What is your dealership’s One Thing?
It has been said that the key to transform- ing an industry is to ask, “What’s the One Thing that cannot be changed, but if it could be changed, would change every- thing?” Once you have answered that questioned, you should focus all of your energy on changing that One Thing.
Some skeptics would say that the One Thing that cannot be changed about the retail automotive industry is the emphasis it places on Extracting Value from Consumers, the belief that a dealer’s success is defined by their ability to extract the maximum value from each customer transaction.
While this may be true of some dealers, it isn’t true of many of the dealers that my company and I have partnered with recently. Especially in this season that has been marked by a global pandemic. More and more dealers are re-inventing their entire sales process around the exact opposite – they are Adding Value to their customers. As an example, many dealers are leveraging digital tools to allow customers to complete more and more of their shopping experience from home. They are re-inventing their showroom processes to speed up the in store transaction time. And they are finding more and more ways to “go to” their customers.
These dealers have found that virtual appointments are the ideal way to assist customers as they begin their shopping online. They’ve found that showroom appointments allow their teams to deliver the most expedient showroom-purchase experience. They’ve found that being willing and able to “go to” their customers by allowing them to begin their purchase process virtually and to complete it in person, whether in the showroom or in the customer’s driveway, ensures that their customers have the best possible purchase experience.
What will your dealership’s One Thing be for 2021? One dealer I work with shared with me that their One Thing for 2021is to transform all of their processes so that “the experience of purchasing a new vehicle is as easy as buying a T-shirt.”
Another dealer’s One Thing is to reach 100 per cent of their sales target through sales team-generated appointments, so that walk-in showroom traffic will become a “bonus.”
Yet another dealer’s One Thing for the upcoming year is to establish a virtual sales team. This dealer expects that within five years, their dealership will have two virtual-sales professionals for every traditional-showroom sales professional. Although these strategies might appear radical, each of these three dealers are top-10-volume retail producers in Cana- da for their individual brands.
What if cultivating the Appointment Culture was your One Thing for 2021? What if your Sales Manager’s daily priority was a threefold focus on appointments, in which they inspired each member of their sales team to book two appointments daily, coached their sales team on how to be fully prepared for each appointment, and enabled them each to be available to interact with these appointments in the showroom or virtually?
It involves adopting a new mindset, new language, and new processes. But we know that dealers are capable of making these changes, because we’ve seen top dealers adapt quickly to substantial change over the last several months. If dealers can have some of their most profitable months during the uncertainty of a pandemic, as many Canadian dealers have done this year, then we shouldn’t underestimate their capacity or ability to adapt and change.
There are two simple reasons why making the Appointment Culture your One Thing in 2021 has the potential to be a truly transformational idea both for your customers and for your sales team.
First, the Appointment Culture requires your sales team to shift from a reactive “wait-for-opportunities” approach to a proactive “create-opportunities” mindset. Yes, it takes effort to make daily appointments, but when your team members do, they generate positive sales momentum. Your customers will recognize their pro- active energy and eagerness to serve them more effectively, and these customers will become more receptive and engaged. Daily appointments also ensure that your sales team is never at the mercy of walk- in traffic.
Second, the Appointment Culture allows your sales team to be thoroughly prepared for each customer appointment. When they have an appointment to plan for, your sales manager and team can pre-appraise the trade, pre-select the new vehicle, have a test-drive vehicle ready, and have a properly structured proposal prepared in advance of their meeting with the customer. Providing customers with such an exceptional purchase experience typically doubles the conversion rate obtained from walk-in customers.
This customer-centric focus is at the foundation of the success of the appointment-based selling system. It allows your sales team to focus on Adding Value to your customers at each and every interaction, whether by phone, by email, or during the test drive. The members of your sales team need no longer be concerned that they won’t have a customer tomorrow, because they’ll have appointments with customers every day. They also won’t be worried about whether or not they’ll make a sale, because they’ll know that their preparedness ensures that 50 per cent of their daily appointments will result in sales.
When Adding Value becomes your sales team’s primary goal, you have begun to create a true service culture. Now, that’s a vision for the future that will help your sales team sell cars TODAY and TO- MORROW. And it’s a future that begins with daily appointments.
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