The road to ruling automotive sales in your backyard and beyond is a long one, and your dealership’s digital marketing strategy plays a pivotal role. With so much of the car–buyer’s journey taking place online, it’s crucial to be present when and where people are looking. Chances are, you already leverage and integrate digital marketing channels in some way. Let’s take that to a whole new level!
Stream Companies Bill Parlaman and DealerSocket’s Eric Giroux join forces for this special webinar to share best practices and real-world success stories to help you reach, capture, and convert more traffic.
Attendees will learn:
Register today to move your dealership forward on the journey to digital domination.
About the Presenters:
Bill Parlaman, Chief Marketing Officer, Stream Companies
Bill Parlaman is one of the founding thought leaders in digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization space. Prior to joining Stream, Bill founded his own inbound marketing agency where he helped hundreds of clients maximize their digital marketing efforts for maximum exposure, lead generation, and brand building. As Chief Marketing Officer, Bill has taken that experience into a leadership role at Stream Companies where he leads a team of sales and marketing professionals, foster client relationships, and enjoys partnering with dealers to solve their biggest sales and marketing problems.
Eric Giroux, VP, Product Management, DealerSocket
After spending time directing digital marketing for a 12-store automotive group in Kansas, Eric Giroux became one of the early members of the DealerFire team. There, he oversaw relationships with some of the largest automotive groups in the country and helped steer dealer and product strategy. Now, as VP of Product Management at DealerSocket, Eric leads a global team of specialists in building web-based software. Most notably, he served as the lead Product Manager DealerFire’s website platform, as well as DealerSocket’s digital retailing solution.
By Gregory Arroyo
I recall a conversation I had with an industry attorney during the early days of digital retailing. Technology vendors believed the Digital Age had arrived, while dealers were saying, “Not so fast.” My question to my attorney friend was, “What’s the holdup.”
He said the problem is dealers aren’t treating digital retailing as an experience — that customers should be rewarded for taking that path to purchase. He suggested that dealerships with separate facilities for fleet sales should consider directing digital buyers there vs. the showroom.
He then relayed his recent experience purchasing his second vehicle from the same dealership. He called the store, explained that he was a willing buyer who simply wanted to update to a newer model, and negotiated the deal over the phone. Expecting the red-carpet treatment for essentially being a rollover, he felt disappointed when he discovered he’d have to wait like the other customers in front of him.
That conversation came to mind when I came across Urban Science’s “Around the Bend: How COVID-19 Impacts the Next Normal for Dealers,” a report based on an online poll of 1,506 adult consumers. It serves as an update to the firm’s August 2019 report, which served as a reality check for digital retailing.
The 2019 study, which included responses from 2,001 consumers, concluded that car buyers weren’t ready to ditch the dealership experience because they still want to kick the tires and take a test-drive. Respondents also said they still needed someone at the dealership to guide them through the process.
I wrote about why I think that represents an opportunity for digital retailing in an April 2020 blog entry, “Digital Retailing’s True Test.” However, I’d like to share an even greater opportunity revealed in this year’s updated study.
See, while the report did show that a majority of consumers still believe buying a car is too big of an investment not to see (81%) or test-drive (79%), it did show that 67% would be more open to buying online if it was a brand or dealership with which they were already familiar.
Again, my convo with my attorney friend came to mind, but so did a discussion I had with a DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager. He said the main reason some dealers fail to realize the full potential of data mining is because they don’t have a dedicated process. Well, based on that stat from Urban Science, maybe a digital retailing represents a missing link.
Take those data-mining campaigns targeting customers approaching the end of their lease or who qualify for smart payment offers. The emails could contain links to a landing page that explains your offer and a link to a streamlined buying process powered by your digital retail tool.
Back in April, another DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager told me about a Pennsylvania-based dealer group that was rewarded for having a service-drive sales process when the pandemic forced local officials to limit dealers there to appointment-only sales that concluded with service-drive deliveries.
Before the pandemic, the process delivered 100 units a month behind two dedicated salespeople, a sales manager, and an F&I manager, who actually has a dedicated desk (with enough privacy) in the service area. The reason for that is the group wanted that buying experience to feel different and free of pressure.
The group equips the sales team with its inventory management tool’s mobile app (Inventory+) to feed appraisers with scanned VINs and photos of every car that comes into service. The appraisers then prepare a package that includes a vehicle history report, documentation on the vehicle’s going price in the local market, its fair Kelley Blue Book value, a check voucher for an amount over that value, and the salesperson’s business card.
Signage in the service drive lets customers know they can get a free vehicle evaluation by texting a specific number or talking to their service advisor. All customers get an appraisal, but the hand-raisers represent high-value targets the sales team engages.
However, even customers who don’t bite get the appraisal package. They also get enrolled into a CRM-powered campaign that includes email and a phone call — the latter scheduled for the day after the customer’s service visit to ensure satisfaction and to revisit the offer sheet.
I can see three potential opportunities in that process for digital retailing to have an impact. Maybe it’s a kiosk in the service area loaded with a digital retail tool like DealerSocket’s PrecisePrice; perhaps it’s tablets. Whatever the case, digital retail should be a part of those follow-up efforts, whether it’s a link in an email or guiding customers through the process over the phone and emailing a link to their PrecisePrice deal.
And just maybe that buyer’s journey you create in the service drive serves as the entrance for sales opportunities your data-mining efforts generate.
While 93% of respondents to the Urban Science study expressed some concern with an entirely online purchase process, more than two-thirds said they were comfortable shopping online, signing paperwork digitally, and negotiating price and terms via email, chat, or phone.
Recently, the individual leading the digital drive for one of the largest privately-owned dealer groups in the United States addressed DealerSocket employees over a Zoom call. He talked about COVID-19’s impact, inventory shortages, the group’s efforts to build that clicks-to-bricks experience, and how consumers still need to be educated on what digital retailing is. What caught my attention was his response to whether he believed consumers still want the showroom experience.
“Absolutely … Only a small group of individuals want the Carvana model, and we’re going to be there,” he said. “But most customers want to step foot in a brick-and-mortar shop. If they want to get their payment, we’ll do that and meet them in the showroom.
“So, we believe a critical point in that process is that showroom experience,” he added. “You shouldn’t lose a customer who completed things online because you told them it would take 45 minutes, but it takes us three hours.”
This webinar has ended, but you can view the recording below.
Studies show 80% of your revenue actually comes from the top 20% of your customers. It’s also 10x more expensive to acquire a new customer versus retaining an old one. But did you know that your CRM is one of the most powerful tools your dealership has to start retaining and upselling customers right now?
Boosting customer retention just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%. In this webinar, you’ll learn five simple ways to start retaining customers using your CRM’s built-in tools. These are practical tips that you can start implementing immediately, to help your dealership maintain profitability, as business begins to return to normal.
Attend this Automotive News webinar to learn how to:
About the Presenter:
Anthony Mitchell, Sr. Manager, Strategic Growth at DealerSocket, Inc.
Anthony Mitchell’s extensive automotive experience and consultative insights have helped countless dealers make the most of their software investment and sell more cars, more profitably.
In a one-year span, data mining generated $275,000 in gross profit on 106 units for Idaho’s Larry H. Miller Honda Boise. Stephen Smith, the location’s business development and internet manager, chalks it up to a veteran sales team, DealerSocket CRM’s automation and accountability tools, and the ability of the CRM’s RevenueRadar data mining tool to deliver high-value opportunities.
“It starts with having the right strategy, process, and people involved,” says Smith. “My internet/BDC team handles all internet and phone traffic, which allows us to hand RevenueRadar and data mining almost solely to the sales staff.”
Smith says "almost" solely to his sales staff because there are a couple of accountability processes and CRM automation steps designed to keep his sales team on-task. For instance, the dealership uses CRM automation that gives salespeople 24 hours to act on a RevenueRadar lead via email, phone, or a SocketTalk text message.
“After 24 hours, my BDC staff gets full permission to reach out to the customer,” Smith says. “If we make contact, we put it under our name and work it. The automation keeps our salespeople motivated because they’ll lose a potential customer if they don't work their RevenueRadar leads.”
To ensure the team isn’t inundated with long-shot opportunities, the dealership pairs RevenueRadar’s lead scoring, which provides each opportunity with weighting based on propensity to buy, with its drip logic, which filters in the highest priority opportunities on a manageable cadence.
“You don’t want to see sales guys with 200 tasks in their bucket. It’s not helping anybody process their leads,” Smith says. “Keeping those cleaned up is important, and RevenueRadar does that very easily.”
Together with their DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager, the dealership optimizes its RevenueRadar leads to improve the sales team's chances. For instance, Smart Payment leads, or customers who can switch to a newer vehicle while lowering their payment, are set up to trigger in RevenueRadar when customers have an APR between 6% and 29% and at least two years of good payment history.
“The system is great at identifying who can lower their payment, so you can trust you're getting quality leads,” Smith says. “In a lot of cases, RevenueRadar leads are better than Internet leads.”
Using RevenueRadar, which is built directly within the CRM, the Larry H. Miller Honda Boise sales team provides a personalized follow up approach based on the customer’s current vehicle and equity position, finance terms, payment and service history, and a keen understanding of current-year models and trim levels. “With all the information the system provides, it becomes a courtesy call," Smith says of the store’s approach. "It’s not a cold call. It’s you giving them a call to provide a needed service.”
To ensure a superior customer experience continues, the dealership relies on the CRM’s automation to send vital customer touchpoints, such as the delivery of reminder emails the day before the appointment.
The store employs tailored phone scripts by attaching them to RevenueRadar leads through the connected CRM. These pre-built phone scripts contain word-tracks that guide the opening and closing of a conversation, as well as key questions a salesperson can sprinkle throughout based on the lead type and the customer’s responses. The store’s veteran sales team takes it from there.
"There is a lot of information in those leads, and it’s important they know a few details about the customer’s loan, vehicle of interest, and the vehicle they currently own,” Smith says. “This isn’t a phone book. You have to be prepared, and that preparedness is going to translate into car deals, and, more importantly, into gross.”
DALLAS, June 22, 2020 — DealerSocket, Inc., a leading SaaS provider to the automotive industry, today crossed another milestone in its drive to improve the clicks-to-bricks experience for dealers with the release of its next-generation Desking solution. Sporting more intuitive, easy-to-navigate workflows designed to prevent errors and reduce time to first pencil, the all-new Desking tool comes equipped with a robust calculations engine, flexible payment options, custom presentation capabilities, and seamlessly integrates with DealerSocket’s PrecisePrice digital retail solution.
The sleek new interface, which has been architected within DealerSocket’s award-winning CRM, gives the new Desking tool a uniform user experience with other DealerSocket solutions. The solution opens up a host of new opportunities to modernize a dealer’s road-to-the-sale process, and enhance save-a-deal and data-mining activities, CRM-generated campaigns, and remote deal-making.
“There are several critical storylines captured in this exciting launch of Desking. For DealerSocket, our next-gen Desking solution represents another critical step as we unify our suite of integrated solutions,” said Darren Harris, executive vice president and general manager of retail solutions at DealerSocket. “Then there’s what the tool can do for dealers from a clicks-to-bricks perspective. Yes, our new Desking solution allows dealers to reimagine their buying journey, but it also puts them in total control of just how far they want to go.”
The main advantage of DealerSocket’s new Desking tool is that it operates within the CRM as an in-app program, allowing dealers to seamlessly move between Desking and throughout the CRM to update a sales opportunity’s vehicle of interest, follow up with appointments, or send communications. That deep integration within DealerSocket’s CRM also means no pop-up windows for Desking and an efficient and easy process that begins with a single click on a sales opportunity to start desking a deal.
Once engaged, the Desking tool displays a calculations worksheet, customer details, and payment options on one screen. The latter views are collapsible when structuring deals using the calculations worksheet, which eliminates the need for mental math with smart fields within Desking that can calculate dollar value increases or decreases in MSRP, selling price, cash down, and rebates.
Users can then compare and present a variety of lease and finance options with different cash-down amounts, term lengths, and APRs, as well as view and adjust other deal influencers like doc fee, buy rate, and gross. Dealers can also take advantage of the following innovations:
“Especially in the digital environment, dealers need a platform that allows data to flow across a single ecosystem, and allows users to easily navigate software tools and features seamlessly,” said Alok Tyagi, DealerSocket’s chief product and technology officer. “Today’s release of our next-generation Desking tool represents another significant step toward delivering a simplified experience to our dealers, who now have a tool that allows them to create new opportunities.”
Trend Motors Volkswagen in Rockaway, NJ., is three years into its drive toward a paperless sales process. To accelerate his plans, General Manager Frank Maher signed up with DealerSocket, knowing that to deliver the digital buying experience customers want, he needed consumer and deal data flowing across a single digital ecosystem. DealerSocket not only had all the pieces, Maher says, it also had a knack for staying ahead of the curb.
Using text messaging to deliver customer convenience is a top priority for Maher and his sales team. “You know, my own children would prefer to text me from their bedroom than to come downstairs and speak with me. It's just the world we live in. You have to adapt.” That’s what led him to customize the dealership's opt-in message with the inclusion of “For your convenience” and the salesperson’s name.
In the two months since personalizing its text opt-in message, the dealership has realized a 36% increase in text messages sent and 51% increase in those received. "A lot of the things we've changed, like the opt-in message, have come from a salesperson's suggestion," Maher says. "The CRM is their No. 1 tool, so we listen to what they have to say."
Maher’s deep understanding of lease maturities led him to activate DealerSocket’s RevenueRadar® data mining tool. The 200-unit-a-month dealership’s 68% to 72% lease penetration also made the decision a no-brainer.
“Our DealerSocket Strategic Growth Manager quickly got us on the right track with RevenueRadar. He showed us how to drip opportunities in at a manageable pace, so we get to optimize the opportunities that are sitting there, right in front of us. It’s really a great tool.”
The importance of leasing is also why Maher is excited about the new integration between DealerSocket’s CRM and Volkswagen’s Maturity Manager, a dealer portal VW Credit created to facilitate end-of-term transactions and initiate maturity programs. “It's much more cost-effective to keep or retain a customer that we already have than to try to find a new one. So, having that integration working with the brand and pulling that information into the CRM — the platform my salespeople already use to reach out to those customers — is a great idea,” he says.
Ensuring all these integrations and add-ons are optimized to the store's process is critical, which is why Maher is especially grateful for his DealerSocket Customer Success Manager (CSM).
“She’s a Rockstar. She changed our perspective as far as what we can do with DealerSocket,” Maher says, also crediting his CSM for getting the dealership to switch from a paper log to the CRM's Desk Log to track customer interactions. “The Desk Log has become a bible for us. Every day it's up on my desktop. Right now, I can see how many units have been sold today, who's come and gone, what the notes are, and we have accountability for the sales associates to check in the visit, check in the demo, the write up, that it went to F&I, and that it's in. So, we can see everything that occurred, along with upcoming appointments and those that have been confirmed or canceled.”
Having his DealerFire website perfectly synced with his CRM is key to Maher’s overall strategy. “Part of the reason I went with DealerSocket over the other vendors was to have continuity. I knew if I had the DealerFire platform that the triangulation between my website, CRM, desking tool, and, when I’m ready, PrecisePrice, would make for a much better experience for customers,” he says.
As a next step, Maher plans to use digital retailing to build upon existing foundation. "As for digital retail, you want to jump in both feet first. But that’s how you set yourself up for failure. We're tackling it one item at a time, and DealerSocket is allowing us to do that."
As savvy dealers do, Brandon Walker was looking for ways to save on operational spend. One such area of opportunity he uncovered was to switch CRM providers. While the price was seemingly right, Brandon and his team at Walt Massey Chevy Buick GMC Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram found that all CRMs are, in fact, not created equal. After three months with a different provider, the group reactivated their CRM product suite with DealerSocket, crediting its unique offering as the reason for the decision.
CRMs play many crucial functions inside a dealership. In basic form, they are responsible for providing access to data and insights that help drive activity, performance, and sales. In Brandon’s experience, DealerSocket’s robust and reliable reporting tools are part of what differentiates it from other solutions. “It's hard to make decisions off guesses. You know, in this business now, the profit margins are shrinking so much, you actually have to have real data in front of you,” says Brandon. “With the other provider, we couldn’t really get a firm grasp of where our numbers were. We were making decisions off-the-cuff versus being able to look at the numbers and being able to drill down and figure out where the problem was and how to resolve it.”
As he recounts his experience with different CRM providers, Brandon identifies accountability as a critical success factor. “One thing that DealerSocket helps promote is accountability…from the salespeople to finance to BDC and sales management, there's a level of accountability.” Brandon and his management team use DealerSocket’s Checkout functionality, a process by which sales managers set activity expectations and give each associate a rating based on where they fell against that expectation at the end of each day.
“The Daily Checkout gets the salespeople and sales manager on the same page. Each day. Going over what that one salesperson has in front of them, what they've got lined up for the next day, and how they perform throughout the day,” says Brandon.
For Brandon, creating a culture of accountability extends to everyone that is supporting the Walt Massey group. DealerSocket’s unique insights reporting helps him in promoting that culture. “The Internet ROI reporting is a very important tool for us because it shows what vendors we’re actually getting proven results out of and which ones that we’re not. You know, that gives us an idea of what we want to spend next month on with advertising, what third-party vendors we want to use, and DealerSocket helps make that possible.”
After reactivating their DealerSocket CRM suite, Walt Massey Automotive Group regained focus on a collective sales and customer retention strategy. “I think whenever we made the change over to our DMS provider’s CRM tool, there was a change in some of our numbers, a decrease in business. But it seemed like everybody wasn't on the same page. When we made the change back to DealerSocket, we were able to get back on the same page. Left hand knew what the right hand was doing,” says Brandon.
The group uses the CRM’s built-in data mining tool, RevenueRadar®, to drive customer retention. “It's a good way for us not only to see where the customer is at in the buying process – you know, in reminding them where they're at from an equity standpoint - but it also gives us a chance to reconnect with the customer. Currently, we're doing about 15 to 20 sales from RevenueRadar in a good month, so definitely looking for those incremental sales,” says Brandon. “We're really territorial. Once we get a customer, we want to take care of them not only now, not only for one purchase, but later on we want them to be a part of the Walt Massey family and continue to market to them and sell to them down the road.”
Ohio-based Great Lakes Honda registered a new high in terms of sales and gross profit. Vehicle sales grew by 711 units to a record 4,729 units sold, while total gross profit grew by 39% thanks to a $219.35 year-over-year increase in average front-end gross profit per unit retailed. Sales Manager Ryan Huang is quick to credit DealerSocket CRM’s RevenueRadar data mining tool for the record-setting year.
Opportunities generated by RevenueRadar get special attention from Huang’s team. Over the last quarter of the store’s banner year, the deals the tool delivered bested all other sales sources by at least $609 in average front-end gross. Back-end grosses were also healthy, with each RevenueRadar deal topping all other channels in total gross profit by 35% to 62%.
“If you provide the proper training and you turn your salespeople into believers of RevenueRadar, all you have to do as a manager is know your programs,” Huang says. “So, I love starting every month with Honda. That’s when I get my new programs, and I see my new incentives, my new rate, and my dealer cash.”
Huang theorizes that the reason RevenueRadar leads result in high-gross deals is timing; his sales team can capture customers before they become internet shoppers. That allows them to focus on gross vs. units, providing confidence in the power of data mining. “They believe because they can see in their numbers that RevenueRadar works," Huang says.
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