The last decade in the automobile business has been interesting. New vehicle sales totals have seen the lowest numbers in almost 30 years up to some of the highest totals ever. There were many contributing factors to this fluctuation. At the end of every day, all most salespeople are concerned with are their own numbers. So how do you increase your sales or at least keep them consistent in an ever-changing market? That answer is a golden ticket that has been created, pitched, and punched by every marketer in the history of business. This is a problem that has created different shifts in thought in the last decade. I don’t have that one golden ticket that will grant access to all your wishes, but I have realized several things that will help you create success in any market.
When in sales you must have clients to sell to. Those clients start as leads. When there aren’t any leads coming to you, you have to go to them and/or do the things that lead them to you. There has been so many changes in the last decade, that it’s easier then ever to be busy generating leads. Technology changes are amazing. Everyone has some form of a cell phone, so you can reach them where ever they are. Those with smartphones provide even more access through social media apps, location services, etc. Below I share a few broad ideas that can help you generate leads today.
How to generate leads: Social Media, Previous Clients, Unsold Clients (current and previous), Referrals, Service Department Clients (in store today and previously serviced), Family, Friends, People you do business with (insurance agent), and People that you socialize with (restaurants). Hopefully these ideas will get you more people to talk to today. Reach out to me if you need more explanation on a specific topic.
This has become the buzz word with manufacturers and franchise store leaders. When the market started to constrict about a decade ago, most automotive businesses were needing more clients and needing more business. They turned inward to their existing client base to supplement their sales. Before this change, sales departments were conditioned to work mostly those that came in the front door (showroom). When the number coming through the front door declined, they were advised to talk to the clients that were coming in the back door (service and parts departments). The idea was that you had so many clients from years and years of business, all you had to do was retain them as clients and you would reach your desired success.
From this idea came a lot of involvement and help from most manufacturers. Toyota, for example, began including complimentary maintenance as part of it’s standard warranty. Some other manufacturers increased or lengthened the time and mileage of their standard warranty. The manufacturers have also increased and tied incentives to newly formed retention metrics. The idea from their increased involvement is to get the dealers and salespeople to understand that current clients are the best investment for the future. It’s better to keep a client than to try to replace them.
How to retain clients: Clients like to do business with people that they like and trust. You have to always add value to each relationship and follow through with all commitments. Keep your promises always! Provide them service that they won’t get anywhere else. I’ll have more ideas in the next section.
Most clients today are looking for the best purchase experience, the best service experience, and the best overall experience when dealing with an automotive dealership. This is an idea that I have been working on for the last several months. As I look at my own life, I will pay more for the best service at a restaurant. I will also pay more for the best comfort and durability of a pair of pants. I do look for deals, but I am always willing to buy the same product if I’ve had good service from it. All clients are the same. They will pay more for a better (or the best) experience. That’s what we in sales have to get better at.
Think about Disney World. Most of us that have been there always have the urge and want to go back. Why is that? I’m not saying that your showroom should be a theme park with rides and food vendors, but it should be close. Most consumers are able to do most shopping from their homes while sitting on their couch. If we want them to come to us, for service, sales, and parts, we have to give them a reason to leave their home.
How to create the best experience: If you want to overwhelm your clients with the best experience they’ve ever seen, you must first ask them what they like and what they want. Not every client will be open about this, but most will. Take the answers you get and tailor an experience specific to them. This doesn’t necessarily cost money, and you don’t have to be the boss to make decisions on what to do. Every employee can decide to control the experience they give to each client. In most cases, every employee needs to improve the experience they give. When everyone works together, you earn clients for life. The Golden Rule applies! Treat everyone like you would want to be treated.
Markets fluctuate over time. That’s part of business and part of life. In sales the ultimate responsibility for success is yours. Whether there is traffic or not, you have to achieve your goals. We spend so much time at work, it’s important that we always have people to talk to. The automobile business market has fluctuated so much over the last decade. It’s important be become independent of current market conditions. I have identified several areas that can help you achieve success in any market. Lead generation will always help you keep fresh clients to talk to you. Retention will allow you to keep doing business with your existing clients. Creating and giving the best experience every time will help you secure new clients and create raving fans out of existing clients. When you fill your day with these activities, the market will not dictate success. You will!
My thoughts come from my personal experience in sales of the automobile industry. Markets do fluctuate in every industry and you will always need people to sell to. The three areas of lead generation, retention, and the experience will also allow you to become independent of the market and dictate your own success.