G&A Marketing Blog

Sep
13
2017
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Millennials are known for being a technology obsessed generation. This perception leads many companies to assume that digital advertisements (such as banner ads, email, etc.) are the best way to reach millennial customers. However, research shows that the opposite is true; millennials are more likely to read, engage with, and respond to direct mail than digital marketing.

Millennials spend so much time engaging with digital media that they have learned to tune out or have become numb to many forms of digital advertising. Direct mail is a welcome and exciting break from the onslaught of digital messages received through a millennial’s day. USPS conducted a study that found that 26% of millennials prefer digital marketing, but 38% prefer direct mail pieces. Additionally, 47% of millennials actually look forward to checking their mailbox and 25% categorize reading direct mail as a leisure activity.

Not only do Millennials engage with direct mail, but they also trust messages received via direct mail. 75% of Millennials believe direct mail is a valuable source of information and 82% believe printed messages are more trustworthy than the digital messages they receive. Depending on the type of offer on the direct mail piece, this can translate into a 28-57% response rate from the millennial population.

So what does this mean for you? Simply, direct mail works on millennials. Direct mail is a fresh and exciting way to reach out to this digitally overloaded population. Millennials appreciate and enjoy the break from digital media, trust the printed messages, and are more likely to engage with your offer. Including QR codes or social media information on your mail piece combine the best of the digital and print worlds and can lead to a better response from your millennial recipients. Most importantly, direct mail is an excellent marketing strategy when targeting millennial populations.

Sources:
www.usdatacorporation.com/info/2017/04/direct-mail-marketing-effective-millennials
www.uspsdelivers.com/millennials-and-mail-5-myths-and-the-truth-behind-them

Jun
20
2017
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Many states offer tax free weekends near the start of the school year to assist with back-to-school costs. Even though the tax breaks are typically only offered on items such and school supplies and clothes, this sales tax “holiday” can be a boost in business for your dealership.

Tax free weekends mean increased traffic at your local big box retailers such as Walmart, Kmart, etc. With strategic marketing your dealership can capitalize on the spike in retail traffic. A parking lot car display, if your state allows, is a great way to have thousands of potential customers see your inventory. Best case scenario, an off-site tent event in the parking lot of one of these big box stores turns tax free weekend shoppers into your car customers!

Keep in mind not all states have tax free weekends and any displays or sales would need to be approved and permitted by the proper entities. Click here to see if your state offers a tax free weekend.

May
10
2017
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Dealerships have an epidemic on their hands, one that’s growing out of control and killing their profits. It’s happening in every showroom from coast to coast, and the culprit is right under their nose. It’s an inside job that’s ruining marketing efforts and wreaking havoc on promotions, factory incentives and special offers.
 
Moreover, this problem is costing every dealer a huge share of the market, along with tens of thousands of dollars each year. But we’re not talking about a software virus or some anti-automotive double agent who’s hacked into the system. We’re talking about Dirty Data – inaccurate, expired, outdated contact information that clogs the dealer’s CRM and makes running effective marketing campaigns nearly impossible – all while creating massive technical and legal headaches.
 
While your dealership may have made an expensive upfront and ongoing CRM investment, dirty data is living in your CRM right now, turning 80% of your organic and third party leads into profits for the competition.
 
“ACCORDING TO A RECENT GARTNER, INC. STUDY, DIRTY DATA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ROUGHLY 40% OF ALL FAILED BUSINESS INITIATIVES MAKING IT ONE OF THE BIGGEST THREATS TO NEW BUSINESSES.”
 
This epidemic of dirty data diminishes the value of your digital leads by making it nearly impossible to contact them, let alone sell them a vehicle. And yet thousands upon thousands of these leads are simply being sucked into what the Harvard Business Review says is a $3.1 trillion black hole of residual dirty data from US businesses.*
 
According to a recent Gartner, Inc. study, dirty data is responsible for roughly 40% of all failed business initiatives making it one of the biggest threats to new businesses. The reason? Leads were never converted into sales because the prospects never even received the message.
 
THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT DIRTY DATA
 
There are two things every dealer should know about dirty data:
 
  1. It piles up quickly and exponentially.
  2. It’s almost impossible to prevent.
 
A phone number is entered with a single incorrect digit, a name is misspelled, an email address is lost or altered. People change careers and even last names. Time passes and leads move across town or across the country or maybe they just get turned off by the salesman and buy elsewhere or simply lose interest. Day after day, marketing efforts are rendered ineffective and sales are lost, all because these small instances of outdated, erroneous data have now compounded in the CRM and are growing out of control.
 
TIME STUDY OF LOST OPPORTUNITIES
 
Let’s consider a local dealership that gets 1,000 entries (new leads) into its CRM per month. Based on past experiences with their CRM, they’re only able to close roughly 12-20% of these, or move 120-200 vehicles each month. This in spite of the dealership’s fantastic marketing efforts and promotions. They may even have an email drip campaign designed to contact these leads over the course of the next 30-120 days.
 
However, 800 out of the total 1,000 leads will never purchase a vehicle from this dealership. Why? You can start by thanking dirty data. By piling up 800 inactive leads each month, this dealership is on pace to lose roughly 48,000 opportunities over the next five years in spite of their marketing efforts. And each of these missed opportunities has a substantial dead cost associated with it. Here’s how to look at it from a microeconomic standpoint:
 
Total Yearly Ad Spend ÷ Total yearly entries into CRM = True Cost per Lead or (CPL)
 
Now take that CPL and multiply it by the amount of missed opportunities that are compounding monthly, and the resulting financial loss is staggering, no matter how many cars the dealership is selling every month. So not only is it losing sales to competitors, but it’s paying hard earned cash to do so – for every single inactive lead it accumulates.
 
Now, in order to convert those missed opportunities from dead, inactive or lost leads into profitable sales, this dealership’s CRM must go through a rigorous hygiene process in which dirty data is not only scrubbed and rejuvenated, but cross-referenced with clean data to fill in the gaps. However, dealerships are typically unable to conduct the long and expensive process necessary to cross-reference every lost lead in the system on their own. Most businesses simply don’t have the know-how, the staff or the additional budget to even begin this arduous task.
 
As a result, they simply skip the hygiene process altogether and continue to compile massive amounts of dead data, and in turn render a major portion of their CRM database useless. And by choosing not to hygiene their CRM data, these dealerships will continue to struggle to meet the demands of the auto manufacturers, and lose additional market share to their competitors, never realizing that both the problem and solution to this deficiency exists right in their CRM.
 
As published in Digital Dealer on March 3, 2017
Apr
12
2017
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Advertising is the best way for you to reach potential customers and convince them to come to your dealership to buy a car. Therefore, writing good ad copy is an essential component to any well-executed ad campaign. You want your words to effectively convince a potential buyer that they need to buy now, and buy from you.

At G&A Marketing we take ad copy very seriously. Our in-house advertising department is always working hard to come up with fresh advertising so that our direct mail brings you new customers ready to buy a car. We asked our Advertising Director and Ad Copy Guru, Todd Sprouse, to share his top 5 tips for writing good ad copy:

  1. The Cardinal Rule of copywriting - whether it's direct mail, email or digital display - is CLARITY! Your message must be quickly and clearly understood, so do not use "technical terms" or "corporate-speak" in your copy. Those terms may have a clear meaning to you and your organization, but are likely to turn-off your target audience
  2. Closely linked with CLARITY is SIMPLICITY. A heading or copy block that doesn't require the reader's analysis is much more likely to achieve its goal: temporary command of the reader's attention.
  3. Establish CREDIBILITY. Don't assume your potential customer knows you or your company. Establish yourself, your company, and your product/service as reputable. Testimonials can work wonders to achieve this goal.
  4. It's about your READER, not YOU. Your potential customers are asking, "What's in it for me?" Answer that question by using a lot more "you" than "I" or "We."
  5. Specifics outperform generalities. "You can save $2,345" is much more powerful than "save over $2,000." Being specific helps with credibility.

Follow these simple rules and watch your next ad campaign really deliver!

Mar
10
2017
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Your CRM is full of tens of thousands of leads you paid for, but over time many have become useless, aged, outdated, and dead. You have partial data of people who have never bought a car from you but may be in the market again now. This dirty data is costing your dealership money and clogging up your CRM.

ACE Guaranteed is the solution to turn your CRM trash into profit for your dealership. By using a special process to clean and data-fi your CRM entries, the ACE Guaranteed program will reanimate your dirty data into viable, sellable prospects. Then, the program will engage the updated prospects, encouraging car buyers to end up in YOUR showroom.

Coupled with our new customer acquisition program, ACE Guaranteed can guarantee you 60-120 new conquest car deals or your money back. We put this guarantee in writing.

If you are ready to clean up your dirty data and see more car sales this month, contact us now at 1-800-688-1370 ext. 3 or jdoerrer@gamarketing.com.

Feb
13
2017
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Offsite sale season is right around the corner, and there's no better place to host a huge event than Walmart.

With hundreds of success Walmart Tent events under our belt, G&A Marketing if your one-stop contact for every Walmart in the country. An "average" G&A Walmart Tent Event generates 82% more traffic, sells 53% more units, and generates a substantial increase in profit over the average "in-store" event. It's a true "buying frenzy" which energizes your customers.

Whether you staff the event yourself, or hire a professional G&A Marketing Event Team, it's an absolute home-run for your store! Plus, with just one phone call to G&A, you can lock up an entire market! Contact us now to secure your Walmart event. You'll be glad you did!

Contact Jeff Doerrer at jdoerrer@gamarketing.com or 1-800-688-1370 ext 3.

Jan
16
2017
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January 1 isn’t just the start of a new year, it is the start of tax time as well. The tax deadline may not be until April 17, but Americans are already dreaming up how to spend their refund. Millions of Americans look forward to getting a check back from the IRS after enduring the confusing process of filing taxes. In fact, 109 million of Americans received a refund for the 2015 tax year and the average refund was $2,800 (cheatsheet.com).
 
The important question for Automotive Dealers is “where do consumers spend that refund?” 5% of Americans report they use their refund for a big purchase and 4% report planning to spend their refund on some type of shopping spree (cheetsheet.com). That means that up to 9% of people who receive refunds could be walking through your showroom doors. In fact, when asked “what fun thing would you like to spend your refund on” 7% of people responded that they would purchase a new car (newsroom.com). 
 
The Automotive market is a competitive marketplace. Do you have plans to capture the extra car buyers shopping with their tax refunds? G&A Marketing has tax time solutions for your dealership. We offer proven tax-return themed direct mail campaigns designed to drive people to your store.
 
The bottom line is there are car buyers with fresh tax refund cash in their wallets ready to buy. Are you ready to sell? For more information or to set up your tax-return themed mailer call 513-965-6300 or email jdoerrer@gamarketing.com today!
 
Jun
14
2016
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Jun
10
2016
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Have you ever found yourself in a position where you emulate a competitor because it appears that they came up with a good idea that worked? Do you spend the majority of your advertising money promoting the last 2 weeks of a month because that’s how you have always done it? Do you hire salespeople from other dealerships in town because they are “experienced?”

 

Do any of these ad phrases look familiar to you?

 

  • “LOWEST PRICES AROUND”
  • “SAVE THOUSANDS”
  • “PAYMENTS AS LOW AS…”
  • “NO CREDIT, BAD CREDIT, NO PROBLEM”
  • “$$$ BELOW INVOICE”

 

There’s a reason they do. It’s because virtually every car dealer uses or has used these marketing lines among many others over and over again. When car buying customers open their newspaper or watch TV they hear and see the same message from every dealer in the area.

 

In a competitive market, many dealerships focus on price as the leading marketing hook to get a customer to shop their store. The fact is every other dealership is doing the same. In his book, Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout writes, “Price is often the enemy of differentiation. By definition, being different should be worth something. It’s the reason that supports the case for paying a little more – or at least the same – for a product or service. But when price becomes the focus of a message or a company’s marketing activities, you are beginning to undermine your chances to be perceived as being unique. What you are doing is making price the main consideration for picking you over your competition.  That’s not a healthy way to go.” Consider the way you market your dealership to customers. Is it based on price? Is price the primary reason customers visit your dealership, and if so, what is the impact on your store’s profitability?

 

So if you have determined that you don’t want to be known as the dealer that promotes price above everything else, what do you promote? Jack Trout writes about ad agency executive, Rosser Reeves, who coined the term Unique Selling Proposition, or USP for short. The book describes a 3 part definition of USP:

 

  1. Each ad must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show window-advertising. Each ad must say to each reader: “Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique, either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions (i.e. to pull  over new customers to your product(Trout, 2000.)

 

Well, you don’t need to move the “mass millions” but you do need to move the people in your market that buy cars. So what is your unique selling proposition? What is it that your dealership does (or can do) that the other dealerships can’t (or won’t?) It’s worth your time to brainstorm with key people at the dealership and come up with these USPs. If they are compelling enough, begin marketing to your prospective customers using your unique selling proposition. Think through all of your advertising and marketing. For those of you that use an outside advertising agency, challenge them to come up with ways to position your dealership uniquely in the market.

 

There are many ideas worthy of exploring. For the purposes of this article, however, I will illustrate one. Many businesses have reaped the benefits of “cause-related marketing.” People are inclined to support businesses that support causes that they care about. In Joe Marconi’s book, Cause Marketing, he states the following facts:

 

  • According to a study by Research International Ltd., 86% of consumers are more likely to buy a product associated with a cause or issue.
  • About two thirds of Americans have a greater degree of trust in companies aligned with social issues.
  • 64% of consumers feel companies should make cause-related marketing a part of their standard business practices.

 

While it is certainly easier for large, national companies to align with national causes it is still something that can be done locally with a strong positive impact. What issues are important to your local community? Are there charitable causes that the dealership has supported in the past but has not used in its marketing? Local charities are always in need of exposure and funds. Many support children’s causes, military family programs, disease research, stray animal adoption, local high school sports or bands. The list goes on.

 

There are dealerships that will give a portion of revenue generated through car sales to the charity. This is an effort that is clearly marketed to consumers in the area. While we know that the dealership must offer a good product at a fair price with great service to win a customer’s business, cause-related support can often times be the “tie-breaker” in winning or losing that customer’s business.

 

There are many more ways for you to promote a unique selling proposition. You need to figure out what is best for your dealership based on its strengths and position in the marketplace. Let the other dealers in town do the same thing they have always done and simply blend in with the crowd. Remember, if the competition is doing it, do the opposite.

 

Do you have an unique selling proposition that you have been telling your customers about? If so I would like to hear about it. Please feel free to send me your stories and questions at jdoerrer@gamarketing.com. I am always interested to see how strategies like these are being used.

 

 

 

 

Feb
26
2016
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Dec
17
2015
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Nov
24
2015
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Nov
19
2015
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Answers to Common Concerns Revealed

Whether you’re a manufacturer, a dealer or a vendor, there’s one thing we’ve got in common. We’re all in continuous pursuit of ways to effectively improve ourselves and our business.

Over the years I’ve been asked some pretty interesting questions regarding best business practices. Some have been submitted by clients, yet most have come from industry professionals who’ve simply reached out in search of ideas.

As a result, I’ve compiled responses to a few of the most common questions I’ve been asked. Some may help you. Some may not. Just consider this article as an opportunity to potentially gain some free and helpful advice. Have a question on improving an aspect of your business that wasn’t addressed here? Email your question to me at info@gamarketing.com. I’ll be more than happy to address it with you personally.

Q: “What one thing would you recommend I do to help increase my grosses?”

                       Dealer; Denver, CO

A: Everyone’s looking for that “magic bullet.” Only problem is that it doesn’t exist. There’s no one, fail proof answer to this question. Increasing dealership grosses requires concentration on a lot of things.

Take a careful look at how you’re reaching out to new or existing customers. If you come up empty handed, you’re in trouble. Opting to dump all advertising initiatives to save your self some dough will not help you sell more cars. The first step to increasing your dealership’s gross profit requires customers on your lot. Make an effort to reach out to the consumers in your market and give them a compelling reason to visit your dealership. Doing this successfully does not necessarily require some big budget ad campaign. I’ve seen lots of small budget advertising efforts pay off for dealers two fold. Bottom line: In order to start trying to grow your bottom line, you need to advertise.

Next, examine your sales department. How motivated are they to perform? What techniques are they using to close the deal (if they’re closing deals at all)? Consider reevaluating your methods to motivate and train your sales force. Could this require bringing in a motivational coach or training consultant? Perhaps. But don’t let the potential need to outsource these items get in the way of addressing the severity of these issues head on. In many cases, small changes to a dealership’s motivational technique or training process can reap big results.

Similarly, consider what systems you have in place. Is your sales team following that system? When times get tough, sales people and managers tend to skip steps. They become so focused on getting the deal that they forget to sell the deal.

Q:  “I know I need to do something to help improve sales, but as our profitability declines it seems increasingly risky to try something new. Do you have any advice for dealers who are faced with this risk?”

                        Dealer, Richmond, VA

A: Let’s start with issue number one: You are the dealer. If you don’t take risks, how can you expect your employees to take risks? In other words - if you are paralyzed, your company will be too.

We are all paralyzed by fear from time to time. Has it ever worked out for you when it’s happened before? Wasn’t there a point where you blocked out the risk and got out of being paralyzed? Fear is your biggest enemy. If you let it consume your every thought, you will get exactly what you fear.

However, there’s a flip side to this. If you focus on what you want your chances of getting it dramatically increase. Even more encouraging is that never in your lifetime will you see as many people paralyzed by fear as there are today. By choosing to take risks, you are better positioned to crush your competition Why? Because your competition chooses to stay paralyzed. Would you prefer to wait around, doing nothing, until your competition’s confidence gets stronger? Think about in terms of a sport. The best time to finish a game is when the competition’s confidence is down.

Q: “My marketing budget is tight. Where is my marketing money best allocated?”

                        Dealer, Des Moines, IA

A: This might just be the million dollar question. Almost every dealer I’ve spoken with has had to make cuts to their marketing plans. So what’s a dealer to do? Here’s my advice: Ensure your advertising (no matter what media you choose), includes a powerful call to action to get prospects off the couch.

Use specific offers to entice interest. Just as you are in pursuit of the best marketing on a budget, your customers are in pursuit of the best deal on their next car. Brand awareness advertising is not going to bring you customers in today’s tough market.

Q: “How do I retain quality sales people? Is there something I can do to ensure my sales people don’t jump ship?”

                        GM, Birmingham, AL

A: Focus on three things: Training, pay plan and employee treatment.

Training: Investing in continuous improvement programs for sales staff proves that you have a valued interest in them and their performance. Give your staff the opportunity to learn tricks and techniques that will improve their ability and earning potential. The happiest sales people are often those who are making the biggest bank. Teach your sales team effective ways to capitalize on your dealership’s opportunities and they’ll have little reason to look elsewhere for employment.

Pay Plan: Develop a pay plan and stick to it. The quickest way to loose key employees is to change their pay plan.

Employee Treatment: Your top performing employees are your greatest asset. Treat them as though they were your clients. Keep your promises. Publically addresses a job well done. Help them develop dreams about what the future can bring. There is tremendous loyalty created when you teach them about all aspects of well balanced life, not just making money.

Nov
10
2015
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Oct
15
2015
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How to Earn More Sales and Bigger Commissions with Reverse Selling

 

 I thought I might share a few tips on a powerful sales technique…but you’re not going to like it. This technique is extremely tough to master and may take too much time and effort for you to tackle. Read this article at your own risk.

For those of you who are brave enough to make it through that last paragraph, let me prep you for what you’re about to learn. This technique is referred to as ‘the Pendulum’ and is both uncomfortable and unconventional for 99.9% of all salespeople. Its focus is on doing the opposite of normal sales people, using the momentum of the customer against the customer to lessen objections and throw out defenses. When done correctly this technique allows salespeople to gain an upper hand by subliminally forcing customers to tell the truth about how they feel.

The Pendulum technique is an incredibly effective way to probe for real customer buying signals. This article will explain what Pendulum is, what it does to separate you from competitive salespeople and how it helps you sell more with less aggressive pressure.

 

About Pendulum

The element of surprise is powerful. Pendulum capitalizes on this power. The Pendulum is a technique that catches customers off guard by responding to their questions or comments with the opposite of what they think you’re going to say. I refer to this technique as ‘Pendulum’ because the pattern of the conversation between salesperson and customer greatly resembles that of a pendulum in motion. You push the buyer in a negative direction, gravity then swings the buyer back toward a more positive and favorable position.

To help you initially understand the principle, here’s a simple example of a conversation where Pendulum is used:

Customer: “I really like this car.”

Salesperson: “Interesting. Based on what you’ve been saying, I wouldn’t have imagined that this car would interest you. Did I miss something?”

Customer: “Well maybe you didn’t hear me when I said this color is exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I really need a sedan because I take clients to lunch”

To the average salesperson this customer’s initial comment is a red flag to move in for the close. To a professional who’s vested in Pendulum technique, it’s an opportunity to challenge the customer’s behavior. By prompting the customer to verbally acknowledge why they’re interested, the customer begins to sell themselves. If the customer starts to back up when you begin to talk price, you’ve learned something about them that can pull them back in. Here’s what it would sound like in a sales situation:

Customer: “That’s too much. I want a lower price.”

Salesperson: “So what I am hearing you say is that it’s probably not that important that you have a nice sedan for your clients to ride in is it?” (Remember to say a comment like this in a soft and sincere voice.)

The customer would then respond by telling the salesperson why it’s important he buy a nice sedan. In the customer’s mind, the cost of the embarrassment they would feel from chauffeuring their clients in a less nice car far outweighs the car’s actual price. In the end, the customer makes a purchase they’re proud of, and the salesperson bags yet another deal.

 

Competitive Edge

Most salespeople pride themselves on the use of traditional sales methods. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the traditional way of doing things. It just typically won’t get you the recognition (and pay) you’re likely capable of because all other sales people are doing it the same.

These traditional methods focus heavily on feature and benefit selling. Salespeople who operate by the traditional book spend most of their time talking to customers about how their product works, or why the customer should buy. If the customer throws even the slightest hint of interest, typical salespeople will often go aggressively in for the kill. Sometimes this results in a sale, most of the time it does not.

To close more deals and make more money you need to do what your competition is not: respect and acknowledge the buying habits of your customer. Here’s one of our rules, “People buy for their reasons, not yours.” You could go on all day about what your cars can do. But all of that will mean nothing if it is not important to the customer. Those who are able to use the Pendulum capitalize on the technique’s ability to make customers honestly state why they’re making the purchase. This breakthrough then becomes financially rewarding to the salesperson as the customer begins to share all of the things they are really interested in.

However lucrative the pendulum technique may be, it can also be detrimental. Ensure your attempts don’t backfire. Be sincere in your approach. If your customers get angry with the direction you’re pushing, stop. There are some personalities and communication styles where this technique just won’t fit.

 

Overcoming Defenses and Objections

We already know it’s hard to convince someone to buy something, especially if it’s something they haven’t shown interest in before you tried to sell it to them. If a customer’s “not interested” they can often become defensive, mentally justifying why they don’t need you or your product. After all, lots of people already have cars. Why should they buy a new one from you? 

One way to use the Pendulum technique is with a buildup and take-away approach. I refer to this as a strip-line. Consider the first paragraph of this article for instance. My comment, “I thought I might share a few tips on a powerful sales technique,” is the buildup. My next comment, “but you’re not going to like it,” is the take-away. The mention of “another powerful sales technique” acts as a hook, drawing you in. The take-away on the other hand pushes you to the negative as a way to make you push back getting you closer to my favorable result, which is you reading more of this article. Did it work? Well if you’re reading this now, the answer is, “yes”. I didn’t need to hound you, persuade you or motivate you to do something I wanted you to do. You as the reader made the decision to continue reading.

Here’s what a buildup and take-away approach would sound like in a sales situation. Let’s say a customer enters your lot looking for a well taken care of used car. You happen to have a pristine used Toyota Camry on your lot.

Salesperson: I’ve got something that might fit what you’re looking for, but you probably won’t like it. It’s a Toyota Camry.

You know the customer would like to take a look. It’s exactly what they’ve been looking for. But instead of playing directly into the customer’s desires, you take it away. Had the salesperson responded to the customer with a statement like, “Well I have just the car for you,” chances are the customer would throw up defenses. Instead the customer will likely respond with something like this:

Customer: “Actually, that sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for. Can I see it?”

Salesperson: “Are you sure you want to see it?”

Customer: “Yes! I think it may be the one.”

Salesperson: “OK. I’m curious, why do you think this may be the one?”

The customer has engaged themselves in the thought of purchasing the vehicle before they’ve even seen it.

Yet again, there is more to the Pendulum technique than what I’m able to share here. If you are interested in more word tracks, role plays and explanations please email me at info@gamarketing.com with the subject line PENDULUM.

 

Aug
31
2015
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“A Customer Once Told Me…”

How Using Third-Party References Can Help You Sell More

Only decision makers can help people make decisions. But getting people to make a decision to purchase can sometimes seem impossible. Even for those salespeople who are expert decision makers themselves.
 
Just the other day I was speaking with a highly experienced salesperson. While he’s confident in his ability, he’s struggling to drum up new business. After hearing his pitch a few times over, I could tell what was wrong. All he needed was to slightly tweak his approach. Knowing that his ego would likely keep him from listening to any advice, I offered him a solution in a different way.
 
I told him about someone I knew who had faced a similar struggle. This ‘other’ salesperson addressed his problem with a well-known automotive trainer who taught him an interesting trick. By simply replacing the phrase ‘have you considered….’ with ‘a recent customer of mine considered…’ in his approach, customers began to feel more comfortable and trusting of what he had to say. The automotive trainer helped him discover that third-party statements make customers more willing to listen, (not to mention buy).
 
The salesman I was speaking with understood what he needed to do. He immediately began to implement third-party stories, and sold four more cars that day than he had in the previous week.
 
Moral of the story: When attempting to guide someone through a process, don’t tell them what to do. Situations like this are best handled through third-party sales technique or the rescue communication tactic. The example above is testament to the power of third-party selling. This article will focus on ways to improve customer rapport, eliminate defenses, and boost your sales through the use of third-party stories and references
 
Why Third-Party Selling Works
 
Giving customer advice through statements is telling. Not selling. Talking directly to someone is a trigger for ego inflammation. People can feel offended, insulted, embarrassed, or even confrontational as a result of directly pointed suggestions for the choices they should make. Third-party technique breaks down these barriers, helping people to hear the content of the message, not just the words.
 
Third-party references make a customer feel more comfortable and confident in making the decision you want them to make. Why? Put simply: Third-party technique makes the proposed solution more relatable to the customer. 
 
I hear salespeople talking to prospects all of the time. Often directly telling them what they need to do. A few weeks pass and they’ve sold nothing. As a result, they blame customer attitudes (or stubbornness) for the lack of closed business. The customer’s attitude isn’t the problem. It’s the way the salesperson chooses to communicate with the prospect that gets in the way of potential sales. People don’t like to be told what to do. When selling, this rule very much applies.
 
Consider the story above about the struggling salesman. I never directly told you what third-party technique can do. Instead you self discovered the benefits by reading about a peer’s experience. And chances are, if you’ve made it this far in the article, you’re willing to consider what adopting third-party technique can do for you. Relating the use of this technique to something you can empathize with made it easier for you to decide to continue reading. You established a personal connection. 
 
While you might find this surprising, the same method can and will work on your customers. Building personal ties through third-party technique creates greater value and helps to establish trust.
 
Examples of Third-Party Selling at a Dealership
 
Want a better understanding of how to relate this to your store? Here is one (of many) possible situations where third-party sales technique can be used.
 
Let’s pretend a customer had been perusing your lot for a later model mini-van. Repair bills on her current vehicle are becoming more frequent. The customer wants to consider the purchase of a new vehicle, but she’s not quite sure if it’s more cost effective to purchase a newer model or just keep paying the repair bills.
 
Customer: “I don’t think I’m really ready to buy a newer mini-van. It’s a big purchase and cash is tight. Especially since I’ve had to pay for unexpected repair bills for the van I have now.”
 
Salesperson: “I understand. I recently had a customer who had also noticed a rise in her repair costs and was trying to decide between keeping her current car or buying a newer version. After considering how much she was driving to and from her office, her son’s soccer practice and her daughter’s dance class, she realized just how much wear she was putting on her car. Not to mention how much she was spending on gas. After drilling down the numbers, it actually cost her less money to upgrade her vehicle to a more energy efficient model than to continue to pay for expensive repairs and gas that accompanied her existing car.”
 
The statement, “I recently had a customer…” is what makes the difference. Using third-party references like this keeps the conversation non-confrontational, and may help the customer realize a solution for other points of pain she may not have initially considered. 
 
A salesperson not vested in third-party sales technique might have approached the situation by saying:
 
Salesperson: “I understand that you don’t want to continue to pay to fix your car. You should take a look at a newer vehicle that gets better gas mileage. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about the expensive maintenance and gas bills you’re existing car provides.”
 
“You should…” is one of the worst phrases to use when selling. Approaching a customer this directly can have detrimental affects on the outcome of the sale. Replacing this phrase with statements such as, “I had a customer in your shoes tell me…” softens the point in a way that makes the customer willing to consider what you have to say.
 
The possibilities for third-party sales technique are nearly endless. If you are interested in learning more word tracks or reading more role play examples, please contact G&A Marketing at info@gamarketing.com . 
 
Jul
28
2015
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Jul
02
2015
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Jun
25
2015
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Jun
11
2015
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G&A’s “Provide A Ride/Help A Military Hero” Event is a real separator from your competition.  Enjoy free positive publicity from local media and be a real hero in the community by providing a used vehicle to a wounded Veteran in need.]
 
FIRST COME FIRST SERVED.  MARKET EXCLUSIVITY.  Contact your G&A Account Executive or contact the home office at 800-688-1370 or info@gamarketing.com to schedule your “Provide A Ride” event or get more information.
Apr
27
2015
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For many, advancing their career to a leadership role is the ultimate personal and professional goal. Yet as people work their way up the leadership ladder, they can often be tempted by an endless need to feed their ego.

As these ego-driven leaders allow their self-image to outgrow their current position, they often encounter a number of unforeseen consequences which will ultimately guide themselves, their staff and their company into a destructive downward spiral.    

While this may seem unfortunate, it is all too common in today’s competitive marketplace. Yes, everyone to some extent has an ego, and yes, ego can be a powerful tool in achieving positive results. However, if left unchecked, ego can (and will) often lead us down a dark and dismal path.

As we say at G&A Marketing, your greatest strength overextended becomes your greatest weakness. In this case, ego can prove to be an invaluable asset when driving performance. Yet it pays to be conscious of the fine line between confident and egotistical. For those who overstep these boundaries, the positives become outweighed by a personal need to override criticisms, and the ability to admit one’s faults, thus stopping personal and professional growth.

So what can be achieved by those leaders who choose to let their personal style interfere with success? Maybe just a bad reputation, or a few disgruntled employees?  Unfortunately, it does not end there…

While the effects of these personal actions are often subtle, they can eat away at the dealership’s ability to urgently identify and address both obstacles and opportunities. Remember that the speed of the leader equals the speed of the team. In this case, the effects of an ego driven manager or dealer can greatly compromise the speed at which the dealership evaluates and improves performance. In the end, this downshift in momentum only paralyzes the entire staff’s ability to generate profitability and growth.

To help better explain these points, let’s consider the potential problems faced by a professional football coach whom just can’t seem to get his team up to speed. This coach is aware that his player’s performance isn’t up to par, which is in turn slowing down the development of the entire franchise. While he can acknowledge the fact that his players aren’t at the level they should be, he is unwilling (or perhaps uncomfortable) admitting that this lack of performance is his responsibility. His resolution to the issue is to wait it out, hoping that performance will improve over time. As I am sure you can guess, the team’s performance doesn’t improve and the issue now becomes escalated.

When asked why he can’t perform, the coach becomes defensive, blaming his under performance on a lack of talent or available funds to pay more qualified players to join the team. Instead of choosing to admit his faults, the coach would prefer to risk the success (and perhaps the survival) of both himself and his players to satisfy his ego.

The truth is that often those who need to change the most are the ones that change the least. In the long run, what is this coach really risking by confronting his fears, admitting his weaknesses and asking for help? Perhaps he risks a temporary loss of pride, or personal embarrassment? Both are possible outcomes.  However what has gone unnoticed is the opportunity to improve upon himself for the betterment of his team and his franchise.

Understand that by asking for help to overcome challenges, you are not changing you, but rather how you do things. No one is perfect. We all have our weaknesses as well as our strengths. The key is in admitting these downfalls and committing to improving upon them.

Believe it or not - It’s OK to take a page out of someone else’s playbook. In fact, some of the best solutions often come from the input or actions of others.

Take Toyota and Honda for instance. As two of the industry’s leading auto manufactures, Toyota and Honda have set a new stage in auto manufacturing standards. By introducing more efficient processes and economical product lines, Toyota and Honda have left the Big 3 and others re-evaluating their old ways in an effort to implement the new strategies developed by these current industry leaders.

In the long run a lot can be gained by admitting personal downfalls, committing to improving upon them and looking to the advice of others in an effort to move yourself and your business forward. While ego can be a powerful leadership tool when influencing those around you, be forewarned of the negative implications of taking your ego a step to far. In today’s economic environment it pays to keep our ego in check. Only through revealing weakness can we really improve.

Feb
02
2015
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Have you ever found yourself in a position where you emulate a competitor because it appears that they came up with a good idea that worked? Do you spend the majority of your advertising money promoting the last 2 weeks of a month because that is how you have always done it? Do you hire salespeople from other dealerships in town because they are “experienced?”
 
Do any of these ad phrases look familiar to you?
 
• “LOWEST PRICES AROUND”
• “SAVE THOUSANDS”
• “PAYMENTS AS LOW AS…”
• “NO CREDIT, BAD CREDIT, NO PROBLEM”
• “$$$ BELOW INVOICE”
 
There’s a reason they do. It’s because virtually every car dealer uses or has used these marketing lines and many others over and over again. When car buying customers open their newspaper or watch TV they hear and see the same message from every dealer in the area. 
 
In a competitive market, many dealerships focus on price as the leading marketing hook to get a customer to shop their store. The fact is every other dealership is doing the same. In his book, Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout writes, “Price is often the enemy of differentiation. By definition, being different should be worth something. It’s the reason that supports the case for paying a little more – or at least the same – for a product or service. But when price becomes the focus of a message or a company’s marketing activities, you are beginning to undermine your chances to be perceived as being unique. What you are doing is making price the main consideration for picking you over your competition.  That's not a healthy way to go.” Consider the way you market your dealership to customers. Is it based on price? Is price the primary reason customers visit your dealership, and if so, what is the impact on your store’s profitability?
 
So if you have determined that you don’t want to be known as the dealer that promotes price above everything else, what do you promote? Jack Trout writes about ad agency executive, Rosser Reeves, who coined the term Unique Selling Proposition, or USP for short. The book describes a 3 part definition of USP:
 
1. Each ad must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show window-advertising. Each ad must say to each reader: “Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.”
2. The proposition must be one that the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique, either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions - i.e. to pull over new customers to your product (Trout, 2000.)
 
Well, you don’t need to move the “mass millions” but you do need to move the people in your market that buy cars. So what is your unique selling proposition? What is it that your dealership does (or can do) that the other dealerships can’t (or won’t)? It’s worth your time to brainstorm with key people at the dealership and come up with these USPs. If they are compelling enough, begin marketing to your prospective customers using your unique selling proposition. Think through all of your advertising and marketing. For those of you that use an outside advertising agency, challenge them to come up with ways to position your dealership uniquely in the market. 
 
There are many ideas worthy of exploring. For the purposes of this article, however, I will illustrate one. Many businesses have reaped the benefits of “cause-related marketing.” People are inclined to support businesses that support causes that they care about. In Joe Marconi’s book, Cause Marketing, he states the following facts:
 
• According to a study by Research International Ltd., 86% of consumers are more likely to buy a product associated with a cause or issue.
• About two thirds of Americans have a greater degree of trust in companies aligned with social issues.
• 64% of consumers feel companies should make cause-related marketing a part of their standard business practices.
 
While it is certainly easier for large, national companies to align with national causes it is still something that can be done locally with a strong positive impact. What issues are important to your local community? Are there charitable causes that the dealership has supported in the past but has not used in its marketing? Local charities are always in need of exposure and funds. Many support children’s causes, military family programs, disease research, stray animal adoption, local high school sports or bands. The list goes on. 
 
There are dealerships that will give a portion of revenue generated through car sales to the charity. This is an effort that is clearly marketed to consumers in the area. While we know that the dealership must offer a good product at a fair price with great service to win a customer’s business, cause-related support can often times be the “tie-breaker” in winning or losing that customer’s business.
 
There are many more ways for you to promote a unique selling proposition. You need to figure out what is best for your dealership based on its strengths and position in the marketplace. Let the other dealers in town do the same thing they have always done and simply blend in with the crowd. Remember, if the competition is doing it, do the opposite. 
Jan
09
2015
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No matter what area of the automotive industry you're coming from, we've all been plagued by "the one that got away."
 
So what's a dealer to do? State by rethinking your daily communication process. Consider implementing morning meetings focused on "saving" yesterday's dying deals. "Save a deal" meetings are just that - meetings focused on yesterday's downs to determine the core issue and create a course of action to redirect the path.
 
The process is simple. Each morning, a motivated manager or key decision make from each department sets aside time to discuss the downfalls from the day before. The goal here is to re-approach the issue with a pair of fresh eyes. By addressing the missed opportunity after a good night's sleep, or simply by sharing the problem with others in the dealership, you may be amazed at what you can dig up. From tips on new bank programs or a niche that was overlooked, all can be key pieces of information to consider when developing a plan to redirect that lost sale.
 
However, before "save a deal" meetings can be truly effective, one must consider who you have facilitating them. Attitude is an illustration of success. The better the attitude of the manager, the better the performance rate of the staff and the more profitable the store. Ideally, you are looking for managers or key decision makers within your dealership who display unprecedented persistence. They must be fueled by the energy and diligence to call the banks and push the deal, or encourage the sales team to follow up with the customer in question. 
 
Effective facilitation of these meetings will keep the staff motivated and on-target. By laying out the issue and questioning the process up front, each employer is confronted with the importance of timely and true follow-up.
 
While motivated facilitators are an important aspect, don't overlook meeting structure as an indicator of effectiveness. A good first step in any "save a deal" meeting is to assess the vehicle in question. Through further inspection, you may realize that the particular vehicle should either be written down or let go due to the inventory age or current market value.
 
Next consider customer credit rating. This is often the "make-it or break-it" point. Ensure that you are fully utilizing all factory incentives and programs, as well as your relationship with lenders to help swing the deal in a positive direction.
 
Additionally, take into account the customer's trade-in value. Make sure that everyone who knows the market for the vehicle has had a chance to take a look. Put feelers out with wholesalers and other dealers. Remember - one man's trash in another man's treasure.
 
Finally, think about whether or not all decision makers were present. While many might have been wrapped up in the emotion of the sale at the get-go, it doesn't guarantee a signed deal at the end. Lack of a key decision make throughout the sales process can be damaging, unless the issue is promptly addressed and a plan of action is set to save the deal.
 
Once you've covered the essential points, what is the next step? The answer is: effective communication through true and timely follow-up. Whether that means contacting wholesalers to address a trade-in or calling on banks to solve the customer's credit concerns, effective communication (both internally and externally) is essential when attempting to positively influence a deal. While not every deal will work out the way you would like, consider using those fully lost sales as topics for upcoming sales meetings. Situations like these provide perfect case-in-point examples which can provide your sales teams with tips on handling similar situations in the future.
 
Reviewing yesterday's business with today's perspective offers an opportunity to readdress concerns in a new light. Get yesterday's issues out in the open by implementing motivational morning meetings that focus on finding unique ways to secure that deal that almost got away. You never know - you might be surprised by what you discover while saving the business you thought you had lost.
Dec
19
2014
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The consumer shift toward tech based communication has spurred a marketing war. It’s email vs. automotive direct mail in a knock-down, drag-out fight for the title of ‘Best Marketing ROI’. 
 
On one side: email advertising. It’s trendy, tech-friendly and cost conservative qualities have made it an increasingly popular option as car buyers (and dealerships) focus heavily on the internet. In the contending corner: automotive direct mail. While often thought to be ‘tired,’ its lengthy track record and limitless list possibilities make it a viable choice for those seeking a trusted and targeted medium. So which one’s your best bet? The winner of this fight depends on your dealership’s marketing goals. Here G&A Marketing shares a few pros and cons of each to help you determine which the better option is.
 

Automotive Direct Mail Benefits:

Space and Flexibility: Sending a letter or flyer via ‘snail mail’ allows for you to include a lot more content with your message. Email readers are looking for messages that are straight to the point and can be limiting in design. Automotive direct mail gives you the space and opportunity to tell the whole story. Plus there’s no limit on the number of things you can stuff into an envelope. Increase impact by sending a letter coupled with testimonials or coupons.
Get Emotional: As stated earlier, email readers aren’t interested in drawn out or dramatic messages. Automotive direct mail is a different story. Feel free to add elements of emotion and urgency to this medium. That is what will get your message read and remembered.
 

Automotive Direct Mail Downfalls: 

Expense: In comparing the two options, email definitely has automotive direct mail beat when it comes to cost per send. But don’t automatically assume that means lower or more difficult ROI. It’s not all about the number of pieces that go out for a price. It’s about the TYPE of piece that goes out for a price. Campaigns using less expensive mail sent to a higher number of recipients may not provide a financial return as high as what a more expensive mail piece sent to a small segment might.
Tracking: Sure – there are ways to track automotive direct mail. But most are manual and rely on the dealership or ad agency to develop the process. Many email marketing systems provide immediate tracking to help dealerships or their marketing agencies identify profitable trends. 
 

Email Benefits:

It’s Cheap: This is a very big bonus to cash strapped business owners. However, it’s also what makes this medium so appealing to spammers. As spammers continue to infiltrate inboxes with irrelevant messages, it becomes more difficult for legitimate marketers to get their message across.
No Lag Time: Producing an email takes less time than the production and print of an automotive direct mail piece. Likewise, the recipient receives your marketing message nearly instantaneously as opposed to waiting days for postal drops. As an added incentive email makes it nearly effortless to register for an event, make a request, or download additional information, especially when compared to the manual method of filling out a form and mailing it in. However, the rising popularity of QR Codes may make part of this email benefit obsolete. Allowing automotive direct mail to publish an easy access option for the reader to collect the information they desire without the manual hassle. 
 

Email Downfalls:

List Concerns: Yes, you can purchase email ‘opt-in’ lists, but beware. Many email service providers frown on purchased list usage and may ‘black list’ you form their service as a result. The truth is that there are A LOT of unreliable email list vendors out there that could do irreparable damage to the integrity of your company. Automotive direct mail list brokers are much more established in their processes and regulations. So in turn automotive direct mail list providers tend to provide a higher quality product. 
Poisoned Platform: Courtesy of die-hard spammers, email has become a difficult platform to market on. According to The Federal Trade Commission the average ‘wired’ American will receive 2200 spam messages annually. This overwhelming trend lends consumers and business professionals to only pay attention to those messages from colleagues, friends and family. Not businesses.
 
So which will it be - Email or automotive direct mail? In the end, both have their purpose. The most successful strategies often combine these two media to attract and nurture customers and prospects in various ways. 
 
Which do you prefer? Do you believe the dog days of automotive direct mail have come and gone? Or do you think email marketing has lost its impact courtesy of spam overload? Please share your comments below.
Oct
21
2014
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As advertising becomes increasingly complex, outdated, and expensive, auto dealers find themselves overwhelmed and under impressed with their options. How many calls have you gotten in the last month, let alone the last week, regarding advertising? You are getting calls from SEO reps, online media companies, direct mail companies, staffed event companies, radio stations, cable stations, and on and on. It seems like the circus never ends, and sometimes you get stuck with a clown.

So how do you keep from getting sold on a load of BS? When do you say enough is enough? How do you silence the imitators and make a salesperson own their pitch?

Showroom traffic vs. internet

You have to be ruthless in today’s market, and the best way to do that is to cut through the noise and focus on advertising strategies that are proven to work. When dealers simplify their advertising strategy, they find that it is not just a great way to increase profits, but it saves them the time and headache of shopping around.

Remember:  When you are buying advertising, you should be buying results! The brand new internet gadget or lead generator may be “cool” and “fresh,” but does it bring traffic or close deals? Is it tested and proven? Will it bring people into your showroom where your staff has an opportunity to sell to someone face-to-face? (Remember the beautiful facility you work in? It is there for floor traffic!)  

Or will this “hot” new ad idea you are being pitched just send customers to the internet to shop around? The online frenzy of internet advertising may have seemed great in the beginning, but it has turned into an oversaturated market where you are forced to have price battle over the phone or email back and forth with a customer instead of sitting down for a face-to-face meeting. You have a customer who wants to buy, but you have lost your ability to sell to them.

Bottom line: Do not forget about the value of driving traffic to your store, not just your website. 

Focus on ROI

When looking at advertising options, it is important to ask yourself a few questions: Am I okay with how things are? How might I do things differently? What is my typical ROI? And, most importantly, is this going to make me money?

Sometimes even traditional types of advertising can be expensive and ineffective. Buying TV or radio spots can be exceedingly expensive. Plus, with new technology such as satellite radio, DVR, Netflix, Hulu, etc. how many customers are you really reaching?

There is one tried and true advertising option that, when used effectively, has not lost any of its competitive advantage: direct mail. I know you are thinking, “That is so old school!” but, trust me, direct mail works! Just because other advertising ideas are newer does not mean they will work better or at all. 

Sep
25
2014
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When sitting in front of a customer many salespeople have a number of thoughts running through their minds: Am I going to make this sale? How do I get the customer to commit? How can I get them to pay the price I want? What kind of commission am I going to make? Is this going to be another objection? The customer is on the other side of the table is thinking, This vehicle might not be big enough for my family; I am looking for better gas mileage; I cannot afford it; Do I even trust this sales person; Do I like him; or No, this product is just not for me, I cannot use it right now.The objections are endless. It is easier for the customer to say maybe instead of no; it is easier to do nothing than to say yes.

 

For the average salesperson, objections mean the customer is not going to buy. Objections can make even the most seasoned salesperson a little anxious and its no wonder. Objections can create some dangerous potholes on the road to purchasing a product or signing a contract. So how do you avoid those potholes and make the road to buying easier and pain free?

Objections are not the end of the road. Instead, they can actually be requests for more information, a test to see what you are made of, or even just a lack of understanding on the customer’s part. It could be you are not talking to a decision maker or the customer could have residual fear from making a bad decision in the past. Of course, it could also be a buying signal…

Customers are always thinking of reasons not to buy as if it is their job. If a customer does not have objections, you should be worried. A customer without objections is not buying. The biggest challenge is to eliminate salesmen fear and turn that fear into a strategic understanding of what is going through the customer’s mind while making objections. At G&A, we have a set of 172 rules we use in various situations to help us handle selling and management situations. I am going to share a few rules that pertain to customer objections.

Rule 11: Assumption is the mother of all screw ups. Do not assume that you know what your customer wants. For example, if your customer says they are not in the market, do not just ask them why; instead, ask “are you aware of our special incentives?” or “what were you hoping I could do for you today?” You cannot just ask your customer any question; you have to ask the rightquestion.

You must also know Rule 13: the problem the person brings is never the real problem. Let us look at the last example again: your customer is not in the market. They do not want to buy because they are happy with their current car. It is your job to ask them what makes them happy about their car and what features they wish they had. Do they like the low monthly payment, the way it drives, the heated seats, etc.? Again, you have to ask questions; help them help you. Let the customer help you understand what they consider important, like low payments or buying a family friendly car, to help you understand how to overcome their objections and ultimately get them to buy. They are happy with their current car, great. Help them understand why they might be even happier in a newer car with better gas mileage, etc. Ultimately, people buy for their reasons, not yours (Rule 32).

The biggest obstacle that keeps salesmen from overcoming customer objections is the salesman’s own fear. I say to them, do not be afraid to go for the no (Rule 34). Most sales reps assume that you should only talk about why a customer should buy from you. That is what everyone does and they never get the objection as to why they would not buy and do not get the sale as a result.

After you have tried everything and the customer is still a no, try one more technique. When it is over, do not let the customer leave before asking a couple of survey questions (Rule 47). This is without a doubt one of the most valuable steps in the sales process. When you take the time to ask a customer questions (for example: why did you decide not to buy today, what would have made you buy, and so on) their responses will tell you how to sell to them. Perhaps you missed subtle clues that could have helped you close the customer’s business. If you still do not get the sale, maybe you will learn something that will help you with the next customer. Just because that customer walks out of your dealership today does not mean they will never be back. It is really about understanding your customer and how they buy.

Too often I see salesmen who use hope as a plan of action. They simply hope that a customer does not make an objection during the sales conversation rather than learn how to counter potential objections. Hope is not a strategy (Rule 37). We have moved far beyond selling by simply promoting the features and benefits of our product and hoping that nice features, like in vehicle GPS or satellite radio, will close the deal. You have to do it yourself. You must arm yourself with strategies to change and improve your selling style.

 

You cannot hope your customers will change their minds, hope that the market improves, or hope that people with better credit will start coming into your dealership. You have to be proactive and take the necessary steps to help overcome customer objections.

Overcoming objections is not a one size fits all solution. No one line is going to win a customer. It may be 2 or it may be 10 objections you need to overcome, but be patient and use these techniques to keep the conversations going.

Overcoming objections is not easy, but it is not as hard as you think. If you are interested in getting more opening word tracks on overcoming objections and turning them into reasons to buy you can contact Matt Baker by email at mbaker@gamarketing.com with the subject line OBJECTION to request G&A’s Guide to Overcoming Objections which will include techniques to help customers overcome their own objections.

Jun
20
2014
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Like any other marketing media, automotive direct mail is a science. As options in direct marketing continuously evolve, there are a few things dealers and their advertising departments need to know. G&A Marketing recommends five automotive direct mail dos and don’ts to help ensure your next campaign provides excellent ROI.

1. Don’t obsess over the number of pieces.

Everyone is looking to lower costs when it comes to automotive direct mail, but buying the cheapest piece in high quantity isn’t always the best approach. Cheap mail is appealing which is why so many retailers – automotive and non-automotive alike – tend to gravitate toward it. After a while, overused mail pieces lose their luster, and the return on your investment begins to shrink. Ask your direct mail vendor for average performance rates of their highly targeted mail vs. generic pieces. Targeted mail tends to cost a bit more, but should provide a better rate of return. If you’re serious about selling units, smaller more targeted campaigns may be the ticket.

2. Do target new movers.

Did you know that 40% of people who move will purchase a new or different vehicle within the first six months? In addition, this list is a great target for service mailers. Considering they’re new to the neighborhood and aren’t anyone’s customers yet.

3. Do get personal with customers and prospects.

When you include personalized customer information on automotive direct mail, average response rates go up considerably. This is especially true when marketing to your own database. Target your previous customers with personalized letters; make them feel like family. Likewise, ask your direct mail vendor what kind of personalization options are out there for mailers targeting prospects. There are a variety of unique pieces that can include anything from unique Black Book info to customer title data.

4. Don’t mail without a plan.

What do you hope to accomplish from a mail campaign? What is the customer’s next step after they read the mailer? If you don’t have these items figured out, chances are proving return on your automotive direct mail investment will be tough. Always know what your specific goals are as they pertain to the mailing. And always give your mail recipients a well defined call-to-action. Are you looking to increase online requests for information? Are you hoping to drive more traffic to the showroom? Should the customer call the dealership after they review your mail? These are items that need to be addressed. 

5. Do integrate automotive direct mail with other media.

Radio, TV, internet - All have become necessary components of a well rounded marketing campaign. Keep in mind that different people respond to different forms of media. Want to boost your number of facebook followers? Combine your social media efforts with a well executed direct mail campaign, as well as facebook plugs on TV and/or radio ads. Marketing is about the frequency of the message. Make sure your message is seen or heard by your target consumers anywhere they might be.

What’s your experience with automotive direct mail? Ever seen a direct mail piece or a campaign you liked? How about one you despised? What made it good or bad?

Looking to boost automotive direct mail results? These are the 5 dos and don'ts G&A Marketing recommends for automotive direct mail success. 

May
28
2014
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From piece design to postage, there is no shortage of complex moving parts when planning an automotive direct mail campaign. Yet no matter how strong your hooks or appealing your layout, the mailer you create can offer no potential return until you select its recipients.

Targeting your marketing to the correct audience is an important aspect of building an effective campaign. But who is your correct audience and how do you reach them? Sure - there are hundreds if not thousands of direct mail marketing lists available. But bound by budget and time constraints, choosing the ‘perfect’ list of potential customers for your campaign can often seem overwhelming. This is where it pays to know a few automotive direct mail secrets…

Choosing the best list to provide return on your advertising investment can be easier than you think. Let G&A Marketing share with you 3 exclusive industry trade tips to help you make more cost conscious and effective decisions when planning your next targeted mail campaign.

Tip 1: Know the Difference Between Model and True Data.

Put simply, Model data is an estimation of customer characteristics. Utilizing an often mysterious combination of statistical formulas, geographical trends, and other data, modeling experts compile lists of consumers whom they believe would fit within a targeted demographic. Consider beacon score lists for instance. Model beacon score lists will contain names of individuals who are estimated to fall within the beacon score range you request. This means model data lists will include people who actually meet the criteria you set in addition to some who may not.

True data lists on the other hand offer an accurate representation of the potential customers reported. Using our beacon score example, a true beacon score list would include the customer’s true beacon score at the time it was reported. As a result of more accurate reporting, true data lists can be popular options to consider. But more accurate data also means more money – sometimes up to twice the cost per name of modeled data.

Tip 2: Understand Your Options.

Different list providers have different capabilities and benefits. Depending on the goal of your campaign, one may be better suited than the next. But without knowing what your options are, it is hard to distinguish what is right for you. Here are three popular list options to consider:

1)     Saturation Lists:Basically this is a list from the United States Postal Service of every home and apartment in a specific area.  It is overlaid with Census data such as average household income, median age, and home value.  This allows you to target down to the carrier route level instead of blanketing entire zip codes which ultimately helps to keep you from wasting a portion of your budget.  Also, by using national credit agency data, saturation list providers can append an average of 70% of deliverable addresses with the current occupant's name.

2)     Purchase Predictor Lists:The Purchase Predictor list is a model that takes into consideration up to 200 variables to assess market timing.  Purchase Predictors target households that are anywhere from 2.5 up to 9 times more likely to be in the market to buy a vehicle in the near future than the average household. You can choose from Purchase Predictor In-Market for a New Vehicle, Purchase Predictor In-Market for a Used Vehicle, OR Purchase Predictor In-Market for New or Used by vehicle segment (e.g. in-market used entry/basic economy, in-market new for a full-size SUV, etc.).

3)     Title Data Lists:Verified Owners of Automobiles and Trucks by make, model, and year.  This unique, multi-million name database comes directly from vehicle warranty, dealer sales & service records, online surveys, auto after market centers, and other proprietary sources.  It is updated monthly, and is fully compliant with the Shelby Act & DPPA. Lists like this can be great options when looking to market to new customers who may have purchased vehicles from your competitors in the past.

Tip 3: Improve Results with a Better Balanced Approach.

Yes, to increase your potential for return, your direct mail campaign must be targeted. But if you are looking to quickly boost showroom energy, consider sending a mailer to a broader list of prospects in addition to your targeted list. Doing so will help you ensure your show floor stays busy, while still offering a good amount of control over the type of customers that flock to your store. Additional benefits of a well balanced approach include increased number of sales, improved morale amongst staff, as well as increased urgency and excitement throughout the customer buying experience.

Want to know additional ways to drive more buyers to your showroom? G&A Marketing can give you tons of unique automotive marketing ideas to help improve the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns. For advertising samples and pricing specific to your needs, please contact G&A Marketing at 800.688.1370 or send your request to info@gamarket.com directly.

Data accuracy can change from one provider to the next. Most have stringent policies to issue updated information on a monthly basis (or more frequently). Large list providers often employ teams of people whom personally verify database records against National Change of Address (NCOA) information. To help ensure you do not waste money on ‘Return to Sender’ mail pieces, always ensure the list you or your marketing company purchases has been recently verified against the NCOA.

Obviously, the information in lists can be constantly updating. So no list will ever be 100% accurate. That being said, list information from the industry’s major list providers (e.g. InfoUSA, IHS Automotive, and Nameseeker) is fully updated on a monthly basis. Assuming that you source through one of these major suppliers, you can pretty much bet the information you purchase is no more than four weeks old.

Mar
10
2014
  • kmart_offsite_photo.jpg

There are a lot of new ideas out there about how to connect with consumers, everything from using Twitter and Facebook to closed circuit TV channels for your waiting room. Many of these are good ideas, and in a world where everyone is searching for the latest thing to help them market to consumers, sales events might seem boring and old-fashioned. Sometimes, however, boring and old-fashioned means tried, tested and proven.

The Benefits of Off-Site Sales Events

One of the most important things that off-site sales events do that cannot be done by simply advertising the lowest price in town is to tap into consumers’ emotions. Perhaps someone is considering buying a car, but is putting it off due to the economy or the notion that the price will be even lower next week. If you’re having an off-site event this weekend, it can help convince a consumer that now is the time to buy.  Research shows that the simple act of putting an expiration date on a coupon will increase its redemption rate by 30 to 40 percent. Limited time, off-site sales events do the same thing for auto sales. By giving customers a definite buying window, with a definite end date and temporary space, it forces them to quit thinking rationally and start acting emotionally...out of fear that they might lose out on a good deal.

The first step to planning an off-site event is to pick the theme. Whether you call your sales event a Red Tag sale, a Super Sale, or a Year End Inventory Clearance sale may be the least important decision you will make, but it does have to be the first so that all the subsequent important decisions are working together. All of your marketing for the event has to follow the same theme so that all of your marketing helps to promote the event. If you are going to have a giant inflatable leprechaun and his pot of gold on your off-site lot, you need to have that same image in your marketing.

Once you’ve decided on the theme to your event, the next step is to pick a reputable vendor to help. Deciding on which vendor to partner with is one of the most important decisions when planning an event.  Be sure to work with a vendor that is credible, has a good reputation, has been around for a while, and check out their references. Make sure that they have references and call two or three of them.

It's hard to have too many off-site sales events because only one percent of the population is in the market for a car at any given time.  The good news is that next week, you've got a whole different one percent in the market and they don't care what you did last week; they're looking for a giant, deal of a lifetime buying opportunity right now.  A good off-site sales event gives them what they're looking for.

The most important ingredient to a profitable event is making sure that your staff is prepared when the customers start showing up on the temporary lot of the off-site sale. .  All off-site sales events must have the entire staff in full synch.  If customers show up expecting a big event and your sales people aren’t aware of the promotion you’re advertising,  you’re throwing money away.  Another mistake is not being prepared for the event.  Who is going to register the guests, whose job it is to lead the sales process, where are the used cars going to be, who is going to run F&I, etc. Consider hiring professional event teams for running the sale.  They are great solution for coordinating profitable events.

After deciding on a date, location, and preparing your staff for your event, now you need to promote your event.  In general, try not to think of off-site sales events as a different budget category. The latest NADA stats show that dealers spend about $610 per vehicle retailed on advertising. Take that $610 that you're already spending and use it to advertise an off-site sales event instead of your routine advertising.  There is a time and a reason to use almost every medium: print, radio, TV, car shopper's guides, web, direct mail, but the important thing is that everything you do be in synch. From the radio, TV and the newspaper to the receptionist answering the phones and the banners hanging on the walls of the tent — they should all be saying the same thing.  All of your marketing efforts should work together, but for off-site sales direct marketing is generally the best way, because of its measurability.  TV and radio are not 100 percent measurable; the only thing that is 100 percent measurable is mail.

Keys to Event Success

Off-Site Sales Events are one of the best ways to move your inventory in a hurry, but in order to make sure that you maximize sales and profits from your event,  you need be sure that you properly “structure” the event.  The three keys to a successful off-site sale: inventory, salespeople, and ad campaign/expenditure.

Inventory

If you hold a four to five day off-site sale, you should expect to sell about one-third to nearly one-half of the display capacity (refilling sold units throughout) and your “sellable” inventory (pieces in a good relationship to both ACV and book value.

Very simply, you need to have one salesperson for every eight to ten vehicles displayed; if you don’t, you will lose sales; The average sales person sells three (2.7-3.8) vehicles during an off-site sale; that means if you want to sell 30-35 cars during your event, you will need 10-12 sales people or about one to every eight to ten vehicles on display (about 100 vehicles).

It is essential to have the right ad campaign and the right budget, media mix, and creative execution for you event. Pick a firm that has experience with automotive and has ran successful campaigns…and especially for sales events before, then let them do their work. Remember it’s not important that you like the ad campaign, what is important is that it brings customers to your event.

You will also need to set a budget for your event. You don’t want to waste your money; on the other hand, if you don’t spend enough you won’t have the traffic you need to make your event profitable. Using the latest NADA stats, be prepared to spend about $610 per vehicle retailed on advertising.  That means if you want to sell 30 vehicles, you would need to invest $18,300 ($610 x 30) . Now that is serious money, but if you spend less you will not see the traffic you need to sell those 30 units.

Properly “structuring”, planning, and executing a sales event is essential to its profitability.  Consider hiring a company to do it for you, but whatever you do be sure that you invest the time and money needed to make your event the maximum profit. Otherwise you’re wasting your money.

Generating that emotional excitement can help you move inventory that is sitting on your lot costing you money in insurance and floor plan costs. Clearly, turning your excess inventory into revenue benefits your dealership, but there are benefits that last beyond the end of your sales event.  One of the biggest benefits for a dealership of holding an event is bringing a lot of new customers that have never been to that store before and gives the sales staff fresh prospects to work. So it gives the dealership fresh inventory, sales staff fresh prospects and a higher amount of residual sales after the event.

The Bottom Line

The economy is different today, and consumers are feeling the crunch too, so you need to work harder than ever to bring them in and get them sold. The bottom line is consumers need a better, motivated and exciting reason to go to the dealership. They need the perception, because of the state of the economy, that your dealership has an offer that’s unbeatable, that this is the time. You sell the customers on that perception of what’s going on around us and use it to your advantage

The economy will improve, but it won’t be overnight, so right now we have to work with the situation as it is. Yes it’s a cliché, but every cloud has a silver lining.  Have an off-site event to let your customers know you are here to stay, and this could be the best time buy a car in the last 20 years, and it won’t last forever.

 

Dec
09
2013
  • StoreFront.png

 

Professional Salesmen are more valuable then ever.

A car salesman used to spend long days on his feet. Now he's becoming like everyone else—stuck most days in a chair in front of a computer screen. The Internet has changed the face of car sales in the last   15 years. But the change is now coming down hard on the people on the front lines. It is altering them from motivated sales people into compliant customer service people.

Customers are simply different today. They are more tech savvy. They typically search the web for the price of the vehicle and most like make a model decision long before showing up on a your dealership’s lot. The salesman simply doesn’t need to sell like they used too.

"The whole process of buying a car has been flipped from what it used to be," according to an article by Christina Rogers of the Wall Street Journal. "Today, customers find the car they want first, and then they shop for a dealership."

A good example is Mia Morris, of Nissan of Manhattan. The 30-year-old “product specialist” doesn't work on commission, like traditional sales people.  Her job is to be an information source.  “Everything is visible.  My task is to provide needed information and make a smart choice.”

According to Auto Trader Group, the average car shopper spends more than 11 hours online doing their research and then 3½ hours offline, including trips to the dealership. Two years ago, the average time spent offline was twelve hours.  And the economy is forcing some of the changes. Average gross profit on a new-car sale dropped to $1,283 last year from $1,531 in 2002, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

With decreasing margins, auto dealers are reevaluating their business models.  John Iacono, president of Bram Auto Group, is an example of a dealer group who has changed their dealership’s business model.  After experiencing the simplicity of Apple Inc.'s retail stores, he began contemplating change. "Why do we need to make it so complicated?” stated Mr. Iacono. "In the last 100 years, automobiles have gone from near-horse buggies to almost driving themselves. And yet, the way they are sold hasn't changed."

Since Iacono’s change, his store has increased new car sales, doubled its closing rate with customers and has cut the time it takes to complete a sale to under an hour. Now, he is working to overhaul the auto retail group's 20 other stores along the same ines. But, the transition hasn't been without its challenges.

When Mr. Iacono eliminated sales commissions, more than three-quarters of his sales staff left, he said. And when the store had to hire new people, they needed to go outside the car business to find new recruits.  He found that car people where not open to change.  Mr. Iacono has even hired people who are from food sales.

Another example is Toyota Sunnyvale, a dealership located in the heart of Silicon Valley.  About half the store's sales staff is parked in front of computers and "do nothing but wait on customers digitally," said Adam Simms, chief operating officer of the store's owner, Price Simms Auto Group. "The heavy lifting is now done online and if you're not in that flow, you're not going to see the bulk of the business."  But, as a dealer, you need to ask yourself if all this change is really in the best interest of your business.  Like most businesses that do most of their business online, car sales are becoming commoditized. With commoditization comes less and less profit while your overhead continues to go up.

Consider the new strategy embraced by Tesla.  Tesla has chosen to open “boutique” stores in strategically placed high end malls throughout the country.  When you enter the store, you are approached by staff dressed fashionably.  They look like they could sell fine jewelry rather than cars.  In a store that resembles an Apple store more than a car dealership, they have two “floor models”.  One is a fully assembled car, and one is a partially assembled car, like you would see in a mattress factory.  You get to sit in the model, kick the tires, play with gadgets on the dash, but you never actually get to drive the car.  You would need to make an appt with the store, and they would bring a “test drive” car to your home.  No need for a large brick and mortar store, no floor plan cost, no dealing with slow moving units.

At the store you order your car similar to ordering any other commodity.  It is all fixed pricing, with no negotiation.  You want the sun roof, it is XX price, and the upgraded stereo is XX price.  It is totally different from the car buying experience today.

So with the growing internet presence and the changing model of the  car dealership in our in our future, how do we best use our auto sales talent?  I think we need to redefine the roll of the salesperson, and consider alternative sourcing of sales people. 

In most dealerships, the sales people are sitting around 80% of the time, and talking with prospects 20% of the time.  And evidence suggests that younger generations are much more comfortable getting their information from an online source rather than a salesperson. They don’t want the face to face interaction. Younger people want to be educated and coached to make the correct buying decision, not sold.  So I think it is safe to say this number is only going to increase. 

So I would project that the dealership of the future will have many “Product Specialists” on salary and a few “Salespeople” on commission.  But I think we have to reconsider the roll of the “Salesperson” along with their pay structure. 

If you have more people on salary and less on commission, you can economically afford to pay those on commission more commission per unit.  But, they need to function like the hunters they are, not the order takers they have become. 

It is a true salesperson’s talent to provide information, persuade, and create and build sustainable relationships. The sales person’s job will be to proactively searching and bringing in key accounts and being responsible for account management. They have the talent to communicate the value of their product and differentiate the dealership.  Full time salespeople need to be driving people to the dealership, not waiting for them to come to the dealership.

So what do you do when you run into the situation of too much inventory, or aged inventory?    Outsource your sales talent. It makes much more sense to bring in a large team of professionals and drive a large number of people to your dealership at the same point in time.  Why have people waiting around when you can bring in temporary salespeople people precisely when you need them. 

Professional sales teams should become part of your store’s business plan.  They are skilled, talented, and in the case of professionals, they are concerned with your overall business. 

So, in this age of reducing margins and increased overhead, sales teams are an optimal choice for better business management.

 

 

 

Oct
21
2013
  • Used Cars.jpg

Direct Mail still Best Bet for Reaching Used Car Buyers

In our daily conversations with dealers and GMs, a common question they struggle with is: “How much of my advertising spend should go to traditional advertising (newspaper, radio, tv, direct mail, etc.) and how much should go to online advertising?”  This is the magic question.  And given the “New Economy” I think it is worth further explanation.

Car sales are expected to jump 8 percent this year, to 15.6 million vehicles, and auto advertising spending will rise up 2 percent to $32.8 billion, predicts a new report from Borrell Associates of Williamsburg, Va.   New car sales are predicated to remain steady.

Like most of us, dealers and general managers are creatures of habit.  If something is working, they don’t see a need to change.  But the world has changed dramatically since the turn of the century.  Demographics, the economy, information available on the internet - all present new challenges to marketers and dealers.

For example, did you know that you can buy a Toyota on QVC?  Yes, you can now purchase your next fully loaded Toyota Camry XLE with a navigation system from your family room couch.  And, since Toyota doesn’t have to pay the dealer a commission, they throw in a $750 gas card and Toyota Care (Roadside Assistance) to sweeten the deal.  The dealer typically receives a flat licensing fee.

While the internet can be an effective and inexpensive means for reaching the potential new car buyers, I would argue that direct mail is still the most cost effective and credible medium to reach used car buyers.   

I would challenge any dealership to spend a month analyzing their spend on marketing.  If you take a close look, I think you would be pleasantly surprised as to the real return on marketing dollars when it comes to direct mail.  

Jul
30
2013
  • F&I Meets Y

40% of your buys are Gen Y.Do you know how to sell them?

Born in the late '80s and early '90s, Gen Y, accounts for approximately 21 percent of the total population, and 40 percent of the car-buying population.  And this doesn't even account for who they are influencing.  They are the most influential car buying population after the baby boom.  Not only do they influence other Gen Y buyers, but they also influence their parents.

We have seen an interesting shift in buying dynamics over the past few years.  While Gen X turned to their parents for advice in buying cars, Gen Y is the giver of advice in the relationship.  Parents are turning to their kids to do the research in the purchase of new vehicles. Gen X parents are also taking cues from their Gen Y siblings on how to use the information and technology available today.

Gen Y Does Not Want to Be Sold

Gen Y is the first truly technologically advanced customer base. Think about it: Gen Y has always had a computer, laptop, the Internet, a cell phone and instant gratification. When members of this generation want to know anything, the answer has always been, quite literally, at their fingertips.  This has helped to create a customer base that thinks they know everything. People who think they know everything don't want to be sold.  They are educated, savvy and want to make correct decisions.  They want to be reinforced that they have made the right decision.  This has to be become the mentality of the sales floor. 

First of all, the typical showroom looks like a selling environment.  Your business manager is sitting behind a large desk, with a unilateral vision of the information.  He looks at a computer and tells the customer his options.  While the Gen Y buyer knows and accepts the sequence of events that must take place to purchase a vehicle, he doesn't like the experience.

Second, Gen Y is a generation that doesn't like to negotiate.  When items are negotiated there are winners and losers.  Growing up playing sports as a child, Gen Y didn't have winners and losers,  everyone received a trophy at the end of the game.  And negotiating is a process where they don't feel they can win.  Salespeople need to feel more consultative where options are given.

With Gen Y, the experience has to be about them. Buying a car is an experience for Gen Y, not a transaction.  We need to reeducate our sales force that the key to selling Gen Y is a consultative approach, not a hard sell.

Consultative Selling Approaches

As an industry, auto sales professionals need to shift the conversation from the transaction of buying a car,  to a process of suggesting a car that satisfies Gen Y's triggers.  Gen Y is driven by craving and emotion.  They are not concerned about the same things as Gen X.  And whatever that emotional trigger is, it must be related through the entire process of selling the car, and the products sold in the business office.  The presentation has to be about them, and presented only in a manner that can be justified by them.

  • Gen Y customers don't care what you think or what you like about a product.  They only care about their causes, so you need to pull their emotional trigger without making it about you.
  • Gen Y customers don't like winners or losers, so in negotiations, stop trying to "work a deal." You can offer payment options; however, know there will be consequences.
  • Suggest ancillary products to the Gen Y customer that offer value and can be justified based on their belief system.  Remember, they don't care about the same things as their parents, and don't place value in the same places. 

The Gen Y customer is the now 40% of your business.  So the business office needs to recognize this customer and change their selling style.   Remember, when it comes to Gen Y, it is more about them and less about us.

© 2017 G&A Marketing Inc. - Data Design Systems
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