Your Business Development Center tees up the customers, and your salespeople swing for the fences. Typically, it is the business development center agents that are keeping in contact with potential prospects, and the salespeople hoisting the trophy after a great month on the floor. Having a BDC is no longer enough, though. Everyone in your dealership needs to have a business development mindset.
Salespeople receive a lot of the credit after a successful month of converting showroom customers into sales. And why wouldn’t they? If they weren’t delivering an amazing customer experience, more than likely those guests would take their business elsewhere, regardless how great their experience with your website and BDC were up to that point. Salespeople can kill the sale, as much as they can help it (if not more). But sales cannot be all they do.
Biz Dev Rule #1: Everything your employees do should involve business development.
First and foremost, salespeople must be able to share what makes themselves, their company, and the experience different from their competitors. A strong value proposition delivered at the right time helps generate interest, not just sales. The conversations that take place away from the store are often just as important as the discussions occurring on-site. Promoting where you work to friends, family, and acquaintances is just smart job security. People don’t like “selling” when they’re not at work, but if the opportunity to influence an in-market shopper exists, they must be trained on how to bridge that conversation.
Since sales and service personnel are more customer-facing than a BDC, they need to always be spreading goodwill, as well as identifying when to capture content that would make for great business development marketing assets. For instance, when a employee knows they have an excited, happy customer, it is up to them to go for the video customer testimonial. When they know they have someone digital connected, it is up to them to request a social media like and/or rating. When they have someone who originated online who is enjoying their experience, they need to be asking for reviews. Everyone in the store should be responsible for identifying situations where business development content can be captured..
This goes for retention opportunities, as well as conquest. Just because the sale occurred, does not guarantee that agent any ongoing or reoccurring profit from that shopper. Ongoing, post-sale follow-up should not be a duty of the BDC team. Following up with one’s previously sold customers – as well as those whose leases/loans are coming to an end – should be the sole responsibility of the sales agent. All of these elements must become an integral part of your regular BDC Training.
Biz Dev Rule #2: Creating a budget for your team’s personal marketing efforts go a long way toward employee satisfaction and profit.
Consider investing budget into the marketing of individual team members that embrace the business development mindset. Support them with dollars. Help them create their own brand, target their own connections through social media accounts, and generate specialty business cards, websites, or point-of-sale material. All of these marketing assets can be managed by the dealership to keep an eye on company branding. Investing in your people’s own personal branding and business development efforts will not only increase retention, but leverage your teams’ sphere of influence online.
Biz Dev Rule #3: If your BDC agents are the only ones bringing traffic to the sales floor, you’re doing it all wrong.
When a loyal customer is in service with a significant amount of work needed for their vehicle, they cannot just look internally and think of fixing the problem. Instead, we must offer an alternative solution back up to the sales floor. Why have our BDC calling customers to bring them back in for service, only to generate service dollars? If salespeople are intended to walk in-store shoppers through the service department to rave about their future ease of vehicle maintenance, why aren’t we instructing service to act in kind with customers that might be better off transitioning to a new vehicle? Stores can no longer work within silos. We must create a holistic approach to smart business development. Everything an employee of your organization does and says, inside and out of the 4 walls of the business, must be done with the goal of influencing traffic and business.
All of these tasks require effort arising from a business development mindset. BDCs are great for customer communication inbound and outbound, but that should never let the sales and service people off the hook. Business Development may not be written in the job description of a sales or service agent (though it should), nor is it in their title on their business card, but the livelihood of today’s businesses are predicated upon all employees having a business development mindset.
Biz Dev Rule #4: Embracing a business development mindset starts with talking to everyone in the organization.
Ownership must embrace everyone in the organization. Talk to them about how vital ongoing business development is to the livelihood of the business. Create referral programs. Celebrate people that do a good job as an ambassador to the store. Develop programs that get your employees out of the store and into the local community. Embrace business development with policies that promote the mindset, but do not force action.
Without attempting to cultivate and grow new business today, profitability dries up by tomorrow. A business development mindset needs to be reinforced from the top-down with policies, training, incentives, and leadership. Anything less, and you are wasting your most important resource…. your people.