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The Process worked well for years, so it can’t be the problem. The problem must be the salespeople. Are we doing a bad job identifying and hiring talent? Perhaps the problem lies in training. A proven process, with the best people and the best training can’t go wrong. Can it?
The old process was built on the idea of controlling the customer. It was built on the idea of holding information close and controlling its flow. The old process worked extraordinarily well when shoppers were in the dark. This process was designed before The Internet.
The process that many dealers are hoping will still work has a foundation based on an imbalance of power – of knowledge. As the balance shifted and consumers armed themselves with more information, the process faltered. It can still work on occasion, but the execution must be flawless. Many of us are committed to a sales process that is simply harder to execute given the realities of today. The old process is letting today’s salespeople down.
Most dealers figured out that today’s shoppers use the internet extensively. Advertising budgets shifted to The Internet. Our hope was that consumers would use The Internet as they previously used print, radio and television. We hoped The Internet would be a cheap, efficient way for us to get our message to consumers. It has worked that way to an extent, but with the unintended consequence of empowering consumers with more knowledge and power than they ever held before. The end result is that we’ve embraced The Internet as a conduit for our advertising, but in our sales process we want to pretend that it’s changed nothing. Embracing The Internet requires not just a shift of the Advertising Budget but a rethinking of the sales process.
This rethinking won’t happen within the Internet Department. It needs to occur at the top levels of management.
Today’s most successful dealerships really are embracing The Internet. They’ve built strategies that embrace and leverage transparency, rather than hide from it. These dealerships have discovered that, with a process designed for the realities of today, flawless execution isn’t a necessity. A Green Pea can be successful and a more practiced and talented salesperson can really excel. These strategies aren’t identical, buy they share a foundation of embracing openness and transparency. They don’t fight to keep a semblance of control over the customer. These strategies are not built on fighting The Internet, but rather, embracing it.
I don't think today's salespeople suck. I think yesterday's process is failing them.