December 2007, Volume 23
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Resolve to Sell
Setting Goals Helps You Get Down to Business in the New Year

Click for bioSuccess in the car business is no accident. It reflects your hard work as a dedicated professional and your ability to define objectives, overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. With a new year around the corner, here are some resolutions that will keep you focused on business priorities and ready to drive the most out of your online sales program.

Advertise Your Entire Inventory

Nowhere is the old saying "out of sight, out of mind" more true than online. When car buyers search your internet listings for the vehicle that best meets their needs, they can consider only the makes and models you include. By advertising everything you have for sale, both new and used, you encourage prospects to spend more time in your virtual showroom to find the car they want - and not your competitors'.

Present Your Best Image

Although a single photo was the norm just a few years ago, most dealers today use several high-quality pictures to advertise their used-car listings. They take care to ensure the photos are well lit, show the vehicle's interior and exterior from multiple angles and highlight the car's condition and special features. The picture isn't so rosy on the new-car side of the business, where too many dealers continue to rely on stock photos provided by the manufacturer. To help your new cars stand out and get the exposure you want, take a page from your used-car playbook and include pictures of the actual vehicle. This tactic allows buyers to gauge whether they like the color, for example, and assures them that you have it in stock for immediate sale.

Manage Your Online Reputation

On the internet, what's being said about your store can help or hurt your business. To use consumer opinion to your advantage, you need to monitor the conversation and look for ways to incorporate the feedback into your processes. When the message is positive, share the good news at your store and recognize the people involved. If it's bad, look for the truth in the comment and identify the necessary steps to avoid this mistake in the future.

Offer Monthly Specials

Everybody loves a good deal, especially on a high-ticket item such as a car. Offering monthly specials on both the new- and used-car side of the house help you accomplish a number of goals: drive traffic to your store, sell more cars and reduce aged inventory.

Source Your Sales

To understand which tactics in your online advertising program drive the best results, track your sales. Asking buyers to complete a short survey, usually during the F&I process or while the vehicle is prepped for delivery, should give you the information you need. The secret is to be specific. Rather than asking yes-or-no questions such as "Did you use the internet as part of your shopping process?," ask customers to provide a list of online sites they consulted.

Keep Your Manager in the Loop

As the internet sales manager for your store, your success depends to a large extent on the rapport you build with the floor sales staff and the respect you earn with your store's management team. Meeting weekly with your manager provides you with an opportunity to ensure he or she is familiar with the various components of your program and how it's performing.

Tell a Story, Sell the Car

When car buyers read your online listings, they want more information than what is contained in the VIN decoder or an invitation to call you. To complement the pictures that show the vehicle's condition, use your seller's notes to tell shoppers about what makes the vehicle special and describe its unique features.

Market Your Store

Beyond the vehicle they're considering, give prospects reasons to purchase from your store. Selling points range from your years in operation to your convenient location and community reputation, industry awards, professional sales staff and certified service department. For maximum effectiveness, weave these messages into your email and phone calls with prospects and into your online listings.

Improve Your Skills

As with any profession, your personal commitment to excellence and ongoing education drives your success. Even if money isn't available in your store's budget, you can still take advantage of opportunities to improve your professional skill set and advance your career. Companies such as Cars.com typically offer free, in-market workshops to help you make more effective use of your online advertising and implement proven internet sales processes. If you can't be away from the store for these sessions, they also publish online newsletters and host webinars so that you have the resources you need.

Last, but by no means, least:

Give Yourself a Raise

Selling cars is its own reward - both in terms of the professional satisfaction of serving your customers and the personal satisfaction of making more money. By keeping these resolutions in 2008, you'll move more metal and make the case for the pay increase you've worked all year to earn.

Additional Resources
Looking for additional tips you can implement in your store today to drive more traffic with your online advertising and desk more deals with your internet sales processes? Check out Cars.com's DealerCenter. Here, you can read previous editions of our DealerADvantage newsletter or listen to archived recordings of our DealerADvantage LIVE webinar series.

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