While it hasn’t been a banner year for many car dealerships in the U.S., some brands are doing well, and some dealerships are bucking the trend with robust sales figures. The more successful dealerships have one thing in common: both their operations and marketing are firing on all cylinders. Implementing just a few of their tactics can help other dealerships increase their own sales efficiencies and, in turn, improve their bottom lines. With that in mind, the following strategies are common practices of the more successful dealerships.
1. Hire Better, Not More
Solid sales performance starts at the top. Sales managers have a responsibility to set a good example and inspire your sales team. Successful leaders don’t berate, they motivate.
Once you have your leadership team set, take a hard look at the rest of your team. Finding truly exceptional sales reps is difficult — the employee churn rate for sales is higher than other professions (around 25% annually).1
Build your sales team with ambitious, driven, self-motivated and goal-oriented people. Reps must have tough skin, an extroverted personality and emotional intelligence. They should be accountable and transparent, and their goals shouldn’t be just hitting quotas or a specific number but setting your company up for sustainable and profitable success.
Once you have the right people for your team, you still need to set them up for success. That means investing in a strong training and coaching program.
2. Define Your Sales Process
If you can’t describe your sales process in clear and concise terms, how can you expect your sales reps to follow it? Your sales process needs to be well-defined and repeatable, including your presales process. Organizations backed by a strategic presales team have win rates of more than 40%.2 To set your sales reps up for success, vet prospects thoroughly to determine if they’re truly qualified. This will free up time for the closers and ensure they’re not dedicating their valuable resources to bad leads.
3. Offer Solutions Instead of Products
Buyers want to emotionally connect with a product. They may ask for features, but what they’re really looking for is a solution. Focus on learning about the buyer’s particular need, then show why your product can meet that need. Get into the buyer’s shoes and talk about how those features will impact the buyer.
4. Customize Your Marketing
Social media platforms allow dealerships to easily reach customers and engage with them in ways that traditional marketing tactics cannot. But it’s a double-edged sword. If your tactics aren’t right, you can annoy loyal customers and alienate prospects.
For example, in order to maximize your dollar on Facebook, you should be using Custom Audiences, which allows you to target a list of your existing contacts with an ad based on a number of specific parameters, such as customers who’ve made a purchase, customers who purchase a certain vehicle or customers who open your emails. Those customers — and only those customers — will see the Facebook ad you’re promoting. The average cost per click for dealerships on Facebook is more than $2 but, with custom targeting that relies on your CRM software’s powerful data, the figure can be reduced to under $1.3
Sixty percent of internet users with a household income over $100,000 use LinkedIn.4 It’s a tremendous resource for engaging with current and prospective customers. With LinkedIn’s custom targeting program, Matched Audiences, you can filter your CRM data to customize your target for factors ranging from contacts who’ve purchased from you in the past to contacts who’ve taken a test drive.
You can also focus your email marketing to reach customers based on demographics, purchase history, past interactions and more.
5. Update Your Website
Your website needs to incorporate conversion rate optimization best practices, which improve the digital experience so that your visitors turn into leads. It can be as simple as streamlining forms or changing the color of your call-to-action buttons. For a complete overhaul, it will involve an audit of your site, but can pay immediate dividends in the form of new customers.
In addition, your website should be updated regularly with quality content including articles, maintenance tips or comparisons between similar vehicle models. All of the above not only makes your site more appealing to visitors, but it makes it more appealing to Google and other search engines, as well.
6. Keep Your Story Straight
Your creative executions should be consistent across all of your channels — from broadcast and outdoor to direct mail and SEM. Your story is your brand. This is what makes you unique; it’s your unique selling proposition.
Your dealership also has particular logos, colors and fonts it uses. This is part of your identity and should never vary. To that end, your message and visual identity should be incorporated into any promotion, special or incentive that you’re marketing. Over time, your brand will become instantly recognizable by consumers in your area and you’ll create a loyal following in the process.
The Bottom Line to Increasing Your Bottom Line
From a marketing standpoint, it’s not enough to price your inventory competitively. Your dealership needs to take advantage of the latest marketing technologies in order to reach the right audience at the right time and place. You need compelling, cohesive content to move buyers through your sales funnel, but all of that would mean little if your sales team is not in a good position to succeed.
By incorporating the six strategies above into your dealership, your sales channels can more easily be optimized. Ultimately, that will result in happier customers, happier employees and, of course, happier owners.