Dealers spend far too much time focused on where the traffic is coming from and not near enough on what is happening with the traffic once we’re in contact. With so much attention focused on digital initiatives, it is no wonder consumers are now talking about a poor customer experience. We focused so much effort on the evolution in marketing that we forgot to keep an eye on the quality of CX.
As sales fluctuate, so do dealers’ advertising budgets. Just 15 years ago, a typical dealer might have a handful of automotive consulting vendors serving them. Today, any walkthrough of your accounts payable department will show that number has grown considerably. Moreover, any walk through a conference exhibit hall and you will find an endless amount of providers also looking to partner with your organization. This has caused us to change the questions we ask ourselves. Where we used to ask how to reach and serve customers better, we turned our attention only to… “Where do I need to spend my money?” This eventually morphed into, “Did I spend my money wisely?”
Over the past decade-plus in automotive, these questions forced us to take a close look at the ROI. Were we getting a sensible return on investment? Back in the day, we all had a version of an ROI calculator that we could deduce what providers were allowing us to be profitable, and which were not. (Typically, this was determined by formulas wrote in an Excel sheet featuring stats such as lead count, sales, margin, and cost per sale. Some rang that up against the F&I’s sourcing sheets they did before vehicle delivery).
As leads dried up, providers began calling themselves “advertising sources”, as opposed to one that would generate leads. Brilliant. How can they determine if we’re good or not if there is no way for them to see valid data? That’s when attribution models solved the equation. No longer a first point or last touch quandary, but multi-point attribution could pinpoint their basic value. So as dealers we comb through statistics regarding all of the sources that might have influenced a lead, visit, consideration, or sale.
Yet, if Google states the average shopper visits 18 different websites before purchasing a vehicle (out of 100’s available), how might a dealer wrap their head around what percentage of profitability is reliant on each provider? If you can’t direct money to all of the sites they visited, which bears the most fruit? If they visited all, must you give money to all? And as the questions tunnel deeper down the rabbit hole, we’re off in the weeds. We lost sight of the most important aspect of the sale: the customer’s experience.
Whether it be a great phone experience, a poor lead handling experience, a pleasant greeting, the lack of test drive, a great product presentation, or no introduction to a manager, consumers will make up their mind predicated upon how they’re treated; not just what information they gleaned from your website. No amount of money can fix a poor phone, lead, or showroom experience. Dedicating dollars and attention to bringing in traffic rather than handling that traffic professionally is putting the cart before the horse. Anyone who has sold vehicles will tell you much of a consumer’s journey and decision-tree has occurred in advance of their visit, but few will say the shoppers’ minds were fully made up.
One wrong move in your communication (peer-to-peer online or in-person on the showroom) will cost you a sale. At the upcoming DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas, my great friend Brent Wees of The Next Up and I will show you the attribution markers that are stealing your attention away from the task-based metrics that truly influence a sale. Our session is titled “The Results Are In… And You Are NOT the Father of the Sale”.
Yes, like an in-studio awakening from Maury Povich, it is time we pay attention to the elements that contributed to a profitable customer experience. What do you feel influences the customer most?
- Your ad budget?
- Where your inventory is listed?
- Your displayed price?
- Your impressions?
- Your VDP views?
- Your clean website?
Or how you communicate and treat your customers (i.e. customer experience)?
We feel the same. And, as a trusted automotive consulting firm, we have the data to prove why it is more attributable to a sale than a single ad dollar spent. Check us out at the DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas.