Some dealers think business development centers that make and take sales calls are a critical part of their operations.
Others believe BDCs were appropriate 10 years ago, before the current phone training for showroom salespeople existed.
Whichever view you take, the bottom line is we’ve got to communicate better with buyers on the phone. Smartphones are the pipeline to “now” buyers.
If the gold standard salesperson of today is someone who is Internet savvy, strong at test drives and walk-arounds, plus powerful and convincing on the telephone, then we are describing a dealership rock star.
When I was selling cars (although it wasn’t for long and I wasn’t very good at it), all the current best practices that exist today were being used then as well. But what changed is who actually performs these tasks.
For example, spending time in the service bays chatting up trade-in values to potential new-car buyers was something we did in our downtime.
Calling lease-end customers and sharing the fact that their payment would be the same for a new model was something we did on rainy days.
Calling current customers to ask about their satisfaction level with the purchase was something we did on our off hours.
This is all in addition to working a lot, attending sales meetings and doing the other basic tasks it takes to be a sales professional.
So when we think about a BDC today are we really talking about people that are removed from these successful processes, or are we talking about peeling back some of this responsibility from our current salespeople to a specialized team that can do a better job of it?
In our work with auto dealers, we often come across salespeople selling 40 cars a month working side-by-side with someone who can barely sell 10.
If you stood them together, you would not be able to tell which sold 40 and which sold 10 cars per month.
But when we speak to the top performers, we find out that they take responsibility for all successful sales processes. In addition they’ve developed personal best practices weaved through those responsibilities so they don’t have to assign those tasks somewhere else.
These top sellers see process as important to the customer and important to their success.
I was chatting with a high performer, and one thing that stayed with me was his feeling that that he “is” the dealer. Interesting. In his mind, he is convinced that he represents the dealership and spends 90% of the purchase time one-on-one with a customer, while 10% of that customers purchase time is with actual dealership management.
How many of your salespeople feel that they “are” the dealer? Or, do they just feel that they work there?
How do we build that level of emotional buy-in among our sales staff? How do we convince the sales staff they are the dealership?
Can we make them excited about making the calls, working the best practices and making the contacts required to sell 20 cars each per month?
In future installments, we’ll peel back best practices, habits, and innovative techniques that the best in class are using to be top performers.
Who will be among those leading this change? One person is Warren Buffett whose Berkshire Hathaway firm just acquired megadealer Van Tuyl. Warren Buffett owns some of the most successful retail furniture companies in America. You can be sure that some of his business practices will work their way down into his newly acquired dealerships.
Stay with us. The car business is about to go through yet another revolution.
And consider joining a March 20 live webinar entitled “3 Big Ways to Build your Net Profit in 2015.” It’s free to all WardsAuto readers. Register here.
Adam Armbruster is a senior partner in the business-growth firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company. He can be reached at 941-928-7192.