This Month’s Selling Principle:
Short Term Follow Up
I’ve sometimes said that short term follow up (CSI calls and calling unsold customers who’ve already visited the dealership) won’t make us as much money as long term marketing will. When I’ve said that, I was assuming the importance of short term follow up was common knowledge, and consequently, the follow up of unsold customers was common practice. I was simply using that common knowledge to emphasize the importance of adopting long term marketing strategies as part of our daily routines too. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong on both counts.
No, I’m not mistaken that a long term marketing plan will afford us a lot more success in the long run than only performing short term follow up. I was mistaken about the importance of short term follow up being common knowledge and, most importantly, the follow up of unsold customers being in common practice.
Following up with a customer who came in but didn’t buy from us yet is just as important as a good demonstration ride, or a thorough product presentation, or any other part of the sales process. And deliberately skipping any step in the sales process is unprofessional as well as foolish. Of course, it’s true that a few customers come back without us following up, just like a few customers will make the buying decision without the benefit of a demo ride, but those few are most certainly the exception to the rule.
Also, only following up with customers we deem as “hot” doesn’t count as good short term follow up! After shopping a couple of our competitors, even the “coldest” of customers will be “hotter” on us if we’ve done a good job of relationship selling.
So, here are some suggestions that should help make our short term follow up of unsold customers more effective.
1) Use Thank You Cards:
This is old school but still very effective and very much appreciated. As soon as ANY customer leaves, we should immediately write out a brief note of thanks. In this case, we’re going to thank them for giving us the opportunity to earn their business. It’s probably a good idea to write it before we greet the next customer but we need to do it at least before we check out for the day. We should use the same four or five lines on each card to make it easier on us (we don’t need to be a Hemingway each time), but we’ll need to make it personal by using their name and mentioning the vehicle they were interested in. If we decide to use a preprinted thank you note, we still should add a couple of lines by hand for that personal touch. Also, we should include another business card.
2) Make The 24 Hour Phone/Text/Video Contact
Twenty four hours is the maximum time we should wait before contacting our unsold customers and in many cases we shouldn’t even wait that long. We want them to know how important their business is to us and waiting any longer than a day may send a mixed message.
Using a text to accomplish this is quick, easy, and effective because they all get read. We should pretty much mirror what we would say in our thank you note mentioned above.
Using video is a bit more involved but (disproportionate to the effort) much more effective. Here are just a couple of examples:
As far as phone calls go, it’s important to remember that all phone calls, even the expected ones, are interruptions for the person receiving them. Many people view incoming calls as an invasion of their privacy. Consequently, we need to be prepared. We need to have the purpose or reason for the call, the end result of the call (in this case an appointment), and the call process well in mind BEFORE we dial the number.
Each call should start with a smile on our face (remember people can “hear” a smile), and then go to the salutation (hello, good morning, etc). The next step is verification of the call. This is where we ask for the person we want or make sure we’re talking with the right person. Next, we take the curse off the call or simply ask permission to continue (“Did I catch you at a good time?”, “Am I interrupting anything important?”, etc.), then we slide into the introduction (“This is Joe Sellsalot from Lemon Motors.”). If they tell us it’s not a good time right now, we simply ask them when a better time to return the call would be.
It’s important for me to note here that many of my clients tell me they have better success by first introducing themselves and then taking the curse off the call. We need to experiment with these two steps and find out which way works best for us.
Now, we need to state the purpose of the call. This will vary depending on what transpired during their visit to our store. If the purpose isn’t obvious to us, we can always tell them, “Mr. Customer, on the way home last night I was thinking of you and I realized there were a couple of things I forgot to mention.” Then, we simply share with them a couple of things we didn’t say when they were there.
Next, we answer any questions they may have and then establish a reason and time to finalize the transaction. This too will vary depending on what transpired during their visit. Some reasons could be to get their present vehicle appraised or reappraised, new vehicle choices, special pricing events like credit union sales or new incentives, etc. Many times simply making ourselves available for questions is enough to show the customer we’re different and worthy of another chance.
Lastly, we thank them again and get off the phone.
3) Make The 72 Hour Phone Contact
We need to use the same procedures as mentioned before; smile, salutation, verification, take the curse off the call, introduction, purpose of the call (ask if by now they have received our thank you note and remind them that their satisfaction and their business is important to us), answer any questions they may have, establish a reason and time to finalize the transaction, thank them and get off the phone.
4) Continue To Make Subsequent Contacts
Whether we use the phone, texts, or video messages, all subsequent contacts must have a purpose and should be brief. “Hot” prospects should be contacted every other day. “Cool” prospects should be contacted each week. “Cold” prospects should be contacted every other week. All prospects need to be contacted until they either buy something somewhere or ask us to stop following up. When using the phone, we need to stick with the same procedures, always have a new reason to call, and we need to be brief and to the point.
5) Verify All Appointments
Any appointment we make should be verified the day before. Using the same phone procedures as before (smile, salutation, verification, take the curse off the call, introduction, verify the appointment, thank them and get off the phone), this call shouldn’t take more than thirty seconds to complete. Once again, using text, if possible, to verify the appointment is currently more effective.
6) Never give up, keep it light, and have fun.
By using these tried and true methods of follow up, we’ll keep management off of our backs, actually see the be-back bus more often, get more opportunities, and make more sales. Most importantly, we’ll separate ourselves from the rest of the flock of average salespeople who don’t have the discipline to be true professionals and we’ll enjoy the satisfaction of being the best of the best and the best we can be.
So, until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
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“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.”
Objection of the Month: “I’m not buying today, but give me your best price anyway.”
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. “Folks, you like the car don’t you? It’s equipped the way you want it, right? It’s a color you can live with for the next few years, right? This dealership is one you’ve done business with before, correct? And I’ve treated you in a professional manner, haven’t I? Well, then folks, my job now is to simply make it easy for you to take action on a decision you’ve already made. Follow me.”
b. “The best price is determined by the availability at the time you decide to do business. And there are other variables too; like the time of the month, how easy the car is to replace, how it’s equipped, what bank or factory incentives are in place at the time, your mood, the manager’s mood. The best price is not some arbitrary number anyone can just toss out to you. Now, if you’re ready to put this shopping chore behind you, I’m ready to negotiate the very best terms possible on your behalf. Are we ready?”
c. “By insisting on a ‘best price’ quote without a commitment to buy today, what customers unwittingly do is force their salesperson to either guess about the numbers, or even worse, lie about them. I’m simply not willing to do either. What I AM willing to do, however, is to make it easy for you to start to enjoy your new car. May I show you how? Great, follow me.”
d. “You know how negotiations work, right? In order for ANY negotiation to be successful both parties have got to feel like they’ve won, isn’t that true? Well then, let me ask you this, how do you win, sir? You’re going to win by persuading my manager to give up potential profit in the form of a discount. How does my manager win? That’s right! My manager wins by making a profit in the form of your business. In order for us to get you what you want, we must be in a position to give her what she wants. Otherwise, we’re not negotiating from a position of strength. But when she knows she’s at least got a chance of earning your business, we’ll then have the leverage we need to get her to do what we want. Does that make sense?”
e. “Do you know how I get paid? Commission, that’s right. You know what the best part of commission sales is? The more excited I get you, the more money you pay, the more money I make! Isn’t that awesome?! Okay, maybe not for you. But do you know what the best part of commissioned sales is for you as the customer? Well, what do you think I get paid if you DON’T buy the car? That’s right, nothing. And you’re not going to buy it unless the price is right, are you? So, it works to BOTH of our advantages to negotiate from a position of strength. Now, doesn’t that make sense?”
f. “Look, I’m always willing to discuss numbers with my customers because that’s the easiest part of my job. First let me ask you though, is there anything else standing in the way of us doing business together today?”
g. “After showing you what we can do, if you still decide not to do business with us, well then, that would be our fault folks, not yours. Fair enough?”
h. (If our customer tells us this at the greeting, we can say,) “I hear that a lot, folks. What I’ve found is that most people just want to find a car they like, get figures on it, and then think about it. Is that what you folks had in mind? Okay, I’d be happy to help you with that!”
Next month’s objection will be: “I don’t need/want to drive it.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to [email protected].
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
Everyone Has A Story
A 24 year old young man, looking out from the train’s window, shouted…
“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”
His father smiled and the young couple sitting nearby looked at the young man’s childish behavior with pity.
Suddenly he again exclaimed…
“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”
His father just nodded in agreement but the couple couldn’t resist and one of them said to the old man…
“Have you taken your son to a doctor?”
The father smiled and said…
“Yes, I have and we are just now coming home from the hospital. My son has been blind from birth. He just started to use his new eyes today.”
Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. Their story might surprise you.
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?
Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.
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Retail Automotive Sales: The Professional’s One Day Workshop
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