Industry Events

A few “things” to take home.

The Cobalt Group’s sponsored “Breakfast of Champions” Seminar

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I just got back from attending Cobalt’s sponsored “Breakfast of Champions”. It was held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown beautiful Baltimore, it’s a little over an hour from there I live and usually an easy drive.

Hugh Cabello was the guest speaker / trainer for the day. I thought be did a good job actually. You never know what to expect when you go to these free seminars. Will you take a few “things” back home or will it be nothing more then a plug for the vendor?

Rather then type out a long winded posting here, I thought I would copy some of my notes that I took during the seminar. Excuse the jumping around but I have a tendency to be all over the place when I take notes.

The NOTES:

  • Yahoo statistics show that customers send out on average 6-8 vehicles requests during their shopping phase. – I thought this seemed to be a little on the high side but I guess if you consider the consumer shopping for a used car in the mix, 6-8 should be an accurate number.
  • Over half of your customers do not know if they want New or Used. –  I totally agree with this. Matter of fact I do my best to roll a customer into a used car whenever possible, always offering used car options for all of my new car inquiries.
  • The average customer has 2 email addresses. – I have like 8 but I know I’m not “average”. Most people do have a home and a work email. This was something that Hugh touched on and one of those “things” that I walked away with. He encourages asking for the customers work email. “And what is you work email can I contact you at Jeff?”. Good idea!
  • “You don’t have to buy a vehicle today do you?” – I love word tracks. If you’re good enough with the right word tracks at the right time, it can help you sell just about anything to anyone. This is one of those word tracks I would use all the time and for some reason got out of it. That was another “thing” that Hugh reminded me to take back home. This word track works! It removes the pressure that most consumers feel when dealing with us dreadful sales people. You’ll be surprised at the answers you get back.
  • No Templates – That’s all I have written down. If I can recall, like I; Hugh is not huge advocate of canned templates. Yea, I have a few that I use but most are nothing more then starter templates and are built for customization. Right after my cover on Digital Dealer I received several emails and phone calls requesting a copy of my “crafty template”. I’m telling you right now, there is NO silver bullet email template. Email templates will never sell you a car.
  • It was humorous to hear Cobalt talking about dealer website design and their need to be user friendly.
  • There was a lady that talked for awhile about SEO, Google and PPC. A big apology to her, I don’t remember her name (I found out her name was Lisa Dobbs, sorry Lisa for not taking better notes).  She pointed out a few tips; one was to be sure to buy your URL as a keyword. I guess this was note worthy, though about 99.9% of the time if someone types your URL into Google or Yahoo, your website better dam site be #1 in the natural listings.
  • Keep a close eye out for previous customers sending leads from your website. – I can’t recall if that was part of the discussion or if it was something that popped into my head and I wrote it down. Anyways, if you have a previous customer send in a lead from yuor website, It’s imperative that you recognize them as a previous client and ask them if they are still driving the vehicle they bought from your dealer. Ask if they would like to work their previous sales person again. Thank the customer for shopping with your dealer “again”. Believe me, it’s impressing when you recognize your previous clients. They love it!
  • It takes on average 5 phone calls for a customer to remember your name!
  • They spent about 15 minutes reinforcing the importance of using 3rd party leads. Preferably dealix leads, thought they did mention AutoUSA and Autobytel in the mix.
  • Hugh said to call your customers 1 day before their Birthday. Not the day of or the day after.
  • They went into a 10-15 minutes undertone sales pitch for Onstation. If I had to guess this was main reason for offering the free seminar. I don’t care who you are or what vendor you are, your main intentions for free trainings are to drum up some business. And rightfully so, I’m sure it’s not cheap to offer these free trainings / seminars.
  • Cobalt NEVER EVER mentions their Prospector CRM tool. It’s actually a shame. Prospector had its challenges but it could have been way more then what it currently is. Cobalt bought Prospector CRM from Cowboy several years ago, re-skinned it and basically moved it to the side. I was doing some research and actually found that Hugh Cabell was a National Relationship Manager Cowboy Corporation before Cobalt acquiring them.
  • Providing Price – Hugh seemed to be an advocate for sending / quoting a price. And we all know this is always a huge subject for discussion. I take my leads one by one and then decide if I’m going to quote a price via email or phone. However, I agree with Hugh, since the customer very rarely buys exactly what they inquire about, why not send the consumer some pricing. It’s what they are looking for.

I had a few more notes written but I think this covers the important stuff. Thanks to Cobalt for putting on a better then average free seminar. Thank you Hugh for your energy and for giving me a few “things” to take back home.

I try to attend each and every seminar or training whenever I can. I don’t care how long you have been in this business; you can almost always walk away with at least 1 thing. And of you don’t, take the opportunity to network and shake some hands. You never know who you might run into.

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    Lao Shi
  • June 23, 2007

I agree that these seminars are a great forum for networking and also allows one to gain insight.

You hit a great point on the pre-owned concept; a wise mentor told me years ago always give the consumer an option. This applies to all sales. This way if the new is not in their comfort zone price wise there is an option. If nothing else you will begin a dialogue, which is the initial goal in the relationship.

This also is in the same mode of "Word Tracking"

I have found the bulk of third party leads are duplicates of leads that originally come in from the OEM. I always get the 3rd party lead providers to agree that we do not pay for "DUPES" which includes OEM leads. At the end of each month we audit the leads and submit the "DUPES" for credit, at $15.00 -20.00 per lead this can add up. One can find they are paying 2-3 times for the same lead, which means thousands of dollars over the year. One of the great things about technology as you can "TRACK" information easier.

More and more I find people will set up and email when they are on a research project and then jettison this after the project. I have found this to be true as when I do newsletters during the year to keep my database up to date, the email bounces back and I call them. Most will say that they did not want to receive junk mail, which happened to them before. We can thank the BZ Results and others that spam the daylights out of the customers with things they never asked for.

This is a major issue with www.onstation.com as well as they both of these companies provide process that load up the client with unwanted information in a cold, "cookie cutter template" fashion that leaves the client unimpressed.

The funny thing is some of these companies are charging $5,000.00 plus a month. If people ever broke down the costs of the components of these programs they would see they are making huge profits. Selling a tool that has a cost of $500 for 5K a month times however many dealers they have is a huge number.

You are correct Jeff, the personalization of the process is the key to success and the customer looking for this type of experience will go to the sites that will provide this. The dealer that is a volume dealer only interested in "moving metal" in a volume model will be happy with these "cookie cutter" options, and they will continue to complain about the low margins of the business.

Another example is providing price when a client asks for a price. Explain that this is the price of this model and that there maybe rebates and incentives that may also apply, please, lets schedule an appointment to go over the options that are available to you. This is a great process to develop the relationship and setting the appointment. Again, this only works for dealers that embrace the personalized approach rather then the "Cookie Cutter" approach. I refer to these dealers as "Boutique Dealers" and there are many examples of them.

Also the profit margins are better.

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    Ty Alvarez
  • June 24, 2007
Is it easier to begin the dialogue and relationship on the customer's present car? Do you find it easier to set appointments on a customer's trade?
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    Lao Shi
  • June 25, 2007

Of course, the only honest way to appraise and evaluate the vehicle is for the customer to bring the vehicle in.
K
Nice points Jeff, thanks for sharing them. I think your closing might be the best advice for each of us - take advantage of all of these opportunities for free training/seminars and networking events. I do my best to sign up for any of these types of events in my area, and it allows me to not only learn new things in the eCommerce arena, but also to keep on top of my local market. Cheers - Kevin Frye/eCommerce Director/Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
J
I had attended the Breakfast for Champs in Detroit 1 month ago and yes of course " Hugh" was there and we were all wound up on the STAR BUCKS. Yes Hugh was awesome. It was very nice to see the facts / statistics to help us with where our sales had mainly went to " USED". Relying on your templates too much can scare a customer away in a hear beat! I modify mine and answer all of the prospects questions. I have done very well with quoting prices on the first email I send to them. What they inquire on along with the other trim levels and throw in a used one similar if not the same.

It was very nice to actually look at the percentages that were given during the seminar:
Take a customer and treat them like a Gamble~
Your chances of closing a:
Walk in - 9-10%
Phone up - 50%
Repeat / Referral - 60-70%
Internet - 90%

Seeing those percentages I would be all over the Internet ( That is right I all ready am) and I do well at it.

Thank you Jeff for posting this ~

A
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  • June 26, 2007
I would like to comment on:
"be sure to buy your URL as a keyword. I guess this was note worthy, though about 99.9% of the time if someone types your URL into Google or Yahoo, your website better dam site be #1 in the natural listings."
Jeff, I see your point and you are correct your URL should be #1 in the natural listings but a good number of users if not majority simply do not make a distinction between "natural" or organic and paid listings.
Organic listings do not start on Google until position 4 in most cases and Yahoo it is the 5th position.
We don't directly bid on other site's URLs but when the URL is a combination of keywords that we do bid on our ad will show at the top and we get a surprising number of clicks and leads this way.

I can pull some actual statistics but trust me compared to loosing a customer to your competitor the 5 or 10 cents Google will charge you per click to place an ad for your own URL is well worth the price.

Alex
R
Looks like Dealerskins is joining the game of free seminars now to:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/7/prweb536968.htm

R