When it comes to selling cars on the showroom floor we have all heard the mantra “Back to Basics”. You might roll your eyes and think here we go again, but it’s time to stop over thinking the Internet car shopper and get backs to the basics for the Internet Sales Manager. There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we market and sell automobiles, but there are still some hard and fast rules about selling cars and dealing with people that need to be foremost in your mind when it comes to being successful as an Internet car salesperson.
10 Internet Sales Manager Tips and Basic Rules
1. Dealerships and People
People don’t like to go to car dealerships and deal with the stereotypical car salesman. It doesn’t matter if you get your Ups from the lot, the showroom or the Internet the fact remains that people are not crazy about spending time at the car dealership. Only a few short years ago people visited several dealers before they purchased an automobile, but today the number is approximately 1.8 dealerships. The Internet has changed the way people shop for cars today and they like it that way. They feel much better about spending time at home or work doing research and gathering information than they do about visiting your store. They are not only making decisions about what car to buy, but more importantly they are deciding where they will go to buy their next ride. You need to make yourself stand out from the pack. You need to be different; you need to be the one that stands out in their mind.
2. Good Deal
Everyone wants a good deal. Whether it’s your customer or yourself people want to get a good deal when it comes to spending their hard earned money. That doesn’t always mean price or did you forget about value. Granted there are mooches out there that will shop 12 dealers for the best price on a car, but for the most part people are fair. They understand that a dealer needs to make a profit and they are willing to pay a little extra for that profit when they work with an Internet Sales Manager at a dealership that provides value. When the value outweighs the price people buy.
People want respect and acknowledgement. When a potential customer fills out a form or sends an email to the dealership it is because they want to buy a car. It’s just like the customer that visits the showroom or the lot to look at cars; they are there because they want to buy a car. That doesn’t mean that they can, but most of them can and will if they run into an Internet Sales Manager that gives them the respect they deserve. When I say respect I mean are you answering their questions and providing the information they request or are you sending out an email that consists on a template with a price and ignoring their questions? That is the norm at many of the car dealership Internet Departments that I have mystery shopped. They received an auto responder email that acknowledges their request and then they receive a price email that doesn’t answer a single question. Then the next day they receive an email asking them if they received the quote and if they can help. They already asked for help, but they weren’t acknowledged so they just moved on to the next dealership. Treat the customer as if they were standing in front of you! Answer and acknowledge their questions because ignoring their emails is the same as walking away from them when they are standing in front of you. I am not saying that you have to bare your soul and tell them every detail just act as if they were sitting across your desk!
Everybody at the dealership complains about the Internet car shoppers because they are all about price, but that is not true, it’s not always just about price. Price is important, but there is more to it than price alone. Yes, there are plenty of online shoppers that are only about price, but that comes with the territory. When it is so simple to send out numerous emails through the thousands of price quote websites that are found on the Internet including manufacturer sites people are naturally going to submit leads. Your job as an Internet Sales Manager is to sort through those leads and work every one of them so you can sell a car. You never know which one is going to be your next customer based on the information that is included in a lead. I have sold and seen many a customer drive from miles away and pass by many of the same brand dealerships to buy a vehicle because of the value not price that was provided by the ISM.
Car buyers want to feel good about buying a car from their salesperson and the dealership. What kind of impression are you leaving on your Internet leads? Are you making them feel like they are talking to what they believe is the “typical car salesman”? They need to feel that you are there to help them and that you represent a reputable car dealership. Let them know about the service you provide and what you can do to help them navigate the car buying process. Let them know that you are at their disposal throughout the process from start to finish. Make them feel good about doing business with you as an Internet Sales Manager and the dealership.
Enthusiasm not only sells cars, but it also sells appointments. Whether you are communicating with them through email or on the phone enthusiasm sells appointments and cars. Who wants to deal with a slug, they are excited about getting a new car and you should be excited about helping them. The same old email template with the same old text is not exciting. People that have spent any time on the Internet can spot a template a mile away and car buyers are the same way. Put some personality in your email, give them some pictures, some attachments that include comparisons and some links to your positive dealership reviews. People don’t read wordy emails, they like bullet points, facts, figures and enthusiasm. Make them smile through email, on the phone and in person when they arrive and ask for their Internet sales Manager.
Building rapport is important whether you are face to face, talking on the phone or through email. Selling cars for a living is much easier when you can build rapport with your customers and the same goes for working with leads. Yes it is tougher to build rapport through email, but it can be done. Not with long wordy emails filled with “Why They Should Buy From You”, but by providing them more than they ask for, injecting personality into your communication with them, adding a photo of yourself, letting them know they are important to you and the dealership. Ask questions that are not personal likes the ones you would ask when they are on the lot. It is a process to get a lead to call you and eventually set an appointment. Some will set an appointment at first contact (the lay downs), but most take some work, very much like the kind of work that you do with a customer on the showroom floor except through email and the phone. Rapport is essential to not only getting them to come in, but it will keep you from getting skated. Once they arrive you can do your magic much easier and quicker because there is already a relationship between the customer and the Internet Sales Manager.
8. Internet vs. Phone
Internet customers are not phone ups. Don’t confuse the Internet customer with phone ups because they are not the same. As an Internet Sales Manager you may be responsible for taking Phone Ups, but don’t treat them the same way as you treat Internet leads. Most phone ups are ready now and that is why they made the effort to call, although some Internet leads are ready now, but they didn’t pick up the phone and call you because they are not quite ready or sure about your dealership. Most automobile Internet leads will buy a car in the next 90 to 120 days, but they rarely tell you that. Here are some rough numbers (of the leads that buy)to give you an example; 30% will buy in 30 days, 30% in 60 days, 30% in 90 to 120 days and the remaining 10% within 6 months.
Most dealerships Internet Departments don’t work leads past 2 weeks, they may send an automated email now and then, but they don’t work the lead after this unless the customer responds. However through test and tracking I have found that when you follow the Internet Sales Manager tips above and continue to work the active leads you will sell more cars. I am not talking about working all the leads, but the ones that you build rapport with and continue to respond to your personalized emails not automated mass emails. I have had ISMs sell customers cars from leads that originated 4, 5 and 6 months ago. Leads are buying cars and you will find that out if you track your leads and work them for all they are worth.
9. Internet Buyers
Internet car buyers are liars too! As much as I don’t like to be negative about the business, Internet leads are liars just like the rest of the buyers. Picture this, a potential customer submits a lead through a website and within minutes they get a dozen phone calls and several emails both from auto responders and ISMs. Their phone is ringing off the wall and their email box is loaded with emails from dealers. You might be lucky enough to get through and the first thing they say on the phone or in email is that they already bought a car or they decided to wait for a while because they are overwhelmed with the response by dealers. They just want it to stop and they will tell you or email you anything to make it stop. You would probably do the same, so as much as initial response time is important following up a day or even a week later is critical to earning their business. I have seen many ISMs and BDC reps get them in and sell them by backing off and trying again a few days later. When you call a customer at bad time they will tell you anything to get you off the phone so don’t take it as a NO, take it as a not right now.
10. Internet Sales Manager Income
You can make a six figure income as an Internet Sales Manager. I have heard from and talked to many people about the income potential as an Internet Sales Manager because they were concerned about the gross profit of Internet car sales. They are still holding to the belief that every sale is a “Mini” and that they can’t make the kind of money they desire working with Internet customers. Well think again because I know of many ISMs that would never even consider going on or back to the floor. They are making more money and have more opportunity to make six figures through the Internet than they did on the showroom floor. Yes there are plenty of short deals, but they also provide you with opportunities for car sales referrals and repeat customers not to mention the fact that there are plenty of 3, 4 and 6 pounders being sold through the Internet. The opportunity is there if you are willing to do the work that is required to be a successful Internet Car Salesman.
The Internet Sales Manager has quickly become one of the most important sales people in the car dealership today and that is not going away anytime soon. These basic ISM tips will remain the same no matter how we sell cars in the future, but you can bet that the dealers and the top sales people will change too because the money is too good to walk away from as long as people need cars.
Later, Fresh Lead in the CRM
Once you get them there you still need to sell them, Closing the Sale
You can never have to much Car Sales Training!