Most automotive advertising agencies have learned to use today’s automotive advertising technologies to blur the line between the real and the virtual world as they help build virtual showrooms on the Internet Super Highway to supplement their auto dealer client’s real world brick and mortar facilities. However, a growing number of new automotive advertising vendors have entered the market to focus on old world telephone techniques that may have been overlooked in today’s Internet driven marketplace.
Automotive advertising Agencies have accepted a new role in today’s challenging economy that includes whatever it takes to sell vehicles and service. Automotive advertising agencies can no longer limit their areas of responsibility to bringing traffic to the front door. Internal selling systems integrated with technology driven processes that link their virtual online showrooms with their brick and mortar facilities share a common element that has survived intact on the Internet Super Highway – human nature. The people part of any process is often the weakest link and telephone skills are still an integral component of communication systems in real and virtual world auto dealerships.
New customer interaction platforms offer a two way video online transaction platform that promises to push through the glass wall between salespeople and their online shoppers. The expectation is that developing online transaction tools will eliminate the need for online sales people to disengage from their initial customer interaction with an email to deliver information or even a telephone call to schedule an appointment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of today’s buyers still prefer to keep the glass wall up between themselves and the sales person to allow them time to make a decision; and that is where and why most dealerships drop the ball.
The people skills needed to maintain control over a customer have always been important. However, the Internet has empowered consumers with the ability to gather information from sources other than the auto dealer so now they are critical to the survival of an auto dealership in today’s challenging economy with reduced sales volume and profit margins. Today’s educated consumer demands that all online communications, including telephone calls to gather information not provided on the websites, are transparent and relevant. Sales people still need to provide information about themselves and their dealership to differentiate them from competing online dealerships and information resources. However there is a fine line between relationship based selling and self serving sales hype; that’s where new telephone support services using web based training, managing and monitoring can help.
Automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients understand the importance of maintaining telephone skills. Telephone training has always held a priority position in any comprehensive plan. You must inspect what you expect and managing and monitoring telephone calls, both in-bound leads and out-bound follow-up, is job one for many sales managers. However, the immediacy of today’s Internet demands and the limited tolerance of online shoppers have required more management oversight and support than previously needed or even possible give the limitations of monitoring systems and processes in most business development and/or call centers. New vendors entering this arena provide a combination of one-on-one training, outsourced resources and web based managing / monitoring functions that promote best practices with easily accessed R.O.I. analytics to prove that the job is getting done.
Of course automotive advertising agencies must continue to focus on bleeding edge website conversion tools and lead generators to generate the phone calls. Applications that provide NADA sourced appraisal values for online consumers with inventory information to select a replacement vehicle with consumer friendly lead generator tools are still needed to get the phone to ring. Similarly, agencies should continue to advise their auto dealer clients to invest in online lead sources like consumer-centric inventory based marketing platforms powered by social media – and automated video production platforms producing interactive videos posted on an auto dealer’s website as well as individually indexed onto You Tube driving leads back to the dealer’s CRM to get the phone to ring. However, automotive advertising agencies also need to insure that when the leads are generated that they are handled properly on the telephone or the leads are wasted and the R.O.I. from these new online marketing platforms are diminished.
Properly integrated telephone training and monitoring applications using new technologies and Internet powered access for outsourced support services can help to blur the line between the real and the virtual world as well as any other online platform. A combination of best practices and technology can create the efficiencies needed to maximize the R.O.I. for auto dealers before, during and after the sale. All too often automotive advertising agencies neglect to look in the rear view mirror to apply yesterday’s best practices to today’s selling processes to build tomorrow’s opportunities.
People skills are still job one when it comes to selling vehicles and service. The filter that the telephone places between a sales person and a customer is as much of an obstacle as the glass wall that separates the lanes on the Internet Super Highway is. In both cases, modern technology can be applied to overcome the one constant that exists in both challenges – human nature.
Philip Zelinger is a former auto dealer principal with an earned reputation as a nationally recognized automotive advertising expert specializing in the technology sector. His philosophy that a rising tide floats all boats