People who know me well know I’m a big fan of a particular automotive OEM. Cars have been a big part of my life as long as I can remember, and I’ve been a member of a classic car club since I was 15. So every time I see that particular OEM’s truck at a show, I usually stop by and provide my contact info in return for a T-shirt or drawstring backpack.
I’ve been doing this for years. I probably have at least a couple T-shirts and a few backpacks at my house. And every year I mark the box that says I’m more than a year out from buying. To be honest, it’s not in the budget right now, and I just want the free branded swag. I’m sure you’ve encountered thousands upon thousands of similar customers at the shows you’ve attended throughout the years. But did you follow up with these customers?
In the years I’ve been filling out my info for this OEM, I’ve only received OEM-branded emails, promoting their latest vehicle updates or contests. But recently I received an email from a dealership. I was surprised, considering this had never happened before, so I took notice. The note was simple, asking me to call when I have a spare moment to talk about how this salesperson could save me time and effort with my vehicle purchased. He also promised to keep the call “brief and to the point,” which, if I were in the market, would be extremely appealing. (Who doesn’t want to save time whenever possible?)
Sure, I’m not in the market right now, but the email struck me and will stay in the back of my mind. I did say that I’m more than a year out, but what if that changed?
Think about all the customers who stop at your booth at a show. They might say they’re not ready to buy right now, but what if the next day they win $5,000 on a scratch off? That could take care of a good down payment, or cover a decent used unit. How about the guy whose girlfriend won’t let him buy a bike; what if they break up today? Or the woman who has always wanted to ride, but couldn’t afford a bike until she earned an unexpected raise at work? Do these people know you’re interested in their business whenever they’re ready to buy?
You might consider the prospects who don’t have money right now to be pointless to chase, but situations change. I’m sure Bill, the general sales manager who emailed me, probably put very little effort into that communication. It’s probably a standard email that probably came from his CRM. There was probably a simple form or button he had to push to send that email to me and everyone else in our area who has shown interest in the brand. Guess where I’m thinking about going the next time I’m in the market for a car? The place that showed its employees cared, even if I’m not ready to buy today.
Liz Keener is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She helps assemble the brand’s twice-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.