Article

Internet Sales Process-Part Two: The Follow Up

August 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean V. Bradley - Also by this author

Last month, we looked at the industry stats relating to leads, their sources and the average time it takes to close a lead. Now we will focus on the detailed ways to handle leads and respond to your prospects.

Remember, you need a firm process for follow-up on each of these leads. Some dealerships have a process where they send e-mails and do phone follow-up for a few weeks and then take a break before continuing to follow up.

When I ask the staff why they are doing this, they usually respond with one of three answers: 1) I have no idea; 2) because someone told me to; or 3) because I don’t want to follow-up too much and upset the prospect.

Let me be clear with my position. You cannot lose something you never had. Don’t be scared. Don’t sell scared. Don’t follow up scared. You want to follow up with your prospects every single day for the first 45 days with e-mail and phone calls.

As a matter of fact, you should try to call twice a day. I am not suggesting that you leave voice mail messages twice or even once daily. I actually recommend you use *67 to block caller ID. You don’t want to make it appear that you are stalking the prospect and blow up their voice mail, but you should attempt to contact them daily.

You want to make sure that you try to contact prospects at different times of day. Remember that the highest contact time is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. People who disrupt the follow-up protocol and give prospects an “Internet follow-up break” are seriously risking their competition calling that day and closing the prospect on an automobile!

Remember the average buying cycle is 45 to 55 days and can last up to 90 days! It almost always extends 30 days. The only challenge is that if you are going to have a methodical follow-up campaign, meaning e-mail or a phone call every day, you need to either buy or create the proper content.

You want to have a powerful e-mail template library. Don’t only rely on the ones that came packaged with your Internet lead management (ILM) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. You want to create strong e-mail templates, like “Value Packages,” “Bios,” “Testimonials” and “Sales,” just to name a few categories.

You also need to buy or create powerful phone scripts to use when calling Internet sales prospects, as well as voicemail scripts. The bottom line is that you need to be prepared in what you are e-mailing and what you are saying both verbally and in print to the customer. If you can prepare properly you will be fine. It is usually the dealerships that don’t have the right e-mail templates, phone scripts or voicemail scripts or the right ones resist a system. The idea is to have a methodical follow-up protocol for each and every Internet sales prospect.

When the lead comes in, there should be:

•      An automatic e-mail response
•      A phone call attempt
•      A second phone call attempt later that day

Literally e-mail then call every day for the first 45 days, and if you can get through your entire “active” prospect file, you should start at the top of your list and attempt to call everyone again.

I also previously shared about the science of communication. Rarely have I seen a dealership sell cars because of an e-mail. It always involves phone calls and in-person appointments at the store. Fifty-five percent of communication is visual perception and body language. This gives us the scientific “Rules of Engagement.” The e-mail sells the phone call, the phone call sells the appointment and the appointment sells a relationship, the product presentation, a demo drive and ultimately the automobile.

The only purpose of your e-mails should be to escalate to the phone call. You will escalate from the 7 percent of communication that is conveyed from the text or words we use. Once you have the prospect on the phone, refrain from trying to sell him/her a car. Sell the appointment! Sell the value of coming into the dealership. Once you have the prospect at your dealership, you will have escalated the experience from a 38-percent communication medium to a full 100 percent.

If you agree with this strategy, you are going to need some resources to assist you in your efforts. First, you must commit yourself to this methodical follow-up approach of e-mail/call every day, and if possible, try to call your prospect list twice in a day.

Next, you are going to create a library of e-mail templates, all of which have a call to action to try to get the phone call. Make sure no matter what the content of the e-mail template, it always escalates the next action of the prospect to the phone call. You will also need to create both incoming phone call scripts and outgoing Internet phone call scripts. The sole objective of these scripts for both incoming/outgoing phone conversations is to SELL THE APPOINTMENTS!

You want to get the prospect into the dealership to sell them on yourself, the dealership and the product. The critical component is creating the scripts for the messages you will leave on the prospect’s answering machine. They need to be engaging and compelling so the prospect will call you back. Most of the work in the Internet sales department is going to be on the phone. The hardest part is actually getting the prospect on the phone.

As a matter of fact, research shows that you will only connect with approximately 10 to 15 percent of the people you call. The rest will result in a voice mail or no contact. That means you need to be creative with your library of voice mail messages. You want to get the prospect to either call you back or answer your call.

I am confident that if you commit to a methodical approach to following up with your prospects, you will see tremendous results in your efforts!

Vol 5, Issue 7

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