I answered my phone and greeted the BDC Manager we’ve been training at one of our client’s stores.
BDC Manager: We have started getting a bunch of calls about a mailer that was sent out and my team doesn’t know how to handle them. Can you write up a script for us?
Me: Of course. Can you send me a copy of the mailer?
BDC Manager: They never gave us one.
Me: Do you know what the mailer says on it?
BDC Manager: I’m not sure.
Me: Does it make an offer to the customer?
BDC Manager: I don’t know.
Me: Does it invite them to do anything?
BDC Manager: No clue.
This is not uncommon. BDC training is an afterthought (or never takes place) when new marketing initiatives launch. Sales and marketing departments are not often integrated as they should be. On the regular, we see dealerships operating at a high-level in their BDC, at a strong pace on their showroom floor, and dominating the market with their advertising. And yet, rarely are these three integral departments sharing information openly. Long has our industry heard the customer knows more about the vehicles on our lots than the salespeople themselves. Whether this is due to some shoppers’ willingness to research their vehicle of choice tirelessly, or it be chalked up to salespeople’s unwillingness to educate themselves on product without being pushed to do so, take your pick. Now there is yet another glaring deficiency in our sales and BDC teams and that is the lack of knowledge of their store’s marketing initiatives.
The ad agency meets with the owner and General Manager to plot out a campaign to rev up sales. The eCommerce Director connects with the digital marketing agency (sometimes an entirely different company) to roll out a (sometimes entirely different) campaign to drive traffic. Maybe the individuals above remember to tell the sales managers of these new marketing initiatives. Even if they do, I assure you, it is rarely passed down to that of the sales and BDC teams. The last thing any organization wants is for their consumer-facing team members to be ill-equipped to answer customers’ questions. Knowing shoppers often have questions about current incentives, promotions, specials, and deals, why wouldn’t we want to make sure our sales team have access to that information.
A marketing department should:
- Allocate a budget to each resource
- Identify specific audiences based on their opportunities and the needs of the shoppers
- Create omnichannel marketing campaigns
- Develop content and call-to-actions based around those campaigns
- Target the audience with their messaging
- Incorporate that messaging across all platforms and teams
- Measure and analyze the effectiveness of the campaigns
Do this monthly, and you have yourself a marketing department. The breakdown occurs when ownership, management or marketing creates and launches advertising campaigns without educating the sales and BDC teams about these new initiatives. It is one thing to place a banner on your website’s homepage. It is something entirely different (and better) to keep them abreast of all active campaigns in weekly meetings.
As a dealer, if you’re dedicating dollars to marketing efforts (and we know you are), you need to ensure both your sales and marketing departments are working together to generate a high return on your investment. The moment a shopper encounters a salesperson or BDC agent who doesn’t reinforce the campaign, or even worse, gulp, isn’t familiar with it, the campaign loses all credibility.
Here is how to integrate your sales and marketing at each campaign’s launch:
- Educate your entire team on the new marketing campaign in a company meeting. (Yes, both sales and service, if you’re doing it right).
- Explain the opportunity for the campaign as well as any specifics regarding the audience targeted and why.
- Provide copies of the campaigns/ads to them, including links to webpages for them to review.
- Create point-of-sale material for them to have at their desks and reference when working with shoppers.
- Incorporate into email templates for your lead handlers and, if possible, build out a custom workflow process within the CRM for those leads specifically, both pre-visit and post-visit.
- Request the sales team to do their part in return by sharing the campaign across their own social platforms, or at the very least, their own book of business within the CRM.
Inevitably, some advertising campaigns (smartly) revolve around “why buy” messaging. If that is the case, it is still important for the sales and service teams to see the content (and hopefully exude those tenets as well). In marketing, there is what is known as MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQL (Sales Qualified Leads). In automotive, suffice it to say, the great majority of leads are considered SQL – leads where the prospect expects to connect to a dealership agent to discuss a transaction. MQL’s are typically leads that indicate a customer has shown interest in a campaign, but generally would need to be a “soft-touch” if engaged with in the short term. Both MQLs and SQLs need to be nurtured, only differently. In both instances, the sales and BDC teams must have the insights to understand what drove that potential shopper’s intent or desire.
This flow of communication and content should also be a two-way street. If marketing is smart, they’ll seek out insight from the sales team as to what is trending in their conversations with customers so it can be incorporated into future campaigns. Sales can definitely lend a hand in understanding current shopper needs and concerns. The teams should be open to discuss what is working and what is not, by offering suggestions, providing feedback, and even sharing constructive criticism. Only constructive criticism. Include management as a part of these discussions as well.
In the end, your dealership is spending money. Money to drive attention, traffic, leads and sales. You can be amazing at marketing, but if your consumer-facing team is blind to your advertising goals, you’re throwing money away. Make sure your marketing, service, and sales teams are sharing content with each other, working toward one common goal. They must be an integrated workforce. Otherwise, your salespeople look like a deer in the headlights when the phones ring and the leads pour in about offers which they have no information. Integrating your sales and marketing efforts is the key to setting yourself up for seamless success.
Want to get better at marketing? Read about lessons learned from my New Years Eve party two years ago.
Want to get your team better at selling your store? Train them not to give lip service.
This content was originally published here.