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boost blog #1 - Why sales should not be your marketing objective.

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Over the years I have worked for organisations that blame their marketing department when their sales performance is poor, and celebrate their sales teams, when sales are strong.

We know that sales success and marketing effectiveness ought to be linked. But, they should only be linked if both departments are able to demonstrate their relative effectiveness. In other words, if you can’t see who and what is creating improved performance, then you need to refine your management KPIs for your sales team and your marketing department.

Increased awareness, consideration and preference of your brands is largely the role of the distributor. However, within your PMA you should be able to cost effectively augment what the distributor is doing on a national basis.

I would argue that a marketing team creates opportunities for the sales team. The former should be measured on the sales opportunities they create, and the latter should manage their conversions of these opportunities. Not all opportunities are equal, and not all opportunities are sales opportunities.

Consider a customer 18 months into a new vehicle ownership. At this stage it is inappropriate to try and sell a customer something. However, it’s perfectly appropriate to reach out to that customer to remind them how valued they are. Some would say it is vital to have a plan to reach out to every customer (current or lapsed) on a regular basis without seeing every communication as a selling opportunity. Simply put, customers should feel valued.

A well-timed call, email or invitation to an event can help that customer feel valued. Unsurprisingly many DPs want to include an offer at this juncture. Its just not necessary, unless that offer is a 'free something', that isn't available to anyone else. Customers want to feel valued; selling to them (or trying to sell to them) is not a way to create that feeling customer.

Outside of managing current customers (and lost or lapsed customers), why shouldn't sales be your marketing objective? The answer is about accountability. The marketing departments need to focus on web traffic, (volume, time on site, bounce rate) social engagement, brochure downloads if applicable and enquiry generated (note the word enquiry, not leads).

The sales team should also measure enquiry, appointments, test drives and sales, and the conversion rates through these steps (ideally by model). It is no mistake that I list recording sales enquiry twice. Too often the marketing department's data doesn't match the sales department's data. This is because from a marketing effectiveness measurement, enquiry might be counted from a web report (system reporting), whereas in some dealerships enquiry is recorded by sales staff (self-reporting).

This self-reported sales data is open to interpretation. Surprisingly some dealers don't record all enquiries. 'He was just passing' or, 'it was just an initial enquiry, so I didn’t record it' are the types of reasons given for not self-recording data, as well of course of the fear of a salesman looking bad because of a poor conversion rate. Tools like AutoPlay, especially when used properly and when integrated into social and web forms, provide more robust reporting.

Cost per sale and cost per test drive and as mentioned, conversion rates should be the Sales Manager's KPI. But the marketing department should manage their marketing effectiveness and the sales department should manage their sales effectiveness.

If you aren’t sure what marketing KPIs to set, then get help; ask your agency and ask your sales team what they would consider a key marketing function is. I say ask sales, because they will probably say they want more leads. Dig deeper and you will find the meeting point between the sales and marketing functions. Everyone wants leads; which ones are your sales team unearthing and what ones are your marketing team creating?

Dealer Principals should look at the effectiveness of their sales and marketing functions combined, while making sure that the two departments work hard to clearly reports on KPIS, and collectively improve efficiencies. But should not muddy the waters by confusing KPIs. The sales result is a team effort; when the result is lacking or off target, more useful analysis can be undertaken. When the sales result is ahead of budget, then diagnostics can show what has contributed most to that success.

If you need further support, reach out to Boost Auto. We will be glad to help you develop measurable KPIs for both functions, and a plan to improve performance against these KPIs. When sales meet marketing, that’s where the magic really happens.

Boost Auto is a specialist sales and marketing consultancy supporting the automotive sectors (cars, motorcycles, motorhomes). The principal, Anthony MacLean has nearly 30 years automotive experience.

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