By James Fleming, President, SkyTech Dealer Services
There’s no longer a debate about the necessity of having representation in the world of e-commerce. It’s estimated that by the year 2040, 95% of purchases will be through e-commerce (Nasdaq). That being said, the question becomes “How much is too much?”
As someone who is constantly evaluating and vetting new products for car dealers, I can understand why so many dealers have gotten bogged down with a glut of e-commerce technology. An aesthetically pleasing, easily navigable, interactive and informative website is an absolute necessity and driving consumers to your website is imperative. So advertising, paying for SEO, developing a social media presence and partnering with the manufacturer to help get it done makes all the sense in the world. However, there are plenty of “bells and whistles” that just aren’t worth the price of admission.
While there’s opportunity for cost cutting with your website and with your efforts to attract website traffic, the savings are generally not substantial and no amount of cost cutting in these areas will drive new car and parts sales or put customers in your service drive. The area with the greatest across the board opportunity for cost savings and increased revenues is with website visitors.
Website visitors are the greatest source of leads for any business. There’s a tremendous amount of effort and money being poured into this area without much success. The visitor-to-sale website conversion rate for dealers averages 2-3 percent. So understandably, dealers are presented with a plethora of fixes by any number of vendors. On paper, these fixes sound wonderful but in practice don’t provide much advantage. The conversion rate has been the same for decades.
Dealers that are super successful, those that have conversion ratios three and four times the average, are doing so with old school salesmanship. These dealers understand that there are not many levels to a sales funnel in this industry. By the time a consumer visits a dealer’s website it’s “all over but the shouting” and in most cases a buying decision has already been made. So the effort and money spent on marketing and advertising after the fact could be put to better use.
Old school salesmanship dictated that when a consumer crossed that line onto the dealership’s lot, someone was on it. I remember positioning myself in locations on the patio that would allow me to be the first to take advantage of a co-worker’s misstep. There was no sleeping on the job for fellow salespeople when I was around. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I grabbed customers at their cars as they were about to leave after failed negotiations. Old school salesmanship dictated that there was no other opportunity to sell this consumer; it was now or never.
Super successful dealers engage old school salesmanship as soon as a consumer hits their website. They employ the tools that will in real time identify every consumer with whom they have the right to engage. These tools identify not only the contact information but also the consumer’s interests by providing what pages the consumer visited. And the numbers are daunting. While the average dealer gets more then 10,000 visits a month, it’s not uncommon to see as many as 20-30,000 visits per month. About 60% of these visits are for sales and about 40% for service. A great many will be “form fails” for either sales or service, the absolute best leads ever.
Whether by email, text, snail mail and/or a phone call the same day, great dealers are capitalizing on timing. In this new world, these dealers understand that those with the timeliest, most comprehensive data win by engaging a time-proven sales approach. It’s all about spending wisely on technology and then adding old school salesmanship. Technology meets old school is a winning combination.
About the Author
James Fleming is the Founder of the Fleming Sales System and Owner of SkyTech Dealer Services.