Getting Unsold Customers Back In

Calling showroom traffic is a backstop to all of your marketing efforts. Phone appointments, Internet appointments and fresh ups who’ve left the showroom without taking delivery are very good prospects.

Showroom visitors these days are lower in the shopping funnel than customers of the past. Because of the Internet and the customer’s ability to do most of their shopping prior to visiting a dealership, that customer in your showroom is a very precious opportunity. On average, customers visit two dealerships prior to making a purchase where just a few years ago they visited three to four dealerships before making a buying decision. Buyers take delivery within 72 hours after first visiting a dealership, 90 percent of the time.

It can be a challenge to get these customers back. For the most part, we had our chance. But with some teamwork, you can realize about a 15 to 20 percent close rate on all unsold showroom visitors.

There is a unique third-person quality to these calls if done by the BDC. The BDC can act as an advocate for the customer and the sales department. Offering the customer an opportunity to express their thoughts about the experience and the deal can actually help you gain agreement—reconnecting the customer to your store and resulting in a deal.

Following these guidelines can lead to excellent results.

1. Rank your traffic. This gives the BDC the confidence to make these calls. It also prevents BDC representatives from appointing customers who can’t buy. Frankly, those customers are easy to get back but the experience is negative for the customer and the sales team. Ranking your traffic gives the BDC a clear picture of who needs to be re-appointed. Sales managers need to rank showroom traffic into at least three categories:

   A. Green – Qualified customer. These are the customers the manager wants back.

   B. Yellow – Unqualified customer. These customers get a courtesy follow-up call to thank them for the opportunity and remain part of your long-term nurture marketing.

   C. Red – Do not call. For whatever reason, these customers are not to be called by the BDC, as determined by the manager. The purchase may be a secret or this customer is just an assassin who needs not be contacted.

2. Notes are required for a quality showroom outcome call. Salesperson notes and manager notes are the best. The salesperson’s notes can help the BDC build rapport with the customer and the manager notes can give your BDC representatives some insight into how to motivate the customer to let us complete the transaction.

3. Usually something has to change. It’s unlikely you can get a customer back to your showroom without a change in the deal or the vehicle. The exception may be that they like the car and the deal and just wanted to sleep on it.

Sometimes customers really do just want to think about it, but this reason for not taking delivery can go many directions. Your customer may be comparing the information you provided to their research, validating or invalidating your information. They could also be simply comparing your product to others. They could have ruled out your product. They might be reworking their budget or now realize the car will not fit their budget. One of my dealer principals used to say, “A thousand and one things can happen, and only one of them is good.”

Because we can’t screen for thousands of outcomes, the following strategy makes sense and works most of the time. We need to determine the following:

1. Do they like us well enough to buy from us?

2. Do they like the car well enough to own it?

3. What exactly is preventing them from moving forward and taking delivery?

The third-party nature of the BDC making this call makes it easier to discover the answers to these questions. Questions like, “Thanks for coming in, I see you worked with Bill; how did he do?” and “Have you found a car you’d really like to own?” allow the customer to open up without creating conflict.

If it’s our store they want to do business with, and our car they want, the only thing left is the objection to the deal. By asking the customer, “What is the main thing keeping you from moving forward?” the BDC representative can usually discover the objection that is preventing the deal.

Managers need to be prepared to help with these customers. Sometimes getting on the phone and negotiating the deal is necessary. A business development manager can do this too if given the authority, which they should have, in conjunction with communicating with the desk. The point is, when you get a customer and a couple of managers working together to find solutions, something usually develops.

Customers are frequently on the wrong car. The math of a deal is directly related to the vehicle itself. So for the math to change, often the car has to change also. Nobody knows the inventory better than the managers, and it’s the manager who knows which cars will work and which ones won’t.

Data collection is critical to a successful showroom visit outcome campaign. BDCs are fueled by data. Names, numbers, e-mail addresses and notes need to be gathered during the visit. A “data collection standard” is helpful in making sure this gets done. Salespeople who meet your standards are eligible for BDC appointments, which should motivate showroom staff to collect the necessary data your BDC needs to contact customers after the visit. Providing BDC representatives with multiple methods of contact increases their contact rate and makes everything and everybody more effective.

Vol. 7, Issue 10