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Do you Protect your Internet Sales Staff from the floor?

Discussion in 'CRM, ILM, and Desking Support & Best Practices' started by parkavebmw, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. parkavebmw

    parkavebmw Noob

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    Gregg
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    I am curious to see how other dealers handle protecting/skating of the internet sales department.

    In our store we use HIgher Gear and the internet department uses it 100% of the time. My sales floor only logs ups in at the time of sale. Then we are notified in our CRM that one of our potential customers is in our store buying a car. When the GSM is notified he basically only cares that the car is sold and gives the line "Why didn't they ask for you....?" I will look into the history of the customer and if I see my staff has had recent contact (no auto responders), I feel that we are entitled to the customer. I will only protect my staff if they have been in touch in the last 2 weeks or less.

    So my question is how do other stores handle this? I know this is going on in every store across the country so I would love to hear how some other dealers handle this. Do you protect your internet staff for a number of days/weeks?

    Gregg
  2. DrewAment

    DrewAment Jr. Refresher

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    Ahhh...the protection..and how to handle it. No matter what you decide, it needs to be in WRITING with NO gray area. Followed to the i's and t's. You need to protect the "floor" too....what about the customer that came in, then goes home that night and submits an internet request? A few examples:

    1. Customer protection is valid for any salesperson having a logged and manager confirmed appt in the CRM. This protection extends for 12 hours before the appointment and 24 hours after the appointment.
    2. Customer protection is valid for any salesperson that has recent 2 way communication with the customer. 2 way communication is an email RECEIVED from the customer and a response back from the salesperson, and/or a phone conversation with the customer (not a 'left message'). This protection will extend for 72 hours of the logged event in the CRM with notes for all phone conversations.
    3. Customer protection is valid for any showroom visit that is logged in the CRM, and had a VALID and LOGGED turnover to management before the customer leaving . This protection shall be for 72 hours.

    Anything not in the CRM...no protection. Any salesperson found to be skating will have the entire customer deal taken away - etc etc etc.

    Of course you should also have a meet and greet sales step (step #1??) where the question of "What brought you to the dealership today?", "Have you been talking to or emailing with anyone here?", "Who are you here to see today?", etc etc etc.

    Policies, dates, times will all vary based on dealership needs and wants.

    Hope this helps.

    --Drew
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  3. Matt DoCampo

    Matt DoCampo Refresher

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    The problem is, there's always an element of gray. If the policy is a contact within 2 weeks and the only contact the CA had with the customer was a voice mail or an email, do they really deserve the deal? Most of our stores don't have a dedicated internet department. But in the stores that do, the skate policy is showing a succession of recent communication with the customer. One email or a voicemail does not constitute a split deal. The rule is open to interpretation by management.

    BTW, small world. I used to work with one of your CAs at the Honda dealership up the street.
  4. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    A little history....

    In 1998 we started an Internet Department that was centralized and served 9 different locations. When a deal was sold that could be sourced to the Internet Department the commission was split between the sales agent and the Internet Department.

    I sold cars during those days and I recall how much I hated the Internet Department. "You mean to tell me these 3 people down the street just told a customer to walk in at 3:15 PM today and I just spent 5 hours negotiating and holding their hand for a mini deal? A mini deal that is now being split with someone who didn't do crap!!! F^$@ that!!!" The sales floor ended up sabotaging the department by hiding deals from them. Managers actually helped. It was an unfair pay plan. But it made sense from the 10,000-foot-view.

    The department was dissolved around 2000. In 2001 my GM approached me and said "Alex, you're in college, you're young, you can type - can you handle these Honda leads I'm catching a lot of hell over for not answering?" That's when I got involved in the Internet business. Over time we found a need to export things I was doing at Honda to other stores and in 2004 my current position was created.

    In 2004 we started our "re-newed Internet Department" evolution with Internet Sales Coordinators (most other dealerships call them Internet Sales Managers). With multiple rooftops I quickly discovered that a few of these ISC's would only work if I was standing over their shoulders - the stores had no desire to manage them. In some cases these ISC's were splitting deals with sales agents, so they were hated.....and I think that had a bit to do with the managers' attitude toward managing them.

    In 2005 we turned our Toyota store's Internet Department into a hybrid BDC. It worked so well, that we consolidated the entire company into one BDC in 2006. The real trick was not to repeat what our last centralized Internet Department did, so we charged the BDC to the advertising budget and did not do anything to effect a sales person's commission or unit count.

    In September of 2008 the economy went to hell. We went through lay-offs and broke the BDC up to become ISC's in the stores again. We thought our GM's and sales managers were better versed and educated (and they were) to better manage the ISC's this time around. But by January of 2009 it was obvious things were being neglected. All the strides we made in the CRM were gone, people were demoralized, everything I built was disappearing - it was a sad time for me.

    By March of 2009 the signs were so clear that we put everything back to the way it was before September 2008.

    Summary: Why do I tell you this?


    Mainly because it is a little after 6:00 AM and I ramble before I have my full dose of coffee :lol: ...just kidding, there are a few lessons to be learned here.

    1. People are dumb and lazy by nature. Jeff and I were reminded of this yesterday after a little April Fools joke :rolleyes:

    2. There is a deeply embeded culture of "wait for a customer to show up; don't go get one" that has infected our sales floors. I'm talking about our entire industry.

    3. Don't mess with a sales person's money. If they perceive you to be taking their money, they will rebel. No matter how worthy or rational the cause.

    4. Don't expect a sales floor to get anything done beyond working a customer in person and the other traditional activities. Over time, this has changed, but it is a slooooow change.

    To answer your question

    We don't need to protect our BDC because they don't "take anything away" from the sales floor - they add to it! Sales agents and managers now view them as a huge assistance that allows them to concentrate on the things they like doing. The only issue we have is trying to stop a sales agent from entering a duplicate customer and fouling everyone up by putting us all on different CRM follow-up tracks with that customer. It took me over 10 years to learn that this is the way to do it. It will take me another 10 years to keep pushing the sales floors toward breaking their "wait for a customer to show up; don't go get one" culture.
  5. danoneil

    danoneil Sr. Refresher

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    I have mentioned this a few times in different threads. Our store moved to a 2 internet manager system in March of last year. When a internet customer comes in ,who ever greets them, gets them and both of us ( ISM'S) are paid the same amount. We do not deliver, test drive or do any paperwork. We let salespeople do all of that. Sales jumped 40% in 12 months. We set a new record last month with 102 sales.

    It's a great system, allows salespeople to be on the floor. Internet leads get a quick response and better follow up. Not to mention no fights with salespeople.
  6. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner Founder Staff Member

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    Great job Dan - it's nice hearing you and Hal are stilling going strong. I think the set up there - ISM/Appointment specialists tends to be the best set up for most dealers.

    As you said - "It's a great system, allows salespeople to be on the floor. Internet leads get a quick response and better follow up. Not to mention no fights with salespeople. "

    Alex, thanks for the history book. :) Your 4 point summary is right on. Funny how you and I were having this same conversation last night.

    I hate heat between the Sales Department and the "internet sales department" - it does nothing for the dealership overall. Find a process that removes your "internet sales department" if you can. It's not always an easy sell though.
  7. danoneil

    danoneil Sr. Refresher

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    ISM appointment specialist ... I love it ! :lol:
  8. CAORYAN

    CAORYAN Sr. Refresher

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    lol....this is way to familiar to me. I had the same problem when I was running the internet for 3.5 stores back in the day. We made a process that made the sales people log the up before going through the process. They get notified of similar or exact matches and at that time they are to turn it over.

    It worked out because they were given a list of questions to ask.

    "Before we get started mr and mrs. buyer we don't want to waste your time so I have some questions I need to ask about your wants and needs over a hot cup of coffee or a cold bottle of water."

    This is where we would take a sheet of paper out and ask.....
    1) how many people are in your family that will be riding in the new vehicle with you?
    2) Is there a particular vehicle that brought you here today?
    3) Are you interested in possibly saving money if we have similar options other than the make and model you are interested in?
    4) What is the most important things to you individually?
    5) Do you have a trade in and why did you buy that car at the time?
    6) Have you ever worked or spoken with anyone here at the dealership by phone or email?
    7) Before we drive the few cars I have in mind and the one you came here to see I need to get a valid drivers license for both of you. I would say this is just in case you push me out of the car and try to keep it without paying :) people kind of thought it was funny.
    8) Thats when you enter the info into Sales force and this gives your sales managers the heads up you have a live one before you print the 4 square.
    9) It will also give the internet director the heads up so he can go down stairs and either take over or assist with the sale and protect his internet manager.
    10) as long as the customer doesn't feel the awkwardness that seemed to be the best way for us.
    11) like these other guys, if we hadn't spoke to them in the past 7 to 10 days we were out.

    I don't care how many times you get it in writing it will always be an issue. My experience is you need to have a GM that cares more than to say take it up on the back lot. Sales are more difficult when you have a black eye and your customers are always scared of you.
  9. Aereus

    Aereus Noob

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    I had occasion to visit a large dealer group doing well and investigated what they were doing in managing the issues discussed here. The also had a complete segregated BDC, located off premises. The budget for the BDC was part of the Advertising/Marketing. While I did not get into specific pay plans, the whole purpose of the BDC was to schedule appointments, and deliver customers to the local stores. They tracked conversions, had a telemarketing center, graphic web design etc. all located as part of the BDC. I think Alex is spot on. from what I saw I would do exactly the same.
  10. mattwatson81

    mattwatson81 Getting Refreshed

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    What about protecting the floor from the internet staff?

    If someone walks in as a brand new lead does a test drive and then goes home and submits a lead on your website or somewhere on the internet, what happens?
  11. danoneil

    danoneil Sr. Refresher

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    If you change your internet department to dedicated internet managers who do not sell the vehicles, you will not have problems.
  12. mikeelmore

    mikeelmore Getting Refreshed

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    What brought that person in to begin with?

    In today's, plugged in world , everyone is an Internet Customer. Even a long term customer that may have been doing business with the store for 40 years, should....could....is an Internet Customer, whether it's Sales, Service, Parts or Body Shop.

    When this truth is accepted, all will be fine :tiphat: and dandy!
  13. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    The floor gets "skated" by the Internet department almost as much as the Internet department gets "skated" by the floor. I have never believed that someone is outright going to skate another co-worker; with the exception of a very few. I think most people just don't understand what putting a duplicate prospect into the CRM really means. But, the customers are the reason most of the duplication/"skating" happens. Here are a few we deal with daily:

    Situation 1 (two buyers): John Smith had a great time buying his car 8 months ago and now needs to buy a car for his wife Jane Smith. John has been in contact with his sales agent, but Jane is excited about her new car and has been looking at what's available on the dealership website. She got caught up in the moment one day and decided to submit a price quote lead. Because the Internet staff is so good, they're talking to her within 10 minutes. Over the next day a lot of back and forth goes on and ends in an appointment. At the same time John is talking to the sales agent on the floor. John and Jane have different email addresses, different cell phone numbers, and we will all discover what happened after they buy the car. Who "skated" who?

    Situation 2 (spelling):
    Raquel Juntos visits with a sales agent Monday evening. The sales agent does not test drive the customer, but does everything else right. Unfortunately the sale agent is too embarrassed to ask Raquel how to spell her name but knows Raquel typically translates to be "Rachael". He enters her as Rachael Juntos into the CRM. That same night, hours after the dealership closed, Raquel's husband gets home and they discuss her next car. They go online so she can show it to him, and the husband asks a question she can't answer. She fills out the "Contact Us" form and begins communicating with the Internet department. Who "skated" who?

    I can keep going and going and going. I see and hear about this stuff daily. And holy crap do I see it at month-end (which I just finished). There is just no formula of protection, so that's why I remain an advocate of making the whole thing a team effort. Then it boils down to the person behind the CRM processes knowing when to bring what player in the team's lineup to bat in each situation.
  14. Craig

    Craig Refresher

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    Here's my split deal saga......the person in my role as GSM and our past eComerce Director would spend hours during the day fighting out split deals between our seperated showroom/ internet department. So the first task all the salepeople wanted to hand me when I took over was to be the "split deal judge".....fights between me and the world wide web were daily for about 2 weeks. This was ridiculous and a waste of time for me, however important to the salespeople.

    Solution: We set up about 5 or 6 representatives from the showroom and the web (no managers, not our money) and we had 2 meetings to create, review and then finalize in print the complete set of written in stone "split rules". We have had these rules in place for over 3 years and I have yet to judge another split deal.(no more fighting with the eCommerce Mgr made my career fly) Sure the management all had doubts and thought the rules should be adjusted to fit our agenda, but like Alex said you should never mess with someone's pay....so I remind everyone "whether the deal is split 1 way or 7, my percentage remains the same."

    Let your people create your split rules and your customers create your sales process.....you'll thank me for this advice.
    Craig
  15. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder Administrator Staff Member

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    Gregg - just wanted to say thanks: Dealership Internet Department vs. Sales Floor Staff

    I gave your dealership a little SEO link juice for providing the inspiration :thumbup:
  16. tripdad

    tripdad Noob

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    At my dealership, we have a simple rule. If my department sets the appointment, we get paid. If we don't, we are out of luck. It affects both the floor salespeople and us fairly equally, as sometimes we get inbound calls from someone who has recently visited the showroom. We set, we get.
  17. 4rdguy_Barrie

    4rdguy_Barrie Noob

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    Great System, Problem is how do they pay you and pay the salesperson?... Our internet Sales reps get paid the same as one on the floor... Sell, and deliver etc... Do they salary the Internet people and pay the salesperson a lower commission on internet deals?

    I like you idea though. Just not sure how to convert my system/pay plan.
  18. tripdad

    tripdad Noob

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    At my dealership, my internet salespeople get a salary, plus a flat fee if they set an appointment that eventually sells. The floor salespeople are paid commission on half of the commissionable gross profit, but get credit for a full unit sale (we have a unit bonus).

    One of the worries when we first started this was that the floor salespeople would not want to deal with these customers because of the reduced pay. At first, that was the case, especially with the "old dogs". After 4 full months, though, the salespeople are fighting for these leads, because they close at a much higher percentage than the regular lot up, and they see the value in that.

    For what it is worth, this pay plan actually costs the dealer more money, but it isn't much, and having a well trained staff who captures more sales from the internet/phones pays for the difference and then some.

    Regards,
    Tripdad
  19. danoneil

    danoneil Sr. Refresher

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    Sorry for the long wait for a reply. I had not been following the thread, but thought I would peek in.


    There is no deduction. Salespeople get normal commission structure. Sometimes internet deals are what is referred to as a minnie deal. But most of our salespeople hold money on the trade and go for extra bucks on the back end. If they don't hold money,salespeople need the strokes.

    Our store has a very high front end average overall.

    Internet sales have been very strong since this system was put in place.
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  20. JoeBrouillette

    JoeBrouillette Noob

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    My dealership group has 6 locations and a centralized BDC at one of our locations. While one of our locations does not currently utilize the BDC, that's not really here nor there.

    Our internet department runs on a seperate budget which is included in the marketing/advertising budget (afaik, I'm not well versed on the exact financials). We do not spend money on traditional advertising, we run internet only by purchasing leads and driving traffic to the websites. We get paid a salary + commission.

    We have a team of Internet Sales Coordinators (of which I am one, among my other duties managing email communications) who are dedicated to only setting appointments. We do not sell cars, greet customers or delve very deep into vehicle specifics. It's appointment driven and our BDC members get paid for set appointments, appointment shows, prospects that entered our dealership without an appointment, be backs and delivered vehicles. Our internet director has spent a lot of time working with the sales staff and the ISMs of the stores to stress that we aren't there to take commissions and the bulk of our pay comes from appointment shows. We do split appointments/be backs/deliveries inside the BDC. The goal is to promote equity and getting everyone paid.

    Having the pay plan be separate for the sales floor and the internet dept has enabled us to establish a very good relationship with the sales floor. They understand our sole purpose is to get them viable leads that they can convert. Our internet dept has also become very experienced with our CRM (Dealersocket) and does act as sort of an in house tech support (at least I do), which has been extremely beneficial in fostering a positive relationship with the staff.

    Our BDC does also handle duplicate entries in our system and handles the merging of those duplicate entries. Within our BDC we merge and reassign as required, outside of the BDC we double check with the ISM as to who he wants to have primary/secondary on the leads. We give family members to the original internet person that had the lead. For example, John comes in and buys a Mazda3, and his wife comes in a week later to buy another. The original BDC sales person would get credit for John and his wife. I am not certain how they handle that on the sales floor.

    Overall it's a great system for both parties and keeps production high, our BDC accounted for 360 of the 590 something sales for one of our dealerships.

    I'd be happy to clarify anything, it's a bit late so I have said something poorly.

    And, Hello, first time on DealerRefresh.

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