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referrals (4)

I recently added this into a forum post comment and realized that some more people might be wondering about this. Where is the best place to ask for a referral? It used to be simple, after they purchase - ask for a referral or maybe give them a call a few weeks later and ask. Definitely YES, those two options are prime time referral asking opportunities but now that we live in a digital era, there are A LOT more opportunities to connect and engage with your customer. Meaning there are a lot more opportunities to ask for a referral. 

I like to refer to all the best places to "ask for a referral" as touch points and I will preface this with my STRONG, STRONG opinion that a referral program is great, it's awesome, but without an offer of some kind.... some of these ideas can just fall flat... why? People are busy. The offer is the stickiness that you need to go above the competition and stay at the top of your customer's mind. PS: People prefer MOOLAH, according to a recent survey," 77% of Americans identify money as their reward of choice."

I know some dealers are hesitant/wary about the effective on ROI when combined with the reward amount but it's such an inaccurate/outdated way of thinking about it.  I love showing stats and blowing dealer's minds about ROI on referrals. Just look at PayPal: "By directly paying people to sign up and then paying them more to refer friends, we achieved extraordinary growth. This strategy cost us $20 per customer, but it also led to 7% daily growth, which meant that our base nearly doubled every 10 days." - Peter Thiel - Co-founder. And not only is it cost effective, it improves your overall branding and marketing efforts, according to MarketShare, "Word-of-mouth has been shown to improve marketing effectiveness by up to 54%."

My biggest tip to gain the most traction in the following scenarios is that you ensure your referral offer/request gets to your customers QUICKLY and it is EASY for them to refer. Below are a few top touch points for a dealership/salesperson, GM or really any employee to ask for a referral.

Top Touch Points:

The most common and effective touch is point is immediately after purchase, but as we all know, our salespeople are usually a little too stoked about closing the deal to handle this.. so here are some other just as effective and awesome places to ask for a referral or promote your referral program:

  1. In-Store Marketing - while they wait for F&I create some flyers that highlight the referral program + $OFFER, your customer is at their most elated point right now, they just bought a car but now they're stuck waiting. They also know they've just spent a pretty penny and the option to help a friend and earn is extremely appealing at this point. We've had some customers submit 4+ referral leads while they've waited for F&I!
  3. F&I - your F&I manager is an ideal candidate to quickly explain the benefits of your referral program AKA earning money, while they are also discussing added benefits of new features AKA customer's spending money. a nice ying and yang for the customer to think about.
  5. Automated Emails - if you have a follow up email to thank your customer for their purchase - add a referral button or banner that leads to a form to submit referrals. It's easy and efficient.  Your salesperson should also be following up with an email or call (mentioned below) but if they forget or won't, these automated emails and inclusive offers will ensure it gets to your customer!
  7. Salesperson Follow up - 1-2 weeks after purchase. A simple check in to see how the car is doing can lead to a LOT of useful information, like if anything is wrong and the salesperson can help remedy this -- Major brownie points and once resolved, it's the perfect time to ask.
  9. REVIEWS! If you get a good review, comment back and give them a link to a landing page/form where they can submit referrals!  The lack of action on positive reviews sometimes saddens me, they are a GOLD MINE for referrals... and even the bad one's offer up so much learning experience --- a goodwill offer can help a ton here too.
  11. Social Media - It's where you have a lot of loyal fans (as long as you didn't pay for them J ) You can post about referral offers a TON here, it's something that actually won’t get old because you're offering up a reward. You can also tag your most loyal customers and invite them to join. Gamifying this is also really cool, whoever submits the most referrals this month gets 3 free oil changes. (it doesn't always have to be money offers, it's just what the people prefer.)
  13. Your Website - PLEASE!!! do not stuff it into one of your million and billions of tabs and sub tabs. Nobody really looks in those. Make it a nice attractive button that highlights the offer amount "$100 Referral Credit" $100 Reward Credit". Something to catch their eye. 

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Cutco Can Do It; Why Can’t We!!!

If you look close enough to this picture:

you will see my name “SANSONE” etched into my new Cutco Cutlery set. What’s amazing to me is that I didn’t think I needed a new set of knives, I certainly didn’t have any difficulty cutting my last steak.

So why do I own them ???? Because Cutco is smart enough to train their college-age, door-to-door salesman to ask for referrals. That’s right, my wife’s name was given to this young man from one of her friends and he cold called my wife and asked to set up a presentation of his company’s product. He was knowledgeable, polite and asked for the sale. Then after he got the sale he said “most of my business comes from referrals; who do you know that might be interested in a new set of knives? My wife was so satisfied she happily referred a few or her friends, not sure if any of them bought but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that Cutco is smart enough and disciplined enough to make it part of their sales process to always be networking and ask for referrals from their satisfied customers.

The question I put to you is: why can’t we get our salespeople to ask for referrals? We all know that referrals close at a higher percentage, have a higher gross profit margin, have a higher CSI and cost almost nothing to get. You would think that this would be one the first things we teach our sales people like Cutco taught their part-time employee.

Can you imagine how much fun we could have and how much money we could make if more of our showroom traffic were referred from satisfied customers, as opposed to the price banging we all do with the online shoppers.

We all know the answer to the question…. It takes a process, training AND work. Every one of us knows a few salespeople who ask for referrals religiously and they are our top producers. Why not demand the same from all of our salespeople. Let’s at least try!!

Paul Sansone Jr.


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Are you taking advantage of Social Media for Referrals?


Have you ever looked up your dealership at If you have never done this, pause and take a moment to do so now. Now that you have looked up your dealership does it come up with having no strength, no results, or even worse no results showed at all for your dealership? Now ask yourself this question. How can I get my fans on Facebook, Twiiter, and Google+ to share my message and their experiences on their Social Media sites?


I am going to give you a few ideas to get you started and well on your way to pulling in referral business from customers Social Media sites.


Create cool content that your customers will want to share.


There are a plethora of website providers that dealers use to convey their inventory, service department, parts department, and body shop, but sometimes we fall into the category of having just one sales page or product information after another. If you look at your website and it falls into this category, then its time to look into developing some cool content that your customers will be interested in and want to share with their friends online. The following is two types of cool content that will drive an incredible amount of traffic and social mentions, which in-turn you can use to get referrals.


Inforgraphics: Infographics are simply the the presentation of statistics and information in a visually appealing manner, and any dealer has the ability to design one fairly quickly with the help of a such websites like I guarantee your customers will find very interesting and will want to share them on their Social Media sites. Here is a good example of one that I designed last night that a dealer could use to pull in referrals.

 This is a simple infographic that I put together to show you how you could design one quickly and use to pull in referrals. I have seen others that do include more in depth information and this is a good example of what I am talking about.

Videos: Everyone knows how important video has become, so I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I do however want to ask you if you are developing videos that your customers want to share. People love viral videos, so you may want to think about a video that your sales staff can put together that show your customers that even though you’re a car dealership you can have fun too.  Here is a link to a good example of the good people down at Lost Pines Toyota having a good time with a customer who just bought anToyota Tundra. .



Hold a social media contest.


Contests are another way to get people talking about your dealership. It can be something as simple as a weekly contest where a random Twitter user who tweets a particular dealership special to their followers can win a free product. You want to do a more elaborate contest using Facebook where fans can win a major prize by liking your page and sharing your content with their friends.


Whatever you decide to do for a contest, the key is to make sure that the prize will be relevant to your customers. Dealers are all the time giving away TV’s, but the real question is where your fans/followers will stick around after the contest ends.


If you want to increase referrals about your dealership and increase sales in the process, give away your own product! Think about it-if a dealership gives away a free year of service for example and they generate enough buzz with their social networks, then people who didn’t win the free year of service will be so curious about your dealership they will be more apt to come down to your dealership to see what all the buzz is about.


It’s all about planting the seed of “What if I was to win this? That sparks more talk and more sales!


You can increase mentions about your business through Foursquare.


Each and ever dealer has a physical location so why not take advantage of the Foursquare check-ins. As people check-in to your dealership, there is a good chance that they will be sharing your business with their friends on Twitter and Facebook simultaneously.


That kind of buzz can really draw in more new customers through your dealerships door, especially if you tie in some great discounts for the customers that check-in!


Always update your dealerships social profiles with live updates.


Do you ever wonder why more people talk about you on Facebook over Twitter? Is your Twitter feed just regurgitating your Facebook updates? That’s probably the reason why. Customers will follow your dealership on your social networks if you post unique and valuable updates. So if you want your customers to talk about your dealership on Twitter, then start tweeting unique messages. The same goes for Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.


What can you update your social networks about that will get your customers engages? Again, just like content development, you have to think about your target audience and what they would be interested in. Don’t just update your networks with your latest cars or trucks-post updates about your industry. You can also get important feedback from your customers by asking them questions. You might ask them what they want to see from your dealership in regards to your posts.




Now it is your turn to re-evaluate the content that you are posting on your social networks. If your content is not creating mentions and pulling in referrals, maybe its time to change what you are doing and implement some of the points that I have mentioned today.


Jason Parman


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