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The Road to the Sale is DEAD

Discussion in 'Articles from the Blog' started by JessicaRuth, Aug 3, 2014.

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  1. JessicaRuth

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    bigstock-Broken-Road-By-An-Earthquake-I-64663573-760x506.jpg

    The Exit to the Sale: It's No Longer a Road

    Did you see Joe Webb's latest article? Gotta love it when he stops by DealerRefresh with an article that calls it like it is.

    He points out that we think we know how people are shopping and often times, of course, we don't.

    "Customers aren’t looking for someone at a dealership to sell them a vehicle. They are looking for someone who won’t stand in their way when attempting to buy a vehicle."

    I remember a few years ago at a conference listening to Jeff give a presentation touching on a similar topic and hearing the line "We think they're gonna buy from us anyway" over and over and watching that resonate with the audience.

    Questions:

    What might you be doing that makes your dealership an exit to a sale, rather than another road?


    Or do you see obstacles in place that a customer must navigate around once they’ve arrived?
     
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  3. SeanWoodruff

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    I think he's missing the point completely. First of all, we can't assume that every customer is sold on doing business at your dealership when they arrive (or buying your car over your competitor's), and secondly, a big part of the road to the sale is to build value, take control, and guide them in the right direction.

    Customers do a ton of research, yet they still have no idea what they're doing. How often do customers come in after doing weeks of research, drive the car they picked out ahead of time, and end up not liking the blind spot or the fact that they can't see the hood? Or come in ready to do business, sit down to do numbers, and gawk at a $400 payment because they need to be at $250? How often does their trade value come in at a completely different number than what they expected and suddenly they need to look at a different car? This stuff happens ALL THE TIME.

    We're salespeople, not order takers, and our job is to provide exceptional customer service and be the expert that we're paid to be. Who cares if they already have a price and know what car they want? You should still give them an exceptional greeting to the store. You should still ask them the right questions so that you can help them out properly, land them on the right car (that can also make you some gross), and avoid tons of potential frustration. You should still do an amazing product presentation and wow them so that they're buying not just based on logic, but on emotion too. You should have them drive it every time (this doesn't need an explanation). You should still show them the service department and introduce them to the staff so they feel at home. If you've done a good job at this and made deposits (so that you have earned the right to make a withdrawal), then you have earned the right to ask for a profit and for their business right then and there.

    I agree that the road to the sale should be handled a bit differently now because of the wealth of information available, and that it should be molded and adapted to the customer's situation. But you should smoothly and confidently make every effort you can to take the customer through the process, without pissing them off.

    Stop taking the easy way out people. We're salespeople, not order takers, and we need to get back to basics. A sale is made every time, either you're selling the customer, or the customer's selling you.
     
    #2 SeanWoodruff, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
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  4. Mitch Gallant

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    Sean, love the response, people often take the easy way out and your comment pins that down. I have to side with Joe and his comments on customers being "arduously guided." The problem isn't with lazy salespeople becoming order takers, it's with sales managers not understanding how to coach and train their staff. If the leaders aren't the enablers of a phenomenal experience then it's all for shit as the "process" winds them through and "controls" them.

    I truly believe that customers minds are, more often than not, made up when they arrive. There will be issues with their decisions but that's where sales people need involve sales skills. People hate to be sold but they love to buy, making it as easy for the customer as possible to buy isn't lazy, it's perfect salesmanship.
     
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  5. Alex Snyder

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    I posted this on the blog article, but Joe isn't responding ....because he's wrong :itsok::flame::lol:

     
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  6. MikeHaeg

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    Sean, I appreciate your passion on this. I would tend to agree with you. The game may have changed a little bit but that doesn't mean the rules are completely different. Your line above hits that on the head.

    A side question for the dealers out there, how much do you think this varies by market? Are some of you nodding your head in agreement with Sean because your market is so fiercely competitive? Are others nodding their head with Joe because your market is conducive to the type of buying process he described?
     
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  7. Jeff Kershner

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    Mike, I would tend to say that the market can have an influence on the new car "road to the sale" (less with used). The quality of sales people employed and being employed will also influence. And as Mitch points out, management will influence.
     
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  8. joe.webb

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    I apologize that I'm just getting to respond to these now. I wasn't aware Jessica had reposted this as a discussion in the forums, but I'll willingly throw myself into the ring on this.

    Sean mentioned that I am saying sales professionals should be order takers. That isn't exactly the case. I'm not saying an automotive salesperson is akin to a McDonald's worker, but I will use the order taker analogy with McDonald's. When you walk up to the counter at a McDonald's, or when you pull up into the drive-thru - don't you pretty much know what you're ordering? Of course you do. You don't need a rundown of HOW they make their sandwiches. Your previous experiences have led you there. But in all other ways, no. Dealers aren't like McDonald's order takers. As you yourself stated, a salesperson can help influence the gross profit. Do you really think they're doing that with their infinitesimal selling skills and objection techniques? Not solely, no way. Gross profit is more typically influenced by consumer demand vs. supply, as well as the quality of experience and customer expectation. You simply get a better experience at a Ruth's Chris than you do a McDonald's. The food is better, as is the atmosphere, and service. Do they not both have order takers?

    But let's look past order taking and any assumptions where you believe the salesperson knows what is better for the customer than the actual customer. Let's get back to the point of the blog. The Road to the Sale wasn't created (some say in 1930) to give a better experience for the customer. It was created to hold the salespeople accountable to a process. Designed for different end users in mind, IMO.

    I believe you mistook the point of the article, Sean and Alex. The Road to the Sale (which some have come to know and love so adamantly) now takes place PRIOR to the shopper's visit to the dealership. The meet and greet sales consultants through website bios and video introductions, they perform needs assessments with BDC agents, or through endless forums of research, they select the vehicle after 4 months of shopping online, they receive video walk-arounds debuting the vehicle (though admittedly all clients still need a test drive - not that test drives can only happen on a dealer lot, but I digress). They can acquire financing from the dealership by filling out an online credit app, they have their vehicle appraised through countless sites or AutoTrader TIM - which gives them an ACV. The Road to the Sale at dealerships has been truncated because of what the customer has achieved in advance of their arrival. That is the point of the blog. The traditional RTS must be tailored to EACH client based on what they've accomplished prior to their visit.

    Road to the Sale elements are subjective for each client. It was only designed to manage the salespeople, and not for the benefit of the shopper. Salespeople today should be nothing more than product experts who educate, and not implement a process designed to "sell" the guest on something they've likely already decided upon. Well crafted digital assets (in-store with technology and online in advance of arrival) can influence shoppers better than the words from a sales consultant's mouth.

    And while I'm ranting, I'd like to "throw shade" at this number flippantly tossed around (that we've all used) that 70% of customers who inquire buy a different vehicle than initially intended. There is virtually no way for anyone to have truly quantified this number, but moreover, it is cloudy. If 70% of all car sales were pre-driven, then of course a greater majority of used car shoppers are more flexible on their end vehicle. I would say new car shoppers are so much more drilled-down on their vehicle of choice, the % of new car shopping consumers that switch to a different vehicle than initially inquired is WAY lower than 70% (probably under 25% at best) because people want what they want. When new car consumers switch to a different vehicle, it is likely based upon the dealer's availability and the customer's budget, not based on what a salesperson suggests during the road to the sale. So the salesperson's job isn't just to delightfully switch customers. We need to train showroom consultants today to be educators and not salespeople.
     
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  9. Alex Snyder

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    Totally understood the gist of the article and actually agree with you on your theory. What I don't agree with is the definition and maybe that's because we define the road to a sale differently. But I believe you're speaking about something that makes more sense, to me, if you call it "The Road to the Showroom."
     
  10. Manny Luna

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    “The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.” ~ Lily Tomlin
     
  11. BillH

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    After reading Joe's article, I brought this subject up with our team. They get it.

    There is a solid base for this and perhaps it depends on the brand. Our brand demographic often asks questions just to see if we know, they are research fanatics. I have also queried customers who actually agree. They want an "express check out" line. Our internet customers sell themselves a car and want to come in and pick it up. BUT, we have the duty to make that experience high quality and build value for them to: a) feel comfortable returning for service, and b) feeling like it was their party and we're the catering crew. The general consensus is the want to get in and get out.

    Do they buy a different color? Sure, but that's on their time, their perceived research on the lot. Once they feel good about us, feel valued, then it's time to get out of their way and let them buy the car. We're actually asking them to tell us when to move over. The "bluntness" or transparency seems to be appreciated. It's still in testing but that's for our brand. Your mileage may vary.
     
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