One of the most powerful things you can do in your car dealership is align your sales and marketing teams. It’s easy to isolate these departments because they focus on their individual projects and goals. Sales teams often work the floor and meet with customers throughout the day while marketing departments grow increasingly digital.
However, sales and marketing go hand-in-hand. When these two departments work together, companies become 67% better at closing deals on average. Marketers nurture leads and deliver them to the sales team. Conversely, if these two teams don’t communicate clearly, marketers will send unqualified leads or sales teams won’t be able to close them effectively.
Learn more about the importance of marketing and sales alignment and how to start the new year as a unified front.
Realign Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are sample profiles of your target audiences. Persona A could be a woman in her mid-thirties looking to upgrade her current vehicle to accommodate her growing family. Persona B could be a man in his late twenties who is trading in the car he bought in high school for a more reliable, higher-quality model. These personas alert you to your typical customers’ lifestyles, purchase goals, and concerns. Marketers build their campaigns around these buyers, while sales teams form personal connections based on this information.
Buyer personas can be incredibly in-depth for car dealerships. They often list the financial information of target buyers, like average annual income levels, median credit scores, and even whether the buyer is more likely to rent or own their homes.
These personas are also changing, which is why they are a key part of business alignment. For example, mortgage rates have hovered above 7% through 2023, while they were closer to 3% just a few years ago. This is causing some homebuyers stress about their high monthly payments. These rates will affect your dealership’s buyer personas. You might notice that customers are delaying buying a car or looking for more affordable models because of mortgage stress in 2024.
Inflation is another example of this. Both car dealers and car buyers say inflation is a significant concern right now. Acknowledging this sensitivity in your personas can help you draft better messaging and close more deals.
Work with your market research team to develop your personas for 2024 – or even just for Q1. You can look into macroeconomic trends as well as car-buying preferences related to EVs, new vs. used models, and awareness of safety technology features.
Create Listening Channels
As you evaluate your buyer personas, ensure all parties align in listening to customers and gaining insight into their concerns and goals. One of the best things you can do is listen to their pain points first and then take steps to address them.
According to research by PwC, 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand after one bad experience. For retail, in particular, experience is everything. Customers gave experience an importance rating of 76% when asked how valuable it is to the purchase process. However, customer satisfaction rates hover slightly above 55%.
When it comes to sales and marketing alignment, listening can improve the experience. Marketers can create better campaigns with what they learn, and sales teams can craft messages based on customers’ needs.
Make sure both departments are getting the same information from reliable sources. This way, the marketing team doesn’t utilize insights that the sales team never sees — and vice versa. Within your organization, you might designate one employee as a market researcher who shares information across the company. Their job could be to follow buyer trends, pull customer sentiments from online reviews, and report on what people are saying across the web.
After listening to the same information, your teams can create unified plans to react based on customer insights to provide better experiences that win people over and keep them coming back.
Define Success Through Key Metrics
Digital marketers live in a world with endless key performance indicators (KPIs). They obsess over site traffic levels, rankings, social media engagement, quality scores, and dozens of other trackable insights and analytics. It’s unrealistic to expect your sales team to have the same fervor for marketing data. Instead, these teams have their own metrics and insights to define success. Your goal for the new year is to identify where these metrics align.
For example, if one of the KPIs that your marketing team uses to define customer conversions is the number of showroom visits, you can use that metric with your sales team. Both parties can set goals for the number of customers they want to bring into the showroom each month. Your sales and marketing team can also work to track on-site conversion rates better to see which percentage of customers buy a car once they make it to your location.
Other relevant KPIs for both teams could include the number of calls directed to the sales team, the number of online engagements through the website with interested buyers, and the rate of returning customers.
Each team will use these metrics in their own unique ways. Your sales team will know that the marketing team is bringing in qualified leads, while your marketing team will learn whether or not the sales department is closing the potential buyers they nurture.
Evaluate Your Communication Best Practices
As you prepare to kick off the new year, evaluate how your marketing and sales team works together and communicates back and forth. Too often, there are miscommunications between teams or missed information that doesn’t reach one department but is common knowledge in the other.
To be clear, improving communication does not mean more meetings. In fact, now might be a great time to learn how to improve your inter-department collaboration while reducing your total number of calls and meetings.
The average employee spends 33% of their week in meetings. This is time that your marketers could spend developing campaigns while your sales teams nurture leads and close deals. Conduct a meeting audit to make sure each person invited to your weekly or monthly meetings is essential.
Also, make sure each meeting has a dedicated agenda and set timeframe. You might decide that it’s more effective to have several shorter meetings with a few people each instead of large team meetings that last more than an hour. With this method, most employees will only spend 10 to 20 minutes in a meeting that is directly related to their needs.
Alignment doesn’t mean that your marketing and sales team constantly meet throughout the week. It also doesn’t mean that your sales team sits in on vendor calls for your digital marketing programs. Good alignment respects the time of everyone involved while ensuring relevant information is shared across departments.
Consider Cross-Training Employees
One option if you want your sales and marketing efforts to be better aligned is to set up “lunch and learn” get-togethers with both departments. You can alternate which department presents their insights or information at each of these meetings so both teams benefit.
Sales teams can significantly benefit from learning about your marketing efforts. They can better understand the marketing funnel and how it affects sales. This way, they appreciate how much work goes into bringing a qualified lead from their initial point of contact to actually meeting with a sales representative. Even giving your sales staff an overview of different channels, from social media to SEO, can help them better align their efforts with your marketing opportunities.
At the end of each “lunch and learn,” create space for open discussions and brainstorming on how this information can benefit both parties. For example, after a review of video marketing, your sales team might create a process for submitting content ideas based on the questions and concerns of customers. The marketing team can then create the video and share it across the web to make buyers more informed.
During high-stress parts of the year, it’s easy to take an us-against-them approach with other departments. However, everyone is doing their best. These meetings can allow people to collaborate as a team to move forward as a unified front.
Involve Your Sales Team in the Marketing Process
One of the best ways to align your sales and marketing departments is to get your sales team involved in the process. Invite your sales representatives to attend blog pitch meetings as you plan your content for the year. Some of your sales staff might want to write (or ghostwrite) blog posts for your website. You can also invite your sales staff to step in front of the camera and help you create video content to engage customers. With this option, the staff member a person sees online is the same person they meet with when they visit your physical location.
This allows your sales team to communicate what they believe is the most important information to customers. Inviting your sales representatives to the table also takes the burden of idea generation away from your marketing staff. This process might also give both parties more insights into the work of the other. Your sales team can see how hard it is to develop effective messages that are optimized for SEO and easily shared on social media.
Most importantly, bringing your sales team into the content process turns two departments into one. Everyone works together to reach their goals.
Streamline Your Operations for Better Results
Each of the steps within this guide focuses on improving communication without overwhelming your teams with information and meetings. Your goal with business alignment is to work smarter, not harder. This is the mantra that our team at J&L Marketing applies to each workday. We want our clients to outsmart, not out-spend the competition.
If you feel like you need to improve the operations of your car dealership in the coming year, reach out to our team. We are happy to hear your pain points and discuss solutions based on what our other clients have done in the past.
With the right marketing strategy and a strong sales team by your side, you can thrive in the new year. Contact us today.