Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
Alan, let me begin by saying that you are one of my favorite trainers and I highly recommend your training to any dealership. Your training is exceptional. However....the vast majority of salespeople are not effective at handling Internet leads or phone calls. In fact, they are horrible at it. The average turnover of the salesforce in the car business is extraordinarily high and the main reason for this high turnover is the lack of training that new salespeople get. They are set up to fail from the start. Is it any wonder that when a new salesperson fails over and over in the beginning of their careers that they start to look at other options? As an industry, we are not even training new salespeople how to sell cars. What makes you think that we are going to do a good job training them how to sell appointments?
I have heard you make your argument several times and while it's compelling and makes perfect sense, it's not based in reality for the majority of dealerships. Dealerships struggle on a daily basis getting salespeople to follow up with their own customers. Salespeople don't train, they don't follow up and they don't prospect. They come to work and sit at their desks hoping for an up to walk through the door. When the up does show up, they don't put notes in the CRM and they don't follow up with their SOLD and UNSOLD customers. This is reality. Are there dealerships where all of the salespeople are true professionals that would love to handle Internet and phone ups? Of course there are but those are the top 5-10%. I agree that, in theory, every salesperson should be able to handle an up whether it's on the floor, the phone or the computer. In reality, we just need them to sell cars, train and prospect. When they start doing those things, we can talk about eliminating the BDC. Until then, we are going to need specialist who know how to set appointments that show.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In fairness to Alan Ram, I have copied and pasted his original post in the space below... In order to appreciate Mr. Warwick's points, as well as the comments that have followed, it is useful to have Alan's original article in the same page for reference...
(Article reposted in entirety below)
Here’s a question for you –
That should have your attention. If I’ve ever written an article that will be misconstrued, this will be the one! As I’ve talked to dealers over the years, I’ve seen many BDC’s spring up out of knee-jerk frustration. While there are obviously exceptions to the rule, this is something I’ve seen repeated in the industry over the past several years. A dealer says “we tried training our salespeople, but they’re still terrible at handling phones so we’ve hired three people and all they’re going to do now is handle our inbound sales calls as well as Internet leads.” I have a number of different problems with this thought process and I’m happy to tell you about them:
Here’s the solution; train your people to do the jobs you hired them to do.
If I’m hired to sell cars at your dealership, I should be capable of communicating with customers in person, on the telephone, and online. That would be part of being a well-rounded salesperson. Unfortunately, salespeople don’t necessarily arrive on your doorstep well-rounded. It’s your job to train them. The sad fact is that much of what dealers have bought over the years in the name of training, hasn’t been anything close to training at all. Going to the Marriott and listening to myself or anyone else talk for eight hours is as much training as going to a baseball game is training for baseball. You might get educated, but you’re not necessarily going to get trained.
For something to be considered training, three elements need to be present:
If any of those three elements is missing, whatever you’re trying to accomplish probably isn’t going to happen.
Now I’m not trying to convince anyone to dismantle their BDC. What I’m telling you to do, is make sure that you’re not replacing one group of people that you didn’t train properly, with another layer of expense that you’re not training properly either.
BDC’s ARE GREAT and provide a wonderful return on investment when you have them doing the right things the right way. For example, following up unsold customers. 39% of people surveyed say that the reason that they would not come back to a dealership is because they didn’t like the salesperson for whatever reason. Too tall, too short, reminded them of their ex-brother-in-law or smelled like smoke. What this is saying is that your sales staff does not have a shot with 39% of what you think are their be-back opportunities. When the customer doesn’t like the salesperson they won’t tell him or her “we didn’t like you”. What will they say? We’ve decided to hold off or we’re not going to do anything right now. They won’t tell the salesperson, but they will tell someone else. That’s why it is critical that every dealership have someone in ADDITION to salespeople following up on each and every customer that visit’s the store. That is a great function for your BDC.
Another thing you can do; shift your BDC's focus to your service department.
I have worked with many dealerships that have amazing success in having BDC representatives schedule both repair as well as recommended maintenance. They can actively be following up on recall notices and generating service revenue. This is a huge opportunity. Your service advisors are on the drive talking to customers. They’re in the shop checking on vehicles. Call your dealership. Try to get a hold of the service adviser sometime and see how often you get voice-mail or get put on hold for a period of time.
So again, I’m not telling you to dismantle your BDC.
Business Development Centers are great when they are actually developing business. Let’s just make sure you have yours focused on the proper opportunities.