My goal for this discussion is to open communication between dealers and vendors on how to properly approach the dealer and stand apart from all the other vendors walking in or calling. This will help us in a few areas. For dealers you can make it work for you so we don't keep bothering you and for vendors we make better use of our time and are more understanding of dealers needs and wants.
I have found an approach that works for me and I would like to tell you about it. First, a little about myself. I spent over 8 years in the dealership most as an Internet Manager or Director of multiple stores. I was very ignorant to a lot of things and blew off vendors left and right. It was so frustrating because I could never get anything done and everyone's product was the best and I couldn't afford not to have it. I have spent the last 3 years selling to dealers as a district manager with carsdirect.com and a sales executive with contact at once. What I am about to share with you, you may or may not agree with but I am going to go back and put my dealer hat on as well and show you the views of a vendor. I am blunt and to the point but your car guys and girls so you probably won't get your feelings hurt.
My method used to be sell sell sell close close close. I was pretty good at it but got a lot of frustrated responses from dealers and wasn't building a great reputation. So I stepped back and said "would I have listened to me back in the day?" The answer was "probably not." I have a smooth and charismatic approach that may have kept me on the phone but ultimately I would have been doing 10 different things while I was talking resulting in wasting both of our time. Wow that was weird being two people at once.
As a vendor I have the pleasure of meeting some of the best of the best. When I see covers of automotive magazines I tell my wife I just talked to him/her the other day they are cool and this is why they are so special or I can't believe they actually got on a cover :). The point of this statement is maybe the hidden gem of this business is to network so we can evolve. Maybe the networking isn't the networking you are thinking. Not on social networking sites but maybe the guy that can help you is the guy that is calling you to pitch you something. He/she speaks to people just like you and gathers advice and gets why the best dealers are successful while you sit in your cube and continue the same tactics. Are you asking your smart sounding vendors what they are hearing or what are the successful dealers doing right now? Probably not because I have spoke to many of you and maybe 1 or 2 have asked this. You say my rep doesn't know anything. Maybe, but people think that about myself also and I have 8 years in the car business and 3 selling to them and I own my own Online Marketing and Web Design company. So maybe I know a little something or maybe I am just an idiot. Trust me I believe you speak to enough idiots on a daily basis. The problem is we all want to put our product as the solution to all your problems and that is not the case. As vendors we also need to understand not everyone is going to "get it" nor want our products. Every product is not for every dealer. I actually suggested to a dealer that they go to one of my competitors because they do what you are looking for and suggested that if she had questions about what they were telling her to call me.
I now take the open source approach. I call and discuss the internet department with the dealer. What are you doing? Whats working? Whats not? Have you tried this or that? Well, I am with Contact At Once and I can highly recommend our product being an x Internet Director I can appreciate your position and I will make sure you are successful if you trust me enough to help you with this. This usually does not result in a first call sell but it also doesn't result in cancellations within the first 30 days either or an immediate "no". So are other vendors doing this? Maybe, but I get a lot less resistance and build a great amount of friends in the business. People buy from people they like, heard that before?
As a vendor I can say this about what I have learned, be respectful of dealers time, and the fact that they work crazy hours and are away from their family and may be going through a hard time. They are people that field calls left and right and they need to know you care and not just want to sell something. Are you making the business better or are you just another guy offering your pitch while not allowing the dealer to speak. Listen, slow down do your homework make more meaningful calls and find solutions and believe in your product. If you don't you are selling the wrong product and dealers will sniff you out quickly.
I have a genuine concern about the car business because I am the car business. I get a high when I am sitting behind a desk while a sales manager is desking deals on a busy day. I only want the best for you and to help the business.
So what are your thoughts, concerns, frustrations? This is a valid topic I think needs to be addressed.
Maybe we bridge a gap between the dealer and their intelligent vendors.