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Vendors Need To Connect On The Ground Level

As I think about the sheer lack of training that exists in the car industry today.

I find myself disgusted by the lack of expectations dealers have for their vendors. Why don’t we as dealers demand more out of the companies we’re handing over thousands of dollars a month to? Since when has the mere usage of technology these vendors produced years ago been worth so much to us? It’s sad that even top level vendors emulate each other nowadays and don’t have the insight to see where they are going wrong. Now I’m sure these words are pouring out of me from the sheer amount of exhausting hours I’ve put in over the last two weeks, retraining my auto groups management and sales staff to use so called cutting edge tools that vendors failed to train them on properly the first time. However, what I'm saying holds merit and should be taken seriously by vendors. 


Vendors today are missing the point.

They throw millions of dollars at coders and developers to make some new and trendy program or tool but don’t pay the same respect to the implementation and training of the dealership staff that use them. Instead of hiring salespeople that know the dealer world intimately, they shift these tenured sales pawns from company to company thinking that if they throw together just the right team, their products are going to somehow take off. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Let me throw a little bit of real world dealership insight at you. If your vendor’s salespeople or product specialists have been removed from the sales floor for more than 2-3 years, they’re dated. Obviously there are rare exceptions out there but in reality 90% of these vendor’s front line people couldn’t be any more clueless as to how train dealership employees on how to implement or use their tools in a real world setting.


I think back to one of my 2 hour training sessions today.

As I stand there explaining the benefits of our vendor programs and how they can be used on a daily basis, I see the mouths of my salespeople and managers drop. They can’t believe that our tool has the ability to change every aspect of their day. They continuously shake their heads and plead to me that they never knew the system could do that. In reality, they were trained on it but the trainers or salespeople sent by the vendors aren’t car people and couldn’t relate to the dealership staff on how these tools can benefit them. I can go on and on with examples but I digress. The reason I’m writing this isn’t to go on a endless rant bashing vendors. It’s to get the dealer principles or general managers reading this to expect... wait no, demand more from their vendors. Don’t allow your vendors to simply come in and pitch on how great their products are, while quoting weak value building statements and showing you analytics that you don’t understand. Tell them you want them in the dealership, training your staff on how to use their tools on a everyday basis.

Test your vendor’s sales people.

Ask them to give you specific examples on how this tool can be used in instances that are valuable to you. If the vendors fail to connect with the audience using their tool, isn’t the fault of the trainers from that company? Don’t accept the same crap they regurgitate to every general manager out there. Their talking around you and your questions. Expect them to relate with you and your salespeople’s on a dealership level. What good is the tool if your staff doesn’t know how to really use it. I’m not talking about logging in to the tools backend and maintaining it’s utilization. I’m talking about using the tool in a innovative way that will set them apart from the rest of the dealers using the exact same program. When I shop my three nearest competitors and get the exact same popular CRM template from each there's something wrong. Don’t get me wrong it makes my life easy as a group eCommerce Director. It’s just sickening that this is accepted.

There’s a reason why Auto Alerts does so well in certain territories.

They actually have representatives that come to the store and know how to train dealership level salespeople in a way they can comprehend and relate to. I hate using examples because I’m not here pitching Auto Alerts. In fact we don’t currently use them in our group.  I don’t want any vendors that I use to feel I’m focusing this article on them. I’ve used just about every vendor out there over the last 5-6 years. Rare few of them are an exception to this. If you ask me, I suggest you request that these vendor executives start hiring people that were recent ground level dealership sales or management staff. These people speak our language, the vendors don’t.

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Views: 523

Tags: Chris, Dealership, Effective, Expectations, Hill, Training, Vendors


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Comment by Chris Hill on December 10, 2013 at 7:34am


Thank you very much for your comments. While I love the idea of you doing bi-monthly webinars and staying in touch with the dealers, it isn't my primary focus of this article. I'm more referring to the ability to have a training curriculum or program that the dealers staff can fully grasp and implement without your constant interjection. While doing your webinars, it's imperative that the message is compelling enough to hold the dealers attention as well as connect on a level that the sales people or managers can understand and relate to. While I don't personally have experience with your product or your training program, I can tell you whole heartily that the typical training format for 90% of the dealers out there isn't sufficient and isn't getting through to the dealership staff the way the vendors would like. 

Comment by Tarry Shebesta on December 10, 2013 at 5:24am

Great post Chris. We are a dealer (Independent Leasing Company) turned vendor so I understand both sides of the issue. 

I've been in the industry for 24 years and we transformed an online direct-to-consumer service that works for us to work for dealers (since the OEM's have taken over most of the leasing business).

Here is what I've found.

1) It can be hard for dealers to change their selling habits to accommodate new, proven, technologies. Because we dramatically change the selling process our dealers need to change the way they contact the leads we generate as the customer is much further down the sales chain at the time the dealer first contacts them. This means their auto responders must be customized or a personal email/phone call must be made. The difference in the dealers that do this vs the ones that don't are dramatic. 

2) It can be hard for dealers to make changes in their current selling process to accommodate new, proven, technologies if they are tied into a rigid system that does not allow for customization. Some website providers are notorious for this. They want all their dealers to have the same functionality because it's "easy" to duplicate and grow their dealer base. (Mobile is a good example of this).

3) Vendors that offer a one-stop-shop for everything will only stifle technological advancements and can actually harm the sales process by locking dealers into their box. The ole saying goes, "when you try and be good at everything, you are the best at nothing." Once a dealer is locked in the box, they are less apt to try new things, even if those new things actually increase sales and profits.

I agree that if a vendor doesn't stay connected to the sales process, they will lose the ability to create a valuable service/product.

We are looking at offering bi-monthly webinars that will cover best practices for our service. What are your thoughts on this type of training platform. What are the best times of the month, day and time of day to offer it?

I personally enjoy visiting dealers in person as this is the best way to learn how our service is performing.


Comment by Chris Hill on December 9, 2013 at 7:44am

Thank you very much gentlemen. I honestly feel at this point in the industry, the vendors have the technology where it should be and that training is more important then innovation(I hate myself for saying this). If the user is far surpassed by the technology, what's the good is leaving your user base even further in the stone age? 


If you'd like to contact me for prime examples or ways to better connect with your users please feel free. This will increase your utilization, ROI and overall customer satisfaction. I'm not selling anything, I just want more from our staff and your programs. These go hand and hand. 

Comment by Joe Webb on December 9, 2013 at 7:00am


Comment by Mark Tewart on December 9, 2013 at 6:41am
Absolutely a fantastic post with truth and reality

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