This Month’s Selling Principle:
Long Term Marketing, part 2 – Intervals and Methods
“Man does not only sell commodities, he sells himself and feels himself to be a commodity.”
Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom (1941), 4.
I hear time and time again that customer loyalty is a thing of the past, that today’s customer will take their business elsewhere for a mere $50, and that long term follow up and going the extra mile for our customers simply doesn’t pay off. (And if all they’re selling is a vehicle, then I silently agree with them.)
And sometimes, not always, but sometimes, I’ll ask these salespeople how they came to this conclusion. Most struggle to answer that question. If I press them into telling me what long term marketing efforts they are currently using or have used in the past, they almost always respond by detailing some poorly designed follow up system that they half-heartedly administered, and abandoned much too quickly to ever reap any results.
Then, usually, I’ll tell them that because of my job, I get to meet front line car salespeople from all across the country who make six digits a year, year in and year out. Virtually all of them have the majority of their business come from repeat or referral customers, and a few don’t even take fresh ups anymore. Some choose not to work evenings or weekends anymore, and a few even have their own secretary or assistant. There are several people like this in every market we go into.
Now, here’s what blows my mind. When I share with them what these top producing car pro’s have told me they do to build their clientele bases, almost always I see their eyes glass over or hear them explain that they don’t have enough time to do all that or I hear some other lame excuse. I guess they simply don’t believe me, or maybe they just aren’t willing to pay the price for long term success.
In part one, we had already established how a well-planned and executed delivery can serve as the foundation of a successful long term marketing program. Here’s a brief overview of the short term and long term elements of most successful marketing plans:
Thank You cards: We’ll need to send these out immediately after the delivery, preferably before we talk with our next customer. We’ll need to make them personal by either hand writing them or by adding a hand written line or two if we use preprinted thank you notes. We’ll also need to include several of our business cards. In the days of e-mails and texts, the small extra effort and thought that a simple thank you note requires goes a long way.
24 hour phone call: This call is primarily to answer any questions our customer may have, note any problems, and thank them again for their business. We do NOT ask for referrals. This call is for them. Also, do yourself and your customer a favor, while you are delivering their new vehicle, ask them to expect your call the next day.
24 hour e-mail/text: This contact is to thank them once more and to point our customer to their delivery picture or testimonial video if they chose to do one. Make it easy for them by including the link to wherever the particular file is parked. We also should ask them to connect with us via our own website and the social media platforms we are currently involved with, again by providing them the link(s) to do so.
72 hour phone call: This call can also be used to answer any new questions that may have arisen, note any problems, and thank our customer yet again for their business. Here, however, is where we make the transition into our overt marketing efforts. We’ll ask if they received our card yet or at least to expect it. We’ll point out that we’ve included a few of our business cards, explain our referral program (if we use one), and ask that they think about sending us referrals. (“Mr. Customer, I know in the next week or so you’ll be showing your new car to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. When any one of them mention that they too might be in the market for their next vehicle, new or previously owned, any make or model, would you please do me a favor and give them one of my cards? I promise I’ll show them the same respect and work just as hard for them as I did for you.” ) Also, remind them that we are already in their contacts list on their smart phone (if we remembered to push our contact info to it).
1 week phone call: This is primarily a marketing call asking for referrals and an opportunity to thank them again. (“Mr. Customer, have you given out any of my cards yet?” or “Mr. Customer, should I send you some more of my business cards? You’re out of them by now, aren’t you?” )
Regular posts/blogs: Whatever platforms we choose to be involved with, it’s important to stay engaged. Whether it’s a weekly video blog, or regular updates to our website content, or daily posts on our social media platforms, etc., we need to stay active. Also it’s extremely important to remember to add value to other’s online experience rather than continuously promoting ourselves. As of this date, a good formula to follow would be: Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Give, Ask. Gives are anything that makes people think, laugh, or feel something thus enhancing their online experience. Asks are anything that reminds people we sell cars.
1 month e-mail: This is primarily a marketing contact asking for referrals.
Quarterly newsletters: We can use quarterly newsletters, delivered digitally or via snail mail, to keep our name in front of our clientele base. Sometimes we can include new model info or service coupons and specials but we do need to be careful about making our newsletter “just more junk”. The best results come from those that include such things as recipes, puzzles, motivational stories, humor, “how to” tips, family updates, etc.. We do need to detail our referral program (if we use one) or mention how much we depend on repeat and referral clients.
Note cards or post cards: We can use these in conjunction with our other marketing efforts to make sure our name gets in front of our clientele base every forty five days or so. We can use almost any excuse for sending these like Fourth of July, Ground Hog’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. Just a quick note and a brief P.S. mentioning our referral program or asking them for referrals.
Anniversary letters: We can use this along with quarterly newsletters and post cards to round out our “every forty five days or so” marketing program. Again, just a brief PS is all that’s needed to remind them of our referral program or to ask for referrals.
E-mail or faxes: If we come across an article or story that will be of particular interest to a customer or group of customers of ours, we can zip them one of these. Just affix a simple F.Y.I. note and send it along!
Daily service check: This is where we check to see if any of our customers have brought their car in for service. We can use this as a way to drop them a brief note just to say “Hello!” and to mention that next time they should drop us a quick e-mail or voice-mail to let us know their car will be in for service. That way we can check on its progress and make sure that it’s washed and gassed before they come to pick it back up. (Most stores already wash serviced vehicles and filling it up with gas doesn’t need to cost us any money. We simply get permission from the service manager or dispatcher to add a line item and pass on the gas charge to our customer. By stapling the gas receipt to the R.O. our customer will see that we didn’t mark up the gas and filling it up was simply for their convenience.)
Birthday, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, etc. Cards: When we send these out, we need to make sure we send each client the appropriate one. If we’re unsure, a simple Season’s Greetings will work. We need to make sure we send them out in plenty of time to arrive a bit early. Affix a stamp, don’t meter these and make sure we DO NOT mention referrals or even include a business card. These are NOT overt marketing opportunities!
In the next installment in this series of articles on marketing essentials, we’ll cover the various methods we can use to maintain and manage our client database. We’ll also review what kinds of referral programs are currently being used across the country and which ones get the best results.
Remember, we don’t get wealthy in the car business by simply selling each client a car. We get wealthy in the car business by creating a relationship with each client that allows us to make a reasonable profit, five or six times, over the next twenty years. Don’t just settle for closing deals, strive to open relationships instead.
Until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
Objection of the Month: “How much discount can we get?”
These are just a few of the most common strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America and attended by thousands of the top sales people in our field. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on overcoming this particular objection and it’s not intended to be.
a. “They don’t normally discount this model, by the way, who’s going to drive this car most of the time, you or Mrs. Customer?” (This is simply a version of the Bypass technique.)
b. “I don’t know but we’ll go inside and check with the manager in just a moment to find out. My first job is to make sure we find just the right car for your wants and needs. Did you want the four door or the coupe?”
c. “I know discounts are important. It’s important to me too, Ms. Customer, when I’m the buyer. It’s also important to me when I’m the buyer that I get just the right item I’m looking for. Let’s first make sure this is the right truck for you, then we’ll go inside and work out the very best figures we can. Does that sound fair?”
d. “Adjusting numbers is the easiest part of my job, Ms. Customer. We adjust numbers all day long. What I can’t adjust, however, is your taste. So, first let’s find just the right car for you and then we’ll go inside and I’ll show you just how easy it is to do business with us. Sound good? Now, tell me, were you looking for a 5 speed or an automatic?”
e. “We’ll definitely get to the numbers part of your purchase when we go inside together. While we’re outside, though, let’s make sure you’re not paying for stuff you won’t need or missing stuff you will. Actually, that’ll effect the price too, won’t it?”
f. “I’m sure that we will be able to save you some money, and if for some reason we can’t arrive at a discount amount that’s acceptable to you, then I wouldn’t expect you to do business with us. That’s fair isn’t it?”
g.“Sounds like you’re ready to do business! C’mon in, bring your checkbook and I’ll have you out in this car in about twenty minutes!” (Then we turn and walk towards the showroom. If our customer balks we say:) “You’re right. I am getting ahead of myself aren’t I? Did you want a two door or a four door?”
h. “Exact discount amounts are fluctuating all the time. Once we find your next car, we’ll then be able to find out how much discount the current market will allow us. It’s an easy process. Now, what do you mean when you say ‘fully loaded’?”
Next month’s objection will be: “I don’t have a lot of time.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Objection of the Month: “We need to shop other cars first.”
“I only play well when I’m prepared. If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way I know I can.”
Know what “success” means to you
The best part about becoming great at our jobs, is it affords us more choices. Some people choose to use their improved proficiency to have more and more money. Some people choose to use their improved proficiency to have more free time. Most people, unfortunately, don’t really know what they want. They’ve either never given it enough soul-searching thought or they are desperately chasing someone else’s definition of success.
This short story, probably already familiar to you, is a wonderful illustration of this.
A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American casually asked.
“Oh, a few hours,” the Mexican fisherman replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American businessman then asked.
The Mexican warmly replied, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”
The businessman then became serious, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, “I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs…”
The American businessman impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”
Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”
Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will all this take?”
After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”
“And then what, señor?” asked the fisherman.
“Why, that’s the best part!” answered the businessman with a laugh. “When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?” asked the young fisherman in disbelief.
The businessman boasted, “Then you could happily retire with all the money you’ve made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want.”
The moral of the story is: Know what really matters to you in your life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.
“When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.”
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Retail Automobile Sales : The Professional’s One Day Workshop
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