Digital Portfolios: The Modern-Day Evidence Manual For Salespeople & BDC Agents

For devidence manualsecades, dealerships have compiled “evidence manuals” in the form of a 3-ring binder that contains information about the vehicle, the dealership, the salesperson, and the OEM, such as:

  • Salesperson’s license
  • Cards, thank you notes, and photos from happy customers
  • A letter to the customer explaining why you should buy from the salesperson
  • The dealership’s awards
  • Pictures and info about the dealership’s community work
  • OEM awards and reviews
  • Special warranty info or other value-added programs
  • Product comparisons
  • History of the dealership

The purpose of the evidence manual is to build rapport and gain trust with consumers – to be transparent by providing relevant and important information that should be considered when purchasing a vehicle.

There are entire businesses built around providing evidence manual development services to dealerships – this is how important it is to make a concerted effort to overcome the inherent distrust that consumers have of car dealerships and their salespeople. Even today, if you were to ask a 20-year-old if they trusted automotive sales professionals, they would describe the stigma that has loomed over dealerships for decades. Consider that on average, 93% of car buyers spend several days or more researching which dealership to buy from.[1] For sure, the evidence manual is just as important today as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

The problem with the evidence manual in the form of a 3-ring binder is the time it takes to compile the material and keep it current. Today, digital evidence manuals or portfolios keep consumers engaged in videos, images, and documents across desktops and mobile devices, depicting each vehicle’s quality and safety, the dealership’s reputation, the experience and customer satisfaction history of the sales professional, and the components and benefits of special programs that provide additional value to dealership customers.

Dealers spend a lot of time and money building content for their website that highlights special programs, community involvement, staff experience, customer service awards, vehicle brand quality, the service department, and much more. The challenge is that shoppers only spend an average of 1-2 minutes on the dealer’s website – and most of this time is spent viewing inventory search and vehicle details pages. Most online car shoppers never even see dealership website content that is typically contained in the 3-ring bound evidence manual. Rather, online shoppers seek out this information using search engages, social media, manufacturer websites, online review sites, industry portals, and video platforms. While doing so, shoppers inadvertently cross paths with competing dealers and often lose track of where and what information they viewed.

Consumer VDPDigital portfolios are automatically-generated for each vehicle and contain all the information that car shoppers want in one place – on one website page. By default, digital portfolios contain window stickers, ebrochures, mechanical inspections, and reconditioning records for each used vehicle in stock. They are branded to the dealership and salesperson, and are easily shared from the CRM, via text, email, across social channels, or accessed directly from dealership website SRPs and VDPs.

Salespeople need an easy-to-use tool to market themselves, to connect with Internet leads, and to engage with car buyers on social and through the CRM. Up until now, the few options that were available proved to be ineffective for the most part. Unfortunately, salespeople learn quickly that stale email templates and CRM ebrochures don’t yield the level of engagement needed to justify the amount of time it takes to constantly send these emails and ebrochures out – they give up on follow-up and outreach and many fail because of it. They additional problems with open rates and a lack of engagement from recipients, resulting in low contact levels and few appointments – only add to the salesperson’s disappointment.

With digital portfolios, salespeople get deep engagement from Internet leads and website visitors because they are delivering a highly interactive portfolio that contains relevant and valuable content such as:

  • Vehicle inspection reports
  • OEM window stickers
  • Video walkarounds
  • Service department and GM intro videos
  • Reconditioning records
  • Google and DealerRater reviews
  • Financial and digital retailing tools
  • Extended service program information

What’s even better is that salespeople are able to visualize shopper engagements with each content item in a digital portfolio. They’ll know if a shopper watched a video, downloaded a document, viewed an image or report, and more. Digital portfolios also have a built-in price change alerts component that automatically re-sends digital portfolios to shoppers when a price change has occurred, keeping them engaged long after they are forgotten about by the salesperson. Price change alert open notifications are sent to the salesperson who can then view each shopper’s engagement and reach out via email, text, or by phone.

Heatmap WireframeDigital portfolios are the modern-day evidence manual for salespeople. Putting them to use requires no more effort on the part of the salesperson than they are already putting forth. Salespeople regularly send emails out from the CRM, they share inventory across social channels, they text customers, and they put a lot of effort into creating videos of vehicle walkarounds and happy customers to post on YouTube, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Compiling content in digital portfolios is an automated process as well, which means salespeople don’t have to spend time running around the dealership gathering documents and information to add to a binder. With a couple mouse clicks or taps on a mobile phone, salespeople can share highly-engaging digital portfolios containing multiple videos, PDF files, photos, and DMS-derived information such as reconditioning records from the service department.

Digital portfolios are a win-win for dealerships, salespeople, and car shoppers. Salespeople finally have all the information they need to provide high-quality sales presentations while saving shoppers time and frustration in the process of getting everything they need to know about the dealership, salesperson, and vehicle in a fast and convenient way.

[1] 8th Annual Automotive Digital Retailing Consumer Trends Study, Digital Air Strike, February 2020. Available at





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