Follow Up Sales Email After No Response

One of my favorite topics is crafting the perfect follow up sales email after no response. Being able to close low hanging fruit is one thing, but selling hard to reach customers is entirely different!

Follow Up Sales Email After No Response is an art
make sure your emails make an entrance

This article is focused on writing the perfect follow up sales email after no response for car sales, but these templates have been built from experts across a number of industries. As such, they can be appropriated for most all sales organizations.

The Reasons For Non-Response

Plenty of reasons exist for the your no response customers. Certainly some never wanted to inquire in the first place, and see your constant tries to contact them as just part of the daily deluge of spam emails.

The people we want to concentrate on are those who want to buy, but haven’t yet:

  1. Found Someone They Like To Work With (Rapport)
  2. Found A Deal That Suits Them (Value)
  3. Had Their Interest Piqued (Unique)
  4. Found The Time (Opportunity)

So you need to be crafting the perfect follow up sales email after no response that builds rapport, offers value, in a unique way, at the right time. The first three are content, and the fourth demands that you follow up consistently. If you send one non-response follow up email and then give up, you are not giving yourself very good odds.

Let’s start by showing some lackluster examples of common non-response emails that don’t work. After we break down what’s wrong, we can jump into some expert alternatives.

Follow Up Sales Email After No Response: Lack Luster Example #1

When I was secret shopping for my last article about car sales follow up scripts, I did some secret shopping online. I targeted a local Porsche dealer, hoping to find some strong follow up. If you read that article you would already know that I ended up disappointed…

And that’s it. No other follow up, no more calls. For a customer interested in a $90k car they sent one automated email, two templates and called once. I was pretty disappointed.

The last email I received, is one which I have seen many times with slight tweaks. As far as I’m concerned, this follow up sales email after no response is providing a solution for something that wasn’t a problem. See if you can spot what they are trying to address:

Hello Steve,

As the E-Commerce Department Manager I am checking in on your experience.

Has our team met your expectations? Is there anything I can do for you?

Driven to Excellence,

David Saucedo
Sales Manager
Porsche of Fremont
Direct: (510)***-****
Fax: (510)***-****
www.porscheoffremont.com

The system that sent this was trying to utilize a common sales strategy, the change of face. This sales strategy is very effective during the sales process when a potential client may not be interfacing well with the salesperson. This strategy is not effective, however, when the problem is non-response. The customer isn’t not responding because the sales person pissed them off, they aren’t responding because of our four key reasons above.

Follow Up Sales Email After No Response: Lack Luster Example #2

This email comes to me from Leith BMW in Raleigh North Carolina. I did some secret shopping there and was initially disappointed with the response. Their response times had been great, but the templates (and lack there of) that they used were not the best.

When jumping back in my secret shopper identity “Steve Cornelius” I expected to find an inbox full of emails. I figured that this dealership would have a strong follow up game, just maybe not the best content.

Follow Up Sales Email After No Response example from leith BMW

So the follow up schedule is every three days. Not a bad schedule to set up, assuming it is automated.

Content Of Follow Up Emails

I went through all of those emails. This one is the a follow up sales email after no response that they sent.

Steve,

It has been several days since you contacted our dealership. I would like to be able to meet your needs. Please help us by answering these questions so that we can do our best to earn your business.

Did we not have the vehicle you were looking for?
Please let us know, we may have that vehicle available now.

Were we not able to get you the price or terms to fit your budget?
Please let us know, Dealership and Manufacturer incentives change on a regular basis, so we may be able to work out a better deal than previously offered.

Have you purchased a vehicle elsewhere?
Please let us know, so that we can update our customer records.

If you have yet to make a purchase, please contact me at your earliest convenience and I will provide some current numbers that reflect our inventory and any incentives currently available.

The staff of Leith BMW wants you to know that your time and business is important to us and we will make every possible effort to earn your trust and your business. Your complete satisfaction is our top priority!

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Evelyn Gonzalez
Internet Sales Coordinator
Leith BMW of Raleigh

This email has two main things wrong. Firstly, it’s way to long, coming in at over 200 words. That email is 5 tweets long. That is way too long, especially because all it’s really asking is “what did we do wrong?”. This kind of phrasing, in what is obviously a template, makes me feel like they deal with these issues constantly:

  1. Did we not have the vehicle you were looking for?
  2. Were we not able to get you the price or terms to fit your budget?
  3. Have you purchased a vehicle elsewhere?

Why are we lip loading reasons for them not buy here? What if you changed those emails around?

Improved Follow Up Template

What if you gave them reasons to buy instead?

Steve,

Looking forward to connecting.

Many customers love the fact that we will always find the car that works for them. We have a dealer network of 20+ dealers to source you the car that works.

They also love our ability to work with a variety of budgets, always priced at or below market! We secret shop every week so you don’t have to.

Let me know when we can chat,

Evelyn @ 815-***-****

That email has a positive message and is only 70 words. It will easily fit into a cell phone screen with no scrolling necessary. Also it clearly demonstrates value, which you should overdeliver on!

THE KEY WEAKNESS!

Check out the final weakness of her emails, the “dealer border”. These borders rob you of real estate on your emails.

Circle back to my picture from before. Look at the sub text below the email subject (gray text):

I literally highlighted the problem

Do you see how the gray text says:

“Home Specials Trade Appraisal New Car Pre-Own…

That is the first line of the email according to gmail, because of the border. See the border in this photo:

Do you see the “dealership border” now?

That box that the email is in accomplishes this:

  1. Makes the email look like spam to gmail
  2. Makes the sub text on the inbox not have any relevant content
  3. Slows down the loading of the email

Let’s see what my alternative email looks like in the inbox:

using our skills
much more enticing

Much better! I use “RE: yes…” as the subject, since shorter subject lines get better responses and the “RE:” makes the email look like a continuation of communication.

How To Capture The Non-Response Customers The Right Way

So we’ve reviewed some of the ways that we reach out to customers right now when they don’t respond to our follow up. It’s my theory that most problems have solutions, you just have to find them. So, in that vein, I took it upon myself to go and find out what the experts have to say.

The Take Away Email

I love this example from Hubspot. They have this email, which they call their “no BS break up email”. This email is what they use when someone doesn’t respond to follow up repeatedly, and their file is getting stale.

The magic starts with the subject line:

Permission to close your file?

Short, direct, to the point. Requires their input and is unique. It has an air of professionalism but also begs a response. They say that they get 76% response rate with this email:

[First Name],

We are in the process of closing files for the month. Typically when I haven’t heard back from someone it means they’re either really busy or aren’t interested.

If you aren’t interested, do I have your permission to close your file?

If you’re still interested, what do you recommend as a next step?

Thanks for your help.

Alternative Take Away Email

This is an alternative version of the email above, this time from the pipedrive blog.

The subject is catchy, and sets the tone of the email apart:

It’s really lonely out here

The content starts more seriously, but then ends with the goofy attitude in the subject line:

Hi [Name]

I’ve tried to get in contact with you several times over the last few months without success, which leaves me thinking that:

  1. You’re not interested. That’s OK, I won’t take it personally.
  2. The timing is wrong. This happens. I’ll happily get back to you in a few weeks or months, although years might be a stretch too far.
  3. You’ve been abducted by aliens: Please let them know that I am happy to come along and tell them where to find me.

I won’t contact you again but you can keep my info on file if you ever need [service].

[Signature]

Although I think that #1 has phrasing that sounds like a “guilt trip”, I really like this email because of #3. Life can’t be taken too seriously, and this attitude is light hearted and sure to win you some love from potential clients.

The Call To Action Subject Line

I love the idea of including a call to action in your emails. According to wikipedia, a call to action is:

Call to action (CTA) is a marketing term used extensively in advertising and selling. It refers to any device designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale. A CTA most often refers to the use of words or phrases that can be incorporated into sales scripts, advertising messages or web pages that encourage consumers to take prompt action.

The key is encouraging prompt action. You want something in your email to grab the attention of the customer and inspire them to act right away.

Follow Up Sales Email After No Response should be like a light in the dark- calling them to act!
call out what you want

Let’s start with an example of a call to action email subject line:

Are you available for a 15 min chat on Sep 10 at 3 PM?

I love this subject line! The call to action is direct with actionable specifics.

How about this subject line:

Do we have your permission to share a personalized video on our pricing strategy?

That line can be great if your dealership has one price used cars. It builds value and your brand, plus asking for permission is a great call to action.

Review: Follow Up Sales Email After No Response

In this article we reviewed some lackluster follow up sales email after no response examples, we broke down what’s wrong with dealer borders for emails, and we shared a few key emails and subject lines.

Let us know what you found value in and what you would add!

Car Sales Follow Up Script

How does your dealership handle follow up? Is it all done by the individual salespeople? Or is run through a BDC?

building your car sales follow up script will take time and effort
Rome wasn’t built in a day

Most importantly… are you and your team trained to use an optimized car sales follow up script?

Crafting Your Car Sales Follow Up Script

Without training and guidance, process and procedure, your dealer is giving up car sales. Humans are naturally lazy.

You’ll be relieved to hear that choosing the couch is only human. Humans are inherently lazy, which may be a trait left over from our ancestors’ days of conserving energy for the next hunt.

This has implications, a millennia later, to affect your business in the 21st century. Using optimized car sales follow up scripts and strict processes you can control for the natural tendencies of your work force.

Car sales follow up is a daily battle for nearly every dealership in the world. In this article, we are going to cover:

  1. Some statistics from my store’s internet department sales
  2. Elise Kephart’s car sales follow up script
  3. Porsche Fremont’s car sales follow up script
  4. Key conclusions and solid processes to install at your dealer

The Anatomy Of A Sold Car Deal

Customers come to your dealership in a number of different avenues. While fresh ups and phone ups started as qualified customers, internet customers start the cycle as unqualified. You need to find out if an internet lead is real the first day that it arrives.

Internet Sold Audit

Here are the cars sold in the first week of May 2018. I have deleted all names from the list.

I dove into the car sales follow up script used on these customers. Generally we relied on a strong first response email template and numerous phone calls.

The most pertinent information on this chart is the “Days to Sold”. These sales events took an average of 24.7 days to close. When I dove into these events from my store, I found one more revealing detail.

All but one of these customers first responded to follow up within 48 hours. The one outlier took 50 hours to respond and bought after 30 days.

This scares me- are we missing the opportunity to sell cars to customers that take longer to respond? Where are those long term unqualified sold customers?

Some More Details On These Sold Deals

So how did these customers first get in contact with our dealership after putting in a lead?

Ten of the fourteen answered our emails, while four of them answered a phone call. None of them responded to the first response text message.

Three of the customers did some of the negotiation over text (they all opted in after speaking on the phone or via email). The cold-text didn’t seem to get any response, where as the customer that has already had some contact seemed to be more receptive.

Conclusions from the Audit

So it seems that while most of our internet customers wanted to talk via email, but a significant chunk (28%) preferred the phone.

I think the more revealing fact is the 24+ day average to close a deal. This means that not only did the first response need to be engaging, but the follow up calls also needed to be regular and well executed!

First Response Car Sales Follow Up Script

When a lead first get’s placed with the dealer, contact needs to be made quickly and with polish. There are a few thought leaders in the automotive sector that focus on this part of the process.

I’m going to break down and analyze the key points made by some of the top google ranked follow up experts.

Elise Kephart’s Video and Volume

Elise Kephart has an interesting break down here on her follow up process. She guides you through her ten steps to responding to a first response. Here is it broken down into a simplified list:

  1. Phone call to make contact. Introduce the dealership, thank for interest, give reason to buy, share contact info, set expectation of follow up
  2. Email a video that shows the vehicle
  3. Send opt in text message
  4. Send a post card
  5. Call again using caller-id spoofing (explanation here)
  6. Email again short email
  7. Call again using caller-id spoofing
  8. Email again short email
  9. Call again using your number
  10. Email again short email

Whew… that’s a lot for one day. She breaks down this follow up into four parts of the day.

Key Points from Elise’s Car Sales Follow Script

Elise brings three key innovations to her car sales follow script that I appreciate.

Video Message

The first is the focus on video messaging. Video messaging can be an effective tool to share the visuals of a vehicle with a customer. It may be a strong way of differentiating your follow up from other dealers and coming across as willing to contribute strong effort.

Elise's car sales follow up script relies heavily on video messaging
are your customers going to wait for this video to load?

The downside of sending a video message are two fold. First, it takes a lot of time. Now, this isn’t a complaint against work. Rather, I think that it isn’t the best use of the follow up person’s time. At my dealership you would need to:

  1. Find the car
  2. Rinse it
  3. Park it
  4. Film it
  5. Edit video
  6. Upload video

I have sent videos to customers many times, it’s a time intensive process. It is natural to spend, at a large dealer, at least 30 minutes to do the whole process.

So, is it necessary? I think it depends. If the customer clicks on a used car, then yes, I think that the video message has value. The exact condition of the car is something your dealer should be proud of. This can validate the price of a used car in many cases.

On the other hand, when a customer clicks on a new car, I don’t see as much value. During my audit above, I found that only 2 of the 9 customers ended up purchasing the vehicle they initially clicked on. Many of the sales events showed that after making contact the customer explains that they just clicked on a car in order to make first contact.

Caller ID Spoofing (Also Called “Neighbor Calling”)

This one is a great idea, and gets my thumbs up. Although it should be handled with a light touch, the use of caller ID spoofing is a great way to make contact with a difficult to reach customer.

picture of woman receiving a follow up call
will “caller ID spoofing” encourage them to pickup?

I would suggest only using it on customers that have not responded to traditional means in the first 48 hours, rather than during the first day that the customer put in the lead.

The reason for not doing this has more to do with consistent contact and building rapport. When building rapport with a customer, having a single number and point of contact for them to associate with you simplifies things. I want my customer to save my number and contact me when ever anyone they know wants a new car.

I think that her use of caller ID spoofing is interesting, using it on every lead. I would certainly try it.

Signing Emails with “sent from my iPhone”

This is a nugget of genius. In the digital age of 30+ emails per day, cutting through the noise is difficult. This trick of adding “sent from my iPhone” to the end of a template is deviously clever.

part of elise kephart's car sales follow up script
I would not know this was a template

I’m used to imagining the sender furiously typing out the email on their iPhone. I would definitely not assume an email with this at the bottom was a template.

Genius!

Porsche’s Car Sales Follow Up Script

I wanted to get an upscale dealerships’s follow up script, so I secret shopped a local Porsche dealer.

photo of a porsche
will a Porsche dealer have a strong car sales follow up script?

I created a gmail address as “Steve Shin” and put in a lead. This time I left a google voice number in the lead so that I can find out their call schedule and hear the voicemail that they left me. I was curious to see if the Porsche dealer, who sells fewer cars but makes more per car, would have a better car sales follow up script.

I put in the lead at 8:26 AM. Here are the results :

Day 1, 8:26 AM: Automated First Response

I thought the automated response was quite professional. Being automated, it was immediate, which I appreciated.

Hello Steve,

Thank you for choosing Fletcher Jones Porsche of Fremont, your request has been received.

This is an automated after hours response to advise you that we have received your request for information. Our Internet Specialist will contact you in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, you can visit us at PorscheofFremont.com to review our Exclusive Preferred Benefits.

Please rest assured that your buying experience with us will be 100% hassle-free. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Driven to Excellence,

Fletcher Jones Porsche of Fremont

Only thing I would change would be the wording, which I would shift around to mention the internet manager that was going to reach out (Raj).

Day 1, 10:08 AM: Voicemail from Sales Person

The timing was a bit disappointing on this voicemail. The store opens at 9:00 AM, so I would assume that a call out should have been able to be made in the first 15 minutes from opening. Regardless, here is what their car sales follow up script (transcribed by Google Voice):

Hi, good morning, this message is for Steve Shin.

Steve, this is Raj with Porsche Fremont calling in regards to your interest in the Porsche Panamera. Turbo.

Give me a call when you have a moment, 510-***-****.

Once again, 510-***-****. Thanks.

The voicemail’s content is decent, but could be improved. A better message would have mentioned a reason to buy, such as mentioning a special incentive or the limited nature of the vehicle.

Day 1, 10:25 AM: First Response from Sales Person

This email was sent to coincide with the voicemail.

Hi Steve,

I left you a message regarding the 2018 Panamera Turbo. The car is available for immediate delivery. There are no factory incentives on the car. However, I can do 5% off the car. I have “2” cars left so let me know asap.

In addition to your Certificate Discount you will become a member of the Fletcher Jones Owner’s Club which entitles you to these exclusive extras worth $1,220.00*:

• First year maintenance services FREE (a $350 value). Your first paid service is in two years.
• Three month wellness check FREE (a $280 value)
• Pick-up and delivery of your vehicle at your home or office for service and we will bring you a replacement car FREE (a $450 value over 3 years)
• Shuttle service FREE to local places
• Up to 12% discount on all parts and labor (a $140 value in years 2 and 3)
* Not redeemable for cash or discount.

I look forward to assisting you with Porsche your Panamera ownership

Best,
Raj Kumar
Porsche Internet/Leasing Manager
Fletcher Jones Porsche
Direct 510-***-****
Mobile 510-***-****

I really liked a few things about this email. First thing I liked was the clear offer of discount on the price of the car. Secondly, the “$1220” of extras is a nice touch. This is a clear value proposition that can help set the dealership apart.

After this email the car sales follow script fell apart… as I didn’t receive any calls or emails until this:

Day 4, 10:46 AM: Only Follow Up after First Day

This is the only follow up I received, on the forth day:

Hello Steve,

As the E-Commerce Department Manager I am checking in on your experience.

Has our team met your expectations? Is there anything I can do for you?

Driven to Excellence,

David Saucedo
Sales Manager
Porsche of Fremont
Direct: (510)***-****
Fax: (510)***-****
www.porscheoffremont.com

And that’s it. No other follow up, no more calls. For a customer interested in a $90k car they sent one automated email, two templates and called once. I was pretty disappointed.

Car Sales Follow Up Script Review

I think that while Elise’s program is a bit extreme, Porsche Fremont’s is a bit lackluster. Both can be brought closer to the middle way.

Utilize the tips and tricks found in Elise’s program, but don’t drown the customer with your car sales follow up script.

What are your thoughts? What is your ideal car sales follow up script?

Sales Training Ideas: 8 Ideas to Kickstart Your Team!

Strong sales training ideas can be hard to come by.

The classic sales meeting is long and boring, an annoying Friday morning commitment.

Often stretching to an hour in length, the content of the sales meeting can lose all purpose by the fifteen minute mark.

sales training ideas can be new and exciting! this is a photo of a new and exciting pyramid
adventure into some unchartered territory

The same motivations mantras and lot reminders are repeated…

“Bring every deal to the desk!”

“Say hello to every customer”

“Don’t hide from floor ups”

It’s not invigorating stuff. So why do we still do it?

The answer is mostly community. The sales meeting gives us a chance to meet up and have a routine that grounds us. It’s an important platform to share information about upcoming sales and specials. It can be valuable.

Your sales training ideas just need a kick start. I’ve included ideas for group training and one on one coaching below.

Jumpstart with Sales Training Ideas

There are thousands of available resources online to help you develop sales training ideas. This post’s focus is sales training ideas for the dealership environment, although you could repurpose some to any sales organization.

Sales Training Idea #1: 5 Star Experience

Just about everything has been perfected by somebody. Sales is no exception. For your team, the world can be your classroom. Sales is about people- how you treat them and how you convince them. Customer service is a choice.

In that spirit, one of my favorite sales training ideas is the “5 star experience”.

Find places in your neighborhood that offer an unbeatable experience and take your team. Scope out the place first, keeping an eye on the employees. If the employees are people that you would hire, that’s probably a good spot!

go somewhere nice…

Rather than having a sales meeting in the general managers office that week, take your employees to the spot that you’ve selected. Before heading over, prep them to keep an eye out for which employee they would want to work with.

This observation of excellence will plant the seed of engagement in your open minded employees. When I see someone that is great at their job, I am inspired.

I know it’s a bit of a tangent, but I get inspired watching people who are insanely good at their jobs. This Youtube video is one of my favorites (turn your volume down before clicking, it’s loud!).

Real Life Example: Mendocino Farms

Last week I visited a sandwich and salad restaurant called “Mendocino Farms” in my neighborhood. My girlfriend’s side hustle is mystery shopping, which pays her to go to local stores and review the customer service and overall experience.

Mendocino Farms

She reviews everything, we get free food. It’s an awesome set up.

I knew as soon as I entered that this was a perfect candidate for a “5 Star Experience”. The first employee to greet me made me feel at ease immediately, bringing me to the front with an open posture and a huge smile.

He knew everything on the menu (posted as a huge sign at the entrance) and asked questions to figure out what we would like.

Check out his first three questions:

  1. “WELCOME! My name is Patrick, what’s yours?”
  2. “Awesome Andrei, welcome! Have you been here before?”
  3. “Fantastic! Happy we can create a new fan. I hope you’re hungry. Anything catch your eye on our menu?”

You could replace a few words and he would be halfway down with an automotive meet and greet. The guy was on fire, making my girlfriend and I feel welcome while getting information and sharing his knowledge of the menu.

The rest of the experience followed his lead. The food was delivered quickly and neatly and the store was clean. The employees checked in to make sure we were happy but didn’t bother us.

Over Delivering On Value

The best part? The food was fairly priced (although, full disclosure, we secretly were refunded by the mystery shop company!).

Well Priced & Delivered Quickly

The fact that I could get that level of service for that price is a great example of over delivering on value.

If you sell sandwiches, you need to know what is par for selling sandwiches. What does your customer expect when they walk into your sandwich store? Now take that average level of service and exceed it.

Done. You have now over delivered on value. You have started on your way to creating a fan.

Car sales is no different. Your customers have expectations when they walk in. If you can exceed them, you will win.

That’s why the “5 star experience” is one of my favorite car sales training ideas.

Sales Training Idea #2: The Sit Down

This is the only one of the sales training ideas that is strictly one on one!

The idea for the sit down is that you (the sales manager) can go to the desk of the salesperson and sit with them, reviewing their work flow at their place of work. While the message given in the sales office can be left at the door, you can hyper focus on individual solutions while at the salesperson’s desk.

find their office and pay a visit

Couple of rules for using this idea.

First things first, make sure to give notice to the salesperson that you are going to be jumping into their office to review their workflow at least a few hours before you do. That way your salesperson won’t feel surprised and will have time to clean up their work area. You are looking to build a stronger team, not resentment.

Secondly, make sure to pick a time that the salesperson will not be working with customers. Check their calendar and pick a quiet time.

Even better- share that you will be starting the one on ones with the team. Mention that you will be using their CRM appointment calendar to schedule. What better way to increase CRM compliance?

Finally, your job is to observe and listen when you conduct your one on one. Start by having them open up their CRM. Have them review their workflow. Encourage them to share any difficulties they have. Listen to how they structure their day. Don’t nit pick and don’t share feedback until the end. Ask probing questions.

Real Life Example: Al’s Update Days

Al is an up and coming start salesman at my dealership. Young and well dressed, he has the potential to dominate the sales leaderboard. Customers love his demeanor and he was instantly one of the most popular guys at the dealer.

Popularity is  a gift and a curse in sales. While popularity makes work more fun, it also makes getting the boring stuff done harder.

be friendly but get involved

Al had recently transitioned from my assistant to full time sales. His first month on the floor he made me proud, crushing his quota and making himself a healthy first paycheck. I could see his eyes light up when he realized that he had 4x his income in his first month.

The second month showed the first signs of a problem. While his fresh up business was still strong, he didn’t seem to have many 1+ week be-backs. His customers either bought same day, next day, or not at all.

Come Friday morning, I saw him entertaining the sales floor and I pulled him aside. I asked him to take a break from socializing to sit down together at this work station and share his CRM. His eyes looked down and he obliged, walking slowly to his desk (this is when I learnt to give notice!).

As I had expected, his CRM was a mess. He had logged 50 customers since starting and none had email addresses. His average update date was over 15 days (meaning he hadn’t reached out for more than 2 weeks- on average!). His notes were sparse.

It was a learning experience for him, and luckily he took the feedback well. I listed off the things he needed to work on and told him I’d circle back in a month. His attitude remained positive and his sales improved.

Sales Training Idea #3: Encourage Exercise

Physical fitness is critical to performance.

Exercise helps you feel good about yourself. It helps build self confidence. It even helps you survive cancer.

Your salespeople who are in a good mood will treat their customers better. Exercise will help them be in a good mood.

get them outside and moving

So encourage your salespeople to have gym memberships. Get them to share their success stories in the meetings. Get them to talk about their hobbies. Consider having your sales team form a local sports team. Get them moving!

Although getting your blood pumping is optimal, even a short walk can refresh your mind.

Real Life Example: Let’s Take A Walk

It was about 4 months ago, on an overcast and quiet morning at the car dealership. Everything was pretty quiet, but only one person was late to work.

Matt walked in 45 minutes after we opened, eyes dreary. His posture was hunched and his expression muted. I didn’t mention anything as he walked to his desk, just observed his attitude.

Managing requires observation above all else. Acting without proper observation can seed resentment.

After letting him get settled in, I went over to Matt to check in. He assured me that everything was fine, but I could tell he was avoiding my eye contact.

“Let’s take a walk” I said, hoping that he would follow.

get them talking on a walk

We headed into the nearby neighborhood. I shared first, a simple recap of a deal that I was pleased with that had gone through the night before. After ten minutes of walking, I told him that I noticed he was looking disconnected at work.

He took a deep breath and opened up. He had fought with his family the night before and his depression was mounting. Struggling to keep it together, he shared that he had no one to talk to about his problems since his family members wouldn’t talk to him.

I just let him share, and as he talked, his pace sped up. He listed off everything that was on his chest. After 10 minutes he took a deep breath.

“Yeah, that’s about everything” he said, and he let out an embarrassed laugh.

Recap of #3

Exercise is a key facet of health. Encourage exercise. When one of your salespeople is seeming down, don’t berate them. Instead take them for a walk and see if the truth rolls out. Often times just talking about their problems can help them move past them.

Sales Training Idea #4: Cross Department Q&A

This is one of the more important sales training ideas.

You can only learn so much inside your bubble. During your weekly sales meetings, invite someone with authority from another department. Have them do a Q&A to answer common questions.

You’ll be surprised by what people don’t know!

your dealership is a machine

You need to have your sales department understand the different departments at your store!

At the car dealership, you should encourage communication between sales and all the other parts of the store. Parts, Finance, Used Car, BDC, Service, Business Office… Get everyone involved.

Communication can be fostered. Often times just having different departments in the same room during the meeting will reveal important hold ups that are hurting your store’s efficiency.

Real Life Example: Collin Pays A Visit

Collin is a six foot four finance manager from our store. A gentle giant, he is generally a quiet force of good in our store. He is always friendly, incredibly helpful and has a great reputation with most everyone.

The relationship between the finance department and the sales department can be strained. Deals that are stuck in funding are blamed on each other. Customers that are waiting in the lounge for finance grumble and tensions can run high.

picture of an apple being squeezed
tensions can run high

Not only that, a significant amount of misunderstanding on the purpose of some financial products can lead to inefficiencies. Little understanding of each other’s roles and a little fear of the unknown holds different departments apart.

Your salespeople can be great funnels for finance products, using their in depth knowledge of the customer’s automotive history to identify where the products can be solutions.

Collin stood tall in the meeting and shared about the new products being offered in the finance department. Little nuggets of knowledge bounced around in the room, and everyone left knowing something they didn’t before.

Sales Training Idea #5: Highlight a Special Customer and Foster that Relationship

Sales meetings can invite jokes about the worst that customers have to offer. The devils, the evil horrible customers that wasted time and insulted employees. They always make for good stories, stories that often get shared. Trash talking customers is not one of the sales training ideas.

Focusing on negativity breeds negativity. While it can be useful to get things off your chest, it is more beneficial to focus on the happier things at work.

How often does a really positive customer experience come up in the sales meeting? A customer that was the model of excellence. Well informed and kind, fair and honest? They exist, why don’t they get celebrated?

So in your sales meeting consider asking your salespeople for examples of good customers. The friend referring, 5 star yelping, happy to do a perfect survey customer.

send a thank you for being awesome

Then put action to it. Remind that salesperson to thank that customer for being something special. If we see something positive in this world the key is to reinforce it!

Example Email To Send

Here is an email that could work for saying thanks. Consider even having them send a text, which can be more personal.

SUBJECT: Sincere Thanks

Dear FIRST NAME,

Just wanted to reach out quickly. The awesome experience of interacting with you came up in my sales meeting. I really enjoyed working with you and I hope to see you again at the store.

My general manager encouraged me to reach out and thank you, and I’m glad that I am. As a thank you from my GM we wanted to extend to you a free detail and tank of gas.

Sincerely,
SALESPERSON

Recap of #5

Some good customers are oblivious and some are good intentionally. Focusing on the positive experiences that you have with them is good for everyone involved.

As a manager, consider having special gifts for the best customers. Not just the customer that buys the most expensive car, but also the customer that is great to work with. See the section about “Just a Lazy Gift Card” on my article posted here.

Sales Training Idea #6: Call Your Lost

As important as it is to focus on the positive, learning from mistakes is great too. This is one of the only sales training ideas that has a few parts.

Step #1: The Hot List

In the sales meeting make a big list where the salespeople can put their hottest prospects. Try to get three out of each salesperson. First name and the model they are interested in.

Step #2: The Lost List

Every week revisit the hot list. Congratulate them on their successes, but star the lost deals.

Now, try and find out why the deals were lost. Often times you will find that the salesperson just knows that the customer is out of the market.

Time to investigate. As a sales manager, jump into the CRM and give them a call after the meeting. If they pick up and are game, quickly ask them what your store could have done better.

Start to get a general outline of why your store loses business. Is it price? Inventory? Or is it some facet of your customer service/sales experience that needs tweaking?

Step #3: Revisit

Take this new knowledge and circle back next sales meeting. Start with what you are going to change price/inventory/experience wise to encourage more conversions.

Then flip it on the salespeople. Share with them anything they can do better.

For example, if you lose a lot of cross over SUV business to a close competitor, try loading the lips of your salespeople with some pertinent information.

What makes your car better than the car you are losing business too? A few simple seeds shared can help a ton!

If I was losing Audi Q5 business to the BMW X3, I would find out the key things that the Q5 excels at above and beyond the X3.

Do your salespeople know that the X3 makes you pay $1700 for leather? Do they know that the BMW X3 doesn’t have Android Auto?

Sales Training Idea #7: Encourage Style

Of all of the sales training ideas, this one can needs to be handled carefully!

The car dealership uniform can be hard to enforce. Slowly shirts and ties gives way to shirts, which give way to polos, then… sales meeting! Back to shirts and ties.

What if instead of having the uniform be a dreary requirement of work you encouraged style in the workplace?

Sounds contentious right? I think it can be done well.

How We Encourage Style

When employees think they look good, they tend to feel good.

Step one, find out where your employees shop for clothes. Now, some of your employees are going to not be interested in personal style, and that’s ok. Don’t ostracize them. Share with your team that you are going to be having your next spiff be to the local Banana Republic or similar clothes store. Something agreeable.

encourage style

Then, start to dress better yourself. Focus on fit and professionalism. By starting the wave of style, the dealership will start to buzz. Those interested will jump in, not wanting to get left behind.

Real Life Example: Steve’s Style

It all started a year ago when Steve was hired. Steve’s sharp dressing was noticed immediately at the store. He had an eye for style and prided himself on his clothes.

Customers respected him more for it and his coworkers started to emulate. The good news was that Steve was giving with his expertise. He would help anyone that wanted to update their style.

Within a month of Steve starting, the whole dealership looked better than ever. Personal style was a mark of engagement that was clear to see.

Engagement can be hard to encourage. Who knew one guy with an eye for style could change everything.

Note!

This is one of the sales training ideas that has major traps. You don’t want to idolize attractiveness at your dealership. You want to emphasize style (for those that want to partake!).

Sales Training Idea #8: Consider Outside Help

There are tons of resources online that can help kick start your team. Finding sales training ideas isn’t difficult, but implementing them can be. Considering outside help is a noble idea.

First, when selecting an outside trainer to come into your dealership, make sure they pass the sniff test. Look for content and value that they have brought to the industry you are in.

a consultant trainer

Next, make sure that you like the content that they are going to be sharing with your team. Review their slideshows or videos that they use, don’t rely just on your impression of them. Many trainers are great salespeople. That doesn’t mean that they are great trainers!

Review: 8 Ideas to Kickstart Your Team!

Let me know what you thought of my 8 ideas. Do you have any unique sales training ideas that may have been a good fit for this list?

Comment below!

Internet Car Sales Training – The Market

time to dive in

Understanding your Market

When you sell cars on the internet the absolute most important thing you need know is the market. Market research is an integral part of internet car sales training in 2018.

As time has gone on the new vehicle has become more and more of a commodity in many places.

In a thriving market there will be plenty of sellers and plenty of buyers. The Honda Civic LX that you buy from one dealer will be identical from the Honda Civic LX that you buy from another.

That means that dealers can differentiate themselves on two things.

  1. Price
  2. Service

If you sell cars online you compete with others that are selling cars online. You need internet car sales training.

Good news, it’s pretty easy to do market research and find out what your competition is like.

The History of Price

After reading some reviews, looking at some pictures and asking a few friends, customers are ready to have an idea of pricing. They inquire online first, reaching out to the dealer for their quote.

To understand this customer, you can take into account the history.

There have been three distinct time periods of price shopping in the Automotive space.

picture of a clock
you need to understand

Pre-Historic Period

In the pre-historic time period, the car shopper went into the local dealer and asked for the best price. They sat at the salespersons desk and sat and sat and sat. They spent a few hours at the store, and assuming they didn’t absolutely hate the guy, they left with a new car.

It was mostly about the dealer having a car that worked and fitting a budget.

There were actual “Kelley Blue Books” and the like lying around, but they weren’t nearly as common. You could buy them at 7/11 and put them in your literal back pocket.

the old guide
the old blue book

Historic Period

In the historic period, the internet emerged as the information database. Customers could now go on KBB online. They can make forums to share information about their experiences. Information was becoming easier to acquire.

Some dealers started leveraging their online presence to sell more cars. With inventory being listed online dealers moved in the “velocity” and “volume” models.

Modern Period

Information is everywhere. Every year more customers move online for their car process, many demanding to do everything over the internet. Some have started asking for the car to be delivered to their homes.

not quite this futuristic
not quite this futuristic

Customers feel more comfortable “interfacing” with other human beings with the cell phone as the intermediary. Nine out of ten deals involve the buyer, seller and the internet.

If a customer does come into the dealer, the cell phone sits in their hand to constantly fact check the salesperson.

Dealers respond in kind, scrambling to find a strategy to efficiently capture the customers.

The Truth about Price

The truth is that different people pay different prices. The internet has brought the pricing of any single model into a smaller range. It also certainly removed some obvious outliers, but it did not make everyone pay the same amount.

picture of fish
not every deal is the same

It’s also true that as a dealer you can choose what you want to be.

You can be the dealer that wants to sell every car possible. You hyper focus on service, used car and F&I profit, while eating a loss on your new cars. Your dealer will sell the new cars at a loss and beat every deal.

The Flipside

The flipside is that you can skip that race all together. You can sell at a higher price, make sure all your deals make sense, and run on less volume.

It’s no surprise that manufacturers prefer dealers to run the velocity model. It’s inherent to their self interest. The more cars that dealers sell, the more cars that dealers buy from the manufacturer.

Dealers don’t need to sign on to this. They can avoid it, opt to say “no” more often. The sales profit will be higher and you can be more selective with your customers.

If your dealer is a higher profit dealer then your customer service needs to stand out.

The Customer Service Choice

Selling cars online can successfully be performed as a luxury white glove service or as a shortcut to selling volume at a loss.

The thing that can’t be shortcut is customer service.

internet sales guy in all white
new dress code

The demand on customer service is higher when you sell cars with “white glove” service. Essentially, you need to be providing value above and beyond so as to convince your customers that your price is worth it.

The demand is less when you are the king of discount. That being said, you can get yourself in a heap of trouble if you ignore it completely. Customers, even those getting $5k off MSRP, are spending a significant chunk of money with you.

Secret Shopping

It’s no secret that timeliness is an essential facet of customer service when working in a internet department. It’s industry standard to respond to leads in 5 minutes.

computer desk
sit down and wait for leads

I touched on this in this article: Internet Lead Response Best Practices

Seeing as response time is so critical, I decided to test some dealers. I figured I could get two birds with one stone since I had my first request from a reader on Reddit:

I am the only honda dealer for 100 miles in any direction. (Sweet right?)

I live in a retirement community so all these customers have is time and gas to burn.  And if they can save 200$ they will drive 2 hours to save it.

So I can quote them something like your market pricing lets say its 800 above invoice on a new honda accord and most of the cars are selling for 500 above invoice on all the different websites like kbb and truecar.

But my next closest honda dealer is quoting them in email 2000$ less.  It is a e price and does not include destination, accessories, and when the customer drives there in person and finds out its not actually 2000$ less they buy anyways because they can’t save face with me because they told me they have my price beat by 2000$.

How do you overcome price quotes that arent real.  Because you can send people quotes around truecar via email and you will never hear from them again after they get the other dealers quote.

That has happened 100+ times in 8 years of selling hondas.

Down in North Carolina

So, I started with a little research, similar to what a customer would do. I decided to be “Jeff Bachs” shopping for a 2018 Honda Civic Sedan LX. I grabbed a local ZIP code and plugged it all into KBB:

kbb pricing guide as part of the internet car sales training guide
MSRP: $20530 -> KBB: $19211

Pretty simple. Know I was going to learn the competitive landscape:

google map of the honda dealers
3 Dealers within a 3.5 hr drive

Ok, pretty spread out. I’m guessing the lead response is going to be lackluster because of this spread, but let’s see what they quote on pricing.

Jeff Bachs is secret shopping!
Jeff Bachs is secret shopping!

I submitted leads at all 3 dealerships:

  1. https://www.charlestonhonda.com/
  2. https://www.stevensonhonda.com/
  3. https://www.eastcoastcars.net/

I submitted the leads at 10:20am and waited.

Exactly 48 minutes later I received my first response from Juan Enciso:

The salesperson sent me a personalized video
Short Dealersocket Video I received

So, not what I asked for (a price out the door) in my lead, but the video is a high effort response. I watch it and it boils down to “just get ’em in”.

Not impressed, I responded, asking again for an out the door price. I am giving him another shot.

This is his response:

A long email from Honda
The single longest sentence possible

The Longest Single Sentence Possible

Here it is in it’s entirety (key take away from my internet car sales training- don’t write emails like this):

We are the largest volume dealer in SC and NC, we sell more new and pre-owned vehicles than anybody around including your local dealers in Wilmington, in most cases you can save thousands by doing business with us vs your surrounding dealers, we don’t however sell vehicles over emails, we take more of a personal approach, by doing this we ensure higher customer service satisfaction and has secured us the #1 title for over a year straight with month over month growth in sales and overall customer satisfaction ratings, so when you are ready to save money and get the best service possible, please call me at (860)***-****, that’s my cell and the best way to reach me, you can also send me the best number and time for me to reach you and I’d be happy to call you instead, all in all I hope we get a chance to talk about your new car and thank you for you inquiry, I really hope we can help you out.
Thank you
Juan Enciso

Internet Sales without Email

Can you see the pertinent sentence up there? Ok, it’s all one big sentence, but this one part stands out:

“…we don’t however sell vehicles over emails…”

What? How is that still possible?

guy looking at the email response and thinking negative thoughts
“…we don’t however sell vehicles over emails…”

If this truly is the largest volume dealership in SC and NC then I think their market is ripe for some competition!

Do you want to know the sad truth?

The other two dealers?

  1. https://www.charlestonhonda.com/
  2. https://www.stevensonhonda.com/

They never responded. Literally never even sent a first response email. It’s been 36 hours. Maybe Monday at 1 pm was too busy?

These dealers needed some internet car sales training.

What about the Luxury Experience?

Ok, I got a good idea of what I was working with in North and South Carolina as far as Honda goes. It was time to get a taste for the luxury experience. I figured that with higher MSRP cars we would find salespeople with more internet car sales training.

Needing a new personality for my next secret shop, I decided on “Steve Cornelius”, self employed at “Cornelius Steaks”. I was shopping for a cash purchase of a 2018 BMW 320i, MSRP of $42520.

The lead was sent in at 11:50 am to two dealers:

  1. https://www.leithbmw.com/
  2. https://www.bmwofwilmington.com/

Internet Car Sales Training: Avoid the Waiting Game

Only ten minutes went by before my first response, fantastic turn around. The email was a bit of a let down, but not horrible:

Hi Steve,

thanks for your time and interest My name is Evelyn Gonzalez, I am an interest sales coordinator here at Leith BMW of Raleigh. I will be more than glad to assist you in getting into a new BMW 3 Series. In order for me to give you more accurate numbers I will need to know where you will be registering the vehicle? Also, what kind of vehicle are you currently leasing?

Evelyn Gonzalez
Internet Sales Coordinator
Leith BMW of Raleigh

What jumped out at me immediately about was that it was clearly hand typed. Why, in 2018, are they not using a simple first response template to communicate to the customer?

guy looking dissapointed
this again…

All they would need to do is have a template in their CRM that pre-fills all this information. They could have a simple area to manually input an “e-price”.

Internet Car Sales Training: Template Example

Using their wording, here it is in template form:

picture of a template that is part of my internet car sales training
done!

If they had that set up their email would look more professional, they would have better response time, and probably less carpal tunnel for their employees.

Internet Sales Manager vs. Coordinator vs. Assistant

What I am finding is a lack of discipline in the internet departments I audit with my secret shopping.

Many of the people I end up talking to are “coordinators” who are the intermediaries between the manager with pricing ability and the customer.

This can work, and be efficient, if the “coordinators” are well trained in responsiveness and writing. The first response emails need to be fast and they need to be well written.

The first responses shouldn’t take 45 minutes to get to me.

It shouldn’t be full of spelling errors.

This is regardless of if you sell an important volume brand like Honda or a luxury brand like BMW.

Review: Internet Car Sales Training

In the United States there are many places where you can still sell cars online without ample internet car sales training.

That is changing. Customers want fast responses, they want professional writing, and they want pricing in email.

You simply need to quote a price.

Let me know what you think below!

I have some other articles that relate to internet car sales training here:

Internet Car Sales Tips

Internet Lead Response Best Practices

How to Sell More Cars at a Dealership

It's not that long a road to learn how to sell more cars at a dealership
Time to get started!

The Responsible Party

First things first. This article is going to focus on how to sell more cars at a dealership with the customers you already have. The alternative, selling more cars at a dealership from new leads will be a future article.

You make your own way in car sales. The ultimate deciding factor in your success (assuming you’ve selected a decent dealer) is you.

Chuck the Closer

About 2 years ago we all got notice of a new guy coming to our store. Chuck was tall, loud, and dressed in a boxy gray suit. He was a bit bowed legged and introduced himself gregariously to everyone in the store.

Chuck was replacing a few salespeople that had washed out the month before. It quickly became clear that his personality was going to be a bit abrasive. Some said he had too big of smile. His voice was too booming. Everyone figured he was going to turn off our luxury clientele. He didn’t have the soft touch. His jokes were loud. His arms flailed when he talked. He wasn’t classy. No way he would make it.

Nope. Chuck crushed it. He worked his butt off, took every customer he could, and introduced himself with energy. He knew the product and made a connection with people. Chuck liked the customers and he liked himself.

The point is that Chuck reinforced one of my favorite car sales mantras: “This ain’t rocket science”.

car sales isn't rocket science
It’s not rocket science

Chuck lasted about 4 months at our store. He made about $10k per month with no repeat or referral customers. No leads. He ended up leaving because of family complications.

You don’t need much to crush it, especially if you control for the foundational elements. Your store needs to be functional, you need inventory. Your product needs to be good. You need to have management that wants to make deals. You need parking spots. Other than that, you are in control.

Chuck’s Basic Skill Set

Chuck isn’t hard to emulate.

Here is what Chuck had in spades, the basics that we won’t dive too deep in to. These are simple enough to just mention:

  1. Knowledge: Chuck knew his stuff. Chuck knew the product, Chuck knew the competition. Doesn’t matter if you sell cars, vegetables or software. A salesperson is a product specialist. Again, not rocket science. Just know your product.
  2. Interest: Chuck liked people. He asked open ended questions. He wanted to get to know who he was talking to. His listening skills with customers were top notch.
  3. Passion: Chuck had no qualms about being a car salesperson. He wasn’t shy. Not shy at all. He had fun at work and it was infectious for his customers.
  4. Connection: These three things above? They worked with customers. Customers connected with Chuck. Over a few hours they grew close to him. Trusted him. More often than not they bought from him.

The X-Factor

So, after those basics, what sets someone apart?

A good poker played doesn’t get any more good hands than a bad poker player. They aren’t luckier. They just know what to do with the hands they are dealt.

Playing your Hand

In this edition of mixing metaphors, the customer you take is the hand you are dealt.

First things first. You need to be able to read the hand you have. The idea of being able to “tell a buyer” is not some voodoo magic that you need to go to school for.

how to sell more cars at a dealership isn't voodoo
not rocket science, also not voodoo

You just need to keep an eye out for the signs.

“We got a live one” – Buying Signs

One of the most important parts of sales is knowing when to go for a sale. Is now the time? Or should I wait and just build rapport.

It’s a lot like dating. People want you to be interested. They want to know that you will put the work in. They want you to know when they are ready to move forward!

If a customer is potentially buying today, a good salesperson will spot it.

spotting buyers is one of the best ways how to sell more cars at a dealership
are you paying attention?

Here is a list of buying signs you should start looking for, starting with simple ones:

  1. They drive in to the dealer in a car that is detailed and empty. They have a title in their hand (starting simple, I know)
  2. They drive in to the dealer in a same-brand car. Drive an old Toyota into a new Toyota car lot
  3. They have printouts of the car they want to see
  4. They have visited other same brand dealers today
  5. They called in and made an appointment for a specific stock number
  6. They seem nervous but excited
  7. They brought their family or friends with them
  8. They are on the lot circling around a car, looking at it intently and pointing
  9. They walk onto the sales floor from service with a “customer pay” RO in hand
  10. They know all the option names (“I think I’m looking for a… Premium Plus Technology Package with Sports Seats, in Teak Brown”)

Now, for most of these you simply need to use your eyes. A few you need to be able to count and listen. If a customer is doing any of those (especially if more than one), it’s probably a deal if you play your hand right.

Example of a Deal Ready to Happen

Customers have a pace they like to move. You can move them a bit faster than their standard speed, but deviate too much and you will turn them off.

Do you start to see the excitement building, eyes widening, lots of specific questions? Just keep the pace. Pay attention! I’ve watched customers ask specific questions that the salespeople completely missed. One recent example:

“So how many miles does this exact car have on it”

I’ve watched the sales person respond with:

“Oh I don’t know, everything gets test driven”

Without realizing that the customer was expressing interest in this exact car! They are thinking about buying and you just completely missed it.

Let’s flip it, and talk non-buying signs:

  1. They walk into the dealership and loudly proclaim “I’m buying a car today, who is looking to sell me one” (this will happen, these people are 99% huge wastes of time)
small child covering his face
the most annoying guy

That’s just about the only important one you need to look out for. We all hate that guy.

“Ready”

There are different types of buyers and they all take different amounts of time to be “ready”. A important distinction you need to keep track of is how spontaneous your customers seem. How quickly are they going to flip the switch and become ready to buy?

If a customer is spontaneous they will switch from being “non-ready” to “ready” quickly. Often they are waiting for the situation to feel serendipitous.

Creating a Serendeipitous Environment

When things are flowing easily and all objections are finding their solutions, you have a serendipitous environment (SE for short). The SE is defined by the feeling that “things are meant to be”.

a picture of a some people eating on a cabana
making a situation feel right

If you answer customer’s objections and requirements with easy, thoughtful solutions, you have created an SE.

If you know your inventory and match the customers desires to a best fit car quickly and efficiently, you have created an SE.

If you are calm and collected and have a solution to every bump in the road, you have created an SE

Short Story

Two weeks ago, Sandeep came into the dealer. He had heard of the Audi Q5 and wanted to see it in person. He meets Chuck, who is happy and excited to meet him. They drive the car. Sandeep wants one, but:

  1. He liked Black exterior, but it was not in stock.
  2. He wanted to finance, but was on a VISA
  3. He wants to buy today, but his kids are hungry.

Chuck knows that he has to create a SE.

Although they don’t have a Black exterior car in stock, Chuck has been paying attention to the dealer trades and knows they have a Black car incoming to the dealer.

Although Sandeep has a Visa, Chuck knows that the finance department have a simple one page guide on how to get him approved without credit. Chuck has asked the pertinent questions (full time employee? visa term?) during the test drive and so can handle this with no problem.

Sandeep’s kids are still hungry. Chuck asks Sandeep’s kids what kind of food they like, and they respond “pizza!” in unison.

picture of pizza
Sandeep’s kids yelled “pizza!”

Easy fix, Chuck has his sales manager order a pizza to the store for them.

If Chuck can follow the plot of the sale and overcome hiccups smoothly, he will create a SE.

The customers are walking into a store looking to be sold a car. They want you to be excited, they want you to be knowledgeable. They want you to listen, and they want to buy a car and move on with their life.

Most of all, they want you to problem solve.

The Last Key of the SE

The last key part of creating a serendipitous environment is to give the customers a reason to buy today.

Always have a reason that today is a great day to buy.

I touched on this in this previous article.

The Sales Relationship is a Relationship

In every relationship, communication is key. Communication allows you to know what the other person is thinking. Sounds like magic, but we do it every day.

Can you read the signs that your customers are putting out?

If a customer stresses that this is their first time looking at cars and that they only buy when their wife is with them then please don’t hammer down on working a deal. Just build a relationship. Plant the seeds of an upcoming sale to get them excited. Don’t try and close the deal right away.

If a customer has no intention of buying and test drives four cars in one day, can you guess how many salespeople will have tried to hard to close the deal that day?

If you are the one guy that respected their time and provided value then when they are looking to buy they will be drawn back to you.

If you don’t have a good feel for where the customer is at in their head, a write up is a good tool. The write up can let us gauge interest, but my goal is to have you gauge it during the whole process, not just while working numbers.

REVIEW: How to Sell More Cars at a Dealership

You need to be a master of communication in order to maximize your sales at a dealership. You need to know how to create a serendipitous environment, how to play your hand, and how to know when a customer is ready to go.

Let me know below if you have any thoughts on this article!

Internet Car Sales Tips

just a picture of zion national park
Many challenges lay ahead

Internet Car Sales is Competitive

There is a reason that it takes a while to be become an internet sales manager at a dealership. You need to have perfected your skills on the sales floor before you go out and wrestle with the internet leads. Below you will find my curated Internet Car Sales Tips that will help set you apart.

What makes Internet Car Sales Different?

Though there are exceptions, the internet customer has higher expectations than the floor sales customer. The internet customer wants to set the pace, and if you don’t comply, they will simply disappear and stop responding.

They tend to shop prices more, they are better informed, and they are often over confident.

I think that the abundance of information online is fantastic.

It’s the over confidence that is actually difficult to handle. To illustrate, I’ll share a personal anecdote.

IOC: Internet Over Confidence

About 2 months ago I was sitting at home on a quiet Tuesday night, enjoying a black mirror episode with Alyssa, my girlfriend. It was warm in my house and we were cuddled up, just her, myself, and her wonderful little “chip”.

picture of a little black dog being held by a average white guy
Should have known from the look in his eyes…

Chip is, at this point in time, fast asleep, and looking like a perfect napping black bear. Absolutely adorable.

I can get enough of how cute he is as he sleeps, and I lean in, close, until our noses are almost touching.

It’s at this moment that Alyssa’s devil hound “chip” wakes, and bears down on my nose with all 7 of his remaining teeth.

a much more scary dog's teeth
Just like this, but smaller and less teeth

There was much blood.

After I was all bandaged up, I got into bed and went to sleep, figuring I’ll ask a professional the next day what if there were any shots I would be needing.

a picture of a white guy with a small cut on his nose
I swear it looked worse in person

Just kidding, I immediately jumped on Google

a picture of google search for rabies
It wasn’t the best idea to search this…

The results were endless. I read and read, out of anxiety and adrenaline, and decided that I was infected with Rabies.

Infection with this virus is almost invariably fatal; just three unvaccinated individuals have been known to survive. … Rabies virus is typically transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mammal, often a carnivore or a bat.

http://www.virology.ws/2012/08/22/how-lethal-is-rabies-virus/

I began the next day dropping into my family doctor’s office. In the sterile white room, I met with my friendly nurse practitioner. She inspected the wound, gave me a TDAP booster and sent me home. On the way out she assured me that there was little to no chance I was infected.

I got to my car, still stressed. I called three local hospitals, and eventually managed to get through to an ER doctor. He assured me, again, that I didn’t have rabies. Actually, his exact words were:

The fact that this dog has had a rabies shot a few years ago, and that he is a domesticated dog, in this city, means that your chance of getting rabies is somewhere between 0 and you’re wasting my time.

The point of the story…

In fairness, I was being a total idiot. I didn’t have rabies. I didn’t slowly succumb to a terrible virus, and my nose scar is almost gone.

picture of a red virus drawing
My rabies nightmares

I learned a valuable lesson though, which is pretty simple: The Internet, combined with stress, makes trusting others difficult.

Why should I expect my customers, who are shopping online, trying not to get taken advantage of, to trust me off the bat. I didn’t trust doctors that were trying to help me!

So thats the thing. Most of us have some form of this internet over confidence. We disregard people who know in favor for popular opinion and anecdote. We read sources and then figure ourselves experts.

These are your internet customers in a nutshell. Let’s talk about how to sell them cars.

Pricing: My Best Internet Car Sales Tips

Since I touched on most everything other than price in my last article, let’s start with the elephant in the room.

Goldilocks Pricing

Pricing is hard for a number of reasons. If you offer too little you fear that other dealerships will undercut you. If you offer too much you have little room to slide.

Let’s address this one at a time.

Not Discounting Enough

First off, being ignored is rarely actually a problem. Here is an actual email that I received yesterday. This type of email is common:

Although I appreciate you taking the time getting those quotes to me on a timely matter and I’d love to buy a car from your dealership considering you’re my local dealership. I’m going to have to pass based on those quotes.
Thank you for your time!
Matthew

Spoiler alert, he isn’t saying this because he wants me to stop emailing. He has started the negotiation.

Quoting too little will get you an email telling you that you are quoting too little.

My goal for this customer is to now to find out if we have a car that he would like. I would probably respond with an excuse and explanation, and then paste in inventory for him to browse.

Once he selects what car he his interested in, I’ll circle back to price.

Discounting too Much

This is a far greater problem.

When you quote too low, you don’t earn the customers trust. I’ll repeat, when you quote too low, you don’t earn the customers trust.

You may, however, make them think:

  1. There is something wrong with the car you are sending
  2. You are hiding something or looking to trick them

Even if they aren’t that suspicious, they will believe that you still have room to slide. You’ve now painted yourself in a corner.

Let’s say you quote what is realistically your bottom number, under which you really can’t move further without an upper level manager’s approval.

Your customer will now take this quote that you sent them and share it with every other dealership. Remember “Matthew” above? He just sent copy pasted your quote and sent it to every other dealer.

So you haven’t won the business, but you have potentially created a new normal in the market.

Bad move.

Adjusted Market Pricing: Just right for volume

Your best bet? Using what I call adjusted market pricing. AMP for short. AMP is a useful strategy for pricing volume cars, not cars that you consider “supply limited”.

Here is how it works. Let’s say I wanted to make a AMP guide for the 2018 Audi Q5. My dealer sells 50+ Q5 a month, so I have plenty of data to look at.

I would start by taking the most common MSRP of the 2018 Audi Q5. Let’s say it’s a $52500 MSRP.

I would then plug that configuration into Truecar and KBB, take that data, and do this math:

(Truecar Discount)+(KBB Discount)+(My stores average discount)

I would divide that number by 3 to get our AMP. This number weighs in what the customer is reading online with what we are actually doing at the dealer.

I need to leave myself some room in my quote, so I take the AMP and I add 2% of the MSRP of the car that I am selling. In the case of the Q5, if the AMP is $3200, I would take the $3200 and subtract 2% of $52500. I end up with an AMP discount of $2150.

This is my base discount that I will offer to customers that request pricing online. I’ll never be the cheapest right off the bat, but I will be within the zone that customers will still talk to me.

If a customer only contacts my dealer and only likes the car I have, I’ll sell the car for a bit above market average.

So that’s the simplest way to offer a fair discount that won’t be too little to dissuade potentially customers. It also leaves you a little room to make the deal if needed.

Remember the Human

The AMP strategy above, when combined with the basics, will open the conversation with most of the customers that inquire on your website that are actively looking to buy a car.

Now that you have them interested, you need to figure out how to keep them interested, and get them to work with you.

Read Automotive Journals

How do you get in their head? Read what they read.

If the customer is interested in 2018 Audi Q5, make sure you know what the automotive journalists say about this car. Read Consumer Reports and Car and Driver about the 2018 Audi Q5, and keep up to date what the journalists like and don’t like about the cars.

When what you say on the phone and in email lines up with what they read online, you will build trust. You have corroborated their sources.

Car Forums can give you Internet Car Sales Tips

For many younger customers, forums are the most trusted source of information. The younger customers believe that the major news outlets and pricing websites are susceptible to advertiser intervention. Forums are everyday people sharing what they know.

Never mind that I often find forums full of half truths and exaggerations. It’s not about what is true. It’s about what the customer thinks is true.

If you have a customer that reads forums, you need to know what they have read.

One of my favorite internet car sales tips is to read up on what others are reading
Time to do some reading!

A great move is to make an account on the most popular forums for your brand. I know that the Audi World forums are very popular, so I make an account. In my downtime (say, Monday morning) I see if I can jump online and add some value.

If you are going to master the world of forums, you need to master Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice, which boils down to add value, add value, add value, then ask for the sale:

It goes without saying that you should always be looking for ways to provide others with value, (in life too, not just business). Creating a media site, writing articles, and making videos builds relationships with existing and new customers, as well as business partners. It is the number one way to sell a product right now.

But there’s another side to this that I don’t often bring up. This other side is just as important as providing that value. Because when you’re giving people something you know they will need and enjoy, it’s because you’re building up a relationship that could some day mean something, right? A business opportunity or a sale or drinks or a new job? Well, of course. All relationships need to be a two way street to be functional. But really, before any of that happens: you need to give with zero expectation of return.

Because the truth is, people like people. We’re wired for it. And people do business with other people. So when you learn to generally give to those people without expecting them to do something in return, you win. You’ll perceive the world differently, and be a better person because of it.

What you should take away from that quote is that people on forums can spot a “corporate shill” from miles away. Don’t expect to generate leads from being on the forums right away. Just use them to add value and build your brand.

Most importantly, participate in forums to keep your ear to the ground and know what your young customers are reading.

Why is THIS car special?

It’s important to figure out what makes the car you have special that the customer is interested in. Is it a car that exists in abundance at every dealer? Or does your car have a color or option that sets it apart?

If you a customer clicks on a car that’s in stock at your dealer, you need to figure out if they were just clicking on that car on a whim or if there is something that sets your car apart.

I did a bit of write up on this in a previous article. As an educated seller, you need to understand the supply and demand of the car you have.

Other Situations

Not all leads are created equal. This is a simple run down of some other situations and how to react to them.

No Specific Car

You can’t hit a target you can’t see.

If a customer inquires online and asks for “best price” right away, you need to redirect them to picking out a car. Tell them that you are happy to get them a fantastic price, but you need to know what exact car you have that would work for them.

What if you don’t have one?

Then don’t quote. You can’t win. If a customer says this:

What’s your best quote on a Q5?

Then your best bet is to respond with this:

I have a lease special Q5 that is currently our best deal. Does this car work for you:

CAR SPECS

If so, we have this awesome lease special running right now:

LEASE SPECIAL

They are, more than likely, not going to want the lease special car. They very will might not want to lease. That’s fine, you are simply looking for them to just say what they actually want. You are hunting for information.

Credit App Leads

Most dealers have a way for customers to submit credit applications online for “pre-approval”. Make no mistake, these are your hottest new business customers. These customers are so ready to make a purchase that they went ahead and put their social security number into your website.

That’s amazing.

Email them only to tell them to call you, then call them until they pick up.

This customer is buying in all likelihood in the next 72 hours. If you don’t get them on the phone someone else will.

Lease End Customers

Although I’ll talk about this in much more detail in a future article, suffice to say that your lease end customers are your most important customers. They are on the shortest sustainable new car cycle, they typically like the new cars that come out, and they essentially produce used cars (with their lease drops).

If your Internet Managers are also in charge of the lease portfolio (quite common) make sure that they know that these “leads” are worth 10x what a fresh internet lead is worth.

I can’t stress that one enough.

Managing Managers (on price)

Internet sales managers (IM for short) are, by the nature of the role, volume focused. In that vein, they tend to gain an intimate knowledge of the “market”. They will see competing quotes daily, provided in excess by their customers.

Now, this is an important part of their role. The issue that can emerge stems from the fact that this knowledge is power. At volume dealers, the upper management will instruct their IMs to sell more cars.

This leads to saying “yes” to more deals, mostly bigger losers. The deals can be justified just by saying:

I was beating a quote they had…

Now, thats all well and good. If you are an Internet Manager yourself, you know how true this can be.

The thing is, the IM, on this program, will get used to giving loser deals. All the deals will begin to shift downward as the IM will, inevitably, get lazy.

What is Reported is Reviewed

This is where external and internal management and reporting must come in.

Let’s take this data set as an example:

Group 1: Orange IM and Blue IM

internet car sales tips include diligent reporting
Plotting gross profit on Q1 of 2018

This graph, as you can probably figure out, is the total profit of a specific model, plotted out over the first quarter of 2018. The blue and orange dots show the individual deals of two different IMs.

What you want to see when you plot data like this is spread.

If an IM is being lazy, you will see less spread, as deals all approach a similar sales price. If your IM is being proactive you will see spread, with the difference between the best deals and the worst deals being quite large. I would categorize the orange and blue IMs performance in this first quarter data set as decent.

Group 2: Yellow IM and Gray IM

What I would rather see would be something more like the graph below, of 2 different IMs. The data is the same metrics, on the same model, over the same time frame:

a graph showing better spread of two better performing IMs
Same things plotted as above, but better spread

You see immediately why these are better reps. Both have some net positive deals, and the spread is huge. Whereas both graphs show a negative $4k deal, the second graph shows a few positive deals in the $2k-$4k range.

When the graphs are bunched in one area, you know that your reps are missing opportunities to make money.

Quick point to make. If I plotted one of these out and found one representative had all the deals much higher grossing than everyone else, I would not immediately label him or her a superstar.

I would, however, investigate their deals (in the CRM). Are they missing some lower grossing deals that I would have wanted them to make? Or do they have some value that they are offering their customers that I can replicate to bring the whole team’s total profit up. Important things to learn.

Notes on Negotiating

I think that some starting IMs believe that all negotiating is supposed to be done on the computer before a customer comes in. Although this is sometimes the case, generally the negotiation with an internet customer happens in two steps.

Step 1: The Online Quote

This is exactly what I touch on above with the AMP discounts. Offer fair pricing and get the customer on a car that they would want to buy. Offer them options, such as used cars and cars with the right options but different colors.

If you do this step right, you should be setting plenty of appointments.

Step 2: In Person, Wraping it up

Generally once the customer is in the store, they will have a target they want to hit. Human nature being what it is, this target will always be below whatever you had offered them online (this is why you must leave room!).

The most important step when negotiating with an internet customer is to have them like you enough to share their objection.

Why they must like you…

Let me explain.

Real or imagined, most customers will come in with the idea that there is still room to negotiate when they come in. Oftentimes, this will be inspired by a quote from another dealer.

The fact of the matter is, unless you have a no-compromise perfect car in stock, they aren’t going to want to share that quote with you.

This is where winning them over comes in. Make sure that your test drive and product overview is top notch. You must be dressed well and you must be likable. Only then will the customer share. Once they share, you have your target to hit.

If the target is realistic make the deal happen. Respect their time.

If the target is unrealistic, because of confusion or intentionally vague wording in a competitors quote, stay calm. Don’t get confrontational. Use the data that you have on your computer (and your persuasive skills) to close the gap. Use the room you have to compromise.

This step is not possible if they don’t like you.

Getting a customer to like you (quickly)

In stand up comedy, marketing, and sales, it is critical to know your audience.

Here are the first names of my customers in for 4/1/18 through 4/15/18:

  1. Erik
  2. Lisa
  3. Mark
  4. In
  5. Mo
  6. Jin
  7. Karen
  8. Sachin
  9. Andrew
  10. Vidita
  11. Daniel
  12. Deryk
  13. Yu
  14. Simon

So far in April I had 100% tech company employees. I had fully 50% from other countries that are here on visas.

If they are going to love me, I need to know what makes them tick. I need to understand the tech economy. I need to know something about India, something about China.

I actually have found that taking 汉语 (Chinese language) classes for the past year has been a great help in connecting with my Chinese customers.

It’s about what sets you apart.

Review: Internet Car Sales Tips

So in this article we focused mostly on pricing and what makes internet car sales just a tad harder than floor sales. Let me know what you think about these tips in the comments below!

Internet Lead Response Best Practices

Internet lead response best practices are below this image!
Simple rules and advanced tactics

Basics of Internet Lead Response

I’m going to need to break up this article “Internet Lead Response Best Practices” into two parts. That’s because there are the basics, that have been the same since 2006, that are still not in practice by many. Then, past that, there are the more advanced strategies that we can start incorporating.

The basic stuff is going to seem, well, basic. That’s ok.

The basic principles for running a successful internet department at a dealership aren’t difficult to master. They do, however, seem to to be difficult to stay consistent on.

At the end of part 1 I’ll have put together an easy checklist for you to use. This checklist you can simply print out and use to address your weak spots.

Without further ado, let’s get the basics out of the way. Quick note- yes, you can find this stuff elsewhere online. None of the basics are original. Frankly, you can find some (if not most) of this stuff in this article from 2006.

11+ Year Old Advice

You need to understand why a customer is shopping online. I’ve asked customers why they shop online. Companies have done surveys. Here are the top three reasons:

  1. The internet is where I researched the different cars first, so it’s natural when I transition into buying mode that I start online
  2. It’s easier to view inventory from multiple dealers online than in person
  3. It’s less stressful to talk price than in person, would rather figure it out via email

So, customer concerns in mind, here are the basics to running a value adding internet sales department:

#1 Respond Quickly

Let’s keep this short. Respond to your leads within 10 minutes. 

Why is this so dang important?

It’s easy to figure out. Picture this. I’m Mr. Car Buyer. Spending a few hours after work researching, reading online articles and watching youtube reviews. Narrowing down what I’m interested in.

I want a new car -> I want a Sedan -> I want a BMW or Audi -> BMW 320i

Now, I’m excited. I need to tell Mrs. Car Buyer how much this new car is going to cost and get “buy in” from her. I figure I’ll do some price shopping.

I jump on Truecar and Kelly Blue Book and do a bit of looking around. They give me some rough estimates immediately.

I show Mrs. Car Buyer and she seems to be on the same page. Everything is moving fast!

Now, I jump on my local Audi and BMW dealership’s websites. I navigate through the website, it’s ugly, but I manage.

I find a car I want, I fill out my information, and I wait. Let’s say Mr. Car Buyer’s real name is “Alex Wu”. Let’s say he put in a lead at 3:53 pm.

What happens when I put in a car sales lead
The deluge begins…

It takes 16 minutes for the first response from dealer #1, and 22 minutes for the dealer #2.

Alex was expecting immediate gratification, just like he had experienced on all the other websites, but instead he waited ~20 minutes.

So, to review, your online customer’s want to be contacted in 2-5 minutes. 10 minutes is ok. Anything more and it’s a bit embarrassing.

But how?

Easiest Solution: Autoresponder

I’m all about cost effective and low man power. If a customer clicks on a car on your site, their lead will immediately populate in your CRM.

So, just set the CRM up to send them an email. Have the email be short and to the point, introducing your dealer, showing some small standard discount, and telling to expect a call shortly.

You know who does this well?

Picture of an auto email sent from Amazon.com
Immediate confirmation…

Then, within 10 minutes, have your BDC give them a call. Easy.

(If you want advice on setting up and running a successful BDC, I’ve written up two articles here and here)

Second Easiest: L.L.A. (Loud Lead Alerts)

If you don’t want to set up an autoresponder, or if you just want to make sure the customer get’s their call quickly, I recommend setting up LLA.

Most fully featured will have something that looks like this:

Lead alert option on CRM
*ding*

Set that up for your BDC/Internet sales people. Then, check the reports every week. If the response time is over 10 minutes, start managing.

#2 CMW: Clear Message Writing

So the acronym is totally unnecessary, but I’m trying to keep myself interested in writing out the basics.

Your first contact to the customer needs to be written well. No spelling errors, no grammatical errors. Also, it needs to be easy to read. Not too image heavy. Image heavy emails often get flagged as spam.

Here is an email that “Alex” got. The writing is decent, but the message format is a bit rough:

Internet lead response
Click to see full size… this is a first response in 2018

That is one crowded email. This is the actual wall of text in that email:

Moonroof, Heated Seats. Black Sapphire Metallic exterior and Black SensaTec interior, 320i trim. FUEL EFFICIENT 35 MPG Hwy/24 MPG City! SEE MORE!KEY FEATURES INCLUDERear Air, Back-Up Camera, Turbocharged, iPod/MP3 Input, CD Player, Onboard Communications System, Keyless Start, Dual Zone A/C MP3 Player, Keyless Entry, Child Safety Locks, Steering Wheel Controls, Heated Mirrors.OPTION PACKAGESSPORT PACKAGE Storage Package, Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror, Universal Garage-Door Opener, Auto-Dimming Interior & Driver Exterior Mirrors, Sport Seats, Anthracite Headliner, Wheels: 18 x 8 Fr & 18 x 8.5 Rr (Style 658) Light alloy V-spoke, Increased Top Speed Limiter, Tires: P225/45R18 Fr & P255/40R18 Rr Mixed Perf Non-runflat, M Sport Suspension, Moonroof, Power Front Seats, Sport Leather Steering Wheel, PARK DISTANCE CONTROL, FINELINE ANTHRACITE WOOD TRIM W/PEARL GLOSS CHROME, HEATED FRONT SEATS, SPLIT FOLD-DOWN-REAR SEAT, TRANSMISSION: 6-SPEED MANUAL. BMW 320i with Black Sapphire Metallic exterior and Black SensaTec interior features a 4 Cylinder Engine with 180 HP at 5000 RPM*.WHO WE AREWelcome to BMW of San Rafael. If you are searching for a new or used BMW in the San Rafael area, our friendly, professional staff is ready to provide you with all the help you need. Come in to BMW of San Rafael to test drive your new vehicle today!Horsepower calculations based on trim engine configuration. Fuel economy calculations based on original manufacturer data for trim engine configuration. Please confirm the accuracy of the included equipment by calling us prior to purchase.

That, to be fair, is pulled from the website that hosts their inventory. That being said, as the Internet Director I would work with my team to get rid of that blurb. It’s ugly, non-formatted, and worst of all, useless.

It’s critical to know what your customer wants when they inquire online. If you want to give the customer a breakdown of everything on the car, fine, just send them the actual window sticker. It’s madness to have that in your first response. Just advance the sale. Minimal clutter.

Say it with me! Advance the sale! Minimal Clutter!

Alright, that’s enough about on CMW.

#3 Confirm the Vehicles Availability

This is an easy one. Confirm (actually check) if the car is available. Make sure no deal is closed on the car, it’s not being dealer traded, and it’s in stock. It’s here. Not at the body shop.

If you can link to photos, that’s great. Don’t do this:

Sending 20+ photos is not internet lead response best practices
A little ridiculous, although the camera guy is talented- Great lighting on these shots!

In the response to one of my “Alex Wu” leads, I got this series of photos in the emailed first response.

Your car dealership is not a wedding photographer. The customer already has an idea what a new black BMW 320i looks like. These photos, although very high quality, are way too much. They bloat the email’s size and steals attention away from your sales funnel. Photos should be linked, and only to advance the sale. Remember, minimal clutter.

#4 and #5: Pricing and “Why Buys”

In the first response email, discounted pricing should be given. Customers expect some discount and unless there is a reason (limited edition etc).

Should you give the house away first email? No.

I’ve found much greater success with a nominal discount offered combined with a strong follow up campaign .

Some customers shopping online are doing so not because they are “super grinds” but because they want an easy and fair process.

So put it in email that you match or beat all competitors quotes if you want. Offer some discount. Just don’t get lazy and give the house away first email.

Now, in order to make this work, you need to have firmly in place some “why buys”. These are the reasons that the customer should act now.

Here are some great ideas to get you started (pick one or two per lead):

  1. Sale that ends soon (almost too cliche, but works)
  2. Limited stock car (what makes this car special)
  3. Special vehicle specific incentive (this specific car has an additional $1000 incentive above and beyond all standard discounts!)
  4. Strong public interest (how many deals have been worked on this car recently?)

That should be enough to help you come up with your own. Just make sure you have a reason why today is special. Have your “why buys” in the first response email, and restate them in the first call/voicemail!

#6 Short and Sweet Intro

This one is even easier.

Introduce the salesperson responsible for the customer. Have all emails sent by this salesperson (even if they are actually sent by a number of reps over the weeks). Make sure the customer only needs to know one person’s name!

A small picture of the rep in the first email is a great idea.

When a customer comes into the dealer, they will most likely have this first response email pulled up on their phone. The customer will appreciate being able to recognize the salesperson when they walk in. It’s less stressful than asking around!

It’s a great idea to have some of the positive reviews or accolades of the salesperson listed in the email. Just one sentence that sets your service apart. I don’t think that “10 years in the car business” is a good stat to brag about. Instead, try to find something like “top rated in customer service from BMW of America” or “here is a link to my yelp reviews”.

This is a great way that I’ve found to do this:

Step 1: Go to your store’s yelp page and search the name you want

Go to your store's yelp page and search the name you want
Let’s sort by “Joe”

Step 2: Grab the URL at the top of the page after searching

Grab the URL at the top of the page after searching
Here is “Joe’s” yelp

Step 3: Link that URL – Here is your example!

Using this trick you can link to the positive reviews (assuming you have some) and not just send the customer to the store’s Yelp page.

#7 Invitation to Come at a Specific Time

If you receive a lead before 530pm, invite the customer in for a specific time that day:

Can you make it in today at 545pm? We have some time available then to show you the car.

If you receive the lead after 530pm, invited the customer in for a specific time the next day:

Can you make it in tomorrow at 1215pm? We have some time available then to show you the car.

Try to only offer times at 15 minutes past the hour or 15 minutes to the hour. These appointments are more likely to be kept.

When you make an appointment for 1pm the customer feels flexibility. When you say 115pm, there is less of that feeling.

That being said, some people are always late. Nothing you can do.

 Review of the Basics

First response should have the following at a minimum:

  1. Quick response time
  2. CMW – clear message writing (advance the sale, minimal clutter)
  3. Confirmation of the specific vehicle’s availability (pictures are a plus)
  4. A fair price (Don’t make the mistake outlined in my previous article!)
  5. A reason for “why now” (Is there a sale ending? Special incentives? Lot’s of action on this car? Low inventory?)
  6. An introduction of the salesperson (short and sweet) with reference to accomplishments/accolades
  7. Invitation to come down today at a specific time (or tomorrow if it’s too late)

There should be minimal clutter. Everything should be advancing the sales funnel!

Moving on to Advanced Tactics

Alright, so you think your hot stuff. Your lead response is top notch, and numbers 1 through 7 on the basics list are all in place. What next?

The fun stuff! This is where you stand out.

#1 Charisma

Internet leads need to be answered in a way that stands out. If you assume that your competitors are also taking care of the basics outlined above, then you need to show how you are different. It’s no secret that customers like to buy from people they like.

So how do you make people like you?

Do your job well and have some fun doing it.

Phone voice is an easy first. Charisma needs to come through the phone strong and clear. Your customer wants to trust you. They want to like you. You need to make that easy.

In order to work on this, I recommend checking out some of the videos from “Charisma on Command”:

“Charisma on Command” is a fantastic youtube channel that has tons of video content for you to watch and learn from. He and his team break down the things that make people likeable.

Charisma is an art that you can put your spin on.

Make sure that your phone warriors are using their personal brand of charisma when answering your store’s leads. Maybe your BDC is a 35 year old mom with two loud sons. Let her work that into her calls. Let her be herself!

Note: If your BDC/Internet Managers are unhappy or overworked they aren’t going to sound good on the phone. Keep your people happy.

#2 Have Fun

Your emails will work fine if you follow the basics listed above. That being said, if you want to excel, you need to do a little extra.

Here is one my favorite emails I’ve ever received while secret shopping dealers:

Subject: My simple poem for you

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I can’t sell you a car

If I never hear from you

Please give me a call at ***-***-***** to talk about your Audi interest

That is genius. It’s not an email you would send in a first response (it was obviously part of a “aged unqualified” campaign) but it stands out.

If I was shopping, especially if I hadn’t found someone I liked yet, I would respond to that email.

#3 Mastering Aesthetics

When you want to stand out, you have to look good. That’s not just for date night, that’s for your website and lead response too.

Let’s jump right to a comparison, sticking with the BMW 320i that “Alex” was looking at earlier. Let’s say that Alex decides he wants a used car.

Jumping into Alex’s mind, what do I want to see when browsing a dealer’s site looking at specific inventory?

  1. Price
  2. Odometer
  3. Options (Backup camera, Bluetooth, Navigation, Sports)
  4. Owners on Carfax and Accidents on Carfax?
  5. Warranty
  6. Pictures
  7. Some contact info- if the car looks good how do I come see it?

So this information is the “value” that the site can offer. Pretty much everything else is clutter.

So with that in mind, let’s see what an official BMW dealersite looks like:

How BMW San Rafael gets internet leads
Exhibit A – click to see full size

Now, let’s compare to a picture from Shift.com, a automotive e-commerce site:

How shift.com generates internet leads
Exhibit B – click to see full size

See a difference? I do. Let’s point out in exhibit A what is clutter:

My edits to their lead response page
I’m an artist – click to see what I axe’d

Let’s break it down.

First, here are the informational value points that the shift.com site provides on the page:

  1. Price
  2. Odometer
  3. Options (Backup camera, Bluetooth, Navigation, Sports)
  4. Owners on Carfax and Accidents on Carfax?
  5. Warranty
  6. Pictures
  7. Some contact info

Next, here are the informational value points that the BMW dealership provides on their page:

  1. Price
  2. Odometer
  3. Options (Backup camera, Bluetooth, Navigation, Sports)
  4. Owners on Carfax and Accidents on Carfax?
  5. Warranty
  6. Pictures
  7. Some contact info

Sure, the customer can scroll down two pages worth of clutter to find the information that matters eventually. Some of it.

Aesthetics and user interface design is critical to generating strong internet leads that actually buy cars. I can guarantee that there are thousands of dealership employees answering internet leads that are just asking simple questions that should have been answered on the page!

Your website needs to provide you strong traffic. Traffic that has qualified itself using the information, the value, that you provided easily on your website.

Review: Internet Lead Response Best Practices

So that’s the basics and a few advanced tips to review. You might find while implementing some of the advanced tips that some people will give you some push back.

Push back is ok. Your job is to master the basics and then start innovating. Setting yourself apart.

“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”
― AesopAesop’s Fables

Car Sales Leads – Maximizing your Closing Rate

The focus of this article will be to help you convert more car sales leads while making more money.

I’ve studied these topics extensively and have experienced it first hand at the largest Audi dealership in the country. Some of what I’ve written below is currently in use at the dealership, all of it has been at one time or another to generate and convert car sales leads.

Let’s focus on the low hanging fruit.

Converting More Car Sales Leads

Mastering selling your internet car sales leads is critical to your business. Most dealerships will have a certain steady flow of car sales leads from their main site plus a number of leads from companies that provide leads.

Online shoppers can be difficult to nail down for managers who have been in the car business for a long time. They are high volume and often low profit customers, which make them feel like a lot of work.

So yes, car sales leads can be a headache. That being said, I’ll convince you below why they are the best focus of your time, especially for a forward thinking manager.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure

The beauty of internet lead customers is your ability to have incredibly accurate reporting and analysis, often from inside of your CRM.

Contrast this to your floor ups. Your floor ups are often un- or under- reported. Their contact information is only as good as your sales people and it’s very tedious to source how they found out about your dealership.

Compare this typical phone up CRM entry:

So many questions…

With car sales leads CRM entry:

Trackable, actionable

On the first opportunity we know that they have a phone and have our number. We could train and rely on my salespeople for better entries… but that’s a topic for a another time.

On the second opportunity, with no help from my employees, we know the customer:

  1. Has expectations set by Edmunds Price Promise
  2. Plans to buy in 30 days
  3. Most important- we know how much this lead costs!

Your phone opportunity may have heard your radio ad, seen a billboard, or simply received the phone number from a friend.

So, if you want to optimize the conversion of your car sales leads (and eliminate bad car sales leads), get yourself deep into your CRM system’s reporting functionality.

Once you’ve got the numbers in front of you, it’s time to see how much you can  improve using the following best practices.

Compelling Contact – Subject Lines

You have three ways to contact your customers that have inquired online. The easiest to measure in effectiveness, and there for our first focus, is email. What you say (and how you say it!) in email when responding to your car sales leads is critical.

Email is the easiest to measure because you can use modern tools to see the email open percentage and email reply percentage.

Exciting Emails –  Knowing Your Competition

In preparation for this article, I did a full secret shopping experiment. I contacted a few Bay Area dealers, using the same contact email and contact info. I submitted car sales leads with this format:

NAME: LEJ RUKA
EMAIL: LEJIRUKA@MAILTRIX.NET
NOTE: I am very interested in this A3 cabriolet.

Tip: I use this site to do research on the dealerships in my area. It generates email addresses immediately that are active for 24 hours. Just don’t close the tab!

So let’s start with the emails I received back. The subject lines are all similar:

Secret shopping car sales leads
You have to secret shop your competition, https://temp-mail.org/ is an easy resource

Peacocking

This is what a female peacock looks like:

A picture of a female peacock
Boring, might or might not get the job done

This is what a male peacock looks like:

Picture of brightly colored male peacock
A little more enticing

 

You want your emails subject lines to be the male peacock.

I’ve found that the subject line is the most important part of the whole email. It doesn’t matter the content if the email gets deleted!

Here are the standard email subject lines that you are probably using:

Spring Sales Event – Exclusive Deals From *Dealer Name*

or:

Presidents Day Specials Extended Through Friday

or, by far the worst, this one:

Thank you for your Inquiry!

These are all vanilla subject lines, often provided by your CRM. Compare that with some of our best subject lines. Note that these have never, after years of use, generated a negative response back (which I still can’t believe). These are some of our best performing subject lines:

Sorry…

or:

We are the cheapest

and finally our best performing of all time:

Harassment

Is “Harassment” too strong?

Now, you can see clearly why people opened these messages. We create some tension with the subject… and then immediately diffuse it within the email. For example, on the email with the subject line “Harassment” we follow with this email:

SUBJECT: Harassment

We know we have been sending you a lot of emails. I can see that you have been opening them, but not responding.

Would you kindly let us know if you are still in the market? Are we emailing too much? Is there a time that is best to get a hold of you?

Here at *our store here*, we value our customers and their time. We look forward to hearing from you.

See how we changed tune? The customer had no idea what to expect when they opened our email. We were the male peacock. They wanted to check us out and learn more.

Compelling Contact – The Content Of Your Emails

Let’s talk about the goal of your internet department. You want to convert the highest percentage of car sales leads you can while maintaining a decent gross profit.

Let’s review:

  1. Convert the car sales leads
  2. Maintain decent profit

Converting car sales leads has two parts, getting the appointment and selling the appointment. Maintaining decent profit involves knowing the market of the cars you are selling and not getting lazy with pricing.

An In depth Look At The Email From Niello Audi

Let’s review the email I received from Niello Audi.

First step, converting the lead. Niello needed a catchy subject line to catch my attention. This is what I got:

The email response from a car sales lead
His name means nothing to Lej Ruka, the customer

No information, no catch. Just the name of the Internet guy, but unless you have a local celebrity working your internet leads, the name doesn’t carry much water.

Perhaps your customer will Yelp you (in which case Phillip has great reviews!), but usually that is “upstream” of sending in a lead anyways.

Let’s say the customer clicks the email, putting aside the lackluster subject line.

This is what they get:

The response to a car sales lead
This is the customer’s first impression of the dealer

My goal in the email is to convert the car sales leads to appointments and maintain gross profit.

The salesperson confirms that the car is in stock (good!) and provides pricing (potentially good!). The email is decently written, although content wise two things stick out.

First Problem: Content Is King, Don’t Make Stuff Up!

First, the term “Elite Internet Sales” in magenta. If I was shopping for a car and didn’t immediately write off that term…

I would google it, and this is what shows up:

What shows up when I google “audi elite internet sales”

 

Ok, first result is a different dealership. Odd. Oh! Here we go! Phillip must be referring to the 2016 Magna Society? Let’s click that link:

A picture of the Audi Elite winners from 2016
Where’s Phillip? Where is Niello Audi?

Ok, so “Audi Elite Internet Sales” is something he made up.

The take home is that what you put in your emails matter! Every word is important. This is the internet age.

Second Problem: Don’t Lose Money When You Don’t Need To

Alright, so the email isn’t particularly compelling, but there is a price! Ok, let’s zoom in on that:

The pricing of the Audi
About $5k off!

 

Is that a good price? Well, if I am Mr. Consumer, I’ll probably go and check truecar.com in Sacramento, and this is what I’ll find:

 

The truecar pricing shows that the quoted price is very cheap
According to Truecar, Niello is very very cheap

 

Wow! They are quoting $600 below what Truecar calls “Exceptional” pricing! On the first email. My first pencil!

So, our subject line is weak, our content is odd, and our pricing is below market. This is a good example of what you don’t want to do.

Now, on the flip side. I know that Audi Niello really wants to sell this car. They’ve had it for 200+ days (relatively difficult for a customer to find this out). It’s ok to want to sell your old inventory, and it’s ok to be cheap.

Supply Side

In this situation, I’m posing as a customer. I sent in a lead saying that I was “interested in this car”. I stated in my lead that I was in the same zip code as the dealer. This car is not an easy car to find if I’m checking out dealer websites. I’ll prove it to you:

Picture of inventory search
A whopping 2 in Northern California

 

If I am shopping price and comparing like with like, the only other car is at Audi Marin. Here is the drive I’d need to do to check out the competition:

If I sent a car sales lead out for this car, I would need to go to Marin to get the car
Quite the drive

 

Let’s wrap up our analysis. In the internet department, we want to convert leads, and hold gross profit. In this situation, the internet department didn’t try very hard to convert the lead… and gave away all the profit and then some. Not ideal.

The thing is, Phillip is a great sales guy in person. His Yelp is all 5 stars and he seems to have very happy customers! He just needs to work on his email cadence for his car sales leads.

How Could He Have Done Better?

If I wanted to remake Phillip’s email, I’d do three main things differently.

Number 1: Subject Line Change

Change my subject line from:

Niello Audi – Phillip Najera

To:

2018 Audi A3 Cabriolet at Niello Audi – Limited Availability

In this way, I’ve already established the grounds for holding gross profit, and I’ve brought up immediately what the customer is interested in.

Number 2: Content

In the email I would make sure to:

  1. Confirm vehicle availability – Which he did in his
  2. Offer a fair price, let’s say… $200 above Truecar “average” (you can always negotiate down if needed!)
  3. Introduce myself by mentioning how long I’ve been here, linking to my Yelp reviews (use those 5 star reviews!)
  4. Invite “Lej” in for a specific time, using smart appointment setting *LINK TO OTHER BLOG POST HERE*

Number 3: Format

I’d ditch the image heavy format, simplify everything down. Picture of the car is good, everything else you can get rid of. I’ve seen success with a photo of the salesperson being included in the email. Overall less is better.

 

Text Messages – Your Customers Text

Your customers text.

Say it back to me.

“My customers text”

Don’t believe me? Spend some time reading these stats:

45 Texting Statistics That Prove Businesses Need to Take SMS Seriously

Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. (Pew Internet)

People worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in just this year alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day, or almost 16 million messages per minute. (Portio Research)

Now that we have that out of the way, how should you text your customers?

First, to stay legal, you need to send an opt in. Your CRM will have this built in.

Second, when reviewing your car sales leads, you need to figure out in what way your customers want to communicate.

To do this, when first receiving car sales leads, our team:

  1. Makes a phone call
  2. Sends an Opt in Text
  3. Sends our intro email

We have found great success with this method, since it allows the customer the choice on how to communicate.

If the customer opts in on text, we try to direct my conversation there immediately. As long as the customer is texting, we don’t recommend calling.

The best texts are short and to the point:

Hi! Stock #37874 the Blue Q5 is here. We have availability at 615pm tonight, work for you? Steve @ Audi

If the customer does not opt in then we recommend waiting to send another opt in text after meeting the customer. I’ll ask them:

Thanks for coming in today. To follow up would you prefer text or call?

If they say text, send the opt in immediately or as soon as possible.

Why do we like text? Because our customers like text. It feels efficient for them. It’s easy to get the customer into the dealer with a text. It’s also unnatural to talk price on text, which is a convenient bonus.

Phone Call Schedule

I am a huge fan of having a BDC handle all phone calls, since that is their speciality. I made a guide for improving your BDC here.

Although we will address phone scripts in a future post, we want to simply touch on the frequency of calls for your car sales leads.

When we receive car sales leads, we use the following schedule until we have made contact (note: one voicemail per day!)

Day 1: If lead before noon, call three times (if they don’t answer). If lead is afternoon, call two times.

Day 2: Call in the morning and night

3rd day through 5th day: Call once, alternating morning and night

After that, we move the lead to an unresponsive group, and call on the 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th days. Long term unqualified has calls on the 30th, 45th and 60th day.

Review: Car Sales Leads

Maximizing the conversion of your car sales leads is critical to your business. Make sure to comment below with your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you agree and disagree with!