Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. While artificial intelligence was more common in science fiction than the auto industry a few decades ago, it now seems like every OEM, vendor, and technology is leveraging algorithms, AI, and machine learning.
So what do they all actually mean—and most importantly, what do they mean for auto dealers?
Algorithm: A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
In plain terms, an algorithm is a set of instructions to reach a defined outcome. The easiest way to understand what an algorithm is to think of a cooking recipe. There are a precise number of steps with exact measurements that bring you to the desired outcome. In a similar fashion, an algorithm has a defined objective and is organized to help computers produce the end result.
Algorithms are used by social media platforms to organize your newsfeed, by map and traffic apps to determine the fastest route, and by search engines to serve relevant results for different search queries. Algorithms are responsible for the news, images, and updates we see online, and influence everything from the purchases we make to the food we eat and the roads we drive on.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
Artificial intelligence aims to train computers to do things that humans can do, but better. AI analyzes human behavior and attempts to teach computers how to mimic our learning, reasoning, and perception.
When you hear the term artificial intelligence, you may think of robots. And you’re not wrong—self-driving cars and digital voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are notable examples of artificial intelligence. But AI is leveraged across industries and used for everything from diagnosing disease to translating languages to providing customer service. If you leverage intelligent chat bots at your dealership, you’re using AI to engage with your customers.
Machine Learning: The capacity of a computer to learn from experience, i.e. to modify its processing on the basis of newly acquired information.
Machine learning is a subset of AI where systems have the ability to learn and improve automatically, without being explicitly programmed. Computer programs learn from the data they have access to and use it to get smarter over time.
Machine learning differs from AI in that the goal is not to replace human intelligence, but to create a system where a computer learns in order to increase accuracy. Machine learning works with repetitive tasks and problems and is used by ecommerce for predictions and recommendations, as well as the financial sector for trends and market analysis. With access to more data, computers can learn how to work faster, smarter, and better optimized.
How Can Algorithms, AI, and Machine Learning Help Car Dealers?
When we think of algorithms, machine learning, and especially AI, the question that naturally arises is whether this technology will be used to replace people. In their own way, they can each be leveraged to replace some human tasks, sure. But if you’re expecting machines to fully replace workers through automation, you’re missing the full potential. Instead, think of it as collaborative technology. By embracing tech that replaces monotonous tasks while complementing the skills of your employees and enhancing their day-to-day work, you can transform and positively impact your business.
By embracing collaborative technology that replaces monotonous tasks while complementing the skills of your employees and enhancing their day-to-day work, you can transform and positively impact your business.
Foureyes measures, analyzes, and helps close more than 28,000 leads a day. With that amount of data, we can see that BDC reps and dealership sales teams are having to send more emails, make more calls, and send more text messages to talk to fewer customers. Yes, the job of traditional sales is getting harder. That’s why dealerships need to leverage technology that helps their employees by boosting their efficiency. When salespeople can work smarter, thanks to tools that help them move quickly and have more impactful sales conversations, it can in turn increase sales. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or overhaul your existing processes. Instead, dealerships should look for tools and tactics that shave time off here, add incremental improvements there. In doing so, car dealers can gain a competitive edge with a sales floor that gets more from their existing pipeline and provide an employee and customer experience they could never have had otherwise.
Consider sales intelligence tools that leverage algorithms to recommend vehicles and price ranges for prospects and gives salespeople talking points. Dynamic email marketing that sends these vehicle recommendations and updates directly to interested leads. Call, form, and chat tracking that add the 14.1% of sales leads that go unlogged on average into your CRM for you. And chat bots that handle customer inquiries and chats without ever letting them know they're not talking to a real salesperson. Technology is best utilized when it makes your salespeople and BDC reps more efficient, more productive, and more aware of the value they’re creating. When you can automate the tasks that bog them down, you create space for employees to succeed doing things that will move the needle.
When used to add value in the sales process, AI, machine learning, and algorithms can help your business sell more. But remain strategic about when and how this technology is used. AI has a place in today’s sales world, but dealerships should be thoughtful about where exactly to use it and when a salesperson should step in. Car sales are still relationship sales. Technology can be helpful for auto dealerships to relieve the monotony of follow-up and repeat tasks, but it should not be used to replace the salesperson. Instead, choose tech that complements the skills of your employees while improving the quality, consistency, and scalability of their work. And above all, remember that there really is no replacing the value of a salesperson and human-to-human interaction in a sale.