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I wish that this was going to be a story about baseball. I really do. Unfortunately, it's a story about education and the art of the sales pitch as it pertains to vendors on the various automotive networks.

It is important to understand that every vendor in our industry has a responsibility. This is a tough business. Those of us who have been on the other side at the dealership level receiving pitches from vendors know that they come hard and they come often. It's part of the game. This is one of the most competitive industries out there from both perspectives - dealers competing against other dealers and vendors competiting to earn their business.

The internet in general and these networks, blogs, and webinars in particular are the tools we need to succeed at both levels. For dealers, it's an opportunity to learn ways to improve business, harness best practices, and bounce ideas against others in the industry. For vendors, it's a chance to hear what dealers think about certain topics, what they want out of products, and to what degree they want assistance versus direct help.

These venues are for mutual education. They're for dialogue. They're for ideas. They're not the place to pitch your products.

Some would say that education is worthless if it doesn't yield increased business at the vendor level. That's a different argument altogether, but I can tell you this much with a certainty...

If you help dealers by giving them tips, techniques, strategies, and advice that helps them with their business, they will be more inclined to look to you when they need your services.

It works. I see it every day. I don't have to pitch my social product to get calls and emails from dealers wanting to know how I can help. I simply post information as it comes to me that can help dealers succeed with or without my help. Some will do nothing with the information. Some will take it and apply it themselves. Some will take it and inquire about ways I can make it easier or do it for them.

As I said, it's the responsibility of every vendor in this industry to take the knowledge that they gain from their bird's eye view of things and translate it into ways that can help in the trenches at the dealership. The market is too questionable and the competition level is too high for anyone to hold their cards too close to the vest. It doesn't help the industry. It doesn't help dealers.

It doesn't help you.

Tags: Articles, Dealers, Education, Training, Vendors, Webinars

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Amen, JD. Blatant sales pitches on sites like these will do a vendor far more harm than good. The secret is to provide value. Providing value and helping dealers without expectation will lead dealers to want to do business with your company far more than any "pitch".

I have a variation of what Brian Pasch once told me. He said that in any audience that he educates, 1/3rd will dismiss it, 1/3rd will do it, and 1/3rd will hire him to do it for them. I have found that, especially for advanced topics, 1/10th will do it and make a difference, 1/2 will try it and then either dismiss it eventually or simply fall off, 1/5th will hire, and 1/5th will actually think it's crap and do the opposite or attack it outright.

This reminds me of what my owner told me at a store that I worked at. It was the largest Linc-Merc store in the USA (don't laugh..650 new and used per month and did 200-250 service ROs per day). Top CSI 14 years in a row. Anyway, we were also among the top few 2 year lease a time when many shoppers got introduced to the word 'lease" by the salesperson. Ford Motor Credit asked us to teach this leasing to other Ford and L-M dealers. So I was put to the assignment of being the seminar leader for 40 dealers at a time that came to our store for a full day...compliments of FMCC. Well, eventually we did 10 of these training events that included the seminar and a tour of the property.

I asked my owner, "Dan, I'm prepping for the next dealer training this week. I'll be off the floor (I was a desk manager) and....telling everyone (again) what we do. Why do you tie me up and share secrets?" He said, "It makes FMCC happy and they are a good partner for us. AND...the other dealers...none of them will go do what we do."

Lesson learned.


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