The Marchex Blog

Take the Mystery Out of Measuring Performance

The automotive industry is continuing to change at an accelerating pace. It is imperative to stay ahead of this change and use that flexibility to sustain success. There is an expression in the business that goes something like: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This will be an ongoing conversation throughout the year. This week I want to focus on some of the ways performance is measured and why.  

Focus on Behaviors that Lead to Sales 

When operating a dealership, it is smart to focus on behaviors that will lead to the outcomes you desire. A good example is the connection between a test drive and a vehicle sale. A test drive significantly increases the likelihood of closing a deal. The desirable change in behavior here is straightforward. If you consistently engage customers in test drives, you will increase your sales. There are companies that have built processes specifically to help increase test drives.    

With more opportunities flowing to dealerships in a multitude of ways, it’s important to stay connected to what is happening in your showrooms and business development center (BDC) offices to closely identify and focus on behaviors that are proven to yield results. The ways to measure this are limited due to the connection between activity and results being difficult to define or, more importantly, to prove.  

Look Beyond the “Mystery Shop” Method 

The most common way is the mystery shop–a method where a person or group of people pose as in market shoppers (phone, internet and/or walk-in). This person or group measures the salespeople against a rubric (a type of scoring guide that assesses and articulates specific components and expectations) to determine a score based upon how closely they manage the opportunity. The score is pre-defined by a process proven to gain optimal results. I think there will always be a place for this method but not in every case. Allow me to explain why: 

  • Dealerships don’t love the idea of spending a salesperson’s time toward a deal that will never close to a “fake” customer 
  • You only get to sample a small subset of the entire sales team  
  • The mood of the salesperson that participates can be influenced by unknown external circumstance (everyone can have a bad day)  
  • The mystery shop results are not necessarily aligned with sales turnover and seasonality  
  • Not everyone will agree with the rubric  
  • Dealerships know (sometimes) when you are mystery shopping them 

I present this not to denigrate the practice of mystery shopping, but to call attention to how and when there could be a more optimal measurement method. My focus is on inbound callers and the ways dealerships can successfully manage these opportunities.   

Measure Performance with Real Customers 

A phone call represents a unique opportunity with an in-market shopper. The time elapsed for a customer to decide where and when to purchase a vehicle is shorter via a phone call than nearly any other opportunity type. The sense of urgency of inbound sales calls in the automotive industry cannot be overstated. So why are we measuring performance in ways that require waiting for results before coaching to performance? Measuring performance of calls as tied to outcomes in real-time or at least with real customers will empower teams to improve quickly and clear out any of the above shortcomings of traditional mystery shops. 

The mission is to say things that lead to the caller choosing your dealership, measured by calls that are happening at your dealership with results from calls at your dealership.  

Think about it this way: we all know there is a right and wrong way to say things. Active measurement of both the intent of the customer and the outcome of the engagement is what we call gold in the sales world. The optimal combination would be to use mystery shops to collect baseline data to train against across all opportunities. Next, we want to measure both the intent and outcome of calls as close to real time as possible, to be able to impact results literally the same day. In short, choose the measurement that best aligns with the opportunity, and for calls that is whatever method offers the quickest and most actionable feedback.  

Marchex is in the lab as we speak with several models being developed with input from users in an effort to help measure and match to the proven urgency of inbound callers in the automotive industry. Watch this space as it unfolds.