An alarming trend has arisen on the Internet side of automotive sales and it is called "Email Template Theft" (ETT for short). This may be happening to your Internet sales team right now or your team could even be the guilty party. Have you ever received an internet lead who never responded and just seemed downright suspicious? Could these leads have been submitted by your local competition?
As an Internet Director, it certainly happened to me (in both Indiana and California). This was confirmed after time had passed when I shopped my competition then noticed startling similarities between their email templates and that of my own. At first I was furious to the point that I wanted to start a blog and call them out online for all the Internet shopping world to see. Furious to the point that I wanted to purchase a ninja suit then sneak on to their lot during the middle of the night and put my dealership's license plate frames on all of their cars. Unfortunately, neither of these options would have helped the situation or my own credibility. It took a while (meaning a few days in the car business) to start asking myself the questions that would help me realize why this happened. Does "ETT" happen to everyone? Are my email templates simply that amazing or is someone out there just that lazy?
Truth be told, it was most likely the latter. As it is today, the Internet sales side of the car business is evolving at a rapid pace. My best guess was that someone having never sold cars online was put in charge of running an Internet department or BDC in my market and they did what they had to do to get started, fake it until they made it. After serving on the vendor side with a CRM provider it is sad to say the same activity is witnessed. We are routinely asked by dealership prospects to provide "best practices" from our top performing stores. "Can't you just copy the email templates and phone call scripts from [so and so] and put them into our account? We will change the name and everything…" Make no mistake that this is not good for you and it is certainly not helping your customers choose where to purchase a vehicle.
Sales 101 teaches us to set ourselves apart. When an internet shopper submits a lead and the onslaught of emails they receive back are the same or similar enough to be perceived as the same, nobody wins. In fact, more harm is done than good. In the age of price shopping and the demand for quick digital price quotes there are few options to retain anything resembling gross profit on the deal. We must build value, set ourselves apart and earn the gross we desire by allowing the customer to feel special and unique. How do we accomplish this?
So let us all put an end to ETT (Email Template Theft)! Challenge yourself to revisit our email templates. Use every ounce of creativity that you have to rebuild them and don't hesitate to ask for help. Your customers will thank you…. monetarily.