"Hear ye, hear ye! For all of you, thou shalt be indentured in thar' olde sales department. And for the rest of ya blubbering fools, 'yer lucky to call the Internet department over yonder home!" Boy, sounds like a clip right out of a bad Tom Cruise period movie about horse sales from the 17th century, right? And to top things off, he loses his English accent about 17 minutes into the flick…
All right, it may not be that bad where you work, and it may be the 21st century, but why is there still a separation between most dealership sales 'departments'? Why is there still a debate about whether or not they should be integrated? Is it because the favorite 'floor' sales person loses status and the spooned deals? What is it about the 1987 mindset that carries otherwise unacceptable practices forward?
Your entire sales department shouldn't be handling Internet leads because nearly all customers are now shopping online. It's not enough to make those not taking website ups handle "online jacks" simply because there is not a trickle of showroom traffic to speak of, and definitely not to support the size of your team. Do it because it is simply the right thing to do. How you do it is up to you.
Dealers: quit responding to the market, conditions, volume and what you perceive to be business indicators and start being proactive: building, planning and expecting more. Nobody ever built a birdhouse, let alone an empire, by standing still and waiting.
Yet people that otherwise can absolutely, positively produce more numbers, revenue and profit are not in organizations that support the opportunity, vision or appropriate business model. While a good number of dealers have shifted their resources to completely cover all aspects of sales including web-based leads (and you deserve a lot of credit for doing that), most of the market continues to have a small segment handle what continues to be debated as a different kind of customer.
Fact: Consumers no longer bend around businesses, especially those with dated practices. If you haven't checked in a while, they're no longer around. Competition, the Internet and consumer-generated content/virtual word of mouth have changed our industry. Businesses must listen to, connect with, communicate with and engage with the consumer on their terms. To use an old adage: quit trying to find a square peg into a round hole.
If you no longer drive to the airport, stand in a 52 minute line and deal with a counter agent to buy an airline ticket, why are you expecting people to deal with an automotive retailer in ways that are also 20-plus years old? Remember this next time you're in line returning a high-tech item that
you bought online from your favorite electronics retailer: you'll
likely find yourself in the same line as the people who bought items in
the store. Imagine that…the same line!
It's time to look at your business with new eyes and focus. Don't do anything less than you'd expect from the places you do business with. No debate about it: there is no such thing as an Internet department. There are only the ones that haven't figured it out yet…
Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results