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The Blur of Internet Marketing and Sales is Costing You Money!

The Blur of Internet Marketing and Sales is Costing You Money!
Using Salespeople to Market Your Dealership on the Internet Loses You Sales.
by Keith Shetterly,
Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved

What happens if your website needs maintenance, your SEO/SEM needs attention, your pictures and vehicles need launches online, and your Internet Salesperson is busy answering leads and calling customers? What happens to your dealership’s Internet sales lead coverage while your Internet Salesperson leaves their computer to sell a vehicle, taking the hours needed to confirm the customer’s needs, test drive, negotiate, close, and deliver? What happens to your vehicle sales when your Internet Department is also your Marketing Department? You lose sales. Period. And that’s likely happening right now at your dealership.

Nearly 90% of our customers shop the Internet now, whether they call or email or come in: So, whether we accept it or not, we don’t have “Internet Customers”, we just have customers! However, the Internet Department can serve very well now as a needed rally point in order to modernize a dealership’s marketing and sales approach—too many dealers, however, risk their business by trying to do Internet sales and marketing with the same people. I also worry some dealers use an “Internet Department” as a “set it and forget it” strategy that is palatable to some of the dinosaurs in sales who resist change, but that’s a subject for another blog. Mostly.

Starting at the “classic” marketing strategy for a dealership in the past, we have had print ads that a sales manager would often author, and radio and TV that a GM or Principal would talk and appear in. None of these marketing efforts are interactive, and what customers they generated were easily put in “silos” of the phone-ups or floor-ups for sales. And not marketing at all. If we were very lucky, we even had a Marketing Director that coordinated all this to be effective.

Now, however, the Internet is the “newspaper” that interacts with shoppers from marketing well into sales, first providing information and pictures—and speech, when appropriate—and then attempting to get shoppers to give up contact information on their product of interest. Or at least call or come on in. In other words, marketing now participates in lead maturation down the sales funnel as never before. Unfortunately, to some this just sounds like sales doing marketing, again, just like the sales manager creating the ads. Nothing new for vehicle sales, right? Should be fine, right?

No. First, the old way had the sales managers creating the ads, and maybe the GM/Principal--NOT the salespeople! With the rise of the Internet, many sales managers (and higher) didn’t follow the technology or know what to do with it, so they hired (or anointed) “Internet” folks who would sit at the computer and answer those pesky customer emails. And so the first doomed “set it and forget it” strategy for vehicle Internet Sales was born.

The Internet needs much more attention than “set it and forget it” to properly generate sales: Crisp, pleasant, direct, and single-click-to-Inventory websites; SEO/SEM; microsites; blogs; social media management; reputation management; specials; email blasts; coupons; pictures; eBay, CraigsList, AutoTrader; and more.

Exactly how is your “Internet Salesperson” supposed to do all that AND sell a vehicle through the process, from lead, to test drive, to negotiation, to close, to delivery? All without missing sales?

Or without missing the necessary efforts on the Internet to generate more leads and sales?

Simply put, they cannot. And, by the way, print and radio/TV ads, greatly reduced though they may be, are NOT going away. They need attention, too.

What you really need, first, is a marketing person who understands classic media AND the Internet, and who can be effective in both arenas. And, second, you need an entire sales force—not just an “Internet guy or gal”—who can meet and close the most educated vehicle buyers in retail vehicle sales history who now walk your floors. And who are driven to you by all your media efforts, but who are product-educated and sales matured by the Internet.

And that is how you stop losing, and start getting, the most sales!

Views: 41

Tags: bdc, cost, crm, department, ilm, internet, lost, management, media, reputation, More…sales, social


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Comment by Clarence U Romero on February 23, 2010 at 10:15am
Keith, great minds think alike. My favorite is the biggest hurdle of all, what's the price? I always said great so what time would you like to come in an speak to a professional about price? I would always have my people ask this question. Mr customer do you agree or not that test driving the vehicle your going to buy is a wise choice? So what time can I schedule you in to test drive a vehicle?

Use the trade, what kind of vehicle do you drive? A pinto, WOW I haven't seen one of those in years, my grandfather drove one and I always said that I was going to buy one and have it restored for him. Can you come by and show it to me, and maybe I can buy it from you if the price was right? When can you come in?

There are so many ways to get a customer in, it's just training and process and having the right people in place.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 23, 2010 at 10:04am
Exactly, Clarence, exactly. I monitor the calls today for fourteen makes and three pre-owned lots, and I'll say this: 1) Pre-owned calls could be closed for an appointment by ANYbody, and 2) new car sales can get complex--but if they need more info, then send it "triage" to the floor--which might happen 10-15% of the time, at best, but could be less with a little education around programs (aimed at appt's, not at lots of info).

Comment by Clarence U Romero on February 23, 2010 at 9:55am
That's why in this situation the dealership needs someone dedicated to the phones and computer. Some dealers say, well what if the person on the phone is asking buying questions, shouldn't you have a salesperson take care of the call? Well the general answer to that is no, have someone knowledgable to answer questions on the specific vehicle but the point is to get them in the door. I have sold vehicles over the phone, but after my 11 years in the stores I can still remember they were only about 4.

Having one person do the job of many, you get many jobs done poorly.


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