One of the reasons why Sam Swope Honda World, located in Louisville, Kentucky, is so successful is because they don’t rest on sales methods that worked on yesterday’s consumers. Sam Swope is the No. 1 Honda store in Kentucky in sales, selling 65% of all new cars in their marketplace — regularly outselling Toyota and Ford. This year, they made six million dollars of net profit. What’s the secret to their success? Sam Swope Honda World uses an iPad based selling system, powered by IntellaCar, to connect with the modern consumer. The results have been incredible.
The Connected Consumer: Technology is changing the face of car sales, because of this, the dynamic between the sales person and the customer has changed greatly. The advent of smartphones is a big factor, and change is coming more and more quickly. In May 2011, 35% of the U.S. population owned a smartphone. Just two years later, that number had jumped up to 56%. Studies have shown that 50% of mobile Web users now use mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online.
Car Sales + Smartphones = Smart Sales: What does this data mean when it comes to automobile sales? It means that salespeople now are facing far more knowledgeable customers. Since they usually focus on a specific vehicle, frequently customers know more than your salespeople. Also, when your customer is left alone, 63% of them will pull out their cell phones and 50% will look at your competitors’ pricing/inventory while sitting in your dealership. This is called “showrooming.”
Studies show that showrooming is only going to increase amongst consumers. In 2015, 22% of buyers will be Gen Y, the largest base of potential buyers since the Baby Boomers, and right behind Gen Y are the Millennials. These generations are comfortable with their smartphones — in fact, they’re uncomfortable without them — and they demand a streamlined, transparent and honest sales processes.
So, how can a dealership turn this problem into an opportunity? One of the most promising new solutions available to dealerships, and the one that Sam Swope Honda World uses to increase their success, is by equipping their sales associates with the same tools their customers are already using – an iPad selling system.
Execution at Sam Swope Honda World: With Sam Swope’s process, the customer is never left alone – they are always left with the iPad to keep them engaged and off their phones. Whenever a salesperson has to leave the customer unattended for whatever reason, it provides the customer an opportunity to disengage from the sales process, or worse, go showrooming.
At Sam Swope Honda World, the sales process has the following steps, each of which utilizes the Pad selling system to streamline the process:
Greeting the Customer: Getting customer information into the CRM is vital for follow up and for maintaining relationships. When a customer first comes into Sam Swope Honda World, the salesperson’s first step, after greeting them, is to capture the customer’s information into the CRM via the iPad. Once that’s done, the salesperson conducts the initial interview, both to qualify them and to find out their preferences in vehicles.
Selecting the Vehicle: Once the initial steps are completed, the customer then is shown an inventory search of Sam Swope’s vehicles. Using the iPad, the salesperson is able to drill down to specific vehicles that might suit the customer, using the information gathered in the previous step. The iPad also allows for side-by-side comparisons of different vehicles to allow the customer to see for themselves how different choices stack up against each other.
Because all the specific information about a vehicle is literally available at the salesperson’s fingertips, questions the customer might have about features and specifications can be answered immediately, thereby increasing the customer’s trust in the salesperson’s abilities. The iPad selling system also allows the salesperson to show the buyer e-brochures and vehicle-specific video content, allowing for a professional presentation.
Appraising the Trade: Once a vehicle is selected from Sam Swope’s inventory, the customer’s trade-in is appraised. In this step of the process, the customer and the manager appraise the vehicle together. The manager is able to use the tablet to explain the offer, showing them the research used to come up with the offer. When a customer sees what goes into a decision, they are more likely to accept it, rather than an offer that appears to be pulled out of thin air.
Working the Deal: Once a vehicle is selected, and the question of their trade-in is answered, the main negotiation begins. Again, surprises are the enemy, and the iPad selling system allows the process to run smoothly. Once the salesperson enters the buyer’s notes and actual selection into the CRM, via the tablet, the manager is again brought over and brings the first pencil. The negotiation goes from there, without making the salesperson check with the old-school “mystery manager” — and leaving the customer alone with their second thoughts — repeatedly. Once the deal is completed, the business manager is brought over to the sales associate’s desk and introduced to the customer.
Pre-Delivery: The business manager interviews the customer and reviews the important information with them via the iPad. The customer is then introduced to the delivery specialist, whose job is to make sure customers get what they’re expecting when the vehicle pulls up. They utilize the iPad to go over a video explanation of the features and accessories available, and then are shown an F&I introduction video.
F&I: The F&I representative uses a custom menu presentation on the tablet to present products that might be of interest to the customer, based on the information they’ve already provided in the process, completes the paperwork and then facilitates the hand-off back to the delivery specialist.
Delivery: Using Honda’s interactive Personalized Selling sheets on the iPad, the Delivery Specialist sets up the vehicle to the customer’s preferences. They also explain all the features/ technology and then equip the customer by emailing them a “How To” video library of the key vehicle technologies for later reference. While the customer is excited about the vehicle, they ask them to post their experience on social media from the iPad while they are still at the dealership.
“Individual productivity is way up,” said the dealership’s VP/GM, Mike Porro. “We are having our most profitable year ever and we are doing it with a sales team that is 35 percent smaller.”
Monitor and Improve: The process has one final step for Sam Swope Honda: monitoring the process and seeing where it can be improved. Again, the iPad is a vital part of this step. Managers can measure the iPad activity against the results in the CRM to see where the process can be improved. Because of the amount of data that can be captured thanks to the tablet-based system, the facts can be introduced at weekly sales meetings to discuss best practices, and information generated can be the basis of the ongoing training the dealership undertakes to improve performance and give the customer an even better experience.
Results of the Tablet-Based Process: Keeping customers happy by providing them with the service they expect, or didn’t even know was possible, shows up in the dealership’s sales and marketing numbers.
Using the iPad selling system, Sam Swope Honda World has seen impressive results:
- Units per Salesperson of Heavy Tablet Users | up 64%
- Close Rates | up 22%
- Transaction Time | down 25%
- Used-Car Profits | up 40%
- Social Media Friends/Followers | up 900
The results, both in sales numbers and customers who are easier to sell to, have made Sam Swope Honda World’s salespeople quick to embrace this method of sales. “We have never seen such a fast change in our people and our processes,” Mike Porro said.