Management and marketing seminars, panel discussions are standing-room only

Publish Date: 
Apr 2, 2012

We feel like a broken record at Dealernews, always preaching the importance of maintaining strong Web and social media presences. Experts echo our sentiments. Many Dealership University seminars and show floor panel discussions conducted in Indy evangelized these subjects, along with merchandising tips, sales techniques and more.

At the “30 Minutes with Buyers Under 30” panel discussion hosted by Dealernews, former MIC spokesperson Jessica Prokup moderated a panel of millennials to understand their buying patterns. If you want to get the attention of both new and experienced riders, there’s only one answer: Offer them something that they can’t get anywhere else, at least readily, through web or social media sites.

“To get the customer talking, it’s the entertainment side that brings them in,” said Derek Jones, 22, a parts counter man at Pony Motorsports in Westerville, Ohio. “Posting a funny motorcycling quip or a photo of someone wearing a half-helmet backward — it really gets people going and coming back to our page. The entertainment part is more important than the information.”

Millennials will judge your store based on your web presence. Mark Buche, 25, of Discover Today’s Motorcycling, says that this age group collects a huge amount of information about products and a store before actually making a purchase. “If we see [a social media page] that has a lot of interaction, a lot of activity, we are going to see that as a step above in terms of engaging. We are going to go that dealer first.”

Using the Internet isn’t limited to younger buying groups. According to DU’s Rod Stuckey, 86 percent of adults use search engines to look up information on local businesses. Stuckey’s seminar, “Online Reputation Management,” explored how to recover from negative reviews on Yelp, Google Pages and other sites. Negative online reviews can hurt your business, and dealers who ignore them will do so at their peril.

“The best way to handle negative reviews and respond to them is to bury them with positive reviews,” Stuckey said. “The most important thing to do is respond to the negative review. This is about showing other searchers that you care about your business and your response.”

Stuckey advised dealers to keep an online perspective — you actually want to have a few negative reviews here and there. “If all you have are stellar five-star reviews, at some point a customer is going to go, ‘are these real?’” Stuckey said.

Keys to sales success?
Here are a few from Dealership University’s Tory Hornsby:
Make them sit down. Salespeople who sit down with their customers before they make a decision will increase their sales closing ratio from the industry-average 10 to 15 percent to a whopping 50 percent. “Negotiating while standing on the showroom floor devalues the product and puts your customer in control,” Hornsby said. “People sit down to make important decisions.”

Adhere to the 30-second rule. About 50 percent of all sales are prompted by feelings of friendship. So it’s important to develop trust within the first 30 seconds of meeting a potential customer. “The definition of ‘selling’ is transferring enthusiasm,” Hornsby said. “If I can transfer my passion and enthusiasm for the product, then I’ve increased my chances for you taking that product home.”

Increase ‘activities’ to spur spending. Sales is a numbers game. The more activities you execute, the more sales dollars you will generate. Activities can be as simple as sending out thank-you cards, birthday cards, follow-up calls, follow-up literature, customer referrals, and even handing out business cards when you’re at events and interacting with the community.