Why I Still Write About Process (and Why You Should Care)

Yesterday, I posted a short article about perfecting the automotive internet sales process and a LinkedIn connection asked, “Why do you still write so much about process?”

Why I Still Write About Process (and Why You Should Care)

With all the cool, shiny new stuff that gets thrown at dealers on an almost daily basis, I’m often asked why I still focus so heavily on sales processes? Why don’t I spend more time helping dealers evaluate and incorporate the latest and greatest, and less time harping on the basics?

It’s simple. Those dealers that grow share regardless of market condition have superior processes to those that merely tread water (or worse). Moreover, the dealers with the strictest process adherence are better at evaluating and incorporating the shiny new stuff than those flying by the seat of their pants.

Oh, and the dealers that execute best (with respect to sales, grosses and CSI) also spend the most time coaching, enforcing and improving their processes.

Finally, my experience has always been that those stores with the best processes also (not coincidentally) have the best cultures and enjoy the lowest turnover.

Pros Master the Basics

If you’ve ever watched an NFL practice, you know that quarterbacks spend infinitely more time practicing snaps with the center than they do learning cool, new trick plays. They do this, because they know that without mastering the basics (through repetition) they have no chance of winning.

I focus so heavily on processes, because even with all the new, shiny stuff dealers can buy, they will simply fail to grow market share, maintain gross, manage turnover or create a great company culture without strict adherence to process.

But, Have You Seen This Cool Thing?

For most of you, your digital guy/gal or GM or OEM has got you so spun up about which website your competitor uses or what cool, new thing they’ve just discovered, that you’re convinced there must be some “secret” to profitably growing market share that you’ve yet to discover.

Hint: There is no secret. Profitable growth in automotive retail is driven by processes.

I’ve always found a direct correlation between process adherence and sustained profitability. Interestingly, I’ve never found any such correlation between, say, website provider and profitability; or digital marketing agency and profitability.

Lead Source; Schmead Source

I write about processes, because with great processes in place, virtually any lead source will provide a suitable Return on Investment. Exhibit A: Third-party leads.

Some of you know I’m a fan of casting a wide net with your marketing – and this includes putting a decent budget toward buying third-party leads from a reputable provider like AutoWeb. Why? Because in stores with good (not even great, just good) internet sales processes, I’ve personally seen these leads close in the 8-10% range. At $25 per lead, that’s an acceptable $250-$313 cost-per-sale.

That’s not bad for a customer that was probably not considering your store when they began their search. Compare this cost-per-sale to your other providers – especially your PPC vendor, though be sure not to count the leads generated by paid clicks on your own name. (You would’ve received those leads with or without expensive pay-per-click.)

Wait, your team isn’t closing your AutoWeb leads at 8-10%? Congratulations, you have a process problem. (That’s why I still write about process.)

Rules & Processes Go Hand-in-Hand

Not only do top dealers employ strict processes, they also enforce good business rules to back them up. Sensible rules, by the way, are welcomed by great salespeople. It’s only cheaters and slackers who will resist good business rules; as good employees want structure and they want to know what’s expected of them.

This means rules.

Yep, boring old processes and uninteresting rules matter. Moreover, they matter way more than the next shiny object someone tries to pitch. The best automotive sales teams I know execute a strategy that consists of tactics that employ rules that are enforced. It’s truly not anything special, except that it is special. It’s special, because they actually enforce their rules and they actually hold people accountable to those rules.

Finally, with processes and rules in place – and a couple of measurements here and there – you can once and for all determine if your pay-per-click vendor is driving incremental business or just making you pay for the websites visits you would’ve received without them. (In other words: Are the pay-per-click vendors just selling you your own customers?)

By the way, I’m not anti-PPC or anti-Facebook ads or anti-anything… so long as you’re tracking and measuring and, more importantly, enforcing a strict, yet simple and repeatable internet sales process.

You see process, above all else, is what will drive your growth, profit and CSI. That’s why I still write about process (and why you should care).

Good selling!

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