prospects An Essential Part of Your 2012 Growth Strategy Which dealership do customers choose? • 97 percent choose one with professional, friendly sales staff and competitive pricing. • Three percent choose one with unprofessional sales staff and very low pricing. We’ve all seen the studies. Customers tend to make their buying decisions based on the overall experience they have at your dealership, rather than on the price points you offer. The customer experience consists of some basics such as: Customer Service
Customer service begins with the very first phone call, visit to your dealership or interaction with a salesperson or call handler. As you can see from the percentages above, on overwhelming majority of people rank a professional, friendly sales staff as a top priority when choosing a dealership. Customer Satisfaction
If they do buy from you and their experience was an easy and a pleasant one, the door is open for continued communication and contact. When a customer is satisfied with their buying experience, there is a good chance they will recommend you to others or purchase a vehicle from you again. Customer Incentives
Loyal customers should be rewarded. People like incentives. Many dealers have loyalty programs, referral fees or offer customer discounts. Even a free oil change, car wash or service coupon goes a long way in showing good customers that you appreciate their business and referrals. Customer Value
A potential customer lead, even one who may not be ready to buy yet, is invaluable. It means they are interested and will most likely purchase in the near future. Staying in touch with leads of this kind is key, and the earlier
you can start developing a relationship with them the more valuable they become. One of the surest ways to grow your business is by maintaining relationships with your current customer base while also nurturing new ones. It can only benefit your dealership when your customers, new and old, have experiences that are positive ones. Where does it all begin? What is the most important and most common first point of contact with a potential customer? Nine times out of 10, it starts with a simple phone call. Even in this digital, mobile age, the phone is still one of your most important sources of leads. Even the majority of e-mail leads will eventually revert to a phone call as the prospect moves closer to a buying decision. This makes managing the phone lead process that much more imperative. NADA studies indicate that 75 percent of all car purchases initiate from a phone call. Combined with the fact that the average dealer loses 80 percent of their incoming phone leads explains why the phone is the single largest profit leak and source of customer dissatisfaction in a dealership today. Countless times on a daily basis, sales are lost, customers are mishandled and CSI and SSI issues go unresolved. This is why tracking and managing all incoming calls and determining the quality of leads generated is so important. Most dealership personnel use the initial phone call as a chance to focus on setting an appointment with a potential customer. Getting a caller into the showroom is the best way to convert a caller to a customer. However, 2011 studies show that out of one million incoming customer calls, less than eight percent of those resulted in an appointment. It’s safe to say that with less than 10 percent call-to-appointment ratios as the norm, it is obvious that a key opportunity lies in increasing the phone handling skills of your sales team. Managing phone prospects should become an essential part of your growth strategy for 2012. When you consider that the average dealership is spending at least $55,000 per month in advertising and marketing to get the phone to ring, and that a single phone prospect converted to a customer can potentially be worth over $300,000 in revenue over the life of the customer, the perceived value of this lead source changes dramatically. The best way to manage the phone lead process is to monitor what’s happening during the phone call and to place more emphasis on setting appointments. Setting a benchmark for call-toappointment ratios for the dealership and at the individual call handler level is a great start. Most dealerships have a call-tracking tool in place that also allow then the opportunity to record each incoming call. Assigning managers to listen to these calls will help determine where improvement is needed. This is another vital step in this process. The recorded calls can also be a great coaching tool for your sales team. There’s nothing like hearing and reviewing your own performance to maximize the learning curve. It’s why all great athletes review game films. By better managing phone prospects, you begin the process of the positive customer experience. Pogo Parr is the vice president of sales for the auto division of CallSource. He can be contacted at 866.690.2139, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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