Don’t know about you but when I saw this headline quote “I don’t like to look at a screen. I like to look at a face”, of the latest Automotive News issue and its article NET LOSS : Few dealerships master the art of handling online leads – I almost lost it.
The article written by Donna Harris reflected on several dealerships around the nation and how they handle 3rd party leads and incoming flood of Internet generated leads through other venues. It was a well written piece and gave a very good glimpse on the current Status Quo in our automotive Internet Sales World. Everything was fine until I “stepped” on the quote of a sales person, a sales veteran for more than 20 years of domestic brand.
“I don’t like to look at a screen. I like to look at a face.” is telling me as a leader of several Internet teams, that this Gentleman should definitely not receive any leads. Why – because of his preconditioning and seeing the Internet as the reason (and I quote) “online price competition has slashed his pay in the last few years in half…the Internet has created a cold sales environment”. Wow, and I thought that “off-line marketing oriented sales pro’s” from the past have learned something in the last 7 years.
I actually feel personally offended by the comment made, and by sales people who are seeking reason for their staling performance and smaller pay stubs on the technology site and not by themselves. What they do not understand is that the technology factor is a daily beast, and you need to adapt – whatever it takes and time it will take to get it right.
When I would have had the attitude in 2001 – “I don’t like to look at a screen. I like to look at a face”…guess what, I would have never met my beautiful wife, would never have three tremendous kids, and possible would still sit in Germany and paying 49% income tax. I met my wife 10 years ago on “the screen”, via AOL pen pals, and without having a face attached to the written communication, we hit it pretty much off.
Because I saw the opportunity what the Internet actually was able to give to an open minded person, I met my wife months and months later in the U.S. – when you want it is almost like a mid-funnel automotive buyer, who still is figuring out what model she wants.
Sticking to this engaging “new” medium at this point (a.k.a. email) – hitting the send and the reply button, this initial pen pal conversation went far further then ever anybody had thought it would be possible. We kept it interesting and information was flowing back and forth. Nothing different then an Internet lead inquiry, where you as a sales pro have the duty to keep the communication flow interesting and in timely manner.
So please; You Sales People in the world out there – promise me to start checking on your attitude and tweak it accordingly and show me a virtual smile when you receive an Internet lead. Just don’t judge Internet Leads as “evil”, but see the entire technological metamorphosis as an opportunity to make your email response stand-out and its content count – when you want just see it as your first “firm handshake!”