Almost everything I write stems from an emotional rant I go on during conversations with friends. As Jeff Kershner of DealerRefresh and I were grumbling about pushback from sales professionals unwilling to adapt to mobile technology in the showroom, I asked, “Can you kill a sacred cow?” The best of the best salespeople on our retail floors are untouchable by management and ownership, which leads to policies being overlooked, forgotten, and left wanting. Must you kill a sacred cow to get things done?
While working with dealers throughout North America to improve online, on the phone, and on the lot, mobile technology is at the forefront to enhancing dealer to customer communication. Here is a recent example of how sacred cows can spoil the other fresh meat in the store.
One particular DealerKnows client purchased iPads for their entire team. Based on our recommendations, they placed:
1) the mobile version of their CRM
2) the CarStory app to allow for insightful understanding of each in-stock vehicle’s value
3) vAuto for live pricing examples/ranking
4) AutoTrader Trade-in Marketplace to allow for customers to assist in the appraisal process
5) Advantastar so sales professionals could speak competently about differentiations of their models versus competitive models
6) the dealership website
7) a credit application
8) the Insignia app allowing customers to visually see how they can accessorize their vehicles immediately after the sale
9) and countless apps/games to entertain the children of the parents in the showroom
The dealer then filmed live, walk-through tutorials of each app, uploaded them to Youtube, required the sales team to watch said videos, and ensured they understood how to utilize each app by having their salespeople present back to ownership. We felt this was a comprehensive way to gain buy-in, understanding, and excitement across the sales floor. While there were success stories during those first few months, I can say that 6 months later, no one uses the iPads.
How did this happen? The 30-car a month sacred cow said he didn’t need to use it or want to, and management didn’t want to ruffle feathers by pushing him any further. (Yes, I know cows don’t have feathers.) Then the 25-car a month guy said if the other guy didn’t have to, he shouldn’t. And down the line it went. After three months, the only agents using the iPads (or even trying to place them into the hands of in-store customers to let them use the technology) were the newbies.
It could be said that the iPads are arguably as valuable in the customers’ hands as they are in the salespeople, but it still takes a sales agent with the willingness to offer the iPads, rather than the stubbornness to ignore the chance.
The downside here is that someone new to the industry, while willing to embrace technology, is too busy worrying about making it to their 10-car sales quota to save their job than to pick up the available iPad. Let’s admit it – while all of the tools I described above can make you more proficient, profitable, and dominant as a sales professional/closer, it still takes more time to use than less. Sacred cows are different from newbies in one particular way. Sacred cows like doing it their way, while newbies prefer doing it the easiest and fastest ways. Mobile technology, while fast in its own right, is still viewed as doing more. And while today’s researched customers deserve and expect more, most sales agents still want fast and easy. I understand from a newbie’s point of view that when you’re worrying about hitting quota, you’re not thinking about doing anything extra. Mobile is indeed extra, albeit a worthy extra. However, until our sacred cows start grazing in this new land of mobile technology, it won’t be adopted by the calves on the floor.
I see this as a problem, but don’t have the answer. (Yes, I know the answers could be management, motivation, pay, punishment, etc, but we all know the most valuable sales agents on the floor get to graze where they want, and do what they wish. Not all dealership policies put in place always apply to them.) Dealerships are businesses after all. We don’t want to have to lose our most profitable employees, so there must be another solution beyond killing the sacred cows. Any suggestions?