Choosing the right vendors to help with a killer digital marketing strategy is a crucial, and sometimes painstaking, task for dealerships. But it’s sometimes after that decision has been made, with the new product selected and set up, that the real challenge arises. Integrating a new system into your dealership sales process is not always smooth– and you don’t always get the results you want.
Why would a great product fail, or at least not perform to the degree you were anticipating? Sometimes, poor quality is the culprit. More often, it’s because dealers expect a product to function as a whole system, rather than one tool that needs to be integrated into a larger system.
Think of it this way: if you buy a membership to the gym, but only show up to work out once a month, it will be difficult to get in shape. But the problem is not the gym. Similarly, if your dealership purchases a product but sales are not improving, consider if you can be using that tool more effectively, or adjusting your own process to drive the results.
The fact is, knowing how to integrate new products into your process, and how to measure their outcomes, is far more crucial than simply having them.
Because we know our own stats the best, let’s look at a real life example from our lead capture tool. Two of our customers had many similarities: both were Ford dealerships in the same type of geographic area, with comparable demographics and store types. Most significantly, their numbers showed a similar lift in lead capture and a similar lead profile. And yet, the two stores’ sales figures were dramatically different, one converting leads to sales at a 12% average rate, the other closing at 7%. What caused this discrepancy?
The answer is the strength and effectiveness of dealership product integration and follow-up.
As a leader in your dealership exploring new products, it’s important to take the time to build out key practices that will help you evaluate whether or not you are taking full advantage of the vendor’s platform and successfully integrating it with your full digital marketing strategy. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Understand that new vendors are different from previous vendors. Your new vendors don’t yet have insight into your internal organization– and you don’t yet have insight into theirs. This means that it might take time to learn a new system, or there may be some initial bugs. During kickoff calls with new vendors, insist on having a conversation to get their insight into the best way to utilize and integrate their product. Ideally, the vendor will initiate this conversation themselves. The key is not to assume that you can use the same processes you are used to.
- Request benchmark KPIs. If your product helps with lead capture, find out what close rates and appointment rates vendors are seeing on their leads in other similar dealerships. If it’s an inventory tool, get lost sales and accuracy metrics to measure performance at your dealership. For chat tools, you’ll need some baseline measurements of customer engagement, acceptance rates, and volume relative to site traffic. As long as these are accurate, you’ll have a benchmark you can use to measure performance at your dealership
- Get your team on board. Determine who at your dealerships will use this platform and ensure its success. Make sure there is someone to take full responsibility for the product: understanding how it works, what value it provides, how it integrates into other systems. Understand that a digital platform is not just for the internet team– it will affect the entire sales process. So educate each department on how the product fits into their specific workflow, get everyone on the same page, and provide ample opportunity for feedback.
- Assess your external messaging. Any time you use a tool that helps you interact with customers, make sure the interaction is suitable. Maybe your new vendor connects you to a new type of lead or shopper– so check to see that your phone conversation scripts, email responders, or chat agents understand this population and their interests. Ensure that as you build new channels, your branding and messaging stays consistent.
- Share your data. Make sure you and your vendor communicate frequently and openly, particularly during the first few months. Review your KPI data, and give feedback from your team on the overall user experience. This will allow you to diagnose problems and assess solutions.
Building out a proper onboarding process for a new vendor may take more work– at first. Like our aspiring fitness buff, the beginning will be an adjustment: creating a routine, fitting it into existing schedules and processes, making it second-nature. But ultimately, taking the time at the outset to properly understand, implement, and integrate your vendors with your entire team and your entire sales process will ensure that your investment in a new product actually gets you the return you want. And if after all that, it’s still not working– you’ll be able to move on to something better and avoid months of wasted time and money.
Learn about how early lead capture– and comprehensive follow-up!– will edge out your competition and boost your sales. Email us for our new whitepaper: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Devorah Wolf
Devorah Wolf is the Content Marketing Manager at AutoLeadStar, a lead engagement platform for the automotive industry. With many years of experience in content writing and editing, she blogs about making the most of your online traffic and making your online shoppers happy so you get more customers to your showroom.