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A few days ago on a group on Facebook called, "Carbucks" someone had posted a discussion on prospecting.
The discussion was about a dealer charging the sales staff for prospecting (that is how I understood it).
It made me think about when I was selling cars a few years ago before I had gotten into management. I remember in my first automotive sales job, my manager had created a poster with a sales event special. He sent two people out for three hours to go to local stores and restaurants and give them out to management so that they can present it to their employees (my friend and I jumped on board to take advantage of this). We knew that every customer that comes in on that will go directly to us which would automatically knock the other 15 sales consultants out. I do remember selling three cars out of it. It was not much and they were flats. However, they took me to the next bonus level and ultimately got me referrals. I was happy about that.
Now, let's fast forward two years later after I spent one year selling cars on the internet. I started to feel like prospecting in the ways I was taught was a waste of time since I have all of these leads coming in. As I was becoming more immersed with automotive internet sales and digital marketing I was looking for that next up (which in this case was a fresh new internet lead). It was not until I joined a small dealership with a limited amount of leads coming in and very little advertising spend that I had to rethink my strategy. I was a one man show making appointments and selling cars (sometimes splitting deals). I was selling a luxury brand and I decided to explore the internet to see what our customers are saying about us and how they are shopping.
Low and behold, I discovered various forums such as Edmunds.com Townhall. This is a forum where car buyers go to learn from one another about where the deals are and what the different dealers are offering. They also talk about their experiences at the dealerships as well. I got to read about the experiences that these customers had all over the country. I came up with the bright idea of becoming a member where I can offer insight and advise on buying cars. I made a soft approach and quickly started to show the community that I was there to help and be a friend. My challenge was that a lot of these people are from half way around the country so getting them to buy from me was a challenge. I simply started asking for referrals and giving them a reason to buy from me. I spent about two hours per week working the one forum. I would average an additional 1 to 3 units per month off of it. I did this in 2006. Imagine what the potential is now with all of the resources available to us including social media.
Let's think outside the box. Let's learn how to use the internet. Let's learn how to use search engines and social media. Let's become an effective communicator online.
The bottom line is that there are thousands of forums and social media sites out there where your prospects are researching and discussing car buying. We can all go out and solicit everyone we meet like we were taught when we got into sales (which is still a good method) or we can embrace technology and do it from the comfort of our computers in an air conditioned environment.
I appreciate comments and thoughts...