Article

Keep It Simple Stupid

January 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Steven Chessin - Also by this author

Why is Buick still using its old-school, iron,overhead valve, 3.8 V-6; a design dating back over 40 yearsas its basic engine?
 
Because it has been refined and perfected by nearly fifty-years of evolutionary upgrades.  Often, something is so well-honed and perfected that only through enormous cost and effort can marginal improvements be made.  The sales process is very similar.

I was taught how to sell cars back in 1984 by a very old pro at Banner Ford outside Atlanta, Ga., that had been probably doing it sinceowners used a crank to start their vehicles.  My mentor taughtme the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) approach, which I’ve never forgotten.  Oddly enough, this also happens towork best when considering the Internet sales process.

So why is the KISS method so effective?  It is based on the fact that while the method for obtaining potential customers has changed – the handling of them hasn’t because they are still customers. Consider this:

You have a television in your home.  A COLOR television.

You have tires on your car.  RADIAL tires.

You have customers in your store.   INTERNET customers.

NBC television shows are no longer introduced by the network’s peacock proudly announcing, "In living color," nor should Internet customers be thought of in any different terms than a customer that walks on your lot.  The term "Internet customer" is as obsolete as the label “color TV” because every customer is an Internet customer.  The novelty factor is over.

As such, the correct way to treat them is exactly as I was taught – just like any other customer.  The only difference is that the relationship begins with an e-mail instead of a phone call or handshake on the floor.

A dealership has customers, and sales people sell vehicles to customers.  This is my KISS approach.  It works just as it always has.

What doesn’t work is giving 200 leads to some poor "schlimazel" (overworked and underpaid)and making him a salesman, then getting upset because $5,000 worth of leads isn’t producing enough sales because the poor guy is overwhelmed.  The ironic thing is that you have 10 salesmen hovering around the front door waiting to pounce on an up, while the ups are online!

While this simple approach has its limitations, it works well for one Internet lead per day, per salesman.  This approach doesn't require them to be CRM experts.  It requires only minimal training and no special pay plan and is not affected by employee retention issues.

For many dealers, that is good enough, but there will always be some wanting to take their dealership a step further.  Before moving to the next level, I strongly suggest mastering this basic approach.  Once mastered, every salesperson will gain one or two sales per month.

Then you can consider moving to the next level.  When advancing to a more sophisticated process, the first few hundred leads can still be handled the old way.   The only change needed is to redefine the duties of the Internet manager so they are responsible for the distribution of leads and making sure that the flow is working properly.  Your Internet manager should NOT be a salesman.  Giving him or her additional duties as a salesman would prevent dedication to assuring quality control of lead generation and management.  The pay plan for this position could be straight salary with performance bonuses.

If it isn’t broken, don't fix it.  Similar to the old, iron, 3.8 V-6 Buick engine that is still a fundamentally sound structure – only updated to keep it contemporary – the salesman is perfectly capable of handling the Internet customer now that we can accept that all customers are Internet customers.
 
Vol 3, Issue 11

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