Opinions & Advice

ROCKIN’ Employees – Where the Hell are They?

Skills at the Dealership

It’s not easy to watch a Dealer who is the true sense of an Entrepreneur, look and feel defeated. It was painstaking to see.

Why was he feeling this way?

Because he was faced with the reality that his sales team was incapable of responding to internet leads.

I know what you are thinking. Incapable?

Equally as painstaking is watching people who simply do not use a computer for their personal lives let alone work. Just locating an area to type a document or retrieving an email or even making changes to an existing email template, was hard to wait for and watch.

Believe me, I was wondering the same thing you probably are…what world are these guys living in?

Salespeople that work internet leads today must be capable and willing to send over 25 emails and place over 25 calls per day in order to get the minimum amount of sales from the lead pool. But what would you do if you were in this situation? Fire em’ all?

You see it’s situations like these are reminders that every dealership will not and should not have the same business model at converting internet leads to showroom sales.

Allow me add the icing to the cake in this real story.

Between the two stores, this dealer will make over $3 million dollars selling Kia’s this year. That does not include any internet sales. Most salespeople had never even sent an email to a customer in years of their employment here. With average grosses of $3300 a copy, your eyebrow may have just raised. On average, they see 30-50 people on a Saturday. Ups.

Does this bus still really exist?  Holy S@!*%, right? SO what is a dealer to do in this situation?  The stores aren’t broken.  The lowest paid salesperson makes $60K/year. I saw 40 obvious deals waiting there.  What would 40 more deals a month do to this bottom line?

Does this dealer need them?  ..or does he want them?

I recommended a dealership BDC Department. A BDC with an objective to set appointments. Their role is to respond to internet leads, follow up by phone and email until they buy or die. BDC departments serve a real purpose for many dealerships. Yet I still see plenty of dealerships that have dedicated salespeople handling the internet prospects and converting at a much higher ratio than a BDC department.

It will always be a challenge to find an entire sales team that have the abilities, capabilities, desire and motivation to handle the most challenging prospect around, the internet prospect.

This poses a thereat to 21st century dealerships. Interviewing skills and approaches must change drastically..  The skill sets of today’s salesman must include rockin’ phone and email skills.

If you know this aspect is not your best skill set, I suggest you get out and make it your best skill set!  No one is born with this, remember, it is a learned quality.  You, just like me, can achieve anything with determination and desire.

Do your sales people have the ROCKIN’ skill sets to be effective with today’s consumer – from Internet Lead to Sale?

  • K
    Kyle Suss
  • December 22, 2011
just hired an appointment setter for our internet leads. we need to make a little headway on converting these internet prospects -- historical conversion rates for us have been pretty low for us
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • December 22, 2011
I have a dealer that incorporates a BDC for Internet leads and I have 2 dealers that are cradle to grave. Each dealer has it's own struggles and set of employees with different skill sets. Though I still believe when you have a BDC set up properly that truly works along side of the sales department and managers, you can have some ROCKIN' results. 20% plus percent closing ratio across the board with internet leads. Of course that's after also optimizing your marketing and lead mix.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • December 22, 2011
BTW Jennifer, I feel your pain and often have the same questions. We have tackled many of these questions over in the dealer forums. So many opinions around BDC vs Cradle to Grave
Cradle to grave can work really well when the right people are doing it.  Unfortunately, there aren't many of the "right people" around.  I think that's most of your point Jennifer.

We started with a BDC in 1998, but it failed around 2000 due to splitting commissions with sales agents.  We were cradle to grave from that time till 2004 and had great success with the BDC until October of 2008 when it was dismantled to save on costs during the recession.  The dismantling only lasted a few short months as it was almost immediately clear just how much was lost by not having a BDC.  I should mention this is a 12-franchise dealer group serving a population around 1,000,000.

The problem with cradle to grave isn't just in having the "right people" it also has a lot to do with lead volume.  One GOOD cradle to grave sales person can probably handle about 75 leads a month.  I say 75 because they stack-up in later follow-up.  Not all Internet lead-submitters buy within 7 days of dropping the lead.  A full time BDC agent, on a good process with the right CRM, can handle around 200 leads a month.  

Let's do the math.  75 leads for a cradle to grave agent at around a 12% closing ratio (generous national average) equals 9 sales a month.  200 leads for a good BDC agent at a 20% closing ratio (Kershner average) equals 40 sales a month.  Can anyone say "duuuuuh?"      
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • December 22, 2011
I have worked with stores where Cradle to grave works well but there are opportunities still missing.  It took me a long time to adjust to a  BDC.  In fact, I did not get into until late 2007 when I started running one.  Now I am a BDC advocate all day long.  I learned how to make a BDC rock and I even experimented with processes.  The key here is to have a dealer invest in it and want to make it work.  Some dealers do not want to justify the expense while others are all over it.  I think that with an open mind that the decision to have a BDC should depend on various variables.  I look at what product is being sold and consider the volume that the product (not the store) generally moves.  I also look at location and setup of the store.  Let's face it.  It a dealer is only getting 100 leads per month and has no care in the world to try to grow to 300 leads per month they do not need a BDC.  Chances are they are landlocked and can only do so much.  I have clients that are like that.  Now a city store or a high traffic store that generates 1000s of leads per month needs a BDC.  It is all about setup and location.
I have to add this.  If I had to go back to be a sales person for myself I would prefer cradle to grave.  Give me 120 leads per month and I will work them and sell them.  It was how I got into internet sales to begin with.  The phone skills were there and the process was there for me.  All I had to do was work hard and multi-task and I was successful.  But not everyone can do that.
  • C
  • December 26, 2011
We run a BDC department, and they are considered appointment setters.  This BDC set up has historically shown stronger gross profits.  Reason being is cradle to grave salesman will get complacent once the customer shows and they have already spent so much energy with the customer.  They will go ahead and deliver that $200 deal.  However, when you turn it to a fresh NEW face, that salesperson is motivated and hopefully can get the customer to switch trim levels and models.  No difference why we don't have salesman do Finance.  

In addition, I think 25 emails and 25 calls a day is light.  We get well over 50 calls a day out of our Internet sales staff.
  • B
  • January 10, 2012
Take a look at Better Car People, home of Overnight BDC. We are a 24/7/365/ lead management service for your sales and service leads.
  • A
  • January 30, 2012
Disagree. BDC's are horrible and I've seen them fail over and over. I say eliminate the internet department. All sales are internet involved these days. BDC is old school and so are internet sales people. Look at JD powers studies about consumers and contact with dealers prior to purchase. It keeps going down and down year after year. I believe we are at 80% for 2012 of consumers having no contact prior to arriving at the dealership. You need great mandatory dealership processes, excellent merchandising and if anything chat to text. Maybe you need a text department rather than a BDC.
  • D
  • January 30, 2012
@ATCEXGIRL Your view and definition of a BDC is what it is to many others and thats where it fails. BDC stands for business development center where you have qualified and trained reps working to drum up business.

A BDC should include a process for not only answering "internet" leads and answering the incoming phone calls but also...

Long term follow up weeks after the initial contact.

outbound calls to potential consumers that have visited your showroom where a sale didn't result.

Day after survey - save a deal calls.

Same car same payment contacts - this is where a strong BDC can bring incremental business to the dealership.

Declined service calls.

The list goes on.

BDC's can be a huge asset and a great revenue generator for any dealership but like anything else, it imperative that's it's ran correctly by all the right people.

What are the functions of your BDC and how do you measure the results?
  • M
    Mark Hilger
  • March 3, 2012
Whether to go Cradle to Grave or two tier sales process is really dependent on the dealership.  However in my opinion if it is good enough for Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and many companies that use an engineered sales process, it is good enough for me.
Here is one major pain point I see with cradle to grave on internet leads in with our clients, the person that got the lead in the door is invested and often times committed.  True often this is due to lack of or not following procedures but we still see it as a pain point.
Of course we/I don't get do BDC consulting, other than to suggest to our clients they check into one so I would defer to others.
  • L
  • October 20, 2013
Im a BDC agent, and I finf my job to be very important and rewarding. I love talking to people. Our job is to get people who are unsure about purchasing a vehicle interested! We answer their questions, give them advice, and do everything towards them purchasing. Its worth it.