(Repost from Automotive Dealers Network November 2008 – Strategic Internet)
There are two typical scenarios used for an a dealership’s internet department. A department where appointment setters work to set up appointments for the sales floor and a department where sales professionals make their own appointments and sell the car. Many professionals in the industry often have an opinion as to why one way works better than the other. The problem that is not realized is that there are some things that are not being taught properly to the people working in these department .
A BDC that is set up as a call center where Reps answer leads and phone ups to generate
appointments is becoming a more typical approach to maintaining an internet department.
The benefit of it is that in a high volume store your goal is to generate as many appointments
as possible. The more appointments that come in the more cars the store will sell. This is
great. However, most customers feel that they have built a relationship with the rep on the
phone and want to deal only with that person when they come in to buy the car (this happens
if the job was done correctly.) The customer is passed on to a sales consultant who does not
know how to handle them, who will play dumb, and will do everything that should not be done
with an internet customer who may be savvy.
People do not like being passed around from person to person. If they are worked diligently on the phone and
great personality was put into it, the same person should complete the transaction. Also, the call center situation costs
the dealer more money. The dealer has to pay a base salary, which can add up to a lot of money on a weekly basis
when looking at how many reps are on staff. Also, a commission for the customer to show up and a commission if they
buy the car are set up. Then, to make things exciting, a bonus might come up to motivate staff to make more
appointments. This does not include paying a sales consultant whose main job is to show the vehicle, write the deal
and deliver the car.
Copyright © 2008 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
I found in my job as a BDC Manager that we were wasting over $35k per year on an appointment setter.
Why not have the right people handle it on commission and make the dealership more money? If the store
does around 150 units per month with 12 sales people, take three and train them in internet sales. Pay them
$200 plus commission and bonus just like the floor sales people and watch how results will stay the same or
add up. Less overhead and more profits is what the dealer will see. If I had to sell cars I would go back as an
internet rep. I made as much as $13k in a month selling this way.
You build customers’ trust and you sell them the car. When leading up to an appointment,
as an internet sales rep you have completed 80% of the work, so why not finish the other
In a typical BDC department, the appointment setter has no care for product knowledge which means that they will
always mislead the customer and give wrong answers. They are taught to get the customer in and that is all. These
are all problems that are avoided when a true sales professional can handle it all at once.
The problem with sales people handling internet leads is that as an internet sales consultant sells 20 or more units
per month consistently, the sales floor suffers because more and more people come in from shopping on the
internet. This creates friction between internet sales reps and floor sales reps. By having an open mind, this tells me
that there should be more internet reps then floor reps. Respectively, if we know that over 80% of customers go
online before they buy a car, why not have 80% of your staff versed and following up with them instead of sitting
around waiting for an up? Keep four or five reps on the floor and keep five on the internet. Now, when floor traffic
has overflow, an internet rep can come in and help take and UP.
I see consultants teach and preach their ways of running a department and their method of selling cars. Well
here is an open mind. Teach your sales people, your managers, your finance department and your GM the internet
process and how an internet deal works as well as how the customer thinks. It builds team work, less friction and
everyone works with each other. No discrimination. I am passionate about internet sales; it is a craft to me which I
believe people handle lightly. As a newer generation of sales people join the industry, these things need to be
taught. Anyone who walks in the door was on the internet, so stop playing games and be prepared for properly
handling objections. Always take a shot at making gross when you can, but when you cannot, just make a deal. The
way things are these days, we will do anything to sell a car. So play it smart.
On the other hand, if you are going to utilize appointment setters, at least give them more training aside from
reading a script. Give them knowledge training and get them excited about their job. A BDC with appointment
setters is set up to help floor sales people sell cars. Not handling every angle properly causes problems during the
road to the sale. When everything is handled properly, customers will be happier and grosses will be higher. We
know that the happiest customers are usually the ones that left the dealership paying more for the car. For that to
happen more often means that we need to be professional and presentable. If you have no knowledge on the
phone, then the customer has more reason to buy the car because of price. However, the price objection can not
be overcome when the right process is not being used.