The reasons showroom guests leave without buying are many but regardless of the underlying motivation for your prospect not making a decision, your helpful and respectful (and persistent) follow up can salvage several deals every month. Most people who visit a dealership will buy a vehicle in the next few months (and often much sooner) so you want to be the one they remember and return to when they are ready.
The techniques outlined here should not be considered a replacement for an enthusiastic vehicle presentation and demonstration drive. You still want to do everything possible to sell a car today, however, when that does not happen, the follow up system you put in place can result in 50% or more of those “showroom ups” returning to buy at a later date.
Why You Need a Follow Up System
This follow up system is based on the assumption that the prospect will eventually buy and they might as well buy from you. But you can only earn their business by helping them get comfortable with the idea of buying what you have to sell and by making it clear that you are the obvious person they should be doing business with (and not by cutting your price to “earn” their business). Instead, you want to overwhelm your prospect with helpful advice and information while showing a true concern for the vehicle and financing proposal that is best suited to their needs and wants. Your biggest fear should be that your prospect leaves and encounters a more knowledgeable, more helpful, and more committed salesperson at another dealership. This system gives you a shot at the business even if your prospect later encounters a persuasive salesperson at another dealership.
Post-Visit: First Steps
Whenever a prospect leaves the showroom (even if they promise that they will be right back tomorrow) you must do three things:
- Send a short text message thanking them for their visit and promising to help them with their transportation problem
- Send a follow up email within 12 hours summarizing your understanding of their needs/wants and a couple of possible solutions (but not price quotes).
- Send a Thank You card – handwritten – and drop it in the postal box on your way home from the dealership.
Here is exactly how to guarantee that these three things get done for every single prospect that comes to the showroom. And remember, if you do this diligently, it’s very likely you will be the only salesperson your prospect encounters who is providing this level of service. So, let’s get specific:
- To send a text message, you will need the prospect’s cell phone number so make sure you get that information put on your worksheet or into your CRM sometime in the early stages of your encounter. (It’s easier to ask innocently early than to try to get it as they are leaving). Here’s what the text will say “Thanks so much for your visit today. I was pleased to learn about your vehicle needs and plans. When you return, we can work on a solution that works perfectly for you. Your Name, Dealership Name.”
- Your same day (12 hours max) email should acknowledge the positive aspects of your visitor’s visit and how you were able to help them (part way) down the path to a new vehicle. Here’s an example of how to do that (but include your own assessment of their transportation “issues”). “Thanks for coming to see me at our showroom today. I am glad to see that a Make Model is high on your consideration list. It certainly seems to address your interest in moving to a very safe vehicle (with its IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating) and it appears to have more than enough space for your family of four including space for the hockey and soccer equipment for your son as well as carseat and stroller for your daughter. If there are higher priority issues that are part of your decision-making process, please let me know so I can propose some solutions”. In the above example, I am assuming that “safety” and “space” were the two main issues in the prospect’s transportation project but I have left the door open if there is something else (such as the payment, or trade-in value, etc.) that is still delaying a decision. You want these concerns (whatever they are) to surface, so you can address them.
- You should always have a supply of small Thank You cards with matching envelopes (that you can buy at Walmart in packages of 10 or 20 for less than $0.50 a piece). A folding card with a simple “Thank You” engraved on the outside and blank on the inside will be perfect. Also, go to the Post Office and buy a roll of 100 local stamps (cost = $85 in Canada). Here’s the wording I have successfully used in the past for these neatly handwritten notes: “Thanks for your visit. I am looking forward to seeing you again very soon. Call me if you have questions or concerns that were not fully covered during today’s meeting. Best regards.” Sign the card and include your business card. Of course, you need a mailing address to do this so make sure you get that information (either by asking or by jotting it down from the copy of their driver’s license that you took prior to the test drive). You will be amazed at the return on this $1.35 investment because you will be the only salesperson they meet who has cared enough to do this. (Keep your receipts – both cards and stamps – as these expenses are tax deductible for commissioned salespeople).
It’s important to keep these communications short and to the point without a lot of boilerplate generalities that do not focus on the customer’s priorities. No need to “sell” yourself, the dealership, or the brand; simply demonstrate that you, the dealership, and the brand are the natural choice based on your concern, expertise, and professionalism. Your only task in this follow up phase is to demonstrate your true concern for the customer’s problem and a commitment to solve it. People hate to be “sold” but they love to “buy”. Give them lots of opportunities to come to that conclusion.
In a subsequent post, we will look at how to execute a sustained follow up program until your prospect returns without you being a pest but by becoming a resource who keeps providing additional value that your prospect will find helpful in their car purchase journey.