Are any of you using embedded video clips within your emails for your internet sales process? If so, where are you hosting the videos?
Are you running into problems with spam filters?
What do you put in your videos?
Many thanks for any insight!
eCommerce Director – Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
Corey Mosley is apparently declaring a state of emergency for automotive dealerships across the country. After completing a series of mystery shops nationally, Corey said “It’s enough to make a guy want to retire and run the other way”.
I’ve never performed a nationwide mystery shop but do shop several of my local and competitive dealers and it’s amazing to find how inconsistent most dealers are. The 3 day rule seems to be the average follow-up time frame most dealers / sales people stick with. I know some of my sales people are at times guilty of this. This is where a strong BDC effort needs to come into play, just a simple 5 day PR phone call can make a nice difference.
Here is the complete article and a
link to the original.
Internet Sales State of Emergency – by Cory L. Mosley
This month I bring some grim news, after completing a series of mystery shops nationally I must declare a state of emergency for automotive dealerships across the country. It is seriously alarmed that an overwhelming percentage of dealerships do not brand their dealership, make phone calls to contact prospects, don’t believe in follow-up past 3 days, and just plain ole’ don’t get it! It’s enough to make a guy want to retire and run the other way. The icing on the cake however was the amount of general managers and dealer principals that did not want to see their stores results and/or didn’t want to do anything about fixing the problems. Deficiency of knowledge is one thing, but a desire to not fix a problem that in the long run will cost a dealership millions of dollars in lost front end, back end, and service grosses is just plain ole’ astonishing. The one fun part about having your own newsletter is that you can be as direct as you want, so here it is.
10 questions to ask yourself regarding your commitment to Internet sales success:
- Does my dealership have a clear vision of the expectations for the Internet?
- Other than buying products from vendors, what investment have I made to
ensure the success of my dealerships Internet department?
- What investment have I made in my Internet personnel (for dealer or GM)?
- What investment has my dealership made in me? (for Internet/BDC sales professional)?
- On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, what is the overall value I put on the Internet department at my dealership?
- Do I believe we are maximizing our Internet sales opportunities and if not what am I doing to change that?
- What is holding me back from embracing the Internet customer or taking my Internet sales efforts to the next level?
- If I am not going to invest in building a successful Internet operation
then what is my game plan to control the sales I will be losing to my
- Is it possible that I have to reevaluate my belief system in regards to the Internet customer?
- Do I want help filling the gaps in my Internet sales results?
The industry is gearing up for the summer selling season, let’s make sure we make the most out it! Don’t we all deserve it?
I’m curious as to how various dealerships are counting Internet deals for pay?
We use a simple system: If a customer submits an Internet Inquiry, we require either a direct phone conversation with the customer be logged into our CRM or have two email responses from the customer. We also count phone calls that originate from various web sites/lead generators as deals worthy for compensation in the Internet department. Basically, it is an Internet deal when either two emails or a phone call are logged in the CRM. My staff is only paid on sold units that they had a provable hand in selling, and we audit the inputs into the CRM.
From speaking to many other dealers over the past few years it sounds like we are a bit more stringent in this area than others.
Director of eCommerce – Checkered Flag Motor Car Corp.
Cliff Banks over at Wards Dealer Business wrote an article with Lisa Keller of eValuation Inc. on how we, as Internet sales managers, need to be careful that our leads are not “evaporating”. Basically saying; it’s always possible for technical problems to arise (like servers crashing) and not allowing leads from our website to make their way into your Internet lead management (ILM) software, and never knowing about it.
I’m sure this could be a possible concern, but how would someone on “our end” track this unless a server went down for hours and it became obvious? I would hope that the vendors providing dealer websites realize the importance of a dealer receiving every lead and have back up measures in place to prevent such a
What I found more interesting are the statistics that Lisa is able to gather with their mystery shopping service. We all know the longer it takes a dealership to respond to a lead less chance you have of selling that customer. BUT it’s nice to see some hard numbers proving it.
The article also touched on the importance of strong email responses.
The quality of the response is an area many dealerships fail at. According to Keller, strong e-mail responses should include the following six things:
You want to thank the customer for the opportunity and introduce yourself and the store. Pretend the customer is in front of you.
Provide at least one alternative vehicle
Two or three are better. Always include a certified pre-owned alternative. A pricing range also should be included. Studies show most customers have not decided on what they want when they contact the store. More information may help you set that appointment and close the sale.
Give the customer a reason to buy from you.
Keller calls it a value proposition statement. According to a Cobalt Group study last year, more than 90% of online automotive shoppers buy from a dealership other than the first one they contacted.
Ask two qualifying questions
Provide reasons why you are asking the questions. For example, determine the trim level of the vehicle they are interested in. Why? Different trim levels can change a vehicle’s by as much as $10,000.
Be direct and ask for the appointment.
“We see many responses in which the salesperson says, ‘Let me know if there is anything else I can do,’ and leaves it that,” Keller says. “Seeing that is like nails on a chalkboard.”
Provide your name, e-mail address and phone number along with the web site address and physical address of the dealership.
My question to Lisa; does a dealer include all of this information in 1 email or do you spread this information over a few emails?
I personally spread the information over a few emails. When writing email I think you have to be quick and too the point. Long winded emails will quickly loose your readers’ attention. AND using a few emails to get your point across gets your name in front of the customer a few more times. It makes it easier for the customer to find YOU in their inbox.
Lisa, if you read this..contact me!
We are looking closely at using either iMagicLab or Higher Gear for our CRM.
Is anyone using the iMagicLab CRM that has also used Higher Gear?
Which did they like better?
Is there anything you did not like about the iMagic’s DealerCRM or Higher Gear? We have been told that the Higher Gear system communicates better with your Reynolds DMS than iCar, is that true? I would appreciate any input…
eCommerce Director – Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
Jennifer Schrader is the Internet sales and BDC manager at Williams KIA in Traverse City, MI. We were on the subject of reports and how crucial it is for Internet sales managers / BDC managers to track their performance. So I asked her if she would write a quick article on how she came about tracking her performance and how it has benefited her and her department.
Here it is:
Benefiting from your Reports
Starting in the Internet Sales department for a small buy-here-pay-here dealership with 5 locations I had quickly gained knowledge on how to sell to internet leads. I then moved onto a volume dealership with an increased flow of internet traffic and leads. I had done very well working with the increased volume of leads and was successful with setting appointments and closing sales.
After setting a few sales records for the dealership; I felt the need to track my performance; number of appointments made, shown appointments to customers sold. I decided throw down what was floating in my head into a spreadsheet. Within a short time I had a resourceful report for tracking my MONTH END and a YEAR END SUMMARY results.
I quickly found that tracking; total internet leads to scheduled appointments, kept appointments to appointments sold provide huge benefits and enable you to track your strong and weak key performance areas.
Here are some of the benefits that have been very useful to me and my department.
- Keeps yourself and your team on track
- Quicker buy-in from General Management
- Measuring your success
- Allows you to set obtainable goals
- Determines where improvements are needed:
- Appointments are down (follow-up needs to improve)
- Kept appointments down (follow-up and more accurate appointment confirmation)
- High shows ~ Low Sales (closing the customer needs improved)
The number 1 benefit of tracking your performance is receiving acknowledgement from upper management while being prepared to answer “the questions”. How many times has your GM or GSM asked you for a number off the top of your head regarding status of your Internet sales performance? With this report there are no questions to be asked; everything is there!
My spread sheet reports have been a huge asset for myself and my BDC. I thought I would share them with whoever is interested. If you’re not already tracking your appointment to sales performance, maybe these will help.
Guest Posting by Jennifer Schrader
Business Development Center Director for Williams KIA
Our three-location dealership family is in the process of switching websites. After a bit of research, I’ve categorized our web options into three groups:
- All-inclusive website/online marketing/CRM tool
- Standalone website
- Local web design/host service
After considering cost, functionality, relevance, and flexibility, we have decided to pursue a standalone website. We all use Autobase as our CRM, ADP WebSuite internally, and our IT manager (who is VERY sensitive to Can-Spam requirements) requires Mozilla (and his watchful eye) for our email campaigns.
Out of our standalone site options, we are considering two. ADP Dynamic Web Premier and Dealerskins. Two locations (our MB-Volvo-VW store and our Audi-Nissan-Subaru-Toyota-VW store) have decided on ADP and our Dodge store opted for Dealerskins. Ownership would like to use only one vendor, so we have a dilemma.
As an ADP advocate, here is my argument. I believe there are three main differences between the two. Here are two.
1. The look. In my opinion, ADP offerings are clean, fresh, and plenty flexible for our needs. With a few small icon changes on the inventory pages, I think ADP would be a homerun for an Import store. Inventory is represented well, and the media gallery (with int. and ext. spins) is very impressive. I think Dealerskins sites are naturally too busy. Both have good navigability, but seeing through the clutter is a bit trying.
2. Calls to action. Dealerskins uses too many calls to action that require giving up gross. In a market where most of our OEM lines are exclusive to the area, I don’t believe such a plan is needed. ADP uses well-placed, relevant calls to action throughout all pages of the site. I can see the benefit to a Dodge store, but I don’t know if the average Volvo buyer would necessarily respond to a $200 Internet coupon.
Which finally brings me to my question. I believe that compatibility with our current inventory database is another very important difference. Since we use ADP already, our compatibility with Dynamic Web regarding inventory polling should be seamless. And I have heard that Dealerskins uses a 3rd party program to link ADP inventory to the site. I have also heard that ADP considers any non-ADP polling as hostile, and treats it differently. From what I understand, some manual input is necessary. Is this true? Is there a distinct disadvantage to Dealerskins because of this? With the exception of photos, I would prefer to be hands-off when it comes to inventory updates to our site.
Eric J. Deising
Internet Sales Manager
I thought this was worthy of a separate posting. Peter over at Mercedes-Benz had a few questions and I was up for the challenge!!
Jeff, All this talk about Autotrader.com. I have been a big believer of “featured listings”. About 1/2 the cost of premium listings. If you actually put search criteria that an actual car shopper would use (example Mercedes-Benz C230 in a 25 mile radius), Your featured listing will still show on the first page of listings. You can use the $1,000 you save monthly on Dealix or another lead provider. Just some thoughts from an old-school ISM.
Peter, I’m in line with your thinking. I’ve been considering dropping back down to the Featured Listings.
From 2005, working the (lesser) Premium package, to 2006 working the Partner package, my accredited AutoTrader sales increased ONLY 1.4 vehicles a month. Was this due to being a Premium partner or due to having a larger selection of used car inventory in 2006?
Thinking about this, I dug a little deeper and compared JUST my Pre-Owned Mercedes vehicles sold from 2005 to 2006. I did this because we are a Partner with ONLY Mercedes-Benz, this means my non Mercedes vehicles are listed in the Premium displays and not the Partner (top) displays. I recorded a .3% increase (basically none) in Mercedes Pre-Owned sales on the 2006 Partner package over using the 2005 Premium package.
So what about my Non-Mercedes-Benz? From 2005 to 2006 my increase in AutoTrader accredited sales increased .45. I looked at this figure for the simple fact that maybe my Partner Mercedes listings helped filter customers into our Non-Mercedes inventory. This obviously was not the case.
I also tracked the average gross of our Pre-Owned Mercedes-Benz over Non Mercedes-Benz AutoTrader accredited sales. My Pre-Owned Mercedes sales gross averaged $200.00 over my Non Mercedes sales gross. An increase, but not a huge one.
So..according to my reports, spending another $1,000 or so more for the Partner Listings is not making much sense.
AutoTrader would be quick to argue this due to the fact that you get a Banner Ad with the Partner and not the Premium. How valuable is that banner ad, especially when dealers and consumer have to deal with
stuff like this? I track my banner ad CTR (click through rate) every month and if I were paying just 200.00 per month for my banner ad on AutoTrader, I would be averaging around $3.77 per click (Ouch!). I believe that the banner ad has some branding value to it, but I’m not sure what price tag you place on it and there really is no way of tacking it unless you are sending the customer to your dealer website from your banner ad and you are able to track the conversion from there.
If I’m not mistaken the Partner package also allows you more then 9 photos and this could be a benefit that gives you a slight advantage over other dealers (though I find most dealers paying for the Partner Listings still only display 9 photos or less). I would always use this as an excuse to get a customers email address. “Mr. Smith, share with me your email address, I have 15 more photos of this car I can send you.” Then send them a link to the photos on your website.
Now AutoTrader is offering their 2007 products and I’m sure they have all new pricing to go along. I know it
seems like I’m hard on AutoTrader but I guess when you’re one of the “Big Guys” everyone has their eyes on you. Overall my ROI makes total sense with AutoTrader and I’m not looking to drop them unless they price themselves so far out of the market, though that seems to be their trend, especially for smaller dealers like
As a 22 year industry pro I took the past 4 years off from the auto biz. I have been lured back in by a great dealer with a big sales slide problem. I agreed to come in and help build his internet department. What I am hoping you can help me find is some stats that show some industry averages on the internet such as:
- Lead to Appt ratio%
- Appointment Kept %
- Appointment to sale ratio
I know I need something to base projections on, and I need help gathering some number
Your time and assistance is appreciated.
Jon Hageman II
Internet Sales Manager
Mike Whitty over at Salesperson Inc. shares his view of the 3 different types of basic shoppers and their thought process.
The Click ‘N’ Order vs Click ‘N’ Brick vs Brick ‘N’ Mortar Customer –
For the longest time, customers purchased items in one of two ways: either by walking into a store or mail ordering from a catalog. Well, in many cases, the store is still there, but the mail order catalog is slowly being replaced by the Internet. It’s less costly and can be updated more frequently by providing this information on the web, then having our poor mail carriers lug these heavy catalogs around, and reproduce them with the high cost of printing and stamps.
So, to help you understand where your customer future lies in relationship to the Internet, I’ve placed customers into three main categories, and attempted to provide a description of each.
Click ‘N’ Order Customers
Click ‘N’ Order customers usually purchase items based on price, information, and service. A dealership appealing to Click ‘N’ Order customers usually needs to provide all three or be so superior in one facet, like offering special
internet pricing, that they don’t mind less concentration on the other two factors. In reality, many people don’t expect to necessarily save money by shopping online, especially by the time shipping costs are factored into the
final price. They do expect value-added sellers, and they love buying from the comforts of their home. For example, automotive dealerships that have online parts and accessory pages on their websites provide a great deal of information, selection, and customer service through their website and this can appeal to many Click ‘N’ Order customers. Click ‘N’ Order customers expect their online experience to be fast and extensive, painless, with more options than Brick ‘N’ Mortar. If there are any problems with their online experience, they can immediately click away to another website. In a few words, Click ‘N’ Order customers expect speed, flexibility, and options; they are generally very savvy shoppers. Plus, they just have a lot of fun buying things in their pajamas and having them delivered directly to their front door in just a matter of days.
Click ‘N’ Brick Customers
The Click ‘N’ Brick customer is on the way to becoming a Click ‘N’ Order customer, but hasn’t reached the point of feeling comfortable doing financial transactions online. Though they find the Internet exciting and spend a lot of time surfing the web, they feel that putting a credit card online is unsafe. But they do love doing a lot of research to determine what and where to buy. The Click ‘N’ Brick customer will gather all the information on the RV of choice, print it out, and take it right to the dealership to begin the buying and negotiating process. It’s this fact alone that makes the Click ‘N’ Brick customer feel more special than the Brick ‘N’ Mortar Customer when they come into your dealership. They just know more and feel they have the upper hand when it comes to buying a new vehicle. It used to be that salespeople hated to see these customers come into the dealership (like with their Consumer Reports) since they were more knowledgeable with facts and figures than the typical Brick ‘N’ Mortar customer. Sometimes they may even know more about the features of the vehicle and its competition than the salesperson (which isn’t a good thing!)
Brick ‘N’ Mortar Customer
Brick ‘N’ Mortar customers are a slightly different breed. They may not know how to search the internet, or may not even have a computer yet. If they do have a computer, they’re afraid to use it. They can and will take more time enjoying the “shopping experience.” A Brick ‘N’ Mortar customer is not as likely to leave an RV Dealership because there are a lot of customers in the showroom, as an Internet customer will click off your site if they don’t like the experience. A Brick ‘N’ Mortar customer at ABC dealer can’t search 10 other dealerships in 10 other states just to verify that ABC dealer has the lowest price while they are in the showroom. Once a Brick ‘N’ Mortar customer receives personalized attention, it is likely they will come back to the same place again. Brick ‘N’ Mortar customers like to “touch and feel” and are more likely to pick up parts and accessories they didn’t originally intend to purchase when they left home.
The descriptions for each might not be totally accurate with every customer, but I think you can see that there are differences with each, and they each have their own idea on how to shop. Since you already have a process in place for the Brick ‘N’ Mortar customer, it’s time to begin concentrating on the other two for increasing your future Internet sales. – Mike Whitty
Thanks for your article Mike.
Mike Whitty is President and Owner of Salesperson Inc.
Your can contact Mike at
http://www.mikewhitty.com or (800) 453-2787