Root Cause

If an “easy button” really existed we’d all have it jammed by now. Effortlessly fixing one issue at a time. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. And the “easy button” is usually only ever short-lived. Never fixing the root cause. You see, the root cause is the “real problem.” It’s the question behind the question, it’s the problem behind the problem, it’s the math behind the math…. One that cannot be “band-aided” or “swept under the rug” to address later. Or worse, we ignore these “issues” when the times are good, never truly learning from the past and how that impacts the future. Instead of jamming the “easy button,” you have to fix the issue’s root cause. One of the most significant issues and root causes for missed opportunities that dealerships still face today is lack of training! 

The lack of training offered on the dealer level makes sense when one of the most common frustrations and issues we face on the dealer level today is the age-old dilemma of “we aren’t closing enough leads, so let’s add another $5k in monthly spend! That will fix the closing rate.” If it were this easy, we’d all be doing it, no? Well, sadly, most dealers are approaching it this way. Because instead of fixing the root cause of this issue, most will simply press the “easy button” and add to their monthly ad budget. Sure, pressing the “easy button” and spending more money will produce more leads for your dealerships. And sure, you might close more leads as a result. But why aren’t we talking about the root cause of not having a good closing rate? Why aren’t we discussing the poor set and show rates on the appointments? Why aren’t we talking about the vast amount of opportunities left on the table each month from lack of performance and training? 

If you were to actively listen to your dealership’s inbound phone calls or read your team’s lead responses, you might be scratching your head as you just agreed to use the “quick-fix solution.” Thinking, “well, we trained them once or twice. They took the OEM training,” which, while that might be true – it doesn’t mean they are adequately equipped to handle inbound phone calls and lead opportunities. Training isn’t done in a day, or by having someone come into the dealership once or twice. It’s more than that, and it takes time! It’s a process and it’s ongoing. 

Aren’t we all tired of getting stuck on the hamster wheel and stuck in the autoloop of all autoloop conversations? The irony in all of this is that most GMs want to “cut” spend when the results aren’t there. No, that does not mean they want to hire outside training due to cutting the ad spend. They just want to “cut” the expense and hope for the best. How about instead of “cutting your spend,” and hoping for the best, or spending money on additional ads (or any ads at all) – you use it for training! Training that will fix the root cause of the issue! So instead of jamming the “easy button,” you’re focused on building success not just for today, but for the months in the future. Money that would be used to invest in building stronger sales consultants. At some point the decision must be made and the line drawn. 

Think about it, if you just took a quarter of your total ad spend and used that for ongoing monthly sales agent coaching, one-on-one training sessions and supporting mystery shops, you’d be able to spend the overall same amount and yield substantially better results! It sounds almost too good to be true, but it is true; it’s absolutely true! The fact is that while you can keep jamming your “Easy Button” and throw opportunities down the drain for the hope of doing better, you can instead take the lead and get better results with the same overall spend. Investing in training, investing in your people, which will build a solid team. 

To get this process started, first – do not stop advertising altogether. Just don’t add to your monthly spend if your sales team isn’t equipped to effectively handle the current opportunities. Think about it. Your team has one shot at getting the customer’s attention (their first impression). A bad first impression can make or break the deal before it even starts. It sounds simple, and it is! Every dollar counts for the bottom line, and if you can increase your bottom line without having to spend additional money on advertising, it’s a win-win situation for the dealership. 

To get started with training, take the time to review your current calls, email responses, and overall response time. You’d be surprised when looking at the CRM at just how many leads fall through the cracks; not whether or not they were responded to, but when and how. Leads that your teams didn’t answer within the first hour (or in some instances that day), you’ve already lost that opportunity. The customer is shopping at other dealers at the same time. So, the dealer that responds first – with a quality response – is the one that’s most likely going to convert the customer. 

Once you’ve taken the time to look at lead response quality, note your team’s most significant opportunities: 

Lead Response Time: As mentioned above, if your team doesn’t answer the lead promptly, you’re losing business. It’s essential to answer the lead as soon as possible. But making sure that the response is of the highest quality. 

Email Response: If you can’t get the customer on the phone on the first try, they need to send the customer an email (if the lead has it in there). The email needs to clearly outline the next steps for the customer, making sure to answer any questions they have. And most importantly, the email needs to outline any brand value statements that sets your dealer apart from the competition. 

Inbound Phone Calls: Keep in mind, the customer is calling you! They saw a vehicle online and chose to engage. Inbound phone calls are critical as they’re one of the best, if not the best, lead sources there are but also the biggest profit leak in the store! Your team must be equipped to handle the call properly and efficiently. It’s just as easy to lose the customer as it is to receive the inbound call. And sure, they’re recorded, some are even monitored and alerted, but what good does that do if it’s fumbled? In most instances that doesn’t mean the customer’s information is in the CRM for follow-up. Or, more importantly, that your team has the customer’s email (or other contact information) in the CRM. And if we’re not actively managing the CRM or reviewing inbound calls, then how many opportunities are we missing each month? So why would you just increase advertising without first getting better results on what you currently have? 

Bottom Line: if there’s one thing you can do for your dealership without increasing advertising that’s guaranteed to drive sustainable results, it’s offering training. Training that not just fixes the root cause of poor performance, but enhances performance, which adds to the Bottom Line. Every sales opportunity missed or handled poorly is a lost sale. How many lost sales are you willing to ignore, how many lost opportunities – repeatedly hitting the “easy button” – before taking action and fixing the problem behind the problem? 

Have you partnered with a training provider yet?

Originally posted on Driving Sales, September 24, 2020

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