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You have all seen or heard Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same think over and over again and expecting different results. And yet, day after day, in dealerships large and small, owners and sales managers trot out the same tired old sales process, watch the same decades-old videos and hire the same trainers and consultants and expect improvement.

I can remember dealers wailing and complaining when the first magazines came out that pierced the veil of secrecy over dealer cost. That’s right – magazines.  Purchasing one of these publications allowed potential customers an idea of what dealers paid for each car. Today’s prospects have instantaneous, free access to much more accurate information. They often know more about cost than the salespeople they deal with.

Vehicle in the 21st century are technological marvels. We don’t quite have the jet cars imagined in The Jetson’sbut who would have imagined cars that could park themselves 10 years ago and now we are bordering on an age when they will drive themselves. Just think of all the developments you have seen over the last few years alone.

Customers have access to an overwhelming wealth of information that was unimaginable even 10 years ago. It takes very little effort to learn information far beyond cost, such as average selling price drilled down to their specific ZIP code, side-by-side feature comparisons with other models and professional walk-around video presentations that put most sales people to shame. Communicating with customers via social media or mobile platforms was rare even 5 years ago.

The market has changed, the vehicles have changed and the customers have changed and yet dealers trot out the same worn-out, stale process and practices they have used for years. Every day in America thousands of dealers try to sell today’s vehicles to today’s consumers using yesterday’s tactics. That is nothing less than insanity.

And when sales falter and they look for help, dealers hire the same old consultants and trainers they have been using for the last 10 years or more. The pull out the same stack of training DVDs or even VCR tapes and make their salespeople watch the same old methods. That is insanity.

Different times, different customers and a different market take different methods. You are never going to get different results doing the same old things. To succeed in today’s world, you must learn about today’s customers and today’s ways of reaching them with you message. You must learn how today’s customers feel most comfortable buying and adapt your processes to accommodate them. You must be able and willing to provide them with a buying experience that goes beyond and differentiates you from your competition. And you must embrace today’s technology to optimize that buying experience.

In order to succeed, you need to find vendors, partners and trainers that share this understanding of today’s market and consumer and embrace it. You must examine all such existing relationships and jettison those who are stuck in yesterday. You must examine your sales process and remold it for today. Only in this way will you escape the insanity of expecting different results doing the same tired, old things.

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Tags: Car, Dealerships, Insanity

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Comment by Ashley Conring on February 12, 2014 at 9:14am

A complete revamp or "reinvention" is not neccessary to fit in today.  Afterall, customers still need the same things that they did 10 years ago, to like the car, for it to fit their needs, and sign the contract.  Small adjustments in the process are the key to surviving in this industry.  Small actionable goals, that when they add up, match the consumer's needs and sell cars.  Which is after all, the objective here.  Setting and meeting customer expectiations will never change, psychology of the sale will never change, there will always be a road to the sale.  It is the steps on that road that change from dealer to dealer, generation to generation, and set those apart that survive from the ones that fail.   The key is meshing both together, the old VCR tapes and the Insta-Web and using them to find what works for your market.  Take the good stuff from the old and use it WITH the new.  Don't cast the old ways in a negative light, use them as tools and ideaologys to cobble together your "NEW AND IMPROVED" process.

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