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Salesfolk: Mention This Whenever You Walk Into a Car Dealer

A conversation with automotive sales expert John Tkac

John Tkac is automotive sales expert for Local Broadcast Sales, which offers broadcast sales training and revenue development. He’ll speak at the Nebraska Broadcasters Association annual convention in August about “Broadcast Selling Secrets for the Auto Industry.” He discussed the one thing radio salespeople should mention when they walk into a dealership, and other tips.

RW: John, radio has a longtime strong relationship with auto, but now finds this being challenged in part by the explosion in sophisticated car infotainment systems, smartphone streaming and all the other changes in the car industry. What should radio managers who want to sell to car dealers and carmakers do to thrive in this environment?
Tkac: Keep focused on your key asset. Broadcast radio is still the cost-per-1,000 champ. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average amount spent on advertising to sell a vehicle has changed very little in the last 10 years. If all these new systems and ideas were so much more effective you would think that the national average cost per vehicle retail for advertising and marketing would go down. IT HAS NOT! Dealers are constantly looking for some new gimmick that will give them an edge. As they do this they end up wasting lots of money. What they should be doing is focusing on a long-term plan that includes radio and sticking with it. Some of the big publicly held auto groups (like Autonation) use radio. They are not stupid people.

RW: What is the single most common objection that radio hears from the auto industry, and how can radio salesfolk overcome it?
Tkac: “I tried radio and it didn’t work.” Well, we know it does work. There are two reasons it didn’t work for that dealer: 1. The dealer didn’t buy enough spots. We all know, with radio, there is a critical mass that must be achieved. 2. The dealers creative was not compelling — 95% of the time this is the reason! Account executives must understand this and be able to talk to dealers about what it takes to drive people into the dealership.

RW: What other perceptions do you think the auto industry has about radio right now?
Tkac: Many dealers love advertising on radio. In large markets, some dealers find it difficult to select stations when there might be 20 or 30 to choose from. In rural America there are plenty of dealers who absolutely know that radio can be powerful when there are only a few stations in the area.

RW: Are technologies like HD Radio, NextRadio or other tools on your radar; what role do they play in how stations should approach car companies?
Tkac: I don’t think too many dealers care about these technologies. This may be an opportunity to educate them.

RW: Encapsulate the theme of your remarks. What one thing do you want people to walk away with?
Tkac: Every time you walk into a dealership, talk about CPVR — cost per vehicle retail — and how you and your station can help drive down his advertising costs on a per-vehicle basis. If a dealer spends $50,000 in a month and sells 100 vehicles, that dealer has spent $500 per vehicle. If the next month he spends $50,000, and invests a bunch of that money on your station, and sells 125 vehicles, THAT IS $400 PER VEHICLE. You should now have a customer for a long time.

RW: Anything else should we know?
Tkac: Creative is important. Make sure that whatever the dealer says it includes a compelling Price/Selection element.

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