The Follow-up Call: When the Customer Says They Bought

February 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Will Parquette - Also by this author


“Oh, you bought a what?”  No one likes to say this when making a follow-up call to what you thought was still a working prospect. Unfortunately, no matter how well we may have worked with the customer, it happens. It could have been something we said, something we didn’t say, the follow-up call we put off or any number of things.

Here are some ideas to help turn a negative situation into a positive one and possibly generate some future business as well:

Have they taken delivery yet?  This is the first and most important question to ask the customer as soon as they tell you they have made a deal. Find out what their objections to your deal were, get with your manager and put together a full-court press to attempt to get the customer back in before they do take delivery. Pull out all the stops at this point!

Be gracious.  Be polite when talking to the customer and thank them again for giving you an opportunity to earn their business. Offer an apology such as, “I’m sorry if there was something we missed.” This is business and you cannot take it personally. Acting rudely or thinking of “punishing” the customer for choosing another dealership will never accomplish anything.

Offer service.  Tell the customer that your award-winning service department welcomes all factory warranty customers regardless of where they purchased their vehicle. Threatening service refusal or appointment delays will only damage your dealership’s reputation. Many future sales are made in the service department first!

Ask why they bought somewhere else.  Ask the customer in a non-confrontational manner such as, “So if you don’t mind me asking, what was the deciding factor in your choosing the other car?”  Tell the customer, “We always seek this information so we can learn to do a better job next time, and it helps us better serve our customers’ needs.”

Ask for referrals and future business. This is not the end of the world, or the last car this customer will ever buy. Be friendly and politely ask for a chance at their future business and any referrals. If you treated this customer properly and respectfully they will agree to this, even though you didn’t sell them this time.

Keep the customer in your marketing activities.  Add this customer to your e-mail, mail or casual follow-up lists, and keep communicate with him or her until they asked you to stop.  All customer information is a valuable resource which the dealership worked hard (and spent money) to obtain, don’t waste it.

Just because you didn’t sell to that person today doesn’t mean you can’t sell to them in the future.

Vol 3, Issue 12

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