Today the Internet and how it relates to the automotive industry is all a buzz on several things. Social media is the new hot topic for car dealers. Customer Relations Management (CRM) tools and cheaper website providers are advancing onto the scene. Dealers and their Internet managers are working on finding easy, efficient ways to get their cars on Craigslist. On top of all that, dealers are trying to find THE place to advertise their vehicles online. With all the time and effort a dealer could put into the Internet and with the limited amount of time most dealers have, it is important to remember one thing, Sell Yourself First!
When a car buyer comes on your lot you are already selling yourself, even if you are not there. That car buyer sees your road side sign, notices the way your cars are parked in straight lines, sees the quality of your building, pavement and other signs. Even if they don’t see a salesperson, they are getting a feel for what type of dealership you are. You start selling yourself first when you pick out the colors and logos you want to use on that sign out front. You give yourself an image when you pick your location, stock your lot, and park your cars, even if you don’t know it. It all starts with selling yourself, your business, then your product.
When that same car buyer moves further along in the buying process they all ask themselves one question, “Do I want to spend my money with this guy or gal?” Now that person could be you or your salesperson or manager. Whoever that is, they better have sold themselves to this buyer, or the deal is not going to happen! The way they are dressed, the way they approach, meet and greet, these are all ways a good salesperson starts selling them self even before they say hello.
Once you have sold yourself, now it is time to go to work. The problem is, if you are good at selling yourself, that will only take a minute, it is the rest of the work in selling that takes all the time. In today’s world we are all trying to do more with less. Sometimes with all the work that is required of us in order to be successful, we forget to always sell ourselves. Sometimes the newest trend or next sure-fire way to sell cars distracts us from doing what we are all good at, selling our self first.
Now, you are comfortable with your business image, you are impressed with the way your staff presents themselves, and you have the location and inventory other dealers envy. Are any of these tools mentioned in the beginning going to help your bottom line? YES, if you have the time.
Craigslist, for instance has become one of the most sought after online advertisers by car dealers in recent months and the best part is its free. Yet, if you are posting your cars on this site, don’t forget to sell yourself first! In addition to your car photos and information, each post should include your dealership’s graphic logo matching the logo on your dealership’s website. You should see your dealership’s name and telephone number in the post. If you have a slogan or advertising jingle it should come after your contact information. Only then are you ready to sell your product.
The jury is still out for some while others think the train has already left the station when it comes to social media. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others have all built up huge numbers of users. If you are unfamiliar with the term “social media”, it refers to these sites because they are places you can go to and connect with just about anyone out there. By connect I mean you can meet new people, find past friends, and better stay connected with current friends and family. These sites often provide a page for each user and this gives friends and family a place to visit when they want to know what you are up to. When you sign up for your page and account you answer a lot of questions about yourself. This information is used to describe you to your page visitors and for other marketing reasons. For instance, if you say you are interested in cars, the next time you log into the site you might be introduced to other car lovers and you might see a few more car ads. These sites afford you, the user, with a lot of freedom to do and say what you want. It’s important to remember if you say it on the Internet, it may never go away.
Google search trends indicate one of the fastest growing search terms is “how to delete my facebook/myspace page”. Privacy concerns and the flood of advertisers are turning some away but still, facebook will probably have reached 500 million users by the time this article is printed. This media takes time to manage and therefore it is important to measure the ROI, return on investment. If you could pay someone to manage your Facebook account and pay someone else to manage your online inventory listings and photos, you want to know which one has the higher ROI. If you ask your car buyers why they bought from you, you may find more people are going to say because they found your cars on your site or on Cars.com, for instance, than you will those who say they found your picture on Facebook. Social media is a great way to sell yourself but requires time and effort to maintain that presence if you are going to do it right. If you are not, the image you are selling will not help.
Some dealers are looking at CRM programs to help manage their leads. This is a good idea for those with a lot of leads from multiple sources. However, you don’t want to let the car buyer know about this tool unless you want to make them feel like a number. Treat them like you want to be treated and remember, you are always selling yourself.
Having a custom website is a must for every car dealer who wants to sell themselves the best way possible. However, some dealers still rely on a template or cookie cut site. Often times these sites are cheaper because they involve no work. The site is stripped down of all services and features such as emails, Company History (sell yourself first) search engine optimization and site updates. If your website looks like another dealer’s site you should turn it off. You have your own business image and watering it down with this type of advertisement is only going to hurt the image you have worked hard to create for you and your business. Often times your website is the first opportunity you have to sell yourself so why shoot yourself in the foot? Start off right by selling yourself first!
Now, go sell something!