What would you rather do?
A. perform at a higher level (ie: close more deals or generate more gross profit) from your current opportunities to do business.
B. generate more opportunities to do business.
For me, the answer is obvious. Unfortunately, many of the dealer contacts I’ve been making don’t seem to respond as well to offers of methods for doing better with what they have as they do methods for generating more traffic. Why is that?
I had a conversation yesterday with one of our industry’s leading movers and shakers regarding marketing products and services to dealers and what the “hot buttons” are in today’s dealership climate. We agreed that “Traffic” and “ Decreased Expenses” (which I equate to lower cost per customer) and “Enhanced SEO” were all high priority issues for the automotive community. I’d probably throw in “Social Media” and “Reputation Management” for good measure, but I do think the first three garner the greater attention in terms of relevance to the bottom line on a day to day, month to month basis.
As we were talking, I realized that, in many instances, as an industry, we’re still stuck on the idea that MORE traffic is the key to our salvation. (Now I’m completely generalizing, so for those of you who track your true opportunities to do business like an IRS agent, I applaud you and am not grouping you into this bunch.) And while I don’t necessarily disagree that shifting the distribution of power in any given market is a bad thing, I have to say, I think the idea of grabbing more opportunities without doing more with the opportunities we already have is a gluttonous recipe for disaster.
So here I go, I want to go on the record as saying, loudly, I am not an advocate of generating more traffic. I don’t want my dealer clients to buy more leads, or generate more leads of their own until they’re doing their best with the leads they already have. In fact, until they’re doing the best possible job with the leads they have, I’d advocate cutting all paid third party leads sources because that’s just more money flying out the window!
I guess you could say that my philosophy is kind of like holistic health management. Say, for example, you’ve gained a few pounds. Now you’ve got high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, aching joints, and the list goes on. You go see your doctor, and your doctor gives you three prescriptions. You go to the drug store, get those pill bottles, and start taking your meds. (And they aren’t exactly cheap). Six months go by, and your symptoms have diminished – slightly – but you’re still not right. Your significant other is pretty health conscious and turns you on to a naturopathic physician who changes your diet, gets you on an exercise program, and has you start taking vitamins and nutritional supplements. Six months later, you’re an entirely different person! You throw those pill bottles away, and laugh at the guys on your staff who can’t keep up with you any more.
That’s where I’m at. After fifteen years of advancement in process and technology, I’m just flat tired of seeing the dealer body taking prescription after prescription for ailments that are inherently curable through behavior modification and a regimen of hard work and discipline.
What I’m really talking about is a focus on a grass roots pursuit of higher conversion; how can we “do better” with the opportunities that we have, and how can we build the muscle and the stamina so that when we turn on the traffic faucet, we’re really ready to capitalize on those new opportunities?
Our nationwide industry numbers suck. On average, an automotive dealership converts 5 to 8% of their inbound Internet inquiries to sales. And on average, our Internet gross sales profit is far below that of the retail department. These are the SAME numbers that we posted 14 years ago. Really? Are we no better 14 years later? And why not? And what about the retail numbers? I am absolutely certain that even with our advanced technological tracking practices, we’re still short-reporting our total opportunities and therefore have no real idea what our conversion numbers are.
I spent time in the Miami FL market on an Internet/BDC training mission about two months ago, and I shopped all of my clients’ competitors to see what we were up against. And you know what I found? The same tired old templated responses that we were being taught, and that I re-taught over a decade ago. Is this really the best we can do?
As a National Trainer for Hyperdrive Systems, I’ve been made privy to some phenomenal sales training principles that were generated by someone I have a lot of respect for. Eddie Coleman coined the phrase “conversion” back in the nineties, and was the first person who showed me that not only could I close more deals than I thought I could, but I could make more gross than I ever imagined possible. His Mastery Council ™ principles have been implemented in stores across the country, and continue to make the difference for dealers who are brave enough to buck the ingrained trends. I won’t share the secrets of his Shake ‘N Bake recipe here, but I will say that there is no doubt in my mind that what we teach completely changes the dynamic in the market for our customers. It’s almost an unfair advantage that our customers gain. And, because we’re market exclusive, we create clear winners.
That said, I’ll get to where I really wanted to go with this post.
About two months ago, I became aware of a video sales system that a long time acquaintance of mine has refined over the past two years.
Now I’ve used video for a long time. I remember one of my dealers being all excited about the Flip camera a few years ago, and we started utilizing YouTube and attaching video to email to increase our conversion and our competitive relevancy. It worked. I’ll give the Flip supporters that. It did work.
But this new thing, this Virtual Cyber Sales System(VCSS), this thing – it’s leagues beyond where we were with our Flip. It took my friend Scott Tanner about 30 minutes to run me through the full presentation, and by the time he was done, I was hooked. I have been looking for a tool that would enable me or one of my clients to completely differentiate ourselves from the competition and this, my friends, is it.
Scott Tanner had a dream. Literally. And in his dream, he was able to communicate in a wireless streaming video environment in real time with his sales prospects. He went looking for and found one of the leading streaming video hosting companies in the world and two years ago, he partnered with them to bring his dream to life.
The Virtual Cyber Sales System (VCSS) is hands down, the most cost effective, time saving, lightweight yet powerful, high definition video broadcasting system on the market today that not only enables you to quickly record personalized HD video messages to your prospects and service customers, interface instantly with your Social Media profiles (FB, Twitter, and YouTube), post quickly to Craigslist, and allows to you broadcast LIVE. That’s right, LIVE.
I’ll get into all the rest of the comparative advantages here in a minute, but the question was posed to me yesterday “aren’t there other devices out there that allow you to do that”? My answer, was “Yes, but they’re prohibitively expensive” and/or more cumbersome to use. The reality is that for about $8000 you could have a slightly smaller device that will transmit streaming video in HD – but you wouldn’t have many of the other features that you would with the VCSS. And, for about double that amount, you could strap a backpack to your back and broadcast from just about anywhere on the planet if you could figure out how to use the thing, but here again, without the features that make the VCSS “so easy, a salesman can use it” (that’s a real quote from one of our dealers!)
Our goal, with the current configuration of hardware and software was to provide retail sales (not just automotive, we’re talking: RV, Real Estate, Yacht, Furniture, etc.) professionals with the ability to communicate in real time easily, quickly , and cost effectively. NOTHING ELSE ON THE MARKET DOES ALL THREE.
Why can’t you do this with the hot new HD Flip camera? Well, for one, Flip doesn’t stream live. And, even without that handicap, it simply takes longer, sometimes much longer, to download a Flip video and process it for distribution. Time is MONEY! With the VCSS, your retail sales people literally have a green button for “go” and a red button for “stop” and they’re done with the device. While they go process their video for distribution with a few clicks of a mouse at their desk, their team mate is out on the lot shooting his latest customer testimonial or showing that customer 500 miles away the features and benefits of your pre-owned “one of a kind” whatever it might be.
Now I had someone ask me “well, what about the dealers who believe that streaming live video defeats the intent of getting the customer into the store?” That’s a great question! The key to maximizing this tool is in the training and implementation that Tanner and our team provide. Certainly, if your customer is 15 minutes away and inquiring about a specific vehicle, you’d be remiss to do a n in-depth walk around for him or her live – you’d NEVER want to do that! But would you want to be the one to get back to them with a personalized v-mail in half the time it takes you to process one of your templated email responses or a Flip to YouTube video? If we accept theory that he who responds first wins (which I don’t believe, but that’s another conversation) how about being FIRST with video?? You simply cannot do that with your Flip – it takes longer and there are more steps. I have trained enough sales professionals in the last fifteen years to know what the barriers to use are. If it is easy, they will try. If it makes more car deals, they will try harder. THAT is why the VCSS is in a league all its’ own when it comes to video solutions for the automotive industry.
So what about the iPhone or other handheld devices? How do they stack up against VCSS? They don’t. Quite simply, these devices are limited by bandwidth, screen size, resolution, and power. I mean, really. I have a 46 year old friend who is a 2 handicap, but can he read a score card without his reading glasses? NO! So how can we really expect the majority of our sales professionals to be able to process high quality video on a tiny little device? And these devices simply don’t have the juice to do what the VCSS does.
Here’s the thing. Everyone knows they should be using video. Video represents a huge focus of SEO experts, marketing gurus, and social media mavens. Video enables you to personalize your responses to the people who are expressing interest in doing business with you. It shortens the purchase cycle because your prospects gain a clearer impression of who you are and what you’re about. You can sell your expertise, the culture of your dealership, and create more rapport – faster. You can thank your customers, re-market to your customer base, promote causes and events that you support, solidify your social media relationships. You can drive more appointments, sell more cars, sell more service, reduce your total cost per customer, increase your net profit and CSI.
So if you aren’t using video in all of these ways right now, why not? And if you are utilizing video, is it fast? Is it easy? Do your sales people and service writers incorporate video into the fabric of their daily operations?
The Virtual Cyber Sales System was Scott Tanner’s dream, but it has become a reality and is being used in dealerships across the nation by sales professionals who want to lead, not follow.
So how does this relate to the first part of my post? Well, ask yourself, in a competition for your prospect’s attention, how do you fare? Are you a stand out? Are you giving it your all all of the time? Do you have something “more” or something “extra” that your competitors don’t have?
Video brochures are nice – how many of your competitors use them? Response Logix auto response system is cool, and sure facilitates a solution to the iron fisted OEM requirements, but is it really a differentiator? My fear, with tools like the ones I’m mentioning here, is that we’ll keep getting further and further away from what the car business is really about in the first place – YOU selling your prospect a car. I don’t know of a better way for you to begin your selling process than by introducing yourself to your prospects via the VCSS.
I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff in the last fifteen years, but this is by far one of the best. Ronsmap and vBack are right up there too, but that is also a different conversation.
Do you want to do better? Do you want to convert more of your opportunities to do business into customers? Do you want to generate more gross profit per deal? Statistically, the Virtual Cyber Sales System is one of the products out there, available to you RIGHT NOW, that will enable you to accomplish your goals. What are you waiting for?