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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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Replies to This ADM Discussion

Hey Ralph,

As you know, Jody is a fellow administrator on our shared platform AutoIndustryInsights.Com, a preferred vendor on AdAgencyOnline.Net and I understand that ever since our shared dinner in Vegas where you sat uncomfortably close to her you two have been meeting in the field often. Hmmmm?

Any way, with that picture out of my mind, the non-confrontational sales approach that Jody(also known as Patty) proposes on her portal - http://AskPatty.Com - is the basis for all relationship based selling in both the real and the virtual world and I agree with the need to prioritize it over old style buy or die negotiations and selling techniques.
Todd I agree with you. Thank you for your wisdom!
Personally I think that within 15 years there will still be online and brick and mortar dealerships. The difference is that we won't need sales people. I think that if a Dealership had one of each model, including each trim level, a video walkaround or pamphlet to tell the customer what to look at and one person to take copies of their insurance and drivers license why would we even need sales people.

I know this sounds far fetched at this time but honestly the part everyone hates about buying a car is dealing with the sales people.

Imagine: the customer finds the exact car they want on-line, schedules test drive in that car for that afternoon, shows up and takes it for a spin, decides they want leather and blue exterior not green.

They input that new information into the Kiosk.

Put their information into the Kiosk and purchase any aftermarket products after watching the a demo of the benefits of this product.

Choose their payment options (since we have their info we now have their credit score), put in a digital signature. The vehicle will be pulled from a regional holding area and drop-shipped to a nearby detail center, that center could clean the car, install the aftermarket items and drive it to the customer.

The customer could (at on point) pick up a document packet that would contain all of the necessary documents that they would need to complete the paperwork process OR it could be shipped with the car. The delivery person could drop off the car, make sure the paperwork is signed in all appropriate areas and do a walkaround of the vehicle.

Like I said it's a WAY out there idea but I think it could work! Takes the one person that everyone hates out of the equation... US
Josh: Not so far fetched. We filed patents on a system that can do all that (and more) over 6 years ago!
Hey Josh,

First, I spoke with the senior manager at FirstLook and they copied me their forward to their local rep to solve your problem when integrating their marketing platform. You should have heard from them with a solution by now - but if not, just contact me and I will follow back up. After all, what are friends for!

Now, as far as your above reply to this post - below is my similar reply which I posted a few pages back so you obviously either "borrowed" my vision or we share it so it can't be to "WAY out there! I guess that great minds think alike!

"I agree that the real world dealership will still have a role to play in the buying process - I simply suggest that their role may not include conventional negotiations or selling systems controlled by the dealer ............!"

"The Internet will evolve beyond what it is today because consumers demand that it will and technology suggests that it can. The efficiencies required by downsized dealers to sell more for less will eventually force an economies of scale that will eliminate the ability to subsidize a relatively ineffective sales person. That is not to say that people will be eliminated - only that their job description and areas of responsibility will have to change.

Consumers interacting with online personal shoppers with people skills vs. sales skills will empower the consumer to be in charge of their shopping experience and the subsequent transaction, or at least allow them to feel like they are. Once they select a vehicle and a dealer thay will be able to visit an "experience center" where they can test drive and take delivery and service the vehicle - or, as with AutoNation - they can test drive it for a few days and return it to the dealer who will convert it to a rental vehicle since rental fleets are now in need of inventory after the recent consolidation in the auto industry; ......."
I agree with Phil and of course I agree with Josh's comments, but I would like to add one point.

It always seems to me as though the online sales versus traditional sales conversation comes across as a rather thorny issue. How come? Are online dealers in competition with offline dealers? They shouldn't be. The way I see it online dealers and offline dealers will be one and the same. Its simply an additional channel (and perhaps one day the dominant channel) used by the same dealers who currently use a showroom, a telephone, email and maybe a fax. As the Internet evolves online operations become larger and offline operations shrink a little. As Phil has already suggested, job descriptions simply change a bit.

Certainly a platform such as DealMaker could not exist without dealers and buyers interacting through its online open marketplace.
Hey Brian,

Well, as this post clearly states - "Today's sales model is outdated and fails more than it succeeds" - and I agree that a new one is needed. Fortunately, there are several ways to bake a cake and some may taste better than others but no matter what - I love cake so the more recipes added to this post the better!
Who doesn't love cake? If we look as the car deal as the cake, well the salesperson is the icing... Like you said, there are different ways to bake a cake (make a deal), but there are also different types of icing (sales people).

Every icing tastes a little different and they appeal to different people. Someone might not like the coconut frosting on a German Chocolate cake but prefer a French Vanilla.

Basically what we are ALL getting to is that the sales person needs to have the ability to morph from Coconut to Vanilla during their greeting. They need be able to feel out their customer as soon as they step out of the car.
Ok, that's enough of the cake analogy - I'm getting hungry! That said, of course I agree and I am sure that IAL - for example - is a flavor that will work for some and certainly deserves a page in the recipe book! You see - I told you that I was hungry!
Don't get me wrong,in no way was I saying its a bad product.In fact it looks like a good tool. Unfortunately it doesn't solve the problem that the dealership will still have, the salesmen. I little training and you wouldn't really need it.

It obviously puts the customer at ease because they won't have to deal with a salesman right off the bat. But they will at one point or another.
Hey Josh,

Well, in reviewing IAL I will say that they do fit a niche customer profile that just wants to look and, as with any tool or process, it still takes a manager's eye to make sure that the system is used properly. You are correct that human error will always play a role but at least they delay and or give the saleman and salesmanager a chance to get some information to the customer and catch it before and after it might happen. Also, even if IAL is only used as a teaching tool for both the customer and the salesperson I assume that eventually the salesperson will get it - or get out!
Now you got it Josh! You are correct the key to turning a looker into a buyer is breaking through all of the barriers that the customer brought with them to your lot!! Because lets face it they are all buyers its just a matter of time until they do and who is going to stand out in there mind when they get to the buying point? Thats the beauty of I'm A Looker...
I'll give you a brief scenario...

Salesperson: "Welcome to ABC Motors are you here for our sale"
Customer: "No thank you I'm Just Looking"
Salesperson: "Great!!! We have a new way here at ABC Motors for you to look with out being bothered! Follow me and I'll get you all set up"
Customer: "Really I can look without being bothered"
Salesperson:"Thats right! Come on, I'll show you"
Salesperson: "Now remember if you need my help just bush the more info button and I'll be right there"

Now the customer has scanned their drivers license to check out the PSD device and you have, in a customer friendly way receive all there info and the PSD will give the customer a feature / benefit presentation at the vehicle.

Throughout the presentation the customer is prompted to push the "more info" or "I'm ready for a test drive" button and the salesperson who checked out the device will be brought back into the picture.The videos are designed to drive them back to the salesperson but this time the customer is inviting them into the sales process vs the salesperson prying into th customers shopping process.

While the customer is looking at the inventory with the PSD, the PSD is communicating with the PCM1000 at the sales desk and recording all the activity i.e... vehicles, options looked at and how long they were looked at, to pin point the real interests of the customer.
This information can be used to assist in the close!

Here is a different scenario...

Service Writer: "Mrs. Jones I have noticed that your Ford Taurus has been in service quite a bit lately! Rather than sitting in our waiting room why, don't you take our new I'm A Looker PSD and take a look at the all new Ford Taurus."
Mrs Jones: "That's Ok I dont want to be bothered by a salesperson!"
Service Writer: "Thats the great thing about this, You can look without being bothered. If you need help just press the button. By the time you get done your vehicle should be out of the shop.I'll see you when your finished"

This is only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the features "I'm A Looker" offers!


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