Every dealership has a script: a preconfigured, tried-and-true reel of company footage and the same tagline plastered onto each commercial. “President’s Day Sale”, “End of Year Clearance Event”, ad nauseam until the script can be recited by anyone within earshot. And then you forget about that dealership until the next holiday.
Welcome to 21st-century advertising in the automotive industry. It’s been Groundhog Day for what feels like decades. Floor and phone sales still dominate much of the market, and the interaction between dealers and customers after purchase is nonexistent. When 92-99 percent of your audience would rather engage with the online market than talk to sales professionals, you’ll find a distinct void sucking up sales within the industry. Impersonal commercials and greeting cards won’t bring kindle to that fire.
This has partially to do with a complete absence of strategy. Inconsistent communication and a general lack of aggression in driving sales put otherwise prominent dealerships behind the Eight-Ball. Our own LA Williams, known for igniting latent talent in sales professionals, once ran a “Power Hour” exercise to see just how motivated he could get his clients to be. Tactfully, however, he wasn’t measuring the top performers; instead, he chose to focus on the lowest scorers. They resulted in an average of 37 calls in an hour’s time. That’s 37 ways a dealership could capitalize on Internet phone sales but weren’t. That foundation needs to be cemented into the minds of each and every sales professional.
“But not everyone is going to answer their phones”, you might argue. And that’s a valid point. Have you asked your sales professionals how else they’ve contacted potential leads? If they’re flexing all of their talents behind phone calls, they’ve already lost. Emails, however, begin the building process for developing leads into customers. But email alone is one aspect to taking charge of your leads. A coalition of sales professionals and managers should take charge of these leads. You should know the strengths of your team better than anyone. If you’re the best phone sales professional in the office, get your coordinators involved in the email process. What seems like a wasted resource is actually an interpersonal attempt at engaging with buyers, inquiring with different perspectives.
Then go beyond that. Don’t just call a customer or a lead: video chat them. Get them into your lot without visiting it. Let them see the face behind the phone call or the email. Reassure your audience. Offer them live advice that gets them to stay engaged. We live in a society of instant gratification, and by providing the knowledge at their convenience wins over potential buyers that would otherwise block a cold call.
Just getting leads to your dealership isn’t enough. You need to keep winning them over. Customers deserve to feel like you’ve earned their trust. Something as simple as a video message wishing them a happy birthday or a festive video wishing them well during the holidays keeps the dealership in the back of their minds as a friendly and trusted source. There may be hiccups along the way, and potential clientele might take to the Internet to vent their frustrations or offer criticism. That’s why it’s vital to address these concerns. Don’t just apologize for the poor experience; learn from it, make it a priority to root out the issue and address how best to rectify it. Contact these people and understand where you lost their trust. Try to earn it back, and don’t burn the bridge. Every lead was worth the effort, and it’s vital to retain a positive standing with your clients. Be transparent in your approach to making their experience better than the last dealer. Do everything in your power to “suck less than the other dealers”.
There’s a sense of “set it and forget it” that has plagued the way dealerships market themselves. It’s easy to insert the strategies that have worked decades ago to chase leads. That doesn’t help the ship without a captain. Steering a ship without a course makes your strategies lost at sea. Guiding your customers beyond the initial journey offers gives them a reason to sail with you over and over. It’s vital to make your CRM an ongoing experience to make leads and clients remember you. Otherwise, you’ll end up another regurgitated commercial during holiday weekends.