Nov. 30, 2009 – Improving online profitability, STEP by STEP

Editor’s note: This fall Powersports Business held a two-day dealer educational conference. As part of that event, we moderated several panels, including one on e-commerce. In wake of that panel, dealers approached us and asked for more “how-to” articles regarding online sales. To satisfy those requests, we worked with three industry officials familiar with the online world to provide tips on improving Web sites, online lead management and how to make better use of a dealer management system to drive online profitability. We believe the following three lists should help answer some of those “how-to” questions.

Five elements of a great Web site

1. Branding
What it is: A consumer is going to make a rapid branding decision when they visit a dealership’s Web site. If that branding experience was a positive one, they’ll hang around your site longer.
What to do:A dealer’s Web site should include a logo and color scheme consistent with all other forms of advertising and marketing mediums.
2. Professionalism
What it is: If your Web site looks like it was built 15 years ago, no one is going to buy from it. Be sure the Web site structure follows today’s Web standards and looks compelling.
What to do: Display security features, such as GeoTrust, privacy policies and certifications. Other trustworthy elements, such as testimonials, back links and referring Web sites, also help to give your site credibility.
3. Communication
What it is: When someone finds something they’re interested in, they have to be able to order it right then and there, or be able to find your phone number and location easily.
What to do: Make sure the search function is obvious. People will not hunt around a Web site; they’ll just go somewhere else. The store’s address, phone numbers, e-mail address or checkouts need to be apparent and easy to find.
4. Content
What it is: People must find your information helpful, but at the same time, don’t overwhelm them. People scan vs. read Web sites so use sub-headings, short paragraphs and white space.
What to do: Content is what search engines “read,” so choose your content based on what searchers are looking for. Don’t be obscure or use slang. Name pages, products and services what people commonly know them to be.
5. Transactions
What it is: The reality is dealers are retailers, so your Web site should be selling for you.
What to do: Dealers say somewhere between 80-90 percent of their business is from repeat customers. If that’s true, online consumers don’t need to see a picture of your store or a map on your Web site. They need to find the parts and accessories or vehicles they’re looking for and be able to take action very easily.
— Dave Hogge, executive vice president, 50 Below

Five steps to successfully manage online leads

1. Set up the sales process
Within any online lead management program, dealers first need to identify and input the steps involved in the various sales processes. Each lead source, whether the lead came in online, via phone or as a walk-in, may have a slightly different sales process. A simple example of a step process would be: Introduction, probe, presentation, sit down, write up, close and delivery.
2. Enter any and all leads
In order for any lead management/tracking process to be successful, all leads must be logged.
This can sometimes be a big hurdle with sales staffs. By making lead entry a requirement rather than an option, a dealer can ensure they have all the information needed to measure the effectiveness of their sales process. The Oct. 5th issue of Powersports Business cited a study stating that 34 percent of leads receive no response whatsoever. Be sure to respond to all leads that come in and in a timely manner.
3. Record and track progress
The sales staff needs to commit to updating their leads in the system with detailed information throughout the sales process. By doing so, it ensures the sales manager can easily retrieve, transfer and use the lead information. The manager can then monitor a salesperson’s progress throughout the steps and look for any “soft spots” where coaching or procedural changes may be needed.
4. Review and analyze reports
Within the lead manager tool, dealers should utilize available reports on lead activity, salesperson efficiency, closing ratios and more to analyze their overall sales process. The information can then be leveraged in sales meetings to help keep salespeople accountable.
5. Keep evolving
In addition to helping refine a salesperson’s methods, reporting tools also can illustrate any changes that may be needed in the sales step process. Perhaps new steps need to be added or the order of the steps needs to be changed. What’s more, conclusions gleaned from reports also can be used to enhance the planning and execution of future marketing strategies to effectively capture and convert more leads.
— Dave Valentine, national sales manager, Power Sports Network

Six steps to generate more online sales via your Dealer management system

1. Categorize, categorize, categorize
Some dealers will just lump everything into a single “Parts” category. While this works, it makes it difficult to separate out in reports. By making new categories, like “accessories” or “clothing,” reports can better reveal trends. Dealers could take this further and categorize items into categories of “shirts” or “helmets.” Remember, reports can only be as specific as the categories that are set up.
2. By customer
Similarly, categorizing customers can have the same effect. Rather than having all your customers lumped into two categories of “cash” and “credit,” more specific categories should be used. For example, breaking out all your customers into their respective business types — like “homeowner,” “government” or “landscapers” — will allow you to better see what types of customers are buying which type of parts or other items.
3. Sales reports
Once categories are set, several reports can help dealers find which categories of products are strong sellers and which are not. The “Sales Summary by Volume” report can be run for any given amount of time. It shows which categories or manufacturers are the store’s top-selling items among online sales or any sales in general. It can also point out which categories or manufacturers are the slowest-selling items as well.
4. Top buyers
The Sales Summary reports also can show which customers are your top buyers. This could be top buyers of a certain type of part or certain manufacturer. This can be used for promotions.
5. Compare and contrast
A feature with the sales summary report is a five-year comparison report. This also can be broken down by category or by manufacturer to show dealers over the course of five years which items have improved sales and which have not.
6. Capturing lost sales
A “lost sales” tracking feature can help identify products or manufacturers that should be a stocked item. Anytime someone calls or comes in and asks for a part that isn’t in stock, PG&A staff can mark that as a lost sale if that customer decides to go look somewhere else. Reports can then be run over a course of time to show all lost sales.
— Kyle Happ, advanced technical support specialist, Ideal Computer Systems

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