The emerging of internet has changed many things in different facets. The role of automotive advertising agency is not an exception since new customers no longer use solely information from auto dealers from traditional channels like newspaper, TV, radio to decide their purchase, they are now switching to newer media – social media as it is blooming empowered by the internet.
About the automobile customers:
- Automobile customers now can gather information from other customers via social media throughout their purchasing experience. The role of online “friends” is increasing in one customer’s decision making process, and advertising agencies do not miss this chance to influence potential buyers to act in a way that is favorable to their clients.
- This change in the market has required advertising agencies to move their focus from price and product to people on social media. Customers now have developed their own strategy to gather information from the internet when shopping for a car, instead of relying on auto dealer as their only source.
- People are now prioritized for online shopper when they select a shop/ dealer that they want to work with. This, by no means, means that price and product are no longer important. However, it stresses on the role of people, which means people should be the centre of all systems and are true assets of any vendor, auto dealer or advertising agency.
One of the clearest evidences that prove the critical role of people in the auto shopping experience is the fact that social media has seen the explosive growth in term of a marketing media, against traditional media like print, TV or radio. Social media now dominates the advertising landscape. It is not surprised to discover that we always like to do business/ deal with people that we like, therefore, automotive advertising agencies use that to expand the influence on customers using their online friends.
The whole car shopping experience (before, during and after) is now contained in a conversation. There are people in social network communities which are more trusted and easily get invitations to participate in dialogues which can influence customers’ buying decisions. They are the targeted friends of auto dealers. It is recognized by automotive agencies that a website and a building can never be a person’s friend, however, the people can. It is the people who have stories to tell, which will draw attention from their family, their friends, subsequently, they will earn the sale.
Customers will not care if it is a Toyota, a Mercedes or a Chevrolet or special promotions or Saturday services if they have no trust or do not like the people providing them the service. It is way different if your friend is working in car business, you will think that you will get the best deal, best service in car industry.
The role of people is not only important in real world but it is also critical in virtual world, the virtual showroom experience. That will all be the reflection of how many cars that they sell and their performance at month end. It is fundamental to create a good first impression, it is taught in every sales course. The first impression is not limited to only a clean showroom, customer centric selling system or a large inventory but it is also reflected in the atmosphere of the dealership. It comes from the cheerful of staff in service and sales and creates great impact in customers’ mood and affects their buying decisions.
A smile on people’s faces like in service writer, operator, sales person and cashier cannot be forced, or appears genuinely if it is just as a part of company policy – it is the same as customer satisfaction cannot be achieved with only the best price with bad service. Those intangible assets much be earned. When a manager appreciates the work of individuals in the team and let them know on regular basis, the staff will be happy and their smiles will be genuine. HR departments everywhere have maintained the practices of hiring personnel with suitable personality over experience, the job descriptions never stop mentioning/ defining areas of responsibility that are specified to a caring manager.
It is statistically proven that customer satisfaction is directly tided to employee retention and it should not be taken for granted. Auto dealers are counseled by advertising agencies before on investing in people to better complete their advertising efforts. Auto dealers should know that it is their people who sell cars and service and represent their dealership, their people that customers face everyday and become their growing friend list.
Advertising agencies, in order to better do their job; now sometime involve in everyday operation practices of an auto dealer. A greeting and meeting are now included in most selling system and customer-facing processes. All their customer facing services and back offices are now enhanced and supported by many follow up systems. However, all such complicated procedures will only work with a good sales person, who is in charge of entering the customer into the system and who will follow up on sales or any future services.
All those aspects will be reflected on the performance of an automotive advertising agency. This is even considered a part of their responsibilities. The general practice of sales training, which is addressed by automotive advertising agencies, is a short course (few weeks) right after a person is hired and some other pump-up training which is outsourced. A well planning sale system is often very complex and it is hard to be understood thoroughly by new hire personnel with just a very short training. They cannot obtain all the knowledge that they need to know to effectively operate the system. Moreover, we all know the impact of human nature in any negotiation process, it is crucial for auto dealers to invest in their people.
The way that service and sales training applied at a dealership faces a paradigm shift and it all depends on advertising agency to make it applied and understood. To any forward thinking agencies, it is not advised to limit training to only new hires or when necessary to push the existing staff. It must be an on-going process, from the hiring process. It can start with choosing some trainable personalities then walking them through selling system, as they will later walk a customer through. It is important for a seller to establish a habit to listen and learn from customers. It is not expected from a sales person to know everything, but they are expected to know where to get the answers that suit their customers’ needs and motivate them to buy.
It is known that new technologies are used by automotive advertising agencies to produce evidences to prove old word wisdom. There are a lot of new mobile sale applications developed that timely facilitate salesperson with correct information to best do their job. Those applications also integrate training program during the whole selling process. What we want to say after all is about the key focus of a business, it should be the people who will be the representative of a company to its customers. The customer’s experience first comes from people that they directly interact with, and then is support by good selling process, great prices, and good products.