store for their vehicle’s initial scheduled maintenance or to a competitor? Did they order replacement parts from you or somewhere else? How many people made a service appointment on your website? How many of those people actually showed up? What sales opportunities exist among your service customers?

3.    Showroom & Service Traffic: Next quantify, how many people physically came into your store or entered your service lane? The majority of people don’t have time to browse around multiple dealerships or visit your service center just for a quote. If they came to you, it’s for a reason. So make sure your staff is in the business of closing deals and ROs.

4.    Leads, Phone Calls, & Chats: When potential customers complete an action on your website, whether it’s submitting a lead form or picking up the phone to call you, that opens the door to potential sales. Metrics on your lead, call, and chat volumes are important to analyze, but it’s much more about quality than quantity. Instead of focusing your budget on more leads, calls and chats, focus on the actions that drive showroom visits.

5.    VDP Traffic: VDP views drive awareness, familiarity, and consideration. Although they can influence a customer to take further action, they do not directly result in sales.

MYTH #2: VDP traffic is the foundation for future sales. 

In what world does a VDP view hold more value than an actual human-to-human interaction? VDP views are not the foundation. Showroom traffic is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked, getting people in the door and speaking to them face-to-face is the best way to get them in a vehicle so they can touch, see, feel, drive and experience it for themselves. Show rates are infinitely more impactful than any ad or page view could ever be. Our industry has become so brainwashed, people believe more time, energy, and money should be allocated to driving VDP views rather than using those resources to drive showroom traffic. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.

MYTH #3: Big data is very complex and requires experts to turn it into action.

Wrong. All too often, dealers allow outside vendors to come in and tell them what they should be measuring. Social marketers will tell you social metrics are most important. Paid search companies will tell you clicks and website traffic are the secret to more sales. Our industry is stuck in this maze of listening to incessant digital noise. But every dealership is different, and there is no one size fits all solution.  

My friends, it’s time to remove yourself from the maze and turn the volume of the noise ALLLL the way down so that you can actually hear the music. 

You and your staff are the ONLY people that should dictate what you need to measure. Take the data you already have and zero in on the metrics that involve sales, service ROs, and repeat customers. Data is simply a catalyst for determining and reaching your goals. Sales data shows you where you stand against competitors, but more importantly, how you stand against yourself historically. Sales data will tell you exactly where you are, and exactly where you need to go.