Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
Is The Road to the Sale Obsolete?
Just the reference to the term 'Old School Car Guy' is an insult designed to conjure up mental images of an extinct Mastodon being sucked down into the tar pits after eating the last brown shriveled leaves off of the trees. The hidden message in these terms is that you're stupid and we're smart... an intimidation by negative labeling.
In truth, the retail car business is forming sides in the turf wars between the techies and the traditionalists. AND, nobody is giving ground.
I have just returned from an extended 'road trip' of twenty-three cities in fourteen weeks, coast to coast, actually working in dealerships... speaking at major conferences... and performing consultancies. In other words, I am seeing a lot of best practices - what does, and more importantly, what does not work.
To quote myself here: "Average People with great processes will produce incredible results." You can't manage a high-production dealership with an army of 'Prima-Donnas' all doing their own thing without structure or management.
Even though I have embraced technology as part of the sales process; it is not the entire process. Automobile Sales still have to have a structured process from 'Meet and Greet the Customer' through 'Deliver the Vehicle and Follow-Up'.
I don't believe there will ever be a day when technology will entirely replace the human relationship in car sales. The things we do and the words we say are our toolbox.
Time after time, I've experienced dealerships' transformations to much higher volume sales and much higher profitability when the management installed and enforced a "Sales Culture' with defined step-by-step, measurable and accountable sales processes.
Unfortunately, most dealerships have never quantified exactly what they expect sales persons and managers to do and say as they interact with your customers. Oh, we have a vague idea BUT very few managers can tell me their exact process... and very few can honestly say their sales professionals are doing it the way they describe it.
That's why I consider myself extremely fortunate that my career began as a car sales professional and that my first management position was as an F&I Manager. If I owned a dealership today, I would require that all of my Sales Managers had F&I experience. A great F&I Manager is a master of 'The Process' and has to be a precision closer with a stop watch running.
Is it any wonder the sales department is always amazed when the Finance Manager repeatedly 'bumps' the customer after they thought they had all the money. Perhaps, processes and training had something to do with it.
I've always said that F&I Managers have more skills, more schools and more specialized training than anyone in the dealership except the technicians.
Jokingly, I've always said... "Most Sales Managers learned their job by watching somebody who got fired."
We have the tools today to achieve 'super productivity'. There are great CRM programs available to organize, measure, and manage sales and follow up BUT, these programs are only as good as the managers who are responsible for the results. Technology is an enabler and a productivity accelerator but it is only works if competent sales management is on top of it.
So in other words, there is no 'Old School' or 'New School' ... there are only processes that incorporate both. 'The Old Car Dog' that resists and fights everything new, or the 'Next Gen' with no track record who believes they know it all...both have to bend and adapt to 'The School of What Really Works' .
One characteristic shared by virtually every successful dealership in the country is that they have well-defined sales processes and that they require every sales person to follow these processes without exception.
So, the original question was Is The Road to the Sale Obsolete?
The answer is emphatically... NO
AND the answer is also ...YES
The trick is teaching managers to be managers and sales professionals to be students of their profession... and for both to be masters of the processes.
Keep those emails coming... JIM