Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Desking Tool?

Article by Vince DeMare

Just about every dealership management system (DMS) has a built in desking tool, but not all dealerships are using them. Resistance to change is probably the biggest reason why. But “I’ve always done it this way” is no reason to justify missing out on the benefits of a desking tool.

When computers came along, many people insisted on continuing to handwrite or type letters…until the practice was no longer acceptable. I believe we’ve reached that point with desking tools. Scratching handwritten figures on a Four Square is no longer an acceptable business practice.

In my experience, 60% to 70% of dealerships are currently using a desking tool on a regular basis. If your dealership has yet to empower your sales department with a desking tool, here are just a few reasons to seriously consider doing so:

Increased Transparency Builds Customer Trust

You know what car shoppers really dislike? When a salesperson runs to ask their manager if they can discount the vehicle, reduce the down payment, change the terms, etc. The whole process seems scammy and designed to keep the dealership in control. If that seems like a good idea to you, think again. Today’s customer wants to feel like they’re the ones in control.

When a sales manager handwrites figures on a worksheet, the first thing a customer wonders is, where did these figures come from? Is this something that has just been made up?

On the other hand, when a dealership uses a desking tool to present a variety of options on a professional looking worksheet, the customer perception is that these numbers are legitimate because they came out of the system. It’s not the dealership making up numbers, but the system that’s dictating what is allowed or not allowed.

With a traditional process, the customer perception is that the sales staff is working against them, trying to come up with a payment scenario that benefits the dealership. With a desking tool, it’s easy for the sales staff to create the perception that they’re working with the customer, trying to come up with a payment scenario that benefits the customer.

Speed Matters

Another aspect of the car-buying process that many car shoppers dislike is the time it takes to purchase a car. When you only have two free days a week (one of which is consumed by chores and errands), who wants to spend their one, precious free day in a dealership?

All the back and forth involved with Four Squares and checking with the manager takes a lot of time, which is very frustrating to the customer.

The biggest benefit of a desking tool is that it enables the dealership to offer multiple options right up front. When the customer asks a “what if” question the sales manager can punch in a new number and instantly multiple new options will appear. No running back and forth, just instant options that the customer can choose from. This also makes the customer feel empowered, because they’re in charge of their own payment options.

If you’re trying to reduce the time it takes to purchase a car at your dealership, a desking tool is a must.

Consistent Sales Process

It’s pretty well accepted that the better the sales department can follow the process, the more sales they make and the more revenue your dealership makes. Incorporating a desking tool into your sales process can help your sales department stay on process.

Training is obviously helpful here. If at any time during the sales process you start quoting prices or offering discounts too early you may risk losing the deal. Ideally the desking presentation will be after the test drive, when the customer has chosen a vehicle and is emotionally attached to the vehicle.

Technology is helpful in process adherence because it’s concrete. The sales department knows they can’t avoid or veer too far from the established process because the technology won’t let them.

Effective at Dealing With “What’s the Price?”

When a customer insists on knowing the bottom-line price of the vehicle, the last thing you want your salesperson to do is instantly promise a discount. The fact is there are so many variables that determine the bottom-line price of a vehicle, depending on what options the customer wants and what rebates may be available.

With a desking tool you can tell the customer that it’s impossible to quote a price without knowing what options, rebates or discounts they may qualify for. Once the customer is in your office you can redirect the conversation to their budget. If a customer is payment shopping you can present side-by-side options of 60 vs. 72 months. If a customer has no business buying a $40,000 vehicle, you can quickly present a lesser-priced vehicle in a side-by-side comparison.

When the customer is focused on payment options, they may not be so insistent on knowing the bottom-line price. You can and should still give that price if the customer insists, but instead of discounting the price, say that you can’t discount further but can certainly find a payment option that makes the customer happy. Again, when the price comes from the system, the customer is more likely to believe it’s legitimate and non-negotiable.

A good desking tool will be easy to use and fully integrated with your DMS. It should allow salespeople to present A/B comparisons, Multi-Quotes, one-payment worksheets or Four Squares. These should all be visible in one screen so you don’t have to go from tab to tab in order to cobble together payment information.

Ideally a desking tool will allow you to pre-screen customers and run credit and compliance, all from within the system. Logging in and out of alternate systems takes valuable time.

As dealerships everywhere tweak processes to become more customer centric, many are turning to technology solutions for help. In sales, a desking tool builds customer trust, speeds up the sales process, keeps the process consistent and focuses the customer on payment options rather than price.