November 10, 2008: Providing new information key to a successful follow-up

My wife and I purchased a new car earlier this year and I was amazed at the systems some auto dealers have in place, as well as the systems other dealers don’t have in place.
One dealership in particular had great follow-up after our initial visit, and is actually still calling me. However, their calls are making me a little more annoyed each time. The funny thing is that I really believe in, and even teach, the importance of salespeople following up with unsold prospects. So, what’s the problem?
This dealership doesn’t understand that new information equals a new buying decision. To illustrate my point, let me share how their first follow-up call went:
Salesperson: Hey Mr. Hornsby. How’s it going?
Me: It’s going good, thanks. How are you?
Salesperson: I’m doing great! So, have you guys done any more thinking about the Armada?
Me: Yes. The ‘Mrs.’ just hasn’t quite made up her mind.
Salesperson: Okay. Do you guys want to stop back by this evening and take a look again… say around 6 p.m.?
Me: Not tonight, but I’ll definitely give you a call if we have any questions.
In essence, the salesperson called me and said, “Hey, nothing’s changed; do you want to stop back by this evening for no reason?”
There was no new information to help us make a new decision. Therefore, the call was just a waste of his and my time. If this salesperson would have let me know that the sales manager was extremely motivated because of a new OEM program, or that their wholesaler will be at the dealership this evening and he would really like to take a look at our trade in-person, maybe we would have made the decision (based on that new information) to set up an appointment to revisit the dealership.
There are a lot of ways to provide “new information” to allow a customer to make a new buying decision, and avoid calls being a waste of time for both parties.
Furthermore, while we were still at the dealership, but had decided to leave without purchasing, the salesperson made no attempt to set a future appointment or encourage us to return. There were no next steps or action items to make the sale move forward. If the salesperson would have done this, maybe there could have been a purpose for his follow-up call to me. By the way, I did not purchase from this dealership.
Salespeople in the powersports industry only ask a customer to set a future appointment or encourage them to return 44 percent of the time, according to Pied Piper’s national retail benchmarking study. And while my negative experience was in the auto industry, studies show that they’re almost doubling our results at 79 percent, and the RV industry comes in at 62 percent.
Here are three things you can start doing today:

  • Make sure your salespeople have a reason for calling and are able to provide new information that enables a prospect to make a new buying decision every time they follow-up with any unsold prospects. This will take some coaching from management so that everyone is on the same page, but will be well worth the efforts in getting more “Be-backs” through the door.
  • Spend time getting to know more about your customers. Why are they buying? What kind of riding are they doing? With who, etc. This information will allow you to find common ground and build feelings of friendship. Not only does this go a long way in being able to provide that new information, a University of Wisconsin study concluded that more than 50 percent of sales happen because of feelings of friendship.
  • When a customer is leaving without purchasing, perform a Turn Over to management to investigate the true reason (objection) as to why they are leaving without purchasing. A change of face, and the representation of authority from the manager expressing that they really believe in service after the sale and want to earn the customer’s business can go a long way.
    So, here goes the old cliché: “If you continue to do business as you’ve always done it, you will continue to get the same results.”
    As long as the auto dealership I mentioned at the beginning of this article continues to call customers with the message of, “Hey, nothing’s changed, wanna stop back by and waste your time?” they will continue to get the same results. If they will modify their behavior on follow-up calls and learn to provide new information that enables their prospects to make a new decision, they will absolutely get better results. The same goes for powersports dealerships.
    About this column
    Series goal: Each column will focus on one aspect of the sales process and provide tips on improving that aspect.
    This edition: Improving the follow-up call.
    National average: Salespeople in the powersports industry only ask a customer to set a future appointment or encourage them to return 44 percent of the time, according to Pied Piper’s national retail benchmarking study.

    Tory Hornsby, general manager of Dealership University, was drawn to the powersports industry
    more than 10 years ago when he turned his passion for motorcycles into a career. Hornsby worked in nearly every position in the dealership before becoming a general manager. He welcomes your

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