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Dear Vendors: What's the Goal?

JD Rucker

Getting Refreshed
Feb 12, 2010
49
28
18
First Name
JD
I've had the pleasure (and in some cases, displeasure) of sitting in on a lot of vendor pitches lately with clients. I have heard some tremendous data-driven discussions that impressed me, but the majority of what I hear in these presentations still seems to revolve around hype and excitement.

I get it. I've sold cars. I know that excitement is one of the things that we use in our industry to get people behind the wheel, in front of the desk, and back in the office, but from a vendor perspective I feel like it's getting overused.

I'm putting together a list of questions that every dealer should ask during pitches and I wanted to get help from Dealer Refresh. One question, for example, is "What's the goal of your product?"

There was a time when the answer to that question revolved around getting more leads, but with the decrease in form submissions, it seems like that's pushed aside much of the time during presentations. "Of course we want more leads, but our product/service delivers XXXXXX as well."

What other questions do you ask your prospective vendors?
 

Tallcool1

Sr. Refresher
Mar 17, 2014
335
198
43
First Name
Clint
I always ask them who their biggest competitor is.

I also ask for a few references that currently use their product that are in my market. In addition, I ask for a reference that is someone that no longer does business with them.

There are a lot of good services out there, and a lot of good vendors. There are also a lot of good salespeople out there, and when it comes to someone using MY time, I don't screw around. I don't need anymore friends, I need transparency, and direct answers to simple questions.

I also need to learn to write without overusing the coma, but that is a different issue.
 

craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
1,666
1,080
114
First Name
Craig
I also need to learn to write without overusing the coma, but that is a different issue.
There's no such thing as too many commas, only too many people who don't know how to properly use commas.

As a vendor I get asked all manner of interesting questions when I sit down with potential clients. I'm not an aggressive or good salesman in any way, so I try to just have conversations with people.

Common questions:
1. Competitors and how we are different than them
2. If we sign up with you, what does that mean for AutoTrader and our other classifieds services?
3. Can we get a discount?
 

Jewanski

Noob
May 24, 2012
22
1
6
First Name
Richard
The biggest question that I ask consistently in during sales pitches is "How." That question stumps a large number of vendors. I want to know how the cogs turn, that way I can evaluate for myself whether the product or service works the way a vendor says it should. I've had several vendors make claims about how individual products work, and after install, it works completely different.

Example: I hate to call out Cars.com, but my rep and I have moved past this, so I'll mention it, and he had just started at the time, so for all those out there who hate on cars, don't hold this against them, they are great people. When cars first got the review product that they debuted last year, my rep, who was brand new at the time, pitched it. I was having problems with Google reviews, and he pitched it as a product that takes your positive reviews from cars.com and posts them to all your syndicated sites- yelp, yahoo, Google, and dealer rater, among others. Sounds great, right? With Google's super tight restrictions on reviews, and the process a customer with no Google login has to go through to post one (create a Google +, Gmail or YouTube login, verify the email, etc., and then find my business and post) this seemed like a no brainer. After the product launched, we realized it was backwards. It pulls your already published reviews, and posts them on cars. The question of "how" properly explored, would have avoided this nasty surprise.

Implementation: Vendor pitches me a Facebook product that is supposed to find customers online who are posting about needing a vehicle in your area, and engages them in dialogue that drives them to your dealership. I ask them "how". They proceed to explain to me that they just do it.
Do you have people trawling Facebook status updates? Do you use a search of some sort, have you got a bot? How do you send the messages? How does it work? Without a satisfactory answer, there is no point in doing business.

Anytime you are looking at a new service, you have to dig deep and ask questions about how it integrates with your existing phone system/crm/dms/inventory tool and make sure that the vendor isn't relying on the other party you already do business with to provide the necessary integration.
 
Reactions: Chris Cachor

KDogherty

Noob
Apr 30, 2014
2
0
1
First Name
Kevin
As a vendor and a salesperson I love the questions. None of us sell a perfect product and there will always be personal likes and dislikes from our customers. As vendors we can all find someone willing to tell our story for us when it comes to references. Like any salesperson I focus on my products strengths and sell the sizzle. I will also talk about previous issues that I have seen and how they were overcome. In business as in life, it isn't about making the mistake, it is about how we handled our mistake. Any vendor with a good product should show you his/her book of business rather than offer up a few references.
 

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,487
1,086
113
First Name
Jeff
I was having problems with Google reviews, and he pitched it as a product that takes your positive reviews from cars.com and posts them to all your syndicated sites- yelp, yahoo, Google, and dealer rater, among others. Sounds great, right? With Google's super tight restrictions on reviews, and the process a customer with no Google login has to go through to post one (create a Google +, Gmail or YouTube login, verify the email, etc., and then find my business and post) this seemed like a no brainer.

After the product launched, we realized it was backwards. It pulls your already published reviews, and posts them on cars. The question of "how" properly explored, would have avoided this nasty surprise.
Sorry for going off topic but wanted to point out that in the beginning, reviews from Cars.com were being displayed on your dealers/business Google Places page. There was a huge uproar when Google changed their policy around this. At the time, your star ratings from DealerRater were also being displayed on your Google Places page.

Sorry to go off topic but in a indirect way, my clarifying of this does pertain a bit to the conversation.
 

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,487
1,086
113
First Name
Jeff
JD - I'm a little thrown off with the example you use. As if the example is what you want us to base our question(s) on. However, I believe you are asking, in general, what a dealer should ask a vendor (as in any vendor with in the industry)..

There was a time when the answer to that question revolved around getting more leads, but with the decrease in form submissions, it seems like that's pushed aside much of the time during presentations. "Of course we want more leads, but our product/service delivers XXXXXX as well."
I would dare to turn the table around, and ask MYSELF -- What do I want to gain with this particular service and can I, will I, and do I have the ability to give this product and service 100%??

From there the question to the vendor is something like - "What are the absolute Best Practices I need to put in place in order to maximize and produce the best possible results from your product or service?"

 
Reactions: Bill Simmons

yagoparamo

Sr. Refresher
Dec 30, 2009
1,901
493
113
First Name
Yago
JD,

Most of the business I lose is due to something completely unrelated to performance. In most cases the most demanding customers with outrageous good performance numbers (36% conversion rate on a website, or 1,000 form leads per month once we made some changes) we lost them because some bs banner didn't get done fast enough on a Friday at 4:58pm.

Some dealers come in the same way they go out: With not a real reason on why.

This business is too quick blowing things we don't like rather than working on making them better. Furthermore too many decisions are made by mid management that care more about next week end's sales and how that will affect their paycheck than long term solutions they have to work at (they probably don't think they will stick around the dealership that long).

Stablising a different culture, working and understanding technology, making informative decisions, etc is going to take a few more week ends.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,990
1,514
113
First Name
Joe
Yago nailed it. Rack that post!
 

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
2,804
1,430
113
First Name
Alex
This business is too quick blowing things we don't like rather than working on making them better. Furthermore too many decisions are made by mid management that care more about next week end's sales and how that will affect their paycheck than long term solutions they have to work at (they probably don't think they will stick around the dealership that long).
Good times can bring the luxury of bad decisions.

It can also be said that 2008 was forgotten too fast. Or the recession didn't last long enough to have stronger long-term impacts on our business minds.

I am noticing a regression occurring at the moment. Over the last 5 years it seemed that 3 out of 4 dealerships were thinking more about the impacts of their decisions longer than just the current calendar month. It seems this has dropped to 2 out of 4 in the past few months.