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Sales, The Dealer and The Internet

Dealers, sale manager, and sales people all seem to be lamenting the current market conditions. Traffic is slow, lenders are tough, and it's really haqrd to be in the business right now. Saying it is one thing. Doing something about it is another. Part of the problem is, there is a lot of saying going on and not a lot of doing. The good news is, this is the best time to be doing something about your dealership and personal performance.

As someone who is in different dealerships on a daily basis, I have observed a two fold problem. First, the vast majority of dealers and sales people are getting exactly the results they deserve. In speaking directly with dealers and top management, the goal seems to be simply to wait until the market turns. Investments on minor things like training, hiring practices and updating sales strategies that are leftover from the 80's are being put off until business picks up. That's like saying you'll start saving some money as soon as you have enough in the bank.

Second, if they are relying on the Internet, they are grossly mistaken. Last year, in an article I wrote for Used Car Dealer, I analyzed over 1,000 web sites. Of those that actually went to the dealer (Nearly 15% were go daddy sites or "under construction.") 60% were not working properly. That means either links or pages were not accessable or didn't work. Franchises were using the free cookie cutter factory site in nearly 50% of the cases. And, even then didn't have the ambition to fill out the information unique to them.

For example, meet the staff. The majority of copycat sites that had a meet the staff button went to a page that simply says, "Our staff will be happy to serve you and your automotive needs." That's like a dating site simply saying that there is a date for you in here somewhere, but we're just not going to show you yet.

The best mistake I've found is the one that has a link to connect with the Internet Sales Department. Keep in mind, people surfing the net, want to accomplish as much as possible without leaving their computer. So, how frustrating is it when the link to the "INTERNET" department goes to a page with a phone number on it. The customer doesn't want to call, they want to email or IM or other online contact.

Lastly, when you have a link to contact a salesperson, you shouldn't have to disclose all of your personal information. That's the same as having your salespeople greet customers on the lot and before they can even say hello, you have them fill out a credit application.

Comments on the topic of relation building for long-term customers is spot on. The sales game is still a people business and personal contact is essential and expected. If you want to sit by your computer and wait for business, try hitting F9 and see if a paycheck prints out. The computer is a tool just like a brochure and a demo drive. They all have a place in the tool box but not one of them will work alone.

For information on products, services and training programs that can produce real results that can be measured immediately, or to add more lenders to your finance office, email jfuhrman@dealerprofitsnow.com.

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