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The Power of Motivation: Connecting Marketing to Sales in Auto Dealerships

Internalizing motivation of ‘external marketing efforts’ is such an important concept that I’m following last month’s Dealer Magazine ‘Power of Motivation’ article with some additional thoughts from a good friend and fellow Dealer Magazine writer Dave Anderson.

I first met Dave in the early ’90s when he was heading up sales and management coaching for a large dealership group in California and my company was handling the group’s marketing efforts. After sitting in on one of Dave’s coaching sessions I was so impressed with his style and substance that I began scheduling my monthly visits so I would be able to take advantage of his sales and management coaching forums.

Jim: Dave, both you and I agree that dealerships are wasting money embarking on expensive advertising programs without making sure the sales team is ‘ready’ to handle the business.

Dave: “I fully agree with that premise. It’s the difference between deadening pain with morphine (more advertising to temporarily bring in new prospects) versus surgery to fix the problem. (equipping salespeople to do a great job with the customers they already have.) Frankly, most dealerships don’t need to buy more traffic for their untrained salespeople to abuse; they’ve got enough of that going on already. Rather, they need to strike at the root by training the people they have. In fact, the process really starts with making sure the managers are trained to hire people worth training in the first place: those with talent, drive attitude, character and energy required for sales excellence.”

Jim: Dave, how important is it for the sales managers and the sales team to understand the psychology of a dealership’s marketing efforts? How does it benefit the overall program?

Dave: “Human beings will always perform better with what they have to do, and how they have to do it if they understand the ‘why’, the rationale or reasoning behind what’s going on. It gives them more confidence in the process and helps them to better understand and execute their role. Vince Lombardi said “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused.” Of course, he was talking about football, but it applies to anything; having a sales team that understands the ‘why’ behind the marketing ‘what’ and ‘how’ is no exception.”

Jim: Does it make sense for the person heading the dealership marketing/advertising efforts to participate in sales training/motivation exercises?

Dave: “Absolutely. The advertising people should participate, not only to stay in sync with what’s going on in the sales department, but also to help influence sales management to customize the training to support the marketing efforts. Situational sales training of this nature is very effective. For example, if the ad campaign is going to focus on encouraging customers to drive from the big city to a smaller country store, the salespeople should be trained to qualify quickly where the customer is from, and then create the perception early on in the presentation that raises the value of doing business at a more intimate dealership where customers are given personal attention and service; versus being just another ‘number’ at the big-city stores. The perception of better service always makes price less relevant, and by staying involved in the entire process the marketing executive can help make sure this benefit is being communicated by the sales team.”

Jim: How does this help the advertising people craft the right message?

Dave: “By participating in the sales training process and getting to know exactly what is involved in that process the advertising people will understand that the most effective campaigns sell a lot more than just price; they sell differentiation in the customer experience. Research consistently proves that customers are willing to pay more for good experiences. Consider the people willing to pay $1500 for a first class ticket versus the $300 in coach. Both classes leave and arrive at the destination at the same time, but a first class and coach customer have vastly different experiences and perception throughout the entire process.”

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