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Vendors: Don’t Be So Darn Annoying!

As a PR professional, my primary goal is to assist my clients in achieving the most exposure possible and build top-of-mind brand awareness among their potential customers. To help better understand how to best position my clients for success, I did a little research on how dealers perceive vendors and their practices.

 

I reached out to Bobbie Herron, Digital Sales and Marketing Manager for the Garber Automotive Group. Herron was recently named to Automotive News’ “Retail 40 under 40” list and she was kind enough to share a few things with me that vendors do to irritate her, causing them to potentially lose her business.

 

Herron responded with what irritates her, along with some best practice tips on how vendors can better approach dealers as follows:

 

  1. “I’m a very progressive person and willing to try new solutions if I feel that they will benefit the stores in my group. One of the things that irritates me is when a vendor asks me to participate in a beta test of their product and then wants to charge me for it. In my opinion, I’m doing them a favor. They are getting access to my data and getting feedback from me as a user, which assists them in fine-tuning their product. This is very valuable data for them to have and for them to try and charge me for it is ridiculous.”
  2. “When a vendor reaches out to me trying to solicit their product or service, my first piece of advice is to back off with the constant calling and e-mailing. Most vendors don’t provide me with any useful information in these communications. I either get a generic voicemail or an obvious e-mail template that offers me no reason to return their call. The best way for a vendor to earn my business is to learn about me and my stores before they contact me. Give me a reason why their product is a good fit, with examples and data specific to my group. Most of the time, it is obvious that I’m simply on a list and have been placed on a CRM cycle. That drives me nuts. If a vendor doesn’t care enough to take time to learn about me, and can’t provide me with a thoughtful and logical argument for why their service will help my group, then they won’t get my attention.”
  3. “Vendors who approach me with over-the-top claims and promises might as well stop. I know this business very well. If you think you will earn my business by making outlandish claims that are impossible to achieve, you’re wrong.”
  4. “When I get calls from vendors that actually do get through to me, have managed to get my attention, then cannot answer my questions, they’re done. If you’re going to try and sell me something, at least know your product and enough about the automotive industry to give me practical examples.”
  5. “The fastest death sentence a vendor can achieve is by overstepping a hierarchy. I understand that the obvious assumption most vendors make is that they need to contact either the General Manager or Dealer to speak with a decision maker. The fact is that there are many stores in which an Internet Director, e-Commerce Director, or Digital Marketing Manager are the actual decision makers. Make an effort to know who the decision makers are. There’s nothing I hate more than being called into one of my General Manager’s offices to be confronted with a vendor who managed to skip over me. They’re only going to throw the vendor back to me. Even worse is when I walk into a meeting in which a vendor proceeds to criticize and blast all of the things we’re already doing in an effort to prove how much their product or service will improve our existing marketing.”

 

Herron didn’t stop there, however. She also had some valuable advice for her existing vendors as to the three things they do that make her question their partnership:

 

  1. “One of my biggest pet peeves is a vendor who never reaches out to me. I feel like once they got my business, they stopped caring. They should be reaching out to me regularly; if only to check in with me and see if I have any questions. Many vendors don’t do this very simple thing and then wonder why the dealer cancels their service. Maybe if they had ensured that the dealer knew how to use their product properly, and were using it to its fullest potential, they wouldn’t have lost a client.”
  2. “Many vendors, especially at the start of the relationship, will automatically advise me to change my process to whatever process their best clients are using, without taking the time to learn my existing process. Rather than trying to transform everything we do immediately, they should take the time to see how their product or service can fit in with what we are already doing. I’m not opposed to changing processes if they will help my stores sell more vehicles, but don’t come in with guns blazing and shoot down everything we’re already doing before even knowing what those things are.”
  3. “Last, but not least; when one of our existing vendors makes additions or changes to products or services we are already using without notifying me. One of the first things I do at each conference I attend is visit the booth of every vendor we use. I have them give me a product demo as if I were a prospect, rather than an existing customer. By doing this, there have been many times where I have learned of new features or services that I already had, but didn’t know about.”

 

Taking the time to listen to feedback from a dealer can help all of us vendors better evaluate practices so as to offer our clients a first class experience; from prospecting to customer service. Dealers share stories about companies and products in the same ways that consumers do about dealerships. Every employee and customer touch point shapes a company’s personality. Knowing what irritates potential and existing clients is the first step to earning and keeping business. To your success!

Views: 1587

Tags: automotive, barber, communication, digital, industry, marketing, news, public, relations, relationships, More…service, solicitation, vendors

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Comment by Tom Gorham 16 hours ago

Sara and Bobbie, you set of a bomb with this topic but it is definitely a worthy wake up call.  We all have to constantly be evaluating how we approach building a relationship with our customers.  Dealership staff and vendors all have sales in their blood and know persistency is important, but also have to know when persistency changes to annoying and even obnoxious behavior.  How we approach our customers is key to getting the sale. 

The industry is moving toward transparency, relationship building, reputation and great customer service.  Some will argue that that is nothing new.  In some ways that's true, but the ways we can approach them are new, innovative and effective both in the short term and especially in the long term.  Thank you for an exciting topic.

Comment by Tom Gorham 16 hours ago

Ralph, thank you for clarifying that.  And I appreciate your concern about doing a "restore".  That's a tough decision and would affect every blog on here.  I trust your judgment.

Comment by Manny Luna yesterday

 Bobbie Herron,

I understand what you mean now.

Thank you!

Comment by Ralph Paglia yesterday

Tom, please have no worries, as you are well aware, your reputation is sterling with me and I have nothing but the upmost respect for your contributions to our online community. Unfortunately, I cannot see who or exactly what was done to delete Brian Bennington's membership, profile and all content and comments he contributed... It is as if somebody logged in as Brian and used the "Delete My Account" option that we each have in our ADM site settings app... If he had been suspended by an admin, it would be visible in the back end admin screen, which all of us with admin access can look at... There have been over 1,000 members suspended from ADM during the past 7 years, but most of them were obvious spammers, mail-order Russian brides, Canadian Pharmaceuticals, etc.

I am at a loss for what happened to Brian Bennington's profile... In fact, I could not wipe any member's account out of ADM as thoroughly as was done to Brian, without that user's login and password. I reinstated a few members I had suspended last year, and sure as it is hot in Las Vegas right now, their profiles and previously posted content was reinstated and reappeared. The only time I cannot do that is when a member uses the "Nuke" button, in which case I do not have access to their profile or content previously posted.

This is a real mystery to me... And it saddens me because it is the first time in 7 years since I launched ADM that something as devastating as this has happened to a member's profile and content.. Usually, I get contacted by members who have left the auto industry and want to delete their content because it keeps showing up at the top of Google SERP for their name!

Lastly, there is a way i could recover Brian Bennington's profile and content, but if I restored ADM to the last back-up time point, everything that has been posted since then would be gone... And that is something I am unwilling to do, as I would hope the community would feel the same way.

Comment by Tom Gorham yesterday

Ralph, as we talked about on the phone, I for one hope you discover who deleted Brian's profile or comments.  I have always had a cordial relationship with Brian and have had private messages with him through ADM that have always been friendly in nature.  Even though I called him a bully (I stand by that) in what he was saying on this particular blog, I've seen and taken part in much worse.  But that fact, obviously places me as someone who could possibly have done it and I don't like it.  I like to think that I'm known to accept the right of everyone to speak their opinions and then give a vigorous response when I feel it necessary.

Comment by Bobbie Herron yesterday

Manny - I agree with you on many facets in regards to that particular statement.  I know how difficult it can be to figure out how to get in, how to talk to the right person etc.  Tqhat definately wouldn't stop me from doing business with someone it is simply one of those things that "annoys" me.  It applies more though to when someone has already spoken to me or knows to come to me first but then bypasses me intentionally.  I am not the sole decision maker in our our group.  I will review a product and if it's something that I think will benefit one of the stores or all of them and then set up a demo with the managing partners.  Ultimatey, it's up to them but they ship options back to me before reviewing them. 

Comment by Steve Duff yesterday

I am sorry to see Brian's comments removed. I thought he brought a lively element to the conversation. Is there no way to restore his comments and reinstate him?

Comment by Ralph Paglia yesterday

This article has resulted in over Six Pages of Comments, Debate and Point-Counterpoint... Passionate arguments have followed the publishing of this article by Sara Callahan. Fascinating perspectives and fierce passions have emerged on both sides of the Dealer/Supplier community as a result of the comment based debate. 

So far, there has been only one casualty... Will there be more?

Comment by Ralph Paglia yesterday

Sara, I apologize for posting my comment in such a way that you mistakenly thought I was referring to you. Brian Bennington's 100+ comments throughout the ADM Professional Community have been deleted. He called me and we spoke about it, he knows and I know that the person responsible had to have admin access, or must have logged into ADM as Brian. I never for a moment thought you had deleted Brian's comments, you are far too professionally capable and social media savvy to do such a thing, and quite honestly, I do not believe you have access... or motivation/inclination. 

I am among the many members of the ADM Professional Community that appreciate your contributions. The articles you publish on ADM are among the most informative, widely read and engaging content that we are fortunate enough to see, read and appreciate.

THANK YOU SARA!

Comment by Todd Vowell yesterday

No worries Tom, I don't take this stuff too serious. My plate has plenty of the serious stuff already. There appears to be some feuds going on here that may date back to other post I am not aware of. Folks need to relax, have some fun, and learn something. I always did better in a "School of Rock" learning atmosphere compared to the old "Nuns taking a ruler to the knuckles!" But that's me!

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