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Brad Bowers

Brad Bowers Principal

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What's your process BEFORE the Meet & Greet?

Every store has their sales process, their Road to the Sale, that starts with a proper Meet & Greet.  But what about before the Meet & Greet?  In a recent article by Chris Saraceno, “Secrets of the Best Sales Consultants”, Chris listed many of the things a salesperson must do today to be successful.  Technology has helped salespeople become more efficient, but the various modes of communication and social media have added more work for salespeople.

How can you help your salespeople get everything done?  Create processes for critical activities performed BEFORE the customer is greeted.  There are too many to put into one article, but here are three:

1) Assign BDC appointments ahead of time
If your store has a BDC that sets appointments and then turns the customer to a salesperson, assign the salesperson well ahead of the appointment time.  The salesperson can review the customer’s needs and have TWO vehicles prepped for the customer to test drive.  Of course, that requires the BDC do a good job of identifying the customer’s needs. 

In his book, High Profit Selling, Mark Hunter says a salesperson should identify at least six needs for every customer.  Your BDC department should provide RECAPS of every customer’s needs:
                R – Reliability
                E – Economy
                C – Comfort
                A – Appearance
                P – Performance
                S – Safety

Based on the identified needs, the salesperson should make sure the requested vehicle is prepped, and have a second vehicle ready to show.

2) Make taking a test drive easy!
One of the most time-consuming steps in the Road to the Sale is not the test drive, but retrieving the vehicle to be driven.  It’s a hassle for the salesperson and frustrating for the customer as they wait for the vehicle to be retrieved.  As a result, salespeople are quick to skip the test drive if the customer shows any reluctance.  Two ways to increase the number of test drives is by creating a demo line and mapping a comprehensive test drive route.

A demo line should not include every model the dealership sells.  It should only include models with a monthly retail volume greater than 10.  The average store should have 3 test drives for every sale.  If you sell less than 10 per month of a particular model, that’s less than 30 test drives per month (1 test drive per day) – not enough to justify maintaining in a demo line.

For those models that average more than 10 units per month, divide the monthly volume by 6 to determine the number of units required in the demo line.  For example, if you sell 30 Corollas a month, you would need 5 demo units.  The vehicles should be clean, gassed and close to the front door to encourage the customer to take the test drive.

One argument against a demo line is that we want the customer to drive the exact vehicle they might buy and “fall in love” with it.  However, according to The Next Up (www.thenextup.com) over 40% of customers don’t take a test drive.  Which is better: test driving a demo line unit and having the opportunity to discover more of the customer’s hot buttons or immediately going inside and working up numbers?

An additional aid to convincing the customer to take a test drive is to have a specified test drive route.  The route should be designed so that the primary driver of the vehicle is behind the wheel for at least 15 minutes.  In most areas, that means a route of at least 10 miles.  The route should include roads that will highlight the performance of the vehicle and be typical of everyday driving: side roads, highways, and parking lots.

3) Create a process for who greets the customer
How many total hours are wasted with salespeople standing around, not wanting to miss an opportunity?  In a recent article by Clint Burns, Is Your “Open Floor” Showing Potential Customers the Open Door?” (see the entire article here: http://bit.ly/WPckmT), Clint states that an open floor costs the dealership sales.  But an open floor is also very inefficient for salespeople.  The benefits of creating a salesperson rotation include:
a) When reps are placed in a consistent, fair rotation they can schedule their day more effectively, and
b) With a closed floor system, follow-up becomes just as important as the sale.  If a salesperson is at the bottom  of the rotation, they have confidence that they have the time to follow up with prospects and will still get their fair share of the customers who walk in the door.

We ask salespeople to do more than ever – let’s look at ways to help them be more efficient!

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