Before someone responds with the obvious, it is the customer of course!
That said, the next best answer should be the individual at the dealership which the customer perceives to be the most valuable; correct? No, not necessarily since the customer doesn't know what they don't know and someone needs to first listen and learn from the customer to determine their true needs and then provide solutions to satisfy them which the customer may not have considered themselves. That kind of relevant personlaized information provides added value and satifies the customer's needs vs. their wants. Therefor, they are the most important person not only to the customer but to the dealer.
Now that my theoretical answer is on the table the opportunity for me and mine to learn from this post will be to see how many of my Dealerelite friends will reply with examples of individuals and their respective positions on the dealer's team that satisfy this basic consumer need. I will start with a few less than obvious examples of my own with the hope that some will be added that I may not have considered.
- The lot staff - a well organized inventory and front line with test drive ready vehicles helps a customer consider vehicles that they may not have otherwise been exposed to
- The advertising agency - well crafted and strategically placed messages in consumer centric media that match the message on the showroom floor properly manage customer expectations
- The Operator and Cashiers - first impressions are irretrievable and most customer's are introduced to the dealership by an Operator or a Cashier while servicing their present vehicle
- Other Customers - reputation selling and word of mouth advertising exists before, during and after the sale and today's customers rely more on recommendations from friends anf family than from potentially self serving sales messges from the dealership.
- NOTE - sales consultants will certainly be on this list but the fact that they may not be considered in the top three most valued dealership resources by today's internet empowered and educated consumer suggests that this post may/should surface some problems as well as solutions from automotive sales professionals who are concerned about staying relevant in tomorrow's consumer centric automotive retail sector.
I probably should end this post with an assurance to sales consultants that their role is still critical to the sales process. People still prefer to do business with people that they like and there is no product or process that will ever replace your personality. Of course a pretty face or a great personality will only take you so far so you may want to arm yourself - or ask your dealer to provide you with - some of the state of the art technologies that will allow you to compete with today's educated consumers.
As always, I will disclaim that I have an equity interest in the following suggestions but that simply means that I found them before you did! I won't drill down to all of the details - just click on the link if you agree that there is merit in the informaion that they will allow you to provide to your customers.
- IntellaCar - a sales presentation/training platform that resides on an iPAD which contains all of the competitive product and price information that a sales consultant needs to provide added value to a customer in a professionally crafted consistent sales presentation.
- Driving Loyalty - a consumer focused dealer centric data base marketing platform that notifies past, present and pending customers - copied to the sales consultant - when they are in an equity position or require recommended service. Family vehicle history and vin specific OTD price and payment information is provided to the sales consultant and the customer simultaneously online, via email and direct mail to expedite the sale or pending service which accelerates the trade-in cycle and insures customer satisfaction and retention.
- SiSTeR Technologies - in addition to providing interactive videos of new and pre-owned vehicles to online shoppers using profesional human voice overs their newest platforms allow a sales consultant to shoot a video or series of pictures on their iPhone or iPad which they can send to their customers directly via email or even post the personalized message onto their website after being professionally edited by the SiSTeR production platform.
OK, now it is your turn to list people, positions, products or services that represent the most imprtant person at your dealership to your customer. Hopefully, it is you!
After all, what are friends for!