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
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
leads 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
process”. 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.