By Mark Gilbert, CEO, Automotive Training Network
A dysfunctional BDC can be significantly more harmful than not having one at all. Adding another layer of customer-facing employees through a BDC will almost certainly disrupt existing processes and requires change to be effectively implemented. Just this challenge alone has resulted in some dealers reevaluating or even retreating from the task.
For the purpose of this article, a BDC is a department dedicated to converting leads, inbound calls, and potential prospects into showroom traffic. BDCs make sense conceptually, provided that dedicated staff are always available to respond to customer inquiries and schedule appointments. When properly managed, the results are more efficient than salespeople trying to handle leads and also the sales process in-store.
Unfortunately, increased efficiency doesn’t always mean it’s going to be more effective. The following seven areas are important to consider as you launch, relaunch or even contemplate a BDC install:
- Customer Experience
- Quantity vs. Quality
- Lead/Call Management Process
- Better Results Before Increasing Leads
- Sales Department/BDC Integration
- Effective Management of Price Shoppers
- Not Accepting the BDC as an Added Expense
A declining customer experience is a common symptom of the possible disconnect between the sales team and the BDC. This decline is usually driven by two key elements:
- Poor response systems that result in customers feeling like they’re talking to someone who “doesn’t really know” the answers
- A disconnected handoff from the BDC to the sales team that results in customers feeling like they’re starting over or being “passed over” to someone else
Quantity vs Quality
If you are frustrated or distraught with the results you are getting from your CRM tool, you are not alone. Many faithfully press their BDC or sales team to keep the tasks “green” or ensure they make 40, 50 or 60 calls a day. Yet, little results are seen from utilizing the tech the way it was sold to them. The problem that often prevents these results is the same one that creates BDC roadblocks addressed above. Tasks without efficient process and monitoring are mostly a waste of time.
Lead/Call Management Process
Associatively, documenting all processes in the BDC and sales team and following up with every customer and contact is critical. The more consistently a process is followed, the less communication is required between the sales and BDC teams to facilitate a seamless experience for the customer. Each department knows what to expect, and more importantly, so does the customer.
Better Results Before Increasing Leads
There is a proven reason we have advocated Ten Quality Conversations a Day, as opposed to “volume contacting,” for the last 40 years. The sooner the BDC and salesperson are trained to make efficient and effective contacts, the sooner your ROI increases on your digital investment. It sounds crazy to most sensible people to seek more opportunities to feed a mediocre process, but dealers do it far too often. Once we are at 20-35% effectiveness on call and lead management, imagine the ROI difference when we then increase our calls and our leads.
Sales Department/BDC Integration
For the sales team to fully understand the role of the BDC and the handoff process, every salesperson should start with at least 30 days in the BDC. This is the best way to improve communication throughout both departments. In addition, while some salespeople will become great on the floor, if they can’t get trained in an isolated BDC environment, you might as well save the 40 or 50 ups you would have burned trying to teach a new hire to learn the ropes.
Effective Management of Price Shoppers
Many BDCs are creating a frustrating experience for the customer by withholding information. This is one of the easiest ways to drive customers to competing dealerships. In this information-based age, someone will give them the information they want. The best strategy is to provide customers with an over-the-top experience by approaching the answer to every question with a “yes and more” strategy, especially when seeking price information. When they assume you are served a “gotcha” question and your response is, “No problem, in fact, I have a few other prices I am going to send you as well,” you disarm the customer and also show them transparency.
Not Accepting the BDC as an Added Expense
Dealerships often see expenses rise with the addition of a BDC. A BDC is not an additional expense, it’s a reallocation of existing expense. This means with a BDC, the dealership doesn’t require as many salespeople to operate. The salespeople focus on fewer tasks and hopefully perform more efficiently. The BDC portion of the selling process thereby allows salespeople to sell more cars each month. In an effective implementation, both sides are paid from sales compensation and should be held to the same standard percentage of the gross profit in the sales department, before we “added” the BDC team.
In summary, building a BDC has its complications, but it’s the best way to provide the most efficient and effective customer experience. Maximizing existing opportunities is almost always more productive than trying to find new ones. A BDC can help improve closing rates and subsequently, increase the value of every marketing dollar spent.
About the Author
Mark Gilbert has over 35 years of successful business operations, sales, marketing, and communications experience. He is the principal author of The Balanced Selling Programme (1988), which was the origin of the Customer First Sales Process which was launched in 2002.
He has appeared in over 200 sales, marketing and business management seminars and training programs across the world. He has been a repeat speaker for the National Auto Dealers Association and for companies like Sandy Corporation, Columbia Ultimate Business Systems, Landa Corp, Ford Motor Company’s XL2000 training program, National Association of Broadcasters Groups, Nike, Hewlett Packard and multiple telecom companies. Mark has directed manager training retreats as well as personal dealership skills training certifications for groups up to 500 people.