There are two ways for dealerships to look at Internet Sales.
Some believe that an Internet Sale is a customer that originated as a lead and is sold by your ISM or Internet team. Since it is sold by the “Internet person”, it is an Internet Sale. Others believe an Internet Sale is every vehicle bought by a customer who was primarily influenced by information/resources found online. Dealers tend to structure their pay plans based on the first scenario even though industry leaders preach that to properly dedicate your advertising budget, you have to track and recognize the latter.
So… it’s about Sourcing. Dedicate energy to training your team on sourcing and designing a way to truly capture a customer’s influencing motive. Was it the radio ad running during lunch times that brought the customer in or influenced their decision to choose you as a dealership? Could it be your service department that takes care of them so well? Or might it have been the two hours they spent online before walking into your showroom unannounced, but prepared? Don’t you feel it is imperative to know this before you set next month’s advertising budget?
Make sure your team is closely monitoring the sources from where your customers are coming. You must be sourcing correctly before you hold anyone accountable for ROI. If a lead is from your website’s Inventory page, you want to know. If it is from your Inventory listed on Cars.com, you want to know as well. If it is because they are a previous customer, you want to know. Some will be internet sales and some will not be… we all recognize that. However, many sales that appear to be your old-fashioned walk-in or phone up could very well be an Internet sale. You just don’t know it until you source correctly.
Now let me give you ONE exception of something that looks like an Internet Sale, but in my opinion, isn’t. (And this will end up being another challenge to a website vendor). If a customer calls into your dealership from the number on your website’s header, I don’t consider that an Internet Sale. Not unless they were perusing your site’s back pages before calling the number at the top. We must realize that a website’s header is today’s white pages. People don’t check the yellow book in their pantry anymore. They go to your dealership site and pull the number from there. If a customer calls after only visiting your homepage, I don’t believe you should count that as an Internet Sale – no matter who handled the call.
NOW – If a website provider wants to figure out a way to have one specific, trackable number on the homepage’s website header, but a different toll-free number on each back-page website header THEN I believe we could truly source website calls as Internet Sales. Not until. If you are a website vendor who does this, please reach out on this post. If you are someone tracking your store’s Internet Sales, I’d love to hear your opinion on what is and isn’t an Internet Sale at your store.