Dealer Ops

Follow-Up Skills Everyone Needs

Before we consider follow-up, it is important to make sure we have done everything possible to sell the customer a vehicle while at the dealership. Even if we have done a good job with the customer and covered all of the steps (selection, presentation, demo drive, etc.), averages dictate that about three of every four prospects will leave without buying. Follow-up is the fine art of turning those walkouts into “be-backs” and ultimately sold customers. Here are the fundamental types of follow-up and some techniques to use:

•     Same-Day Unsold

•     24-Hour Unsold

•     Ongoing Unsold

•     Management Review 

•     Sold

•     Ongoing Sold

Same-Day Unsold:
Depending on the time of day you saw them, customers are probably out shopping other dealerships after they left. When conducting same-day unsold follow-up, be sure to ask how their vehicle search is progressing. Re-state the main points of any offers you made while they were with you. Don’t put off the follow-up call! A customer’s world does not stop turning just for us. Here are some sample phrases to use.

•     Thank you for visiting us today.

•     Are you still considering the vehicle or offer we discussed?

•     Are you still in the market or have your plans changed?

•     Have you continued to shop?

•     What kind of experience did you have?

•     Have any of your specifications changed since your visit?

•     We’re here if you need us; I want to be your automotive consultant.

•     We want you to know that we value your business.

•     We want to earn your business.

24-Hour Unsold:
Every unsold customer not contacted the same day must at least receive a follow-up call within 24 hours. Customers do appreciate the calls since it shows that we are sincerely interested in earning their business. Here are some additional phrases to use:

•     Would you consider a used (or other) vehicle as an alternative?

•     Other customers have told us that other dealerships did not call them back so I just wanted to…

•     I wanted to mention that since you were here, ________________ has changed.

•     My manager wanted me to tell you ____________.

•     Factory incentives may change on the vehicle you’re looking at.

•     The incentives on the vehicle you looked at are expiring soon.

•     We’re having a huge sale at the end of the month.

•     We have an additional selection of vehicles that just arrived.

•     We received another vehicle that might work better for you.

•     We received some additional financing information (approval, etc).

•     My manager has a buyer for your trade and would like to re-appraise it.

•     We received additional factory allocation so we can order your vehicle.

Ongoing Unsold Ups:
Our usual method is to follow-up until they buy or die. While this may seem extreme, it is important to be persistent and keep following the customer until a resolution is made. Since you will be making repeated calls to the same customer, a plan is essential.

•     Have a fresh reason to call.

•     Put the customer first; it’s all about them.

•     Ask for a status update (did they buy, are they still in the market, etc).

•     Ask what else can be done to earn their business.

Management Review:
You will periodically review your unsold customers with your sales manager. There are several reasons for doing this, which include:

•     Make managers aware of details to help a customer in your absence.

•     Get a fresh, objective look at a deal or prospect.

•     Find a new opportunity to close the customer.

•     Formulate a plan of action to close a deal.

•     Make decision on disposition of the customer.

Sold Follow-Up:
Every new or used vehicle customer must receive a follow-up call between 24 to 72 hours after delivery without exception. This is also one of the questions the customer will answer when they receive their new vehicle purchase survey from the manufacturer. Here are the “conversation points” for the follow-up call:

•     Thank them for their purchase.

•     Ask how they are enjoying their vehicle (not “how is the car running, do you have any problems, etc”).

•     For new vehicle sales, mention the manufacturer’s survey.

•     If your dealership has one, mention your referral “bird dog” program.

•     Remind them to call you with any and all automotive questions (you want to be their automotive consultant).

•     Tell them you will be keeping in contact with them on a regular basis.

Ongoing Sold:
Once vehicles are sold and delivered, customers should be entered into the dealership database. It is your responsibility to maintain contact with these customers at least every 90 days. Contacts can be in the form of follow-up calls, birthday cards, promotional mailers and newsletters. Ask your sales manager for details and assistance in planning your follow-up program. The most important thing is to stick with it! Most customers will forget the name of the individual who sold them a vehicle before they are ready to buy again unless you stay in contact with them.  Additionally, you will increase your odds of getting referral business.  Some methods of ongoing sold follow-up are:

•     Call or mail cards for birthdays and holidays.

•     Send quarterly newsletters.

•     E-mail or mail special service offers.

•     Send anniversary of purchase cards or letters.

Follow-up, whether it’s done while the decision making process or after a customer buys a vehicle, is a vital part of automotive sales.  Follow-up conducted during the decision making process will increase the odds of be-backs, while follow-up done after the sale should generate referrals and repeat customer sales.

Vol 4, Issue 5


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