Sales And The Web
May 6, 2009
I submitted a rebuttal to an an article published in the March 16 issue of Automotive News (Subscription required) My little rebuttal was chopped in half but actually made it (partially??!!) to print. Here was the original text.
(Note, it was geared towards the automotive industry, so it may contain some automotive jargon. You should also be aware that in the automotive business, the big car manufacturers do not own that dealership where you bought that car. They are owned in some cases by large dealership groups, and others by SMB business owners.)
A Good Website Trumps Good Sales People
I read with great interest Lindsay Chappell’s article regarding J.D. Power studies in the March 16 Automotive News titled; Studies; Luxury car shoppers on Web want instant info.
Robert Rosenthal of Rosenthal Automotive was quoted as stating that;
Good sales people trump a good web site.
With 15 years of Business Technology experience, and experience with the automotive industry, I can tell you that is a mistake. Whether you own a single point, or many, and here is why.
Sure, you may have great sales people. The trouble is, they can only work with people on the floor and on the phone. And that is happening less and less.
Small Business Trends references a Comscore study on the top 5 ways people find local businesses;
• 31% Visit a search engine – most research without a specific brand or business name in mind and a specific location (i.e. a plumber in Tampa, Florida).
• 30% Look up a business in print in the Yellow Pages or White Pages.
• 19% Use Internet directories – often to find a phone number.
• 11% Look at local search sites like Google Maps or Yahoo Local (usually to get driving directions).
• 3% Get information from a newspaper or magazine.
Look at those numbers, 3 out of the 5 are using the Internet, and that is before they step foot in a showroom. If they don’t find you at this stage, they are going to find someone else.
Unfortunately, consumers now dictate the rules of engagement – not you!
And I am like many of your customers.
I am your sales people’s worst customer,
And, I am your sales people’s best customer
I am your worst customer, because you won’t see me. I don’t shop in your showroom; all my purchasing research is done over the Web. I have little brand loyalty, like many of your customers, I have owned cars manufactured by at least 7 companies, My home entertainment system is a mix and match of another half dozen brands, and I haven’t even a clue what brand the toaster is wearing.
I am also your best customer, because when I do enter your showroom, your cost of sales is nothing. I have already decided, all I want is your sales staff to show me where to sign.
An April 2009 Harvard Business Review article by Ken Favarro, Tim Romberger, and David Meer identifies me; I am a switcher.
They define switchers as customers who are loyal to neither you, nor competitors. And switchers look for information and references on the web. And through social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and online brand specific forums.
The benefit of switchers, if they find you first, you have the opportunity to gain that share of wallet.
As automotive dealerships, you have one advantage that most businesses don’t have. You have three Web Site home pages. The first is your Manufacturers vehicle configurator pages on their Web sites that drive lead traffic to you. The second is either Google, Yahoo! Or MSN search.
That’s right; your Internet home page starts with the search engines. Your business Web Site is a distant third place.
Your Web presence is even more important for the other parts of your business such as used vehicle sales and after sales parts and service.
Personally, and as business managers, when we are the prospects, we are doing research and looking for product information on the web.
So why would our customers be any different?
I offer you this challenge.
If you search for your own company, no cheating by putting the name there! Can you find yourself?
By product or service?
Or are you invisible to the search engines?
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