There has been a lot written about the “car buyer’s journey,” the path that a shopper takes in their quest to buy a new car. Through internet searches that turn into real contact, a user becomes a lead, who could then become a customer. Down the line, they might even become a returning customer.
As a dealership, this journey is full of opportunities. A dealership with a strong internet presence, descriptive VDPs, responsive sales team, and quality showroom is well set-up to succeed in closing more sales. Unfortunately, the journey is also riddled with opportunities for missteps and dropped leads.
The potential for miscommunication and disconnect is even greater because of all of the mismatched systems dealerships use. If all of your tools and teams are seamlessly coordinated, their power can influence the customer journey– it becomes easier for a sales team to nurture leads, follow-up when appropriate, and provide the type of personalized attention that customers expect.
If these systems are not coordinated, however, your dealership is vulnerable to all sorts of issues. Communication is strained, customers feel alienated, and staff becomes frustrated. Before delving into how your dealership can improve communication and cooperation between systems and teams, let’s explore why it is so important to do so.
The dangers of disconnect
A dealership contains several moving parts that should be interacting at any given time. To determine if your dealership is suffering from issues of disconnect, ask yourself: Is your BDC inputting all relevant information into the CRM? What about your sales team? Is your sales team communicating well with your BDC, making sure that it is up to date with any news and offers? Is your CRM being updated with information captured on your website, from different lead sources? Are returning customers being flagged as “duplicates” or bad leads, and therefore ignored by your sales team?
There are several reasons why these and other disconnects are so dangerous:
Studies show that leads that are contacted within 10 minutes of their request are three times more likely to visit that dealership. This means that follow-up needs to happen quickly, but also effectively. If a customer submitted a question via chat and is contacted by phone a few minutes later, they expect an answer to their specific question. If systems aren’t updated and utilized, your sales team has no way of knowing what the customer wants, or, in particularly bad cases, that follow-up is even needed. This could be a result of a technical issue or manual input error. Either way, your follow-up is suffering and you could be losing customers.
Lack of personalization.
When systems don’t communicate, customers don’t receive personalized attention. A customer should feel that every interaction they have with a dealership is with the same person, whose sole focus is them and their needs. If a visitor only looked at SUVs on your website, you sales team should not try selling them a sports car. If you have technologies to track a user’s interests online, that information must be made available to and accessible by the salesperson so that they can use it to conduct a helpful and relevant follow up conversation. Without this coordination, the different stages of a buyer’s journey become disjointed and sloppy.
Data is not used effectively.
A major reason why dealerships invest in all of these systems is in order to effectively track what works and what doesn’t. With multiple systems, data is scattered and often confusing. As a result, you spend a great deal of time putting this data together- time that could be spent on other important tasks to increase your dealership’s bottom line. Without accurate and readily-available data, you also have no way of knowing if your systems are even adding value to your dealership.
How to minimize the disconnect
Now that we fully understand the issue, what steps can your dealership take to minimize the miscommunication?
Staff Training and Hiring
As in most areas, staff training is key. Your entire staff must be trained on and comfortable with all of your systems. Your sales team needs to be totally proficient in your CRM, so that no interactions go unnoted. The BDC must know how the sales team is structured, and how to best integrate its efforts with the CRM. Above this, each team must also understand what each system is used for, and how to get the most out of each of them. Organizing regular “refresher courses” for your staff is a great way to ensure they are up-to-date with your technologies and systems.
Above this, you should focus on strengthening your “internal system” and team environment. Your teams need to understand that they can only achieve success when they work together. Cultivating this type of environment can be difficult, as there are so many areas for potential conflict that arise. When hiring new employees, try to determine if they are team players and receive feedback well. Be on the lookout for people who seem to understand the value of working as a team and effective communication.
Identifying and Addressing Problems
Integral to solving issues of miscommunication is recognizing them early, and addressing them before they snowball into bigger problems. Possible ways to put this awareness into practice include through regular check-ins and inter-departmental meetings. In addition, processes such as logging systems and “problem trackers” can also help ensure your staff is on the look-out for ways to improve, and are able to communicate those things with one another.
To aid your staff in these efforts, you should find technologies that are user-friendly and easy to understand. Anything you can do to make your team more comfortable with a technology will make them utilize it more, and more efficiently.
Whenever you consider a new vendor, or evaluate your current systems, there are several questions you should ask, keeping in mind all of the pitfalls of disconnect: how does this tool interact with my others? What format will my data be displayed in, and does that work well with my existing systems? Will this make it easier or more difficult for my staff to keep track of information? How customizable is this system, and how can I make it work within my own dealership structure?
The reason why you have all of these systems is to make your dealership run more smoothly. A tool might sound great and offer exactly what you are looking for, but if it will not integrate well with your other systems and staff, it will only cause more issues. Coordination and communication will create a healthier work environment, in which your employees will be eager to identify areas for improvement. Your systems will work together to help your teams provide customers with the most personalized and seamless buying journey, and develop future strategies. All of these changes will ultimately increase your dealership’s bottom line, and help you close more sales.
Author: Shoshana DuBow
Shoshana DuBow is the Sales Operations Manager at AutoLeadStar. Holding an MBA, and bringing a wide variety of professional experience to her position, including real estate management, teaching, and marketing, she is constantly looking for creative ways to improve sales processes. Shoshana is always open to industry collaboration, so please reach out.