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Are you torching your customer database or nurturing it

We get a lot of questions from dealerships who are starting to experience declining effectiveness with their direct marketing for invitation sales, behind the wall sales, or private sale events. When you dig into it a bit you soon find the answer. These events rely on their "specialness" or exclusivity. We see many dealerships market to the same list of customers 6 times a year. The reality is that when the same customer is approached multiple times per year (and in some extreme cases monthly) they soon lose patience with the constant mark eting pitch and see through your claims of special once in a lifetime deals! The customer fatigues from the repetitive contact and many ask not to be called again.

Everyone loves a spike in sales volume and direct contacts to our database are normally a good thing. We pull people into the market at a time when they may not yet have been considering changing their vehicle. We restart their personal trade cycle and shorten the overall trade cycle of our customer base. We sell them another car before they have the opportunity to begin thinking about your competitor’s offers. They get a new vehicle when their current one is worth more so their overall cost of ownership declines. It’s good for us and them.

The good thing only turns bad when we abuse our database from over-contact. The lazy way is to just keep pulling the same list criteria and not managing based on when they were last contacted with an offer. You won’t get many event companies counseling a dealership to take a more intelligent approach. They instead convince a dealership that more invitations and more often is better regardless if salespeople are physically able to phone that many customers to confirm appointments. Where’s the money? Well it’s in the printing!

So where is the middle ground? At the one extreme is the mass mail, slash and burn approach. The other extreme is the careless neglect of our customer base. The rational approach lies in the middle. People don’t mind direct contacts that bring value. Sales consultants should be maintaining contact with their customers as a matter of course. People who are within a desired trade cycle window respond well to a direct contact that takes interest in their current vehicle – but not more than 2-3 times a year.

The phone contact is what makes an event successful. Limit the invitations to no more than what your sales team can reasonably follow-up by phone or can be reached with call center support – any more than that and it’s just wasted money on printing and postage. Spend the effort on coaching the right approach and phone scripting to increase appointment conversions. In short, take smaller bites of your database and create accountability around the quality and quantity of the phone effort. That’s how you get superior sales results without burning up your database.