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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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    This came up today at DSES

    Jared said:
    “Sales training today was invented before the internet was around"

    What do you think?
     
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  3. Tallcool1

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    For me, I agree much more with @SeanWoodruff@SeanWoodruff than I do the actual article.

    I personally believe that there are way more obstacles for a customer to navigate on the internet than there ever have been in the dealership. Customers used to be in the market for 72 hours. That's right, statistically a customer was going to own a vehicle within 72 hours of their first dealership visit. Now, it takes MONTHS. Why does it take so long? Personally I believe it takes so long because customers don't know how to navigate all of these obstacles.

    "Eliminate the idea that the road to the sale sells cars"? Are you kidding me? The road to the sale sells cars, builds relationships, insures positive ownership experiences, generates gross profit, establishes consistency, teaches new sales people how to do a better job, and the list goes on and on.

    How the sales process takes place is certainly different, but by no means is it dead.
     
  4. Alex Snyder

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    I definitely agree with that. I would like to add that our hiring practices haven't changed nor have our promotion practices. These are places we should be focusing on far more than trying to reinvent a necessary road to the sale process. It isn't the process that's the problem, it is where we place the responsibilities.
     
  5. BHavican

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    I'm with Alex and believe there are two different roads we're talking about, one to the showroom and one to the sale.

    I think sometimes as members of the digital automotive community we have blinders on and forget that there are still amount of people that respond to traditional marketing, are loyal to a dealership or salesperson, and/or like to go on the "dealership tour" to drive every different brand. The traditional road to the sale should be followed but more as a guide than a strict way to handle each and every customer. The salesperson needs to recognize who they're speaking with though and adapt.

    If you have a customer that came in via BDC after submitting a "Check Availability" form and have admittedly spent hours researching the vehicle, you could probably move a little faster through the walkaround but there still value to everyone in actually pointing out some of the feature that are important to them.

    Using the McDonald's/Ruth Chris analogy, when you go a nice steakhouse you've got it in your head that you want a steak but that isn't always what happens. Have you ever gone to a restaurant fully intent on getting one thing, but after hearing about the day's special ordering something completely different? If the server is good, they'll follow a specific process like a road to the sale designed to get you to spend more money and reduce their inventory to help the restaurant.

    So you're a salesperson and you have someone sitting in front of you that's done a weeks worth of interest and is there to see a specific car. There's no harm in going through the steps to figure out the customer's wants and needs while making a friend. Maybe, just maybe after showing the car they want you tell the customer, "I know you like the car we just drove, but sit here I've got a great idea." Then you pull up something different and give it a go.

    Salespeople have two options: you can skip steps and quickly sell that car OR you can go through the road to the sale and maybe sell something that's more advantageous for you or the dealership. In other words, you can just be an order taker OR you can follow proper steps and create an opportunity to switch them to the special of the day(SPIFF!) or at the very least sell an appetizer (accessories) or a dessert (environmental package).
     
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  6. Mitch Gallant

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    Great message, so true. The way people buy has been fundamentally disrupted by the internet yet the way we try to facilitate their purchase is as old as Christ himself. Not a sales rep problem, it's a leadership problem.
     
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  7. jon.berna

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    I don't think there are necessarily more obstacles. It's that the dealer’s visibility to the customers shopping habits have changed. For one we have more tools to identify pre-store behavior. Secondly, the time in which they are in-store has significantly shrunk. Not very many customers show up and ask if you have any _____ in stock, they already know.

    Also, the 1970-1990 road to the sale correlates to lower unit counts, pressure from the OEM, lower CSI, slower used turn, difficulty retaining new/younger sales people etc. It may not be dead but she's hanging on by a thread.
     
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  8. candicerose

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    @BHavican@BHavican I have to be honest, I couldn't disagree with you more. The reason automotive retail has such a bad reputation is for the exact reasons you listed- forcing the customer to follow a "road to the sale", trying to control the customer, and most importantly not allowing the customer to have a voice. Customers are demanding something different. If your store doesn't offer them a better and faster experience someone else will. I'm especially concerned with the spiff justification. Traditional retail commission plans incentivize the sales rep to do exactly what you said- steer the customer down a path they don't want to go. There is an inherent distrust built into that model. You are assuming the dealer or sales rep (whose being extrinsically motivated by money) knows better than the consumer themselves what the consumer wants. All because they had a 5-10 minute conversation about their "lifestyle choices". It doesn't matter that the consumer has been researching their purchase for months and has probably sought guidance from friends and family. The sales rep knows best (and their pockets are lined as a result).

    The reality is less and less people have any brand or dealership loyalty. The new way of buying a car must be faster and customized to each shopper. If you can't buy a car in an hour you are doing something wrong. If your sales reps are being paid a spiff based on a "special of the day" you won't have any of the repeat business you mentioned in your post. Eliminating the road to the sale and empowering your customer advocates to customize the sales process to meet (and exceed) the customer expectations is how you are going to survive.
     
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  9. ed.brooks

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    Consumers have been doing much of their "shopping" process -- their research -- online for years. As dealer websites become more transactional (not necessarily fully transactional) consumers are, or soon will be, starting their "buying" process online. That it makes it imperative that the folks on the floor and in the tower recognize where the customer is in their buying process, quickly verify that, and seamlessly continue the process the customer started online.Starting off at square one from when the customer enters the showroom and following a strict prescribed sales process may actually be counterproductive.

    I'm convinced that how seamlessly the transition from online to offline happens is going to be a big determining factor in dealerships' success in the very near future.
     
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  10. Chris Leslie

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  11. BHavican

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    I didn't say anything to infer that a salesperson should force a customer down a path they don't want to go; however a skilled salesperson can use a process that's going to help the dealership while also providing great customer service. Whether the customer came in to buy a specifc car or not, you're still going to want the salesperson to follow proper steps that lead to a sale. It's just how you adapt those steps to meet the customer's needs.

    For example let's say we have a customer that contacted us before coming to the store saying they want they've been researching the Chevy Cruze for weeks and want to buy our CPO 2013. When the customer arrives at the dealership hopefully they'll get a good welcome by the salesperson (Meet & Greet). If there's a BDC some sort of hand off will take place or if your store works leads cradle to grave, some sort of idea of wants and needs will be conveyed ahead of time (Interview). Vehicle selection is done so we skip that. Next a salesperson could present the car to the customer, answer any questions, and show the customer how to use certain features that are important to them all while learning more about their wants and needs (Demo/presentation). Then they should drive the car (Test Drive).

    So far we've followed the traditional RTS without doing anything to hamper or prolong the customer's visit and hopefully have been making a friend. Now the salesperson has 2 options, they can go right to signing the customer up on an agreed upon price that if you're in a competitive market probably doesn't make the dealership money. So rather than complete the sale, would it be so bad to spend 15 minutes trying to make the store some money? When I was on the floor I never had anyone object to seeing an alternate car if I presented the right way. So you sit the customer down, offer them a drink, and say "I've got a great idea, I'll be right back." In a brief amount of time I can get another similar car, like a 90 day old 2014 CPO Cruze pulled up. With a simple, "I know you came to see the 2013 but I always like to give my guests options, I pulled up a 2014 that I think you'll really like. Would you like to take a quick look at it before you make your decision, I think you'll love it" I can give myself an opportunity to sell an alternate car that is more advantageous for the dealer to sell. If you've done a good job with the steps up to this point you're not going upset the customer or ruin their experience. If they object, no problem, skip it, and move on.

    The example I described above doesn't attempt to force anything on the customer. I get it, we want to give the best possible experience to our guests that we can but at then end of the day we all come to work to make money. Leading the customer through a process and meeting or exceeding their expectations doesn't have to be an either/or option. You can train your salespeople to do both.
     
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