I found myself pondering this question this month as I waited for a gas fireplace repair part to arrive. The technician that diagnosed the problem ordered the required part and advised it would take 2 weeks to arrive. Two weeks passed and then 3 weeks with no follow-up call to advise of a delay or new eta for the part.
Is one of your best customers sitting in your service department lounge right now? Many vehicle salespeople will answer: "uh I dunno - why?"
The fact is that many sales consultants don't make use of the CRM tools they have at their disposal to nurture their previous customers, increase loyalty, increase retention, shorten trade cycles, and increase sales today.
Why do we need a sales process for the modern shopper? In the face of a mountain of research on the modern automotive shopper, no one is going to deny that shopping patterns have changed:
Buyers research online and self-serve themselves farther than ever towards a buying decision - before they contact or visit us
Buyers have a wealth of information and shopping tools at their disposal - even on their phone
Buyers are visiting fewer dealerships before making a purchase
I don't know how many sales and management related magazines, newsletters, and e-zines you subscribe to but if you are a sales professional I'm betting it is 4 or more. If you are not a student of your own industry how can you hope to be perceived as an expert or trusted advisor? Right?
Increase satisfaction by lowering expectations! Many dealerships have an unofficial in-house training program designed to pass along the vast experience and knowledge of the veteran salespeople to the new recruits. This highly effective mentoring program is called “the huddle.” Here, unselfish veterans pass along the keys to success – sales strategies and work habits that have made them solid 6-8 units per month producers, year in and year out for decades. The best part for the dealership is that this training is absolutely free!
No matter how much customer buying behavior changes we still at some point have conversations with most people who buy from us. Many will seem resistant or distant when we first engage them. You might call these initial responses a stall. Something like "we're just looking" or "not much time - not buying today".
Ask most salespeople: "what makes a good delivery for the customer?" and most will churn out the types of things that are on your delivery or collection checklist:
Are you still treating walk-in traffic as "shoppers"? You know, nice people looking to get some information at your dealership and a bunch of others.
They'll spend some time then go home and think it over trying to decide which car, salesperson, and dealership they like the best.
You'll do a good job so you have a 20-25% chance of getting their business.
Right? Wrong. Give your watch a tap - its stuck in 1999.
Who turned off the tap? We are hearing from many markets about a dramatic reduction in walk-in traffic.
In some cases this is just a continuation of the pattern of highly researched shoppers who are shortening the list of brands or dealerships they will visit to 1-2.
Other dealerships are in markets heavily impacted by economic shifts in the resource sector.
Whatever the cause, salespeople suffer when traffic declines unless they have an effective and proactive strategy to create opportunities.
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.