The Six Gears That’ll Shift Your Business into Overdrive

Automatic transmissions aren’t sexy. You will never see James Bond confidently throwing the shifter of his Aston Martin into Drive on the big screen. But then again, Double-O-Seven isn’t real, and he definitely isn’t buying cars. Despite their lack of coolness, it’s obvious why automatic transmissions have come to dominate the automotive playing field: they’re simple, accessible, and functional.

You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with improving my sales?” In a word—everything. The automatic transmission is a great lesson in marketing. If you solve a problem for people and don’t focus on trying to hypnotize them with a cool message, they’ll come to you, in droves, with cash in hand. If you want to sell more, all you have to do is shift gears:

1. [Park] Your Ego

The hard truth is that your buyers only care about you as long as it serves their interests. They will evaluate your reputation to gauge if you are trustworthy and to see what kind of deal you can give them. This does not mean they need, or want, to know about the history of your dealership, how many kids you have, or what an upstanding citizen you are. What they really want to know is what you can do for them.

In the brief window when a customer is invested in doing research, the best thing any dealer can do is present a welcoming and uncomplicated front. You have to be willing to silence the part of you that wants to be liked for who you are. Show prospects why they should choose you by giving them the opportunity to believe in your product, and by explaining how you can solve their problem. Do this consistently, and you’ll find that your customers will come to love you, not because of image, but because of substance.

2. [Reverse] Your Course

Don’t let blind faith in the newest marketing techniques lead you down a dark alley of frustration and underwhelming profit margins. If you think that the keystones of getting people through your doors are advertising price, listing your inventory on your website, and “getting your name out there,” you’re wasting time and money.

Don’t get caught up in the conventional dealer dynamic that says you have to chase down your customer with a cheesy, predictable message about low prices and great service. Flip the script, and make sure you answer one very simple question for your customer: “Why should I get up off the couch and go to your dealership, now, today?”

3. [Neutral]ize Buyer Indecision

This will seem counterintuitive, but most people like it when their choices are limited for them. An overabundance of information can be very intimidating; especially when buying a car. The best way for a dealer to simultaneously demonstrate value, establish trust, and create a buying preference is to serve as a resource that is willing to answer questions, hold hands, and make hard decisions much simpler and easier.

Every time a person steps onto your lot, because of your advertising, they’re asking for help; take this for the opportunity that it is. If you can successfully steer the prospect into a decision without making them feel stupid or like they’re being “sold to,” you will win their loyalty, their respect, and their cash.

4. [Drive] Your Message

Every dealer, manager and salesperson has a marketing guru trapped inside them. That’s not an exaggeration, or motivational hype. you and only you have the power to show your customers why they must buy from you and from no one else. Even if you hire as many experts and consultants as you can afford, no one will harness your potential energy for you. Take the time to get hands on, get out there, listen to your customers and their needs, and you will become the center of their solar system. Your open and helpful approach will be an unseen, ever-present gravitational pull, making you and your dealership an inevitable, inescapable Jupiter in answer to your competitors’ negligible moons.

5. [Second] Guess Your Pricing

This one’s real simple—lower prices don’t mean more sales. Resist the urge to constantly undercut your competition. Focus on delivering functional, easy sales solutions that aren’t polluted with unnecessary information. Price won’t always win out; most people will pay a premium for a little bit of guidance and convenience.

6. [Low]er Your Digital Dependency

These days, everyone has a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. There’s an ever-growing sense that the best, most engaging, and most cost-effective way to market is through the web and social media. But just because everyone says it, doesn’t make it so. Remember how people used to sell goods and services ten years ago? Somehow, the global economy managed to keep itself upright before the advent of tweets and likes.

Before you hire a digital marketing specialist, sit down and ask yourself why you’re plunking down the money. Do you really have that many leads that make most of their decisions based on the web? Do you have another way of delivering important, targeted information directly to your customers? Is setting up a Facebook page really going to increase people’s awareness, or just net you some comments on your wall?

Web presence and social media are tools, like any other. They have their uses, and they can be leveraged for cold, hard results, but they do not have to be your go-to marketing solutions, and they aren’t always the most effective way for you to communicate with your audience. Reality and simplicity will always win out over trends and gimmicks, even in the era of Facebook.

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are the founders of Rich Dealers®, the nation’s leading experts on attracting customers and the authors of Gravitational Marketing. Visit to request a complimentary Traffic Scale ReportSM, which compares the quality of your traffic to other dealerships in your area and helps determine whether or not there’s potential business you’re missing out on. Use coupon code DMM1403.

Michael Bowen

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