Is Hard Sell Automotive Marketing Dead?

2008 is the make it or break it year for auto dealers. It’s your choice where you will be. You have to make the decision to take a leap of faith or duck your head in the sand and do nothing. Hide from the reality that you control your destiny. Which path will you take? The “Same is Lame Road” or the path less traveled.

Is the Internet the solution?

The Internet is a good tool, but that’s all it is – just another medium. It’s no different than the newspaper, radio or TV. You can’t dump your whole operation online. If you do, the consequences could be devastating.

The internet has caused great change in the consumer. It has caused them to think different, act different and be educated differently. Today’s customer demands and responds to information-based, value-driven marketing rather than the traditional hard-sell auto advertising tactics we’re used to implementing. So is hard-selling over for good? For those of you who use hard sell marketing – just the thought will make you squirm in your seat but for those of you who have never experienced it – hold on tight.

Hard-sell automotive advertising can’t be thrown out the door. It has evolved into a better, more effective, finely tuned machine. So what’s the big change all about? Education. Yes education. Today’s consumer is seeking more facts now than ever before. They want to be well-informed before their emotions kick in.

Traditional automotive marketing was all about the dealership, the vehicles and the features. Consumers don’t care about those details. They want to know how you can help them with their situation. What solution can you bring to them? You need to take them by the hand and deliver yourself as the expert that can solve their problems.

You must first define what their problem is and then lay out a well-planned solution. Is it financing they can’t obtain? Are they upside down on their current vehicle? What solutions can you offer? Your answers must be clear and easy to follow. You care about their challenges and want to help them. You are the obvious choice.

The Challenge:

The solution has to be delivered in an easy accessible manner without obligation or commitment. You must give the perception of value first. Today’s competitive market requires you to deliver the value upfront to gain the trust of the customer.

“So where is the hard-sell in this”, you might ask.

That’s where the evolution of the machine comes in. The hard sell sneaks up on the customer from out of the blue. They never see it coming because they have invited it in. That’s what education based marketing is all about.

Cloak and dagger marketing is the kind of marketing that affects people emotionally but sneaks up on them logically. Buying decisions are based on emotion and backed up with logic. The internet has put a new spin on this rule. With the rise of the Internet, people are looking for logic first. Education based marketing gives them what they are looking for and they freely invite the emotional side in. That’s what closes the deal.

Sound easy? Don’t be fooled. There are a lot of pitfalls that can lead you off your path.

Automotive Retail: What Makes a Great Employee? And How Do We Notice Them?

When you think about the automotive industry, the first thing that comes to mind are the sleazy used car salesmen, of yesterday, with their plaid blazers and the pressure they place on you to buy a car. This is NOT how the automotive industry works today. The same tactics used in the 1980s will not work with buyers today; so the automotive industry had to change. Now you have people who are specifically working in guest relations, finance, management, internet sales, call center representatives, and much more. With the growth of various automotive groups, there has been a need for accounting, human resources, product trainers, and even talent development! But how can you tell if someone is cut out for today’s automotive industry?

The automotive industry requires bright talent that can produce results (such as sales or finding more efficient ways to operate, allowing the business to save money) or support those who produce results. It is still, very much, like running your own business in most positions. You need to be able to sell your product as well as yourself. Those in the supporting roles need to make sure to keep up with the busy, daily demands that keep processes running smoothly. I have narrowed down 6 qualities that make a great automotive retail employee, both customer-facing and behind-the-scenes:

(1) Integrity. This is defined by hiring those that exhibit honesty and morals. Honesty and morals are qualities thought to be forbidden in the automotive retail world, but integrity must exist!

(2) Respect. This is the ability to appreciate others for the qualities that they exhibit. To be able to truly understand a customer, co-worker, leader, or subordinate… respect must be a quality each candidate possesses.

(3) Tenacity. Tenacity is the desire to go after a goal with the utmost intensity and desire. We need folks in the automotive world who have an “itch” to work on projects until completion. These are the folks who clock out when the job is done, not when the clock tells them to.

(4) Transparency. When you show your hand, so to speak, to your employees or your customers… you are being transparent. Not hiding things, or being deceitful, will help to build trust with others. Trust is the most important aspect of trying to build a team or a relationship.

(5) Cleverness. This isn’t the kind of cleverness to find your way around tasks. This meaning of cleverness is the ability to understand and learn quickly. To keep up with an ever-changing automotive industry, you have to be willing to learn. To build on this idea of cleverness even more, the ability to learn from your mistakes and make changes is an ability that all automotive industry personnel must have to truly be successful.

(6) Accepting. This is an important idea so employees are not trapped in the stone age. Processes change, automobiles change, management techniques change… being accepting of these changes is very important to continue developing new and better ways of working in the automotive industry.

In order to find the talent that possesses the aforementioned qualities we, as automotive industry recruiters, must find a way to vet the quality talent. This means to change the interview process a bit. Develop a ranking system, based on hypothetical and past experience questions, that focus on asking about the qualities you deem as important. You don’t just have to interview once, interview a second time to see if you get the same feeling and similar answers. Set minimum standards for the people you want to hire. This doesn’t mean that a dismal background history should exclude them from consideration, but do look to see if they have learned from their mistakes and taken action to be better. Find out if their motivators are suited for their particular position. For example, take the sales consultant who lists that they desire a $40,000 per year salary versus the sales consultant who lists that they desire a $100,000 per year salary. The $100,000 per year candidate, most likely, has a higher desire to sell cars and will outperform the candidate who is complacent with a $40,000 per year salary. The $40,000 per year candidate may be better suited for a different position.

With these tools in hand, and the ability to vet candidates before presenting them to the hiring manager, it should be easy to spot and hire the right candidate for the right position. A cliché I’ve heard floating around for a while is, “hire hard, manage easy.” I believe this cliché is the living embodiment of proper hiring to ensure a quality workforce.

#EANF#

While the average person may not have much interest in automotive industry news, a lot of useful information can be obtained. This would include the interesting reasoning behind why you can’t always find the car you want at a dealership. Many consultants push for dealers to listen to the customers and their needs. Though this suggestion would work when you look at it theoretically, there are some things that are stopping it from happening.

It is not actually the dealers that are dropping the ball most of the time; it’s the automakers themselves. They may not ship what has been requested by the dealers, instead shipping the vehicle they want. This leaves the dealers with an inventory that isn’t what they requested or what their customers want.

This unfortunate circumstance leaves the dealer with the choice of resorting to hard sell tactics or letting the vehicles sit around forever. Those hard to sell cars can continue to sit for a while, but ultimately they will create problems for the dealer, as no customer may really want to buy them. You either hope they have the vehicle you want or sometimes settling on another choice.

Continued build up of those vehicles can leave the dealer with absolutely no cars that will fit their customers’ needs or wants. You will definitely want to figure this in when you head into that local dealership and don’t see a car you want.

Those hard to sell vehicles that continue to sit around are called a “brown banana”, because it’s become overripe and the value has been going down as it continues to sit around. At this point what can a dealer really do about that problem?

Giving away the cars free, while it might thrill customers, is something that isn’t going to happen. Even when they knock off a lot of money on the price, they are hurting themselves as dealerships are held to making a certain amount of profit. If they don’t make that amount of profit, they could be shut down.

Of course dealers could head back to the days when hard sells were being used all the time. However, that isn’t going to make a customer happy in any way. Many people hated to see a salesperson walking up them in those days.

You’ve probably had it done before – you know the old “let me see those keys” routine. They would state they needed to look at your car to value it for trade-in, however, once those keys were gone it took some might serious persuasion for them to bring your car around so you could leave.

It was a process that earned many people a bad reputation in the past. They would wear you down over time, until you would finally agree to the sale. Not only would you get a car you weren’t really sure you wanted, but you may have put yourself into too much debt.

How to Write Informational Articles – Automotive Start-Up Businesses Online

Before I became an online writer, interestingly enough, I was in the automotive sector. I was a franchisor of mobile carwash, mobile oil change, and fleet truck washing units. Today, I’ve written thousands of articles on this topic, and I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. I’ve certainly learned what not to write, and I’ve inadvertently learned how best to approach this topic. It is a very important subject, as cars are part of our way of life. Now then, I’d like to discuss this with you for a few moments if you have the time.

Perhaps you are also an online article writer, or maybe you’ve written some magazine articles, and you’d like to break into the automotive sector because you know there’s a lot of interest there, or perhaps you’d like to write about automotive startup businesses, because you know America needs jobs, America loves automobiles, and it might be a good place for some of these unemployed folks to go and hang their hat.

The first thing I’d advise if you’re talking about any type of start-up business, and especially businesses in the automotive sector is that it is hard work and you need to impress upon your reader that this is not something that is a get rich quick scheme. If you are going to start a business in the automotive sector regardless of how big or small, it will be hard work, there is a learning curve, and it won’t be free to get going.

Another thing I’ve learned is that you need to talk about not only the good, but also some of the challenges in the industry, it’s not going to be a free ride, and whereas, no business is easy, the automotive sector can be challenging at times. It definitely floats around with the peaks and valleys of the business cycle. Indeed, there is also a lot of competition in the industry, and perhaps you should discuss that as well.

If you are writing articles about how to get into the business, or perhaps how to find a franchise or a business opportunity in the automotive sector, then I would recommend that you do your research, because they are not all the same. Many business opportunities may have the same buy and price, but the amount of money that the practitioners are making varies greatly.

It also matters which region they are living in, and some automotive businesses don’t do so well in some areas, whereas others are slam dunks in some regions. Please consider what I’ve discussed with you here today if you are going to write articles for the automotive sector, especially if they involve start a businesses.