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Best practice Prospecting and marketing www. am- online. com June 26 2009 AM 29 Successful prospecting key to winning new business By Rachel Burgess G ood marketing comes from getting sales staff excited and revved up, who will in turn excite your customers. Rather than attach a few balloons to cars on the forecourt or appeal to children with a bouncy castle, its far better to enthral sales staff. As a result, they will excite customers without the need for lightweight gimmicks. One suggestion is costumed weekends for sales teams, which allows them to take on a new person-ality for a short while. This helps build strong team spirit, confidence and enthusiasm which then rubs off on customers. The cost of such a promotion is negli-gible and could help customers relax and show a human side to sales exec-utives via a fun alter ego. Local shows and exhibitions If you get it right, local and regional shows can be an excellent way of generating leads. Get it wrong and everyone goes away moaning about what a waste of money and time it all was. Part of ensuring success is to make sure you liaise with the show's organ-iser at an early stage, to make sure of getting a favourable pitch: corner stands are always best. You will probably find you get extra business by visiting other stands - not, of course, compet-itor's stands, but maybe agricultural equipment companies and other industries. Online opportunities Online marketing can no longer be ignored by the industry. Some dealers report over half of their business is drawn from the web. Here are some top tips from Auto Trader: ?? ?? Website design Don't go for style over substance. Delight customers with your service and products, not with flashing graphics. ?? ?? Photos Research suggests that a consumer is 10 times more likely to pick up the phone if they can see a picture of the car online. ?? ?? Video The use of moving images to sell a vehicle can increase click through rates by up to 35%. ?? ?? Respond in a timely fashion Answer all emails within 24 hours. ?? ?? Search facility It is important to offer an easily located used car search facility. It should be straightforward and offer a range of ways to search, such as price and location. From motivating staff to increasing online marketing, there are many ways to boost sales Cleansing the database Split the database between members of the sales team and task them with contacting every person in their list to check details are correct. Around 12 contacts per day, at three minutes per call, should be well within the capability of most sales executives. Motivation of the sales team can take several forms. The simplest is the basic reward that every updated customer now falls within their jurisdiction. Marketing letters and emails bear their name and they should be able to track cus-tomers into a likely purchase date. Identifying target customers Deciding who to call is a matter of common sense. If you start with the best potential customers, the team will get a few quick early wins and this will encourage them to keep going. Different types of prospects, ranked in hot- to- cold order, are: 1 Existing customers - PCP renewals. 2 Existing customers - 12 months before finance agreement expires. 3 Existing customers who've had their car for more than two years. 4 Service customers with suitable vehicles. 5 Bodyshop customers whose car has major damage. 6 Last month's unsold prospects from two or three years ago - you missed them last time but they are still about to change. Saying the right thing Poorly- prepared calls are inevitably doomed to failure. But there is an alternative - a six- step formula that is tried and tested in many dealerships over many years: 1 Verify Are you speaking to the right person? 2 Get the green light to proceed Is now a convenient time to talk? 3 State the reason for the call Don't beat about the bush. 4 Qualify Check that you have the right information. 5 Get action Get agreement to a particular course of action. 6 Set appointment Set a confirmed appointment with the customer. Monitoring progress Monitoring the progress of the team will stop any rogue team member from wasting valuable opportunities and it can motivate the team by highlighting success. Each sales executive must record: ?? ?? Call type ?? ?? Calls made ?? ?? Contacts ?? ?? Response - interested, future date or never call again ?? ?? Appointments made ?? ?? Appointments kept ?? ?? Resultant sales The success ratios are important. If the team finds that, for a particular type of call, 20 calls bring five appointments and two sales ( ie 20 three- minute calls equal two sales), the value of making the calls becomes evident. Tips for successful prospecting Prospecting case study Thurlby Motors, a Vauxhall group in Lincolnshire, has been pushing prospecting and has doubled its used car sales as a result. Chris Roberts, managing director, said: " The hardest lesson has been to teach the teams to look at the current vehicle a customer has, see when it was last in at the business using the DMS, see if it was serviced, check the mileage and how much are they paying on finance per month if they have it. It could be that we could get payments below what they're paying at the moment and get them into a nearly- new car. " The key thing is that you've got something that can save them money and you're only trying to get an appointment at that point, not a sale. Just get them in the door." More information For more information on marketing and prospecting best practice, read the Sewells Sales Management part II report. For more information, call Sewells on 01733 468254 or email sewells@ bauermedia. co. uk Powered by

32 AM June 26 2009 www. am- online. com Best practice Sales process Essential steps in the run- up to closing a sale Selling cars isn't about waiting for customers to make up their minds - there's a science to it Find out as much as you can about a potential customer before you think about selling anything. A prospect has five decisions to make before they are ready to buy a car: 1 Need 2 Make and model 3 Source 4 Time 5 Price The prospect will be pondering these five decisions before walking into your showroom. There are three major consid-erations when approaching the issue of qualifying customers. These are: ?? ?? Observation ?? ?? Conversation ?? ?? Investigation Presenting the right car properly provides your opportunity to gain the prospect's attention, arouse interest, build desire and win commitment through demon-stration. The most powerful sales aid is the car itself. Showing a prospect a car is a far more effective way of explaining it to the customer. It is vital to have facts about the product which will imply profes-sionalism and knowledge. You should know positive and nega-tive points about models and competitive models. It's important to tell customers about the benefits of the car rather than just concentrating on its features. People buy cars for the benefits, not the features. Demonstrations should be used to show proof of the benefits that were established during the discussion with the prospect in the presentation stage. Before embarking on a demonstration, you should select a route that will highlight and prove the benefits that the prospect is most interested in - for example, a rough road to demonstrate comfort benefits. Participation is also essential if the customer is to get a sense of owner-ship. You should drive first to demonstrate benefits before carefully explaining controls to the customer and letting them drive. Having demonstrated a particular feature you should try to get the customer committed by asking his or her opinion. Absolutely essential to effective negotiation is an expert appraisal and valua-tion of the part exchange. You simply cannot start negotiating until the pros-pect's car has been appraised and valued. See page 34 for more on this. The three main objections to not buying are time, price or competi-tion. To help deal with and over-come sales objections: ?? ?? Encourage objections ?? ?? Listen ?? ?? Don't argue ?? ?? Refine ( ie. clarify what they actually mean) ?? ?? Restate - repeat it back to prospect as question ?? ?? Answer the question. Use empathy when dealing with sales objections. For example: " I understand you'd prefer to save money and buy a used Pellegra. But a customer who felt just like you found that any saving he made on the original purchase would be absorbed by heavier petrol consumption and extra servicing costs of the older model." One model for the closing process is known as the ascending close. It's simply the process of gaining the prospect's active assent to each of the relevant benefits you present. The more yes's you elicit, the less room there is for no's and the easier it is to put objections in their proper place, like stepping stone of the close. Before you ask for the order - which you must do - make sure you sum up all the benefits that you have discussed with your prospect based on his or her particular wants. Thre most important factor for closing a sale is having a process in place. This will also help with objections and upselling. Once the sale of the car has been successfully concluded, you have a perfect opportunity to sell accessories, paint protection and where appropriate, an extended or used car warranty. At this stage, customers are happy and satisfied, which means they are receptive to the sale of additional items. Top performers always upsell once they have closed the sale. They take that little bit of extra time to increase profit. For accessories, you could put together a list of 20 to 50 acces-sories suitable for your customers. The list should be compiled in price order. Start with something simple like floor mats and end with full bodykits. Give a brief description of the accessory, total price including VAT and fitting, if applicable and weekly payment equivalent. Referrals can be the start of a relationship for life and can also be the source of a huge amount of hot prospects. See p38 and 40 for more on this. 1. The customer2. The right car3. The demonstration 4. Valuing the part- exchange 5. Objections6. Closing the sale 7. Related selling8. Referrals ?? ?? Paul Cleverly, sales director of Complete Automotive Solutions, says meeting and greeting customers is the most important part of the sales process. " You are totally reliant on a customer to come back and see you again if you haven't got their name and contact details," he said. " It's about getting customers from the forecourt or showroom to your desk." Powered by More information More advice in the Sewells Best Practice Guide to Selling Skills for Car Sales Professionals. Call Sewells on 01733 468254 or email sewells@ bauermedia. co. uk