One Year of Text Follow-up
I saw this Facebook post and engaged the author in hopes of giving him a few pointers on customer follow-up, only to be reminded that many car salespeople are poorly trained.
Here is the exchange that took place
Post by Author: When you text a customer and showed them a photo of a car and four months later comes in and doesn’t ask for you.
My response: Four months? This sounds like a great opportunity for you on customer follow-up.
Author’s Response: I sent the customer a text a week after they texted me.
Me: Based on the information you have now, what do you think you could have done differently?
Author: Just keep calling them buy or die.
Me: That’s very cliche. What does that mean to you?
At this point, the author stopped responding.
This exchange got me thinking about how new salespeople are sometimes trained and who performs the training.
At a franchise dealer, manufacturer training is often so simple that it doesn’t take long for the apprentice to discover, whether by observation or direct ridicule by peers, that this training lacks real-world objectivity.
I mentioned the second kind of training new salespeople often receive; peer pressure and bad advice from “veteran” salespeople. While often well-intentioned, these people are not skilled trainers, and they have learned pithy clichés like the author of this post used to define their sales and follow-up process. While valid to a certain extent, this training doesn’t teach the new salesperson the why or how of follow-up.
The third kind of training that many new salespeople receive is from Sales Managers who are already overworked. While they were likely good salespeople (the incorrect person to promote to a Sales Manager position in my opinion, but that is a topic for another article), they are not qualified trainers and are often the originators of these clichés. Again, also well-intentioned but not helpful.
First, let’s explore the cliché in question. The cliché, as I learned it, is:
Call ’em till they buy or die.
At its core, it’s supposed to be an earworm to the salesperson that nags him to continue to text, call and email the prospect when they’d prefer to give up and mark the lead lost. I agree with the premise. I don’t agree with the typical execution of the cliché.
The salesperson needs to understand the WHY and the HOW of this follow-up.
Rather simply, the WHY is to keep the customer engaged with you or the dealership. Perhaps the customer put in a lead on a vehicle and later decided that this wasn’t the vehicle for them, but they are still shopping. If you can keep the customer engaged and show him that you have more to offer than your competition at another dealership, the customer is more likely do business with you.
How should it be done?
I need to make some assumptions in this situation since I have limited information. I assume, for example, that this was an internet lead where the customer provided a cell phone number.
I also assume that the customer requested information about a specific vehicle since our salesperson “showed him” a photo of a car.
As an aside, the customer wasn’t SHOWN a photo of a car; he was sent a photo of a car. In car sales speak, a “show” is an in-person presentation demonstration of a vehicle. During this in-person time, I would expect the sales consultant to also build some rapport with the customer, build somewhat of a friendship and do something to earn some loyalty on the part of the customer. A couple of texts and an image don’t effectively do this.
The HOW is providing value with every message. Jeffrey Gitomer, a prolific writer about selling, says that follow-up without value is simply “calling to check on your money.”
Isn’t that was most of your follow-up messages are like? Could they just as easily be replaced with this:
“Hi, Mr. Customer, it’s Glen from ABC Motors checking in on my money. Are you going to be buying any time soon?”
That isn’t very good. That, however, is the root message behind most follow-up messages.
Here are my suggestions for ONE FULL YEAR of follow-up messages that also give the customer some value.
This follow-up process starts the same day you responded to the original lead.
Later that same day…let’s assume the lead came in on Friday.
“Hi, Mr. Customer, I got tied up with another customer, but I wanted to get back to you to see if I could send you more information about this car. It has a spotless CarFax. Can I send you a copy of that?”
Day 1 (Saturday)
“Hi Mr. Customer, while I was driving the lot on the way in this morning and saw this car, I got to thinking about you. I remembered that we put brand new tires on this car when it came in on trade, and I forgot to mention that yesterday. That’ll be a huge benefit to you, knowing that you won’t need to spend money on that for the next 50,000 miles. How many miles do you typically drive per year?”
Later Day 1 (Saturday)
“Hi again, Mr. Customer, I don’t mean to blow up your phone with texts, but during our mid-day meeting, our sales manager reminded me that our lot is in desperate need of inventory, and he asked me what kind of trade-in you have. I realized that I forgot to ask you about your trade-in. Will you be trading something in when you buy this new one? I’d love to tell my manager that we will be taking something in. – Glen.”
Day 3 (Monday)
“Hi again, Mr customer. After all the weekend sales, and with such limited inventory and market demand for cars like the one we’ve been talking about, there’s talk of raising prices this weekend. (Crazy time we’re living in, isn’t it?) So, I wanted to see if we could get under the radar and start putting something together on this car before they start the markups. – Glen”
Day 4 (Tuesday)
Hi Mr. Customer, I took the car we’ve been talking about through the car wash today and noticed that this one has the upgraded radio from the factory. I’m not sure if I mentioned that to you before, so I wanted to be sure you knew that this one is a more desirable vehicle than many of them out there. Our website may be missing some of the features this car has. Are there any features about the car that are important to you that I can tell you about? – Glen”
Day 5 (Wednesday)
“Hi Mr. Customer, the weekend is approaching, and the possible price increases I mentioned earlier will likely be happening. I was talking to my manager about your interest in this car and asked if I could lock you in on the lower price. He said we could! (This rarely happens!) Would you like to work out some numbers before he changes his mind? – Glen”
Day 6 (Thursday)
Hi Mr. Customer, it’s my day off today, but I wanted to reach out from home to let you know that if you’d like to stop by the dealership today, I’ll come in to give you a hand – Glen
Day 7 (Friday)
Hi Mr. Customer. On my way to work this morning, I saw a car a lot like the one we’ve been talking about, and I got to thinking about you again,
My Saturday schedule is filling up, but since we’ve been working together, I wanted to see if you were ready to come in to drive the car we’ve been talking about. I’ll move some other customers around if you’re coming in. Let me know. Thanks! – Glen
Day 8 (Saturday Morning)
Today is usually a pretty busy day at the dealership, so I wanted to send you a quick text to remind you to ask for me if you come in today. (I know that starting over with a new salesperson can be a pain!) Think you’ll be stopping by?
Day 10 (Monday)
GREAT NEWS! The car we’ve been talking about didn’t sell over the weekend! A customer I was working with drove it and loved it but ultimately decided that they wanted something with fewer options (it was a car for their college kid…. must be nice, huh?) Anyway, it’s still available for you if you’re still shopping. I’ll clean it up from the test drive over the weekend and snap a few fresh pictures for you. I’ll have them for you soon. – Glen
Later Day 10 (Monday)
Here are the pictures I promised you. I was just told that we sold this car new and serviced here at the dealership. That’s always great news! This reminds me of your trade-in… Did you buy your current car locally? – Glen
Day 11 (Tuesday)
Hi Mr. Customer! You know what I’ve been forgetting to ask you: This car seats 5, is that enough space? Did you want me to see if we have something else that will work better for you? – Glen
Day 14 (Friday)
The weekend is nearly upon us, and since we started talking, we’ve taken in a few trades that are very similar to the car we’ve been talking about. Are you interested in learning any more about them? – Glen
Day 20 (Thursday)
Hi Mr. Customer. Are you still in the market for a new car? I have a few ideas! – Glen
Day 25 (Tuesday)
Hi Mr. Customer. The finance department told us this morning that with the economy, interest rates are fluctuating a lot. Would you be financing the car through us, your bank, or are you paying cash? – Glen
Day 31 (Monday)
GREAT NEWS! There’s been a price drop on the car we’ve been talking about. I thought you’d like to hear that it’s more affordable! I’ll send along an updated price worksheet shortly. – Glen
Day 31 Later that day
Here’s the price worksheet I promised. I used local taxes and new license plates; those can come out if your current trade has plates in the same category. Will you be transferring plates?
Day 45 (Monday)
Well, CRUD! I have bad news: the car we’ve been talking about has sold, but several in stock are still very similar. I’ll give you a link to those here in a second. – Glen
Are any of those interesting to you?
Day 60 (Tuesday)
Hi Mr. Cutsomer. Are you still shopping for a new car? I have a few new ideas for you! – Glen
Day 90 (Thursday)
Hi Mr. Customer, today is my day off, but I wanted to remind you that if you want to come into the dealership today, I’ll come in to give you a hand. Let me know. – Glen
Day 105 (Friday)
Hi Mr. Customer. Are you still shopping for a new car? Even if you’re not, feel free to use me as a resource at the dealership. I have a few connections in the service department; I can usually get my customers a bit of a discount on oil-changes and multipoint inspections. Just send me a text if I can help you out. – Glen
Day 136 (Monday)
Hi Mr. Customer. I was able to score some tickets to the civic theater’s play coming up this weekend. Can I send you any? Just call me at the dealership, and I’ll hook you up! – Glen at ABC Motors
Day 166 (Wednesday)
Hi Mr. Customer! Great news! The dealership is letting me send out some swag! Can I send you anything? Shoot me a text, and I’ll let you know what we have! – Glen @ ABC Motors
Day 196 (Friday)
Hi Mr. Customer! The service department is having a tire sale this weekend. Can I give you a hand setting up an appointment? – Glen @ ABC Motors
Day 227 (Monday)
Hi Mr. Customer. This time of year, there is typically a used car market adjustment at auctions, so inventory is tough to get. I wonder if you have equity in your current car. We can give you a pretty good estimate of its trade-in value without you needing to come in. (A lot of times, we can upgrade you to a nicer newer car and keep your payments about the same!) Can we explore this? – Glen @ ABC Motors
Day 318 (Monday)
Hi Mr. Customer! One of the things I love about ABC Motors is how loyal they are to their employees. My employment anniversary is coming soon, so the management gives me the luxury of rewarding my customers. I have a coupon for $200 off any vehicle or $200 off our interior / exterior protection package. If you’re in the market again for a new car, you can help me celebrate! – Glen @ ABC Motors
Day 348 (Wednesday)
Hi Mr. Customer, the Service Manager just told me that I could offer $10 off a multipoint inspection to anyone I want to! Are you interested in me giving him your name? – Glen @ ABC Motors
This is one full year of value-driven, non-confrontational follow-up.
Every single one of these messages offers value to your prospect and reinforces that you are a genuine resource at the dealership looking out for your customer’s best interest.
If your follow-up process is anything like this (and the customer hasn’t asked you to STOP), you are becoming their “guy in the car business” Eventually, they will buy from you.
And, if not. So what!!
How much time does it take to send a quick text? If you have time to stand around engaging in any activity that isn’t directly related to selling a car today or sometime in the future, then you have time to use this follow-up process.