Your Second Chance to Make That Sale

Your Second Chance to Make That Sale

The Puget Sound Dealer

Do you realize that you and your fellow auto dealers are spending close to ten billion dollars a year on advertising alone? Dealers and manufacturers invest more than $250 to attract each sales prospect. The only problem is, not all prospects end up purchasing. Only 20% of your prospects will actually purchase a vehicle from you.

Since dealers are spending so much money to attract potential buyers to their showrooms, salespeople must surely be carefully managing the relationship with each and every prospect, right? Well, according to several national studies, they are not. In fact, 90% of unsold floor traffic prospects do not receive a telephone call after they leave the dealership.

For starters, it is imperative that your salespeople record information on each and every prospect entering your dealership. This information can range from a scribbled name and phone number to elaborate entries into a Palm or PC Customer Relationship Management program. This is essential so a process can be implemented to make sure these prospects receive a phone call, ideally within one day.

Why begin calling prospects immediately? As you know, vehicle shoppers have many choices available. They are more educated than ever, and the majority have already done their homework on the Internet. These shoppers are ready to buy, and they are going to buy soon. 38% of prospects buy within hours, 57% will buy within 3 days, and 78% will buy within 30 days.

A telephone follow-up call can uncover the information necessary to bring someone back to your dealership. According to NADA, 67% of prospects will purchase on their second visit.

If calling prospects back is so successful, why don’t salespeople do it regularly? Think of your top-producing salespeople. Are they eager to block themselves off from new prospects on the showroom floor by spending several hours at a time in their cubicles, organizing prospect information and dialing telephone numbers? Why would they sit at the phone and call masses of unsold prospects, when at that very moment there are new prospects pulling into the parking lot? It just isn’t the nature of top-performing salespeople to stay off the floor and ignore opportunities there.

The following is a 2003 statistic from the ever-popular J.D. Power and Associates: More than one-fourth of the people who walked out of a new vehicle dealership without buying said they did so mainly because they did not like the way the salesperson handled their business. So even if your salespeople are actually stepping up to the plate and making phone calls to these prospects, we know that at least 25% of them will go nowhere. Those customers are simply not satisfied with that salesperson. The odds are, the same salesperson will make no progress with that same prospect.

If these calls are outsourced to an unbiased source, however, the prospect has an open avenue to voice concerns about the original salesperson. This information can then be forwarded to the sales manager immediately. This gives the manager the opportunity to put another plan into motion.

Outsourcing prospect calls to the right company will produce better results, which will lead to increased sales. A high-level follow-up company will begin calling your prospects quickly, beginning the day after they visit the dealership. They will make at least two call attempts per day until that person is contacted. They may even report survey results in real-time. Surveys should be e-mailed and posted securely on the Web, so the sales manager can use the information to react immediately.

The manager will have the ability to distribute only those “hot prospects” to the sales force. Rather than dialing a telephone for hours, a salesperson can work from a short list of “high-probability” prospects. This salesperson also has access to a wealth of information from that person’s original visit: satisfaction with their overall experience, the reason they didn’t purchase, satisfaction with their salesperson, whether or not they were offered a demonstration drive, etc. The follow-up will paint an accurate picture of what goes on with virtually every prospect who walks into your dealership and walks out without buying.

A quality third-party follow-up company will summarize all the survey results with real-time Web graphical reporting. Many companies will also report the source that brought this person to the dealership. This can help you determine the effectiveness of your advertising.

According to one notable industry vendor, the average dealership incurs an annual loss of $225,000 due to ineffective prospect follow-up. Consistency and timing are extremely important aspects of this follow-up process. When these calls are outsourced to a quality follow-up company, you will receive a greater amount of information in a more timely manner. Furthermore, the follow-up information will be forwarded to you on a steady, consistent basis.

Receiving unbiased, honest feedback from prospective customers about their experience at your dealership is priceless. Information on the skill of your sales force and the effectiveness of your advertising dollars is equally important. This information is the key to increasing sales and profits.

Since you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on advertising, wouldn’t you like to know you did everything possible to close the deal (or at least close the loop) with each and every prospect? Give yourself a second chance to make that sale!

Dusty Dunkle is Vice President of Customer Research, Inc., a provider of automotive telephone follow-up since 1967. Contact Dusty at 206.242.9969; toll free at 800.886.3472; by e-mail at; or visit