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Discussion Point…

Today’s sales model is out-dated and fails more than it succeeds, so why do we keep using it? The consumers continue to plead and beg that we find a different way of conducting business and lets face it… we comply only as far as we have to, to meet factory C.S.I standards. We only take it this far because of fear of losing control of the customer. I stumble across some statistics of how the car buyer perceives us and how we conduct business today and I have to be honest I was a little set back by the results. So I conducted some of my own focus groups and found that these stats were right on! 97% of shoppers wanted to look at the inventory without being hassled. 85% said the salesperson was not professional and didn’t like the aggressiveness of the sales people when they 1st stepped foot on the lot. 99% insisted on a professional presentation. 87% felt an attitude of indifference or lack of concern from the salesperson. 90% never got a complete product presentation on the vehicle and 91% believed the salesperson did not know the product. Now for me that was enough proof that we, as Automobile Sales Professionals, need to find a better, more consumer friendly, way to conduct business.
I was a GM of an Auto Group in AZ and stumbled across a small, new to the market, company that seemed to have the solution to these problems. I asked them to come and present it to me. I was pleased to see the company was composed of Dealership owners, GMs and GSMs… “car people”, unlike some of these other companies who have little to no actual auto sales experience. These were people who had experienced the same problems I had but found the solution. I was so excited and impressed with this new company that I resigned my position and came aboard as the VP of Marketing and Product Development.
Today’s world has become a technological driven world to the point that it is almost a new language and we have no way for our salespeople to speak this language to the consumer when they come on our lot. We have developed a way for your salespeople to not only speak this new language but do it in a non-confrontational manner without losing control of the customer. Today there are over 50 million users of the iphone and ipod touch. So with this technology we have developed a product presentation tool that is a fully automated data provider and allows you to constantly monitor the customer’s activity at your desk top. It breaks down the customers fear barrier. It gives an accurate and consistent product presentation, all the while selling value rather that price! It integrates with your current CRM. It automatically follows up via email to your sold and unsold customers. And it gets your service and parts customers back on your lot, looking at the new products.
What other industry do you know today, that could have the customer perception similar to the auto industry’s and survive? Maybe there is a reason for our problems today!!!

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Thank you for reading this discussion. I always welcome and respect your opinon on the www world.
I think you might have missed the complete discussion though, I definately believe that buying cars online will have a larger following in the future but I do believe that those people out there that believe that brick and mortar facilities will be a way of the past are living in a fantasy world. But before we get too far off the subject IAL is for the large percentage of customers who want a "see it, feel it, and smell it experience and want to avoid the high pressure and intrusive meet and greet that happens at most dealerships as the come on the lot. As I said before...Customers will always want options when it comes to car shopping, whether it be the internet or at the dealership, and as service providers we have to provide these options. IAL provides a better way for the customer wanting the dealership experience and will entise the internet shopper as well, being that they have chosen the internet because of the negativity we have created in the past.

As always thank you for this web site!
Hey TR,
"as well as most Automobile Sales Professionals I have encountered believe, that it is a fantasy world where we will sell cars start to finish solely in the dotcom world."
Have you ever heard of these guys ? They are the largest used car dealer in the world (They sell 700-1000 vehicles per month) and if you walk onto their physical lot in Houston Texas they would direct you to a Kiosk and have you log into EBay motors to bid or buy a vehicle. So your notion that this type of start to finish transition via the internet is a fantasy world, I would argue that you need to step into the 21 st. century and experience the REAL WORLD for yourself. Dealerships and sales people must face the reality that they are not needed as they where way back when.

As a matter of fact, I purchased a truck from Texas direct 2 weeks ago and spent around 10 minutes with the sales person and 15 minutes with the finance guy and had it shipped to my house sight unseen and I will never buy a vehicle any other way for now on.
That being said, I am one of the pioneers in this field with the development of Widestorm , which is the industry’s first online negotiation system for car dealers which is creating a NEW EXPERIENCE consumers love and selling cars online for greats gross profit.
Hey Todd,

Of course Widestorm is an example of tomorrow today which I both respect and recommend, however my real point to TR is that the place reserved for the real world has people in it and since that is the only true differentiator between it and the online xperience I would question anything that would come between the customer and a smiling salesperson. Especially, since the information and technique that is being implemented would replicate the information that the customer would already have had online; unless they are using widestorm of course!
I am aware of the texasdirectauto. The negotiation portion and puchase transaction of what they do is online but they still are a brick and mortar sales facility. Take the GM ebay experience for another example that we are not completely there yet.While I think most agree the dealership process is not the solution for eternity I do not believe that the virtual world will be the entire solution either. You need to understand difference here is IAl is a product to enhance the dealer to customer shopping experience. The IAl tool has nothing to do with pricing other than build value with a feature benefit presentation which is lacking from many salesman sales process and many e commerce sales process. Where I see many mistakes being made is focusing solely on the negotiation and pricing and not on what has to take place before the negotiations and pricing.I think the online negotiation tools are great and can be very effective if you do not take all the emotion out of it. Buying a car is an emotional experience.We have to sell emotions not logic. It is not logical to buy a new car and drive off the lot and lose thousands.

By the way does texasdirect use widestorm products?
Hey Chad,

I agree with you, but again, the fact that people still like to experience the vehicle in person is my point to TR. Why dilute the people part with a computer tool when it is the personal experience that brought them to your brick and mortar dealership vs. buying it online - where he got the same information?

Now, using IAL as a teaching tool or cheat sheet makes sense to keep the salesperson on track but it still wouldn't replace a good training and structured selling process with a manager's T.O. Of course, again, that is for today's buyers who still need to touch and feel the vehicle but tomorrow - in my humble opinion - will be different when consumers will have a lot more confidence in their online social network of friends; especially with a three day return policy to keep everyone honest!

After all, what are friends for and IAL may stand between the real world friend that they came to meet. Just a thought.
I can see your point. I believe the people come into a dealership to see the car and experience the car more than to have the personal experience with a sales associate. I do not think IAL dilutes the personal experience and our customer feedback says that it enhanced the experience. It is important to realize that the IAL tool does not have content like they view online. It is a real person who starts the customer off at the drivers door and guides them around the vehicle giving a feature benefit description of all the features they are seeing and experiencing. It is a very interactive experience at the car. I believe the IAl tool can support many of the online efforts that we are all trying to conquer. The customer may not need three days to return the car if they would have got a full presentation and understood what they were buying before they made the deal online or at the dealership. Without presenting value properly money is being left on the table. Customer buys when value exceeds price. When value perceived is high we are able to garner a higher price.
You are definitely right about the power of social networks and the influence they can have on the consumer.

I agree that is a convenient way to buy a vehicle but I have to believe that you would have paid more for the truck if you had been shown and experienced the features it has to offer. Who said it was wrong to pay more for something if someone shows you it is worth it?!?! I'm A Looker does this for the dealer. If vehicle buying goes to only price and price alone, which is what the internet breeds, then why would a BWM be any better than a Daewoo?
Hello Chad,
Great to see you here. Your statement "Where I see many mistakes being made is focusing solely on the negotiation and pricing and not on what has to take place before the negotiations and pricing. I think the online negotiation tools are great and can be very effective if you do not take all the emotion out of it. Buying a car is an emotional experience. We have to sell emotions not logic. It is not logical to buy a new car and drive off the lot and lose thousands."

Here's is where dealers must make a paradigm shift in their thinking. The modern customer is looking for a transparent easy transactional experience and they will pay a premium for it without being emotional involved. This has been the biggest challenge we have faced launching Widestorm is to get dealers to shift their thinking from "we will lost gross unless when have them down here and make them FALL in love with the car". Now I am not saying it is a 100% that way for every consumer but our dealers are proving the opposite everyday using our system and process.
PS: No they are not using widestorm.
It's not about price and price alone, however it is about CONVIENCE and I agree with Phillip in regards to social media helping consumers build value in different brands etc. And you’re right I would have paid more, what I would pay more for is not having to go through the brain damage of the traditional car buying process, not the value in a Dodge truck. We must realize we are selling a commodity regardless if we want to admit that are not we are and the consumer is demanding a new EXPERIENCE and the forward thinking dealerships that deliver that experience to the modern consumer will WIN THE BIZ.
TR, I just had a look at your product. I think its great. I think many people would much rather shop around an auto mall with your device in their hand than a car saleman breathing down their necks. I could also see some great synergy betwen your software and our new mobile dealmaker product.
This is by far the best string of comments and debates on ADM ever (That I have seen). The debate was always civil and professional by all parties. I just think we learn so much more when everyone doesn’t just fall in step and agree.

The report Brian posted was a little confusing. This is about ImALooker in USA and the report was car buyers in countries like India. Nothing against India but isn’t half that country living below international poverty line (A buck a day)? Again, I didn’t read the entire report so maybe the USA was in there, I just don’t see it.

The key ingredient I like about ImALooker is it gives the consumer the control and isn’t that what most people in this community endorse? A customer walks on the lot and says the famous “I’m JUST LOOKING”! Salesmen and the customer are uncomfortable. Now, the Salesperson can say the good old trained “Well my name is Joe, I work here and know where everything is” or whatever.

But the point is ImALooker gives both parties a comfortable solution. If they want to just look, give the customer an IPod, they become disarmed and let them go look, no problem... They want help, push the button! No problem.

Anyway, enjoy the thread; hope to continue to learn more. Thank you.
Todd Vowell, that report is international, including the USA, AND compiled in the USA and Canada not India. It is the biggest car buyer survey in the world by far. See either 08/09 or for 09/10. If you follow the links and green highlighted sections you can go straight to the relevant facts.

PS: If it wasn't for markets like China, Brazil and India right now Detroit would be a lot sicker than it already is.


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