Industry News & Trends

Will the Internet sales department fade away?

Not sure how I missed this article but I thank Mr. Chavez over at Phil Long for pointing it out. Cliff Banks published an article back in the beginning of
April “The
Death of the Internet Dept.?

Cliff writes about how the dedicated internet sales department could be a
thing of the past
and the 2 departments (showroom and internet) will merge.
Several dealers are already running their operations like this; the sales
manager farms out the leads to the showroom sales people or the BDC handles the
until the appointment is set and the customer physically comes into the showroom to work with the
showroom sales staff.

"What is happening is many dealerships are folding their Internet operations
along with the showroom operations into business-development centers. BDCs
typically handle all of the incoming leads, whether they be phone calls,
Internet purchase requests or walk-n traffic. In most cases, BDCs will do all of
the follow up
and set up appointments with people who contact the dealership."

"But some dealerships are avoiding the BDC. The Koons Automotive Companies,
whose dealerships are mainstays on the Ward’s e-Dealer 100, late last year
eliminated its Internet departments. For years, the group had a central
department that acted as a BDC, farming the leads to the various in-store
Internet sales people."

On many levels, I totally agree. I’ve never been a huge advocate of a
dedicated Internet sales department; though I see how many dealers feel as if
they have to separate their internet operations form the showroom AND have been
very successful doing it this way.

I’m currently fortunate enough to be working at a dealer where my sales
people want to learn how to use the internet and technology (CRM’s) to help
sell more cars. I have always said; “if this is the career you choose, then you
need to adapt to the changing times and learn how to communicate with and market
yourself to today’s consumers”. I have spent many hours training my “showroom”
sales people how to be the “Internet Sales Person”. We are all Internet Sales

My philosophy works for my current dealer but I often wonder what it would be
like in a much larger operation. I recognize that many sales people are “Face to
Face” people and are not so good with email or the phone. Where do these
sales people fall in the whole scheme of this business while it moves forward?
Do they have a place on the new showroom floor?

As for running a BDC, I think all current Internet Sales Managers should be
learning the in’s and out’s
of dealer business development operations and how to
build a profitable BDC (not just a PR call center). However, there are many
dealers that still do not see value in a BDC.

"General Manager Mike Hills isn’t so sure. “We’ll see,” he says. He’s not a
fan of the BDC, calling it a “disjointed process.”"

I would like to have heard Mike Hill elaborate more on the “disjointed
”. Though I think I know where he is coming from I still believe if
executed right, a BDC can be a profit center. Another consideration is to have a
combination of in-house and outsourced business development efforts. Many times
the ROI can make better sense, especially for smaller dealers.

So will the Internet sales department fade away or better yet “go the way of
the DoDo bird
.” As Chip Perry put it? I think it’s already starting.

Leave your feedback?

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
Our "Internet Department" (a non-BDC-like department) lasted from 1997 to July of 2006. In our larger stores we had a BDC-like Internet Department since late 2004. Up until that point, our BDC's were separate from the Internet Departments.

We had also been through 6 different department models ranging from a selling Internet Coordinator/Manager per store to a completely centralized Internet/BDC solution for our entire company (current model). If the idea that the traditional Internet Department is dead because those departments have been integrated into a BDC-like environment, then I have to agree.

Of course, this will not be as evident the case for single-point dealers, but I do believe a mixed phone/Internet department is the way to go.

I have heard people take things a step further by saying the BDC's will go away as CRM systems get better and better - it will once again become a salesperson's responsibility to follow and harvest the incoming analog and digital business. I think this will never happen. For the same reason the Internet Departments and BDC's exist today is the same reason why they will exist tomorrow: salespeople, salesmanagers, and GM's will not effectively follow-up and data-mine.

Will the BDC/Internet model change again? I don't know. Technology changes too often to make that prediction.
In the near-term, I think Alex is right about the issue of GM's effectively following-up and data-mining. We have been in this space for over 12 years and that has been a somewhat consistent issue.

There are certainly very successful exceptions and we are seeing more and more of them over time, yet they still represent a minority of the whole.

With the convergence of technologies, and a younger generation moving in, we may start to see a shift. The kids having txt-speed contests with their friends today (whom have grown up surrounded by these technologies) will eventually be representative of the majority of the workplace; unlike today.

Not only will there be a more tech-savvy workplace, but as the technologies themselves improve it will be easier to stay on top of things with less effort. That's where we try to help : )

It will be interesting to see how the future unfolds.
Andrew Salamone
Yes about time for the separate department/coordinator to fade out. I have been on a quite a few website training calls where the coordinator just wants to hog the internet deparment, not share the leads and do the follow up's himself. Doesn't want anyone else to get the training on how to manage the inventory online or how the ILM works... Silly you... what will happen when you are on Vaction or Sick??

I have to agree with Alex.. you have to do proper follow-up and data-mine... but to mine that data you need the correct and up to date data. Amazing that most dealers DMS systems do not even have up-to-date inventory or customer information. Further to mine that data you must have full access to it... it is your data and you own it... not the DMS provider.

So please support Open Secure Access.