Automotive Digital Marketing

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From the Trenches - Digital Vendor – How do you sell your wares?

In the dealership, we are often besieged with vendors… today they are most often Digital Marketers of some kind. 

Dealers are very busy people.  Their time is at a premium.  Smart dealers have gatekeepers who can weed out the wheat from the chafe. However many vendors have tried to find ways around the gatekeeper to go directly to the dealer by bypassing the receptionist or calling the owner or GM directly.  Bad idea….

 

First I want to divulge, as an Internet Sales & Marketing Manager, I am a gatekeeper.  So I am biased.  But I am a source of good advice as well.  When you bypass me, the owner or GM will almost always refer you to me and be resentful that you took up his/her time.

 

First and foremost, I work for a dealer and I know a bit about digital marketing.  Don’t assume I’m ignorant and don’t talk down to me.  I just might know more than you about your own “expertise”.

 

Do not go to our website and submit a lead in order to introduce yourself.  You are deleted and removed from future consideration immediately.  Leads are business.  Don’t interfere in that.

 

When you do talk to me, be an expert in what you are selling.  You often start by telling me you are a car guy.  Are you a car guy or an expert in YOUR FIELD?  I don’t care if you’ve done literally EVERY job in a dealership.  If you were a great General Manager, why are you selling Social Media?  Are you a social expert?

 

Often, I am shocked to ask questions and be answered with the words, “I’m just a sales rep; we have experts who can answer those questions.”  That’s right, you’re a car guy.  You know little about the product or service you’re selling.  If I know enough to ask the question, you should have an answer that makes sense. Goodbye!

 

As you know, OUR customers expect us to be able to answer questions about our product.  We expect the same from our vendors.

 

If I’m not interested, don’t ask me “Don’t you want to sell more cars?” That is the most insane question I have ever heard.  I want to say, “No, I’m only here to have fun and get a paycheck!”  I have priorities, you know… all designed to sell more cars.  Yours is obviously low on my list.

 

If I say it doesn’t fit my budget right now, understand that’s true.  I’m not going to remove a perfectly good vendor and replace it with an unknown.  You obviously have not struck me with a phenomenal idea that made me want to replace a good vendor I already employ.

 

This is the car business.  We are very competitive.  Know your competitors and why you are better than them.  You should be as competitive as we are.

 

Finally, know the line between follow-up and harassment.  As Internet Managers, we learn not to cross that line no matter how aggressive and persistent we are.

 

This is a field of endeavor I love.  I enjoy talking to anyone who understands it and sometimes get too loquacious in the process.  Approach me with results and a vision and respect, and you might make it past the gatekeeper with a good recommendation.

 

Written by Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 850

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Comment by Tom Gorham on March 28, 2012 at 8:24pm

Thanks John, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Comment by John Hockinson on March 28, 2012 at 6:40pm

you couldn't have said it any better Tom

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 20, 2012 at 10:18am

Thanks Bill and Steve - In my opinion, the term "Car Guy" is not detrimental; in fact it shows an understanding of dealership needs and requirements.  But it doesn't go farther than that when you are talking about marketing specialties in the industry such as Digital Marketing, SEO/SEM, Social Media, landing pages, conversion, videos, etc.

You guys are great and I always look forward to your visits.  Bill, I like your ideas stated below.

Comment by Steve Davern on March 20, 2012 at 7:53am

Great post! I'm glad I passed the test and have a happy customer. Like any job, there is that fine line between doing your job and not doing your job. You never want to push too far but it is easy to fall into that trap when you feel you need to close the business. It's a bit of a catch-22 sometimes.

I think "car guy" gets used in funny ways sometimes. My vision of a car guy is a person who grew up loving cars and has a professional position in the car business. I actaully think most of the car guys are in the service department. Vendors might like to use the term to express their understanding of the car business but I would feel funny calling myself a car guy.

Thanks Tom! I will print your post and share it with our sales staff.

Sell lots of cras!

Steve

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 19, 2012 at 7:31pm

@Patrick Timmermans - I wouldn't presume to suggest to people how to sell except to say, "Be respectful and knowledgeable about your product or service."  We are constantly preaching these things to dealers; it's fair that vendors hear the same thing, don't you agree? Thank you! ;-)

Comment by Patric Timmermans on March 19, 2012 at 7:19pm

Tom, I hope this excellent article proves to be a good learning moment for all sales people out there, including my own colleagues. As a marketer, can I suggest a topic for your next article "From the Trenches - Digital Vendor - How to market your wares?". I'd love to hear your opinion on what's relevant and what not. Would you have time for a call to discuss? I promise not to try to sell you our products, at least not during this call ;-)

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 19, 2012 at 6:33pm

@Tim Rulapaugh - I do both and get 'em all.  I knew you understood me immediately. 

@Bill Jenkins - I have a good relationship with you and your company.  I have to say that the reason is how you approach your potential customers.  You pulled me in with your professionalism and expertise.  You showed me where our strengths and weaknesses were, in a non-judgemental way, and how you could strengthen the areas where we were weak.  You are a valued friend and supporter of my dealership.

@Aaron, I'm so glad to hear that.  Thank you!

Comment by Aaron Hassen on March 19, 2012 at 9:19am

Tom, representing a vendor, I want to tell you that your post was very well received

dealer chat

Comment by Tim Rulapaugh on March 19, 2012 at 7:09am

I do both the social media and IT stuff for our dealership.  I don't deal a lot with social media vendor types...our internet sales manager usually takes those calls (unless it's something he isn't familiar with or up to speed on...then he passes them to me).  I get to deal with pesky IT vendors.  It's a hoot!  I've lost count of how many times I've heard a vendor rep say, "My job is just to see if you're interested enough.  If you are, I'll pass you on to our sales staff who can better answer your questions."

I'm sorry, but if you can't answer my simple questions about how your product works, you're wasting my time. 

And no, I won't hold while you transfer me to your sales staff or tech staff.  Having to re-tell someone else how our network is set up is wasting even more of my time.  If you put me on hold, don't be surprised if when you return, I've put you on hold or even just hung up on you.

When I say "I'm not interested", it doesn't mean keep hounding me to change my mind. 

If you call and ask for a minute of my time, your call had better not last 20 minutes. 

Don't keep throwing sales pitches at me instead of answering my questions.  I know and respect that you have a job to do, but I've worked in sales.  I know how to play the game.  I know what is and isn't a sales pitch.  Don't offend my intelligence by making a sales pitch...and then insist that you aren't.  I'm smart enough that if you give me the details of your product, I can do an unbiased comparison against your competitor(s) and decide for myself if your product is worth more of my time.

If I tell you I'm not interested right now, don't keep trying to change my mind and / or ask for my email address so "we can stay in touch."  You've given me your info...I know how to find you if or when my interest changes.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 18, 2012 at 4:42am

Thank you Brian! The post was not a condemnation of vendors but a request for civility and professionalism.  It translates well into how we in dealerships should treat our customers as well.

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