Lessons Learned Leading The Digital Retail Revolution with Erin Fallon & Jeremy Nowling

June 11, 2024
Michael Cirillo hosts Erin Fallon, Manager of Enterprise Dealer Success at Upstart, and Jeremy Nowling, Sales and Digital Retailing Director at Rohrman Automotive Group.
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In this engaging ASOTU CON session, Michael Cirillo hosts Erin Fallon, Manager of Enterprise Dealer Success at Upstart, and Jeremy Nowling, Sales and Digital Retailing Director at Rohrman Automotive Group. The discussion centers around improving the car buying experience by bridging the gap between online browsing and in-showroom interactions. They delve into the challenges of transitioning customers from their digital journey to physical dealerships, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and building upon the work customers do online. Erin and Jeremy highlight the role of Upstart's tools in streamlining this process, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting sales effectiveness.

Key insights include the impact of effective CRM usage, tailored follow-up strategies, and continuous training to maximize the benefits of digital retailing tools. Jeremy shares impressive data on lead conversion rates, underscoring the importance of a well-implemented process. The session concludes with a discussion on AI's role in improving credit assessments and facilitating quicker approvals, thereby increasing efficiency and opening up new opportunities for both dealers and buyers.

0:00 Intro

0:37 Discussion on improving the online-to-showroom customer experience

1:25 Erin Fallon identifies disconnects in the customer journey

3:00 Jeremy Nowling emphasizes tailored follow-up and digital retailing training

4:16 Importance of recognizing customer research and journey

5:18 Jeremy shares data on lead conversion and success rates

7:48 Training and integrating tools into dealership processes

10:14 Exploring AI's role in enhancing credit assessments and approvals

Thanks to Effectv for making this episode of ASOTU CON Sessions possible! Learn more about Effect here: https://www.effectv.com/

Watch Upstart's Fireside Chat with Erin and Jeremy here: https://youtu.be/BLxhOGXwuyc

Paul J Daly: 0:00

So you're listening to the ASOTU CON sessions by Effectv live from ASOTU CON 2024.

Michael Cirillo: 0:09

All right, gang. I'm Michael Cirillo, and I'm here at the ASOTU CON podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. I'm now sitting across from my pals, Erin Fallon and Jeremy Nowling. Thanks so much for joining me here on the podcast.

Erin Fallon: 0:23

Yeah, thank you for having us.

Michael Cirillo: 0:25

Okay, so first, we have to talk you are the manager of enterprise dealer success at upstart? I'm I have to know how often do you say have to say that full title?

Erin Fallon: 0:36

It's a mouthful. I know,

Michael Cirillo: 0:37

I know, long as your business card. I'm a goof I know. And Jeremy, you're the sales sales and digital retailing director at Rohrman Automotive Group, of course from upstart using the upstart tool, we're talking about enhancing that customer experience and how to take the customer from their online journey into the showroom. And I think that's a question that we wonder a lot like, how do we attribute the buying journey and all of the different touch points that they have to actually showing up in that showroom and inking and penciling a deal? So I'll start with you, from upstarts perspective, what are what are you guys noticing, as far as maybe hang ups that would prohibit an online car buyer to actually make those final steps into the showroom? Yeah,

Erin Fallon: 1:26

that's a great question. I frequently find that, you know, there's a little bit of a disconnect between when that guest starts online, they, they're spending quite a bit of time on the dealer's website. And you know, they're looking at payments, they're, you know, figuring things out, the information goes straight into the CRM, and then the pickup line is, Hey, I see your interest in an XYZ, right. And they're not acknowledging the work that that guests did while they were shopping online. You know, so I think that there's a little bit of work that we can do. And we try to help with our dealer partners to help them s elevate those conversations that they're having to use that, that knowledge to their power, so that when they're following up with a guest, it's just a pick up where you left off kind of a situation.

Michael Cirillo: 2:15

Yeah, I love how you bring up I mean, because there, there is so much research happening, even to the point of leading them to the dealer's website, like you're saying, and then they're spending a bunch of time they're searching through inventory and filtering through everything, seeing if the colors available, seeing if the price is right, paying with the payment calculator, flipping through photos, that by the time they submit the lead, it's sometimes easy to forget, but they've already come from a certain place. And they're not just starting that experience here. So the tie in from using a tool like upstart, how have you found that changes the narrative internally, from a dealership perspective to know Oh, I kind of have a better understanding of how they got here.

Jeremy Nowling: 3:01

Yeah, so we look at it a couple of different ways. One of them would be a forced lead assignment to get to specific people that we've trained to handle digital retailing customers, because it's not necessarily just our website that handles a Dr. Opportunity. Dr. is everywhere. Obviously, it evolved during COVID. And then just carried on to all of your third party. So now the consumer can go to any third party site, build out their payment, their deal, submit their credit, application, trade evaluation, and fall into the CRM, the way that we use upstarts. The disconnect comes from lack of training to your individuals to identify that true source. And then even more as, as Aaron put it, how do we acknowledge that first follow up that first follow up shouldn't always be I see your interest in this vehicle, it's available, when can you get here, right? And they didn't identify? Well, this customer went ahead and submitted their credit application gateways that gave their trade in. So those actions should be followed up with instead. Hey, I just wanted to follow up, it looks like you built your deal submitted your credit app, you did X, Y, and Z online. How can we take you down the funnel a little bit further. And we go a little bit further, we placed the digital retailing tool inside of AIPAC it to make sure that every consumer receives that opportunity to build their deal so that we're more educated when the customer does show up at the store.

Michael Cirillo: 4:16

I love it. And I was going to ask along those lines, how have we noticed the shift? And it sounds like what you're really observing is the customer does want to take the time to dare I say fantasize about the car and the options available and they're imagining what it's going to be like, is that along the lines of what you've noticed? I

Erin Fallon: 4:40

would say so yeah. Yeah. So when we look

Jeremy Nowling: 4:43

at it, we look at it as more of a KPI right. What does it do on those specific lead sources as Ford appointment set shown, or did that vehicle sell when the customer came in? And I'll share it with Aaron this morning. I wanted to have true data so month to day it actually shows that those customers across the country Only three stores have closed at 67% when they show up at the dealership, and just for those lead sources, specifically, we're closing well above 30%. While and in an industry where the average close rate is somewhere around seven or eight. It's helped us to come to an average of 18% 20% at some stores.

Michael Cirillo: 5:18

I just got, I got a pause here, because you're just saying yes, like this is commonplace. You haven't just landed on a goal, but she's like, Yeah, uh huh. Uh huh. Tell me about Tell me a little bit about the process. Because I imagine you don't just wake up one day and come up with the solution. You guys have been observing customer behavior, and online shopping activity. I'm guessing for quite some time. And now you've really solidified this process into your into your into your ecosystem.

Erin Fallon: 5:48

All right. Yeah. I mean, absolutely. There's, I mean, you guys invest a ton into training and making sure that the that the process is there. And I think that is the most important part of all of the success when it comes to comes to this this type of opportunity is that making sure we're just sticking to the process, we're, you know, answering the questions correctly, we're addressing, you know, what the customer is caring about. And then from, when you can put the numbers, like Jeremy was talking about in front of a sales associate or BDC. Agent, it's, it's important to them because that is showing them that if I call this customer, the odds of them or show of them showing up are X percent higher, the odds of them selling are that much higher. So if it's an if it's an upstart opportunity, it's an opportunity I want if I want to sell cars and make money, so yeah,

Jeremy Nowling: 6:39

it comes down to just being a more educated customer, a more qualified lead and a greater opportunity. If that customer has already taken the time to take all of those actions. You just can't mess it up. Or you hope not. And you

Michael Cirillo: 6:51

both have touched on something here, I think is worth highlighting, because I think, and this is not unique to the auto industry. So this is not me throwing a spear right now. But it's it's that a tool? If you rely 100% on a tool, you're a tool? Yes. Do you know what I mean? Because we struggle with that sometimes don't we were like, hey, just bring in the tool. And, and it's like this, I use this real cockamamie example, forgive me, this is probably a bad one. But I'm like, you know, I went to Home Depot, and I purchased the most expensive hammer I could find, and that darn thing still won't hang pictures on the wall for me, I still have to know how to hold the thing and do the process. And both of you have touched on training. So talk to me about in the spirit of a tool, how you are training around it to make sure that your process is integrated and tight. Sure.

Jeremy Nowling: 7:48

So I would say that we don't we're not a group that over trains, where we have a regular training every day, what we do have is sessions of accountability, and those that are not meeting those standards, those standards that we set up, those are the ones that will focus off when it comes to the overall training. As for the DR side of it, will hold group sessions. And those quarterly sessions we bring in. So most recently, what three weeks ago, we just had our last recharge session. And during that recharge session, we actually invite our dealer partners of ups are AIPAC, it, some of the other vendors that were tied up with to come in and make sure that the entire staff goes to a speed dating session almost that they have full understanding by the time they leave that session of what that product does. And then it aligns with our processes and tasks that we build out in the CRM, right. But the training is ongoing, and then even deeper as we tie it all into an LMS. So that learning module system is then given to every employee on on processes and products that we believe in, to go back and watch it on a regular basis.

Michael Cirillo: 8:55

Yeah, what I love about this, it goes back to that dose of reality for me, which is assessing from an organizational perspective, and being honest with ourselves, because that's lacking in the world today, being honest and saying organizationally, do we have the capacity. And I'm not saying capability, I'm saying capacity to truly install the product, and learn about it. And make sure to your point that the team all understands it, and is bought in and is comfortable with it? Because Don't you feel like oftentimes we do rely on just bringing in a tool to solve for operational inefficiency. And it sounds like you're you're saying no, we're really focused, we

Jeremy Nowling: 9:37

believe in training on the tool before rolling out. It can't just be a tool that's customer friendly. It also has to be user friendly. So we have to be able to identify the challenges that we may face using their product. And with this one, I'd say this one was very well thought out. So it was created upside was created by three Google executives. So look into the history on that and how they built this out. And now we're taking it even further. Are there with their their new product of AI lending, of being able to take that customer who fills out the application online, who by the time they get to the store already has an approval in our system. And now it's just run, run, run.

Michael Cirillo: 10:14

Dude, you said AI? Thank you. Now the Google gods are going to take this and blow this podcast out universe from an AI perspective, and what he just said, I mean, is that where upstart is upstart really starting to lean into how can we use AI? Perhaps not to replace the person? Because I know we're all worried about that, but maybe to replace the parts of the job that didn't require a soul to begin with?

Erin Fallon: 10:39

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So the biggest thing that I'm seeing are, the advantage to the AI is number one, that it isn't here to replace anybody, right? It's a value add, that actually is going to increase the opportunity for more jobs more, you know, more people, because what we're able to do is identify buyers using AI, in addition to FICO and other methods, and so we're able to find buyers that are out there that other, you know, other lenders may have overlooked due to more traditional or old school methods of identifying credit worthiness. Now, going back to your other point is one of upstarts philosophies was that, you know, we wanted to build a solution, that would not only make it easier for a customer to buy the goal, but also actually, to make it easier for a dealer to sell a car, we have quite a few integrations that are working in the background CRMs. DMS is all you name it, to try to give the sales associates this one stop shop, so that when the time comes to financing, we're actually able to approve buyers in less than 30 seconds. And so what this does is it allows their team to either be able to maybe leverage that approval to get the guests the best approval, but also know exactly where the customer stands very quickly and very efficiently. So if I can sell more cars faster, you know, that means more opportunity for me more opportunity for the bottom line. So

Michael Cirillo: 12:02

efficiency. Yeah, that's awesome. Aaron, thank you so much for joining me, Jeremy. Thank you so much for joining me. How can those listening and watching get in touch with you and connect?

Erin Fallon: 12:11

So if you remember, yeah, my booth over there. If you remember my really long title, just look me up on LinkedIn.

Michael Cirillo: 12:17

If you're listening in the future you missed out make sure you absolutely yeah,

Erin Fallon: 12:21

LinkedIn and then check us out. Yeah. And then we also have a session coming up shortly at 145 in studio three, so you can learn more about upstart there as well.

Michael Cirillo: 12:32

Very cool. Thank you so much for joining me on a soda podcast stage. We're having conversations powered by Effectv thanks so much for

Erin Fallon: 12:39

having us. Appreciate it.

Paul J Daly: 12:41

Thank you for listening to this ASOTU CON session by Effectv if you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcasts we have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker Monday through Friday, here and podcasts also live streamed on YouTube, and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto Collabs Auto Collabs. And if you just want to go a little different in this community, you should sign up for our regular email we put our heart and soul into it. You can get it for free by going to a sotu.com We'll see you next time.

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