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I'll start with my answer and step aside for your insights -- WHY NOT BOTH!

I have always accepted responsibility for maximixing the R.O.I. for myself and my clients on many levels. Job one has always been to quantify and qualify the assets I had to work with to achieve the goal that was set by whoever was writing the check. The most valued "asset" was always the people on the team so once our goals were set all I needed to do was to decide what I needed to do and what I needed to delegate. After that - I just had to lead, follow or get out of the way!

Many other posts have surfaced solutions that seem to suggest the need for a choice between "people" and "technology driven processes" and I can't figure out why? The people part of the plan is always the most limited asset so I rely on processes to leverage these valued assets by amplifying their time through technology and related applications that integrate proven selling processes in the real world with developing opportunties in the virtual world that most ADM members are vested in.

Price, product - sales or service, if we limit our work flow to one-on one negotiations or funnel all of the communications through an individual then our ability to grow is limited by their hours and personal limitations. Teams rely on plans, plans rely on processes and processes rely on people. Why then do so many people fight processes and technology to amplify their changing roles in the real world as they are being shifted to the virtual one?

Just an FYI, this forum was posted after a communication I had with a valued asset in our industry, Jeff Kershner. He correctly pointed out that he manages and monitors the processes he establishes for MileOne in favor of automated services. Other assets like Ralph Paglia for ADP and Frank Davis for his dealership all rely on people, technology and processes - in that order. The secret is that they represent the "people" part of the formula and then they "leverage" themselves with the rest.

For those of you who are threatened by the technology or applications that are often presented on ADM I respectfully point you to Jeff, Ralph and Frank when preparing your next job description and then lead, follow or get out of the way!.

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Something I have discovered about quoting prices with Internet shoppers, is that when all the empirical research is done, the only lead response attribute that comes remotely close to making telephone contact in driving higher closing rates on Internet leads is sending a competitive price quote to the customer within 24 hours. Faster is better, and we still have the phone call as being critically important... But, all other response attributes studied, when matched back to RDR's within 90 days of a lead coming in, pale in comparison to sending price quotes to the consumer. The real question is not whether or not we need to send a "Request For Quote" what they asked for and were promised when they completed the lead form... THE REAL QUESTION IS HOW DO WE DO IT EFFICIENTLY! That's the dirty little secret that nobody wants to talk about... Preparing proper price quotes for customers, selecting alternative vehicle choices, pulling the numbers together and getting it all into the right spots in an email template can be a VERY daunting task when you come in on a Monday morning and see 24 new leads inside your CRM tool that are assigned to you!

In my opinion, the single greatest need for software development in the automotive Lead Management/CRM world right now is for streamlining and automating the mundane task of preparing a response to an RFQ lead... Every day we have ISS's and ISM's all over America repeating the same steps over and over that SHOULD be built into their lead management software as a "set up" using merge fields and whatever technology is available to take that repetitious brain damaging part of the job and simply make it easier...

At ADP, I am cheerleading and trying to convince people to take on this assignment, but it feels like rowing my Zodiac into the side of an Aircraft Carrier and expecting it to move. I have actually seen one of our competitors build something very sophisticated that accomplishes what we need as an industry, but right now it only works for Toyota dealers because it is all built out to the Toyota model number system. I would love to find a team of developers that would listen to this need and build the tool... Adam Simms is the owner of Sunnyvale Toyota and ran a VERY good Internet sales operation to begin with. He implemented the automated RFQ Lead Response system and their closing ratio went up by 4 percentage points... On 2,000 leads a month that came in as an 80 unit sales increase. Although he spent a ton of money building the system, he says it generated incremental sales whose profits covered all his costs within 4 months.

Now, THAT'S what I call a "Solution" to a problem using technology!
Hey Matt,

I have VinSolutions in the field with several satisfied dealer clients BUT I haven't had them on AdAgencyOnline.Net - YET!

Just another example of why I love ADM - it reminds me that there are a lot of questions that have already been asked and answered and we need to revisit them as new opportunities and applications surface. Please contact me to schedule a blog talk radio show to discuss your solution with my affiliated automotive advertising agencies, auto dealer clients - (those not already using VinSolutions) - and my site visitors to supplement those that I share with ADM.

After all, what are friends for!
Of course you are absolutely correct. According to many experts such as http://www.capgemini.com/industries/automotive/ the average car buying process takes more than 6 months.

During this time their are many experiences, some of which could not possibly be done online. Driving the car, signing the contract (in some states) and collecting the car are 3 obvious examples.

As has been highlighted a number of times in the "price or not to price" forum many sales executives have a PC on their sales desk and in between walk-ins and appointments they go online and work a few deals. I believe that this will become universal in the very near future.

DealMaker for example, is designed specifically for this scenario. DealMaker traders need to think like auto traders and of course auto traders already think like traders. 'So the two activities will DEPEND ON EACH OTHER. A natural fit requiring exactly the same skill sets.
Brian,

The Capgemini "Cars Online" report you mentioned is available for download and review as a PDF formatted file by clicking on the link below:
Attachments:
Thanks Ralph,

We do have our own highlighted PDF's for specific references but otherwise I usually try to support the commercial objectives of Capgemini whenever practical. Thanks for making it available. Its very much easier than scratching around for the URL every time I need to refer to it.
I understand completely, but wanted to make it easy...
Fully-automated sales vs. personalized human interaction

Great subject, Philip. I consider myself to be one of the very rare nationally-recognized automotive consultants that actually works in dealerships every week of my life in most states. I'm active, working the floor in some of the biggest, most successful stores in the country as well as some little 'Mayberry' dealerships, the entire spectrum. So, I feel what I am saying is less speculation and more, experiential observation from a multi-dealership perspective.

I believe the de-evolution of the process will occur as it shifts back to a technology-enabled sale with a human bonding element still in the mixture. That's why so many sales come as a result of the 'telephone' conversion after the initial email response.

Remember, I'm dealing with what 'most' people will do 'most' of the time. Some of the time, there are people who would do a complete transaction without any contact whatsoever.

Now, the question remains... Is that 'most' people? OR, is that all of the people? In other words we have to have technology and processes to serve all possible modalities. That why all technology should be multi-media for the visual person, the audatory person, and the person who comprehends best by text information.

The highest grosses and the best profitability CSI comes from those of us who capture the customer's emotional mind, as opposed to selling strictly to their logical intellect.

We've all bought something, and maybe paid more, simply because we liked the seller. In years recent, there has been a movement toward taking the human being out of the process completely...that is great for 'some' of the buyers BUT, does it alienate and disconnect others? That's the question to which I may or may not know the answer...but I'm looking at it objectively...JIM
Jim....... what a breath of fresh air. That's what these forums should be all about. Really intelligent objective comments from high quality experts who actually know what they are talking about.
Thanks for your shared wisdoms Jim - I guess I better add your name to the list:

...".... asset in our industry, Jeff Kershner. He correctly pointed out that he manages and monitors the processes he establishes for MileOne in favor of automated services. Other assets like Ralph Paglia for ADP and Frank Davis for his dealership - AND JIM ZIEGLER FOR HIS CONSULTING AND SUPPORT SERVICES - all rely on people, technology and processes - in that order. The secret is that they represent the "people" part of the formula and then they "leverage" themselves with the rest."

Of course I agree with Jim, and I believe that his comments suggest that he agrees with me. The technologies that "blur the line between the real and the virtual world" are the ones that I focus on because they replicate the "human nature" part of the formula.

Automated videos that include a branding message to enhance the personality of the dealer as well as the product in a feature/benefit presentation, live chat/click to call features - soon to include live streaming video - systems that empower customers with self serve information as well as sites that provide free market driven prices with complete transparency - all leading to a real world delivery to meet the people behind the process to anchor future service and referrals - and even the blog talk radio shows that I use on our automotive advertising networking portal - www.adagencyonline.net - support Jim's point that we need to replicate the real world process - and people - as completely as we can.

Those applications that come closest to being for the people and by the people with the most universally understood messages will survive. Right now a lot of the pieces to the puzzle are being created by individual automotive advertising vendors but my vision is to create strategic partnerships that will combine their solutions into a single selling platform tied to real world processes - and people - to shape the future of the virtual showroom to support the changing role of the real one!

In today's economy we can't alienate any of the buyers so we need to include elements that serve them all! Easier said than done but -- I have a dream and I am confident that if we build it - they will come!
Absolutely Correct Philip...

In clarity, what I'm saying is in agreement with you, in that we have to have technology-enabled processes to hit all types of buyers. You cannot assume everyone will buy a fully-automated sale, some will. Every customer does not want to deal with a person in the process...but I believe most do.

So the best Internet management will have all available modalities of service available. JIM
Absolutely Correct Jim...

The strategy of channels such as DealMaker is to 'anonymize' the prickly bits (haggling) but preserve the nice parts for the people (demo & delivery).
That makes sense...JIM

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