MFG CEO Declan Gaule explains why increasingly empowered consumers have made prospecting a fundamental tool for dealerships.
(This article first appeared in IMI Magazine - March issue - download PDF)
Just as they would with conquest customers, dealers must work harder now to entice existing customers into the showroom in order to hit retention figures. As a result, there is a requirement for outbound telephone prospecting like never before. Where prospecting was once a nice-to-have – now it is a must-have!
There is a general misconception amongst dealer salespeople that the internet provides customers with all the presale information they need and that it is then simply a race to the bottom on price. On the evidence of over 8,000 individual prospecting events we have run for clients this is not the case. Yes, customers are better informed than they once were but it is undoubtedly still possible to sell successfully without throwing away profit per unit.
The Magic Three
The key to successful prospecting can be broken down into three core aspects:
- What do you say to the prospect?
- What is in it for the prospect?
- How do you avoid becoming a nuisance?
Most salespeople hate prospecting but if it’s done in a professional and customer-centric manner neither party needs to get upset. That is, introduce yourself and where you are calling from, ensure the customer can speak to you and then get straight to the point: "The reason for my call today is..." Many traditional sales books speak of building rapport through small talk. Unfortunately, having heard thousands of dealer customer phone calls, customers simply do not want it anymore. They want you to get to the point and they want to know how your call will positively affect them!
This call may be the first time that a prospect has even thought about changing their car and most will not have been crashing the internet with research, so ensure you put forward your two best offers in clear and simple language. Make sure they understood what you just said and then simply ask them if either would be of interest.
At which point the customer will reply with one of three responses: yes, no or maybe. The key here is that they will explain why they are in which camp and a natural conversation develops or concludes politely. Customers respect this professional and direct approach and if they are interested, they will agree to an appointment at the dealership.
Do your homework
When it comes to annoying customers with prospecting it largely arises from ill-planned research (they may have been called before and were not interested or they have sold their car, for example). In these instances, the content of the call would prove meaningless – as the customer garnered zero personal value. To minimise annoyance do a small amount of homework before calling and ensure where possible that your offer is open to them and their situation and personalise it.
Most consumers do not hate prospecting calls if they are legitimate and from a company they have engaged with before. Indeed, many quote that they feel they don’t get enough meaningful contact from their dealer.
Thus, in our experience, the word ‘meaningful’ is critical. The industry is awash with tempting offers and it is the obligation of the salesperson to understand these and present them to their prospect in a professional and tailored fashion. If this be achieved then the appointments and sales will follow!
MFG's Top Prospecting Tips
DO YOUR HOMEWORK - research the customer's vehicle history.
MAKE A PROFESSIONAL OPENING - introduce yourself and where you are calling from.
MINIMISE SMALL TALK - get straight to the point.
DON'T OVERLOAD - stick to your two best offers.
MAKE IT MEANINGFUL - personalise wherever you can.
To find out more about how we can help you drive footfall and increase sales with our sales generator events please contact Pita Marroni via firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pita on +44 (0) 7544 761566.