05 Jan Are You Missing The Big 4 Opportunities That Come With Every Sold Vehicle?
By Paul Moran, CEO of Vboost
From the days of index cards and rolodexes, to the sophisticated CRMs now utilized in dealerships, all dealers (and great salespeople) know the value of keeping in contact and following up with sold customers. As time has progressed, new opportunities to stay top of mind with customers have presented themselves. Some of these opportunities may seem very obvious. However, I consistently run across dealerships that aren’t taking advantage of all of them. As a result they are losing a goldmine of future sales opportunities.
So, what are these four BIG opportunities that present themselves with each sale?
- REFFERALS: Providing a customer with a great buying experience creates a huge opportunity to attract business from their family, friends and networks of associates. However, many salespeople fail to ask for referrals. Perhaps it’s because they’re shy or fear being rejected. Or perhaps there is just no clear, easy way to do it. The bottom line is that, in most cases, if asked, happy customers will offer up referrals. But, they probably aren’t going to offer up a list of friends of their own volition.
To vastly improve the odds that your dealership earns additional sales due to referrals from customers, implement a simple step in your sales process where the salesperson asks for them.
When is the best time to ask? While they’re still at the dealership emotionally excited about their new vehicle and appreciative of the experience they just had. Some customers will offer them and some will choose not to. Whether the salesperson gets any at that moment or not, the simple action of asking will plant a seed in the customer’s mind.
There are several indirect ways proven successful in helping to gather referrals. There’s a reason so many dealerships install branded license plate frames and paper fillers on every sold car. These can generate interest – and perhaps a referral – simply by initiating a conversation between the customer that just bought a vehicle and their friends or neighbors.
And, with the growing impact of social media, a very powerful way to generate referrals is by leveraging your customer’s social networks. Most customers want to show off their new vehicle on Facebook and other platforms. Just about everyone posts pictures and videos of their live events these days. By offering your customers ready-made branded content that they will WANT to share, you can increase the likelihood that they will share the content you want them to.
It’s a simple task to take a photo of your customer with their new car. Most consumers love to share pictures of their new vehicle on their social media properties, so make it easy for them. They will appreciate it. Ensure that your delivery area is well branded and you can gain additional exposure to other potential customers when your customer shares that photo or content with their social networks.
- REVIEWS: It’s a fairly common practice for car buyers to read dealership reviews before choosing where to take their business. One of the success stories of the internet has been the power of consumer reviews in driving sales. Indeed, Amazon can attribute many of its own sales to its ground-breaking use of consumers reviews.
To ensure that your dealership has a healthy amount of reviews on a continually updated basis, educate your satisfied customers about the review process at the time of the sale. The most influencial review site is Google. Google reviews are a local ranking signal, so it’s always best to get as many natural reviews as possible. Pushing customers to leave reviews for you on Google provides an easy method for customers Googling your dealership to stumble upon a great review, even if they weren’t specifically looking for them.
However, while Google is the most influencial review site, the one approach that I have seen remain consistently effective is to provide convenience and choice to dealership sales and service customers when implementing a reputation management process. Don’t restrict your strategy to a single review site. Customers consistently perceive a dealer who recommends multiple review sites as being less manipulative and more trustworthy than a dealer who restricts their request to a single review site.
While it is not a good idea to incentivize the review process, you may want to change the way you interact with your customers to get them more enthused about reviewing your dealership.
Build a reviews page that gives customers detailed instructions on how to leave reviews on Google, and other sites. Include steps that guide users from Google account sign-up to leaving a review and include a link to your verified page.
Then, design a flyer or postcard including the reviews page URL. Make the postcard match your dealership’s branding. Make it professional and very clear about how to get to the reviews page.
And, you probably have to change the way you and your team talk to your customers about reviews. Remind your customers why reviews are truly important – it isn’t to help the dealership. Customer reviews are for your customer’s community, friends and family, and future car buyers. Good or bad, customers leave more reviews when they feel like a friend or family member could be affected.
So, instead of mentioning how much the dealership would appreciate a review, encourage your customers to help other users make a more informed decision. Good or bad.
If a customer chooses not to leave a review, or the salesperson decides not to ask for one, it’s important to follow up via e-mail and phone and ask for those reviews. A template email coming from your CRM with a message that encourages a balance of reviews across all sites is a good idea. By using a template, you can easily change the target site which you would like to suggest to the consumer.
- CSI SURVEYS: All dealers know the importance of CSI survey results to the health of their relationship with their OEM. Substandard scores can lead to serious ramifications including loss of eligibility for stair-step money, lowered allocations and even being delisted on the manufacturer’s website – no longer visible when a local customer searches for their closest dealership.
There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving a low score simply because a customer chose to award a “9” rating versus a “10” in a key area on the survey. In fact, many customers don’t understand that anything less than a perfect score is considered a failure by the OEMs. They believe that giving your dealership a “9” is actually complimentary. While it’s typically not acceptable from the OEM’s point of view to coach a customer through a survey, there’s nothing wrong with informing the customer that one will be coming. Politely explain that anything less than perfect answers to the survey questions are interpreted as a failure by the OEM — that it can dramatically affect the end score. In addition, incorporate post sale follow-up emails. Or, implement your own customer survey. This can raise red flags and give you the opportunity to correct a problem before the customer receives the CSI survey. That way you get a chance to handle it before it’s too late.
- FIRST SERVICE VISIT: If your delivery process doesn’t include a service walk and/or introduction, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to build a relationship with that customer in service. neglecting to introduce the customer to a service manager and assisting them to schedule their first service appointment frequently results in that customer taking their service business to another dealership or independent. Successful service departments understand the importance of making an excellent impression with each customer during the initial introduction, regardless of how busy they are at the time.
Sadly, as an industry we’ve traditionally conditioned our salespeople to neglect sold customers in the never-ending search for the next sale. Take the time to optimize all of the benefits possible from each and every sold car, or you are doing yourself a disservice. Ask for referrals, educate customers on the importance of online reviews and CSI surveys and ensure that each and every customer gets introduced to service. Your customers will appreciate it. And, this will then help to increase customer retention, build loyalty and generate more revenue in both sales and service.