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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!!! www.imalooker.com

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Hi TR,

Before I replied to your post I reviewed your product to make sure that I understood your solution. If I understand you correctly, we need to provide a more comprehensive and professional meet and greet, inventory walk, feature benefit presentation, test drive and customer interview process and the people and processes at most "real world" auto dealerships either don't know or don't care that they are not doing their jobs in a professional or comprehensive manner ; at least to the cutomer's satisfaction. So far, of course I agree but then I realized that you were talking about a brick and mortar dealership vs. an online showroom and you started to lose me.

The shift from the real world dealership to the online version is almost complete. With 93% of car shoppers turning to the internet to shop for - and with the new online transaction applications - to buy their next vehicle the brick and mortar dealerships have very little value or differentiators for the car shopper besides the human beings and the personal relationship that it sometimes takes to get the warm and fuzzy feelings that many people still need before they invest $30,0000 or commit to payments that might be taking food off of their table if they lose their job. The hand held computer that you offer to substitute for the warm body at the dealership appears to be like sending the real world customer back to the virtual world that they likely already experienced during their preliminary shopping experience. Of course the facts and figures need to be presented but that part of the puzzle is already being handled through new technologies and applications on the WWW that replicate and integrate with the selling processes in the real world.

My point is that your desire to eliminate the human errors associated with a real world experience are great in theory, however, now that car shoppers no longer need the dealer to gather the information they need to shop for a car I think that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by eliminating the only reason that customers now need to visit a dealership; to make a real world friend that they trust!

The shift to online social networking evidencing the preference for relationship based selling/buying for online shoppers supports the value of the people part of the process. If we eliminate the people from the real world then why do we need to visit the dealership at all?
Hello Phillip,

I appreciate your comment but I believe, 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. "I'm A Looker" by no means eliminates the salesperson or warm body as you put it, from the process but enhances them with a consistant and comprehensive tool that does eliminate the things that have given us the bad name we have all earned. The larger percentage of customers have said that they, by no means, would they have bought their 2nd largest purchase without the "see it, touch it and smell it experience". I agree with your statistic that 93% of buyer turn to the internet to start the shopping process, but the internet, in my opinion and I'm sure I speak for the majority, is for the most part a shopping tool and seldom the end game to the purchase. "Internet car buying" as it was imagined or intended has gone the way of the "flying car" and I think it is time to move on to a more realistic solution.
To sum it up I think it is foolish for us to say that dealerships will never sell a vehicle online and it is equally foolish to say that someday all vehicles will be sold online. Customers want options and we, as service providers, have to give them to them. I'm A Looker offers a better way to provide, the majority of buyers who want and need the hands on experience, our services.
TR,

I agree - perhaps you missed my point? That is the concern that I have with iamalooker. You are putting a glass wall up in the real world which is the one place that personality pays. Now if the salesperson used it as a cheat sheet to back up his smile with a professional presentation then I would feel more better about it.

Also, I have learned that a succesful business model today is the one that is built for tomorrow and all trends show that online relationhips are growing to the point that eventually an online transaction will be preferred. Just look at AutoNation's announcement to sell cars online and deliver them with a three day return policy. It is just a matter of time.
Phillip

Maybe we view this differently but I think we can both agree that there is a wall created by the consumer's anxiety when they first arrive at the dealership. It does not help that most dealers have a group of salesman standing there waiting to pounce on the customer. You know what happens next, The customer says "I'm Just Looking". Imalooker was created to break down that fear barrier or wall. It is important to note that IAL is used with and without a salesperson. Many salespeople use it as a tool to assist them in providing the customer with an accurate and powerful feature benefit presentation. We know that consumers are smarter and more knowledgable than ever before, so it is so important that our salespeople have the ability to give an accurate presentation and when they don't this creates yet another barrier or credibility killer. The purpose of IAL, in every sales transaction, is to put the customer at ease by letting the customer control the pace and focusing on the vehicle and its features and benefits. Then the IAL process is intuitively created to move the customer to the next step in the sales process which is a test drive and then the write up, which we leave to the salespeople. The difference is the customer asks the salesperson to enter the sales process by pressing the alert and requesting assistance or a test drive. Which puts the salesperson in an all new position of being welcomed to the transaction.
Lena (the actress on the hand held device) does a great job of actually building a rapport with the customer believe it or not. I will tell you we have experienced numerous times when a customer who purchased a vehicle from an imalooker dealer and returned for a visit and was asked who was your salesperson, they responded "Lena". We thought it was comical at first time but this continued to happened over and over. It has alot to do with the fact that they trusted Lena alot like they trusted what they saw online.
I hope AutoNation has great success with there venture, but the problem I see is by the time the customer has the ability to see, touch and smell the vehicle, they have already bought it and there is no feature benefit presentation provided in a hands-on setting and therefore the price will have to be lowered to meet the value rather than the value raised to meet the price. Seems kind of backwards in a purchase of this size. Maybe AutoNation could use I'm A Looker in a way to put things back in the correct order and justify the price they want to ask for their product.
I understand your point TR, but as far as AutoNation - not so much!

They are using my client's customer interaction platform - Argistics AutoTransaXion - which provides a two way video conference with the online customer and the "personal shopper" that greets them from their centralized BDC. The personal shopper has complete access to the inventory of every AutoNation dealership with a direct link to their CRM and DMS allowing for a complete desking and appraisal tool in a complete push/pull process with the customer that can accomodate all of the paperwork and processes that exist in the real world.

Granted, the videos and online brochures that help the personal shopper teach the customer about the vehicle aren't as good as a real world experience but, just as with your iamaloooker, at least the dealer knows that the customer will receive a comprehensive and professional presentation. As far as the test drive - a three day 100% return policy with no questions asked is one heck of a test drive!
Again, Phillip the transaction has taken place prior to the experience therefore forcing Auto Nation to lower the price to meet the lack of presented value rather than build value to meet the price!!! This causes the never ending black hole of price wars rather than salesmanship. Who said it was wrong to pay more for something that you have been shown the value to support it? And this is impossible to be fully accomplished in the virtual world!
Well, as a former auto dealer and lifetime business person I can tell you that the price isn't as important as the profit. The cost of sales and efficiencies offered by the AutoNation process will allow them to preserve their profit margins while beating the competition which only relies on price to sell something online. Add to that the fact that they can push through the glass wall with a personal video interaction with a smiling personal shopper who is not on commission suggests that they will still be willing to pay more. Bye the way, that isn't a matter of my opinion. This system has been in beta testing for the past six months and closing ratios and profits per unit have not only gone up, but they are higher that that in their brick and mortar dealerships.

Go figure, customers really do like to be in charge - even if it is more perception than reality since the dealership still has the right to say no!
Whether it is the online sales tools your talking about or the in-dealership sales process, IAL is there to enhance or support them and fill in the gaps. It is not a direct competetor but an ally.

I'd love to give you a presentation some time so that you could fully understand the benefits to IAL and I'm sure you would have some valuable insight to things that could enhance IAL as well...of course this would need to be a in-person presentation rather than a webinar because I wouldnt want to try to sell you on something over the internet! :-) lol !

Have a great weekend!
Thanks TR,

My self directed role in my organization is to listen and learn so I can presume to teach, so...ready when you are! Have a great weekend and call me next week to arrange a meeting; real or otherwise! LOL!
TR. Interesting comments. Regarding your reference to online sales being a fantasy you might want to hear this.

On Wednesday I had a meerting with the heads of the Capgemini "Cars Online" car buyer research program. (Its a multi million dollar annual study, now in its 11th year). They proved to me what even I didn't believe.

I argued that only looking for "start-to-finish" Internet buyers was not helpful. I suggested that they should look for Internet buyers that start online, then go do a demo and then eventualy go back online to negotiate the best deal. That to me is a much more realistic expectation of buyers who want to buy online.

Now this is the jaw-dropper. They proved to me that over 40% of people surveyed right around the world don't want to go near a dealership, NOT EVEN FOR A DEMO. They want to shop 100% online "start-to-finish". So if 40% of buyers are that extreme we can only imagine how many want to do it the way I suggested. The less extreme multi channel approach, just making the final deal online. That number is going to come in well over 50%. Bet on it.

You can read the full results at http://macdax.com/cg.pdf or http://macdax.com/cg10.pdf. Its all there in black and white. As you probably know Capgemini is a $10 billion dollars market consultantancy employing nearly 100,000 people. They serve 14 of the 15 largest automotive OEM's in the world. They better be able to prove their numbers. These are some heavyweight opinions with NO vested interest in online sales.

I would be interested to see what you think of this.
@ TR - At ADP Dealer Services we supply several "Business Online" applications that take each of the actual transactional DMS applications and creates a web app for them that can be placed in any dealer web site. The fact is that ADP charges dealers for TRANSACTIONS with these systems, and ADP does not build software systems that don't generate a profit for the shareholders. Yes, people are definitely BUYING CARS ONLINE TODAY, YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW! And the invoices reflecting these online transactional fees are sent to dealers every month, for about two years now....

Hey, there are plenty of dealers who do not WANT to sell cars online, but that does not mean it is a fantasy in any way, because there are many more than 1,000 cars sold and paid for online every day in the United States... No science fiction, no fantasy...

Buying cars online may not be for everybody, but selling cars online makes a lot of sense when 99% of all dealers refuse to invest in the systems that allow customers to do so, and about 15% of all car buyers are more than willing, they are seeking ways to buy online. It makes sense to me, and i am not the brightest guy in the world, but I know that if there are more buyers than sellers, it is GOOD to be a seller! In the case of online auto sales transactional capabilities, there are more buyers than sellers, so if you have an ADP DMS, why wouldn't you invest the less than $500 a month to be able to sell cars and get paid for them online...

BTW, a lot of our dealers use the online payments to have customers put a deposit on a car with their credit card so the dealer will put a sales hold on it to ensure it will not be sold before they get to the dealership. Even if they change their mind, they still have to come to the dealership top show real ID in order to get a refund... What's so fantastical or science fiction about that? Happens every day in many dealerships. If you do not have the system in place to do transactions online, then it is hard to automate it so that the moment the credit card clears, the stock number is put on sales hold, requiring an authorized manager to release it. But, that's a whole other story of what can go wrong if your sales managers are assholes!
Hi Ralph,
Tr said it was a fantast to believe that cars would be sold solely online. He was referring to the earlier post that suggested dealers would soon go to the wayside. We are aware cars are being sold online and feel that dealers that don't get on board are falling behind but do not believe Dealers will go away anytime soon.
ADP is positioning their company for years to come and is very smart to have you on board. I see your point about the online transactions but that is a small token compared to the revenue stream that DMS and other brick and mortar solutions ADP provides. This industry is plenty big enough to sustain many retail outlets and solutions.
We must all remember that all our products ars there to support the dealer and dealers are the source of all these vehicles we are trying to sell whether online or on the lot.

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