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From: Jared Hamilton
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Jon Lamb

Jon Lamb President

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Conquest is Great, but Connect with Your Own Customers First

Conquest

Conquest sales can be exhilarating. Let's face it, there's something medieval, even carnal about the concept of taking sales from your competitors. Even the action itself has an incredible name. "Conquest" - it sounds epic and it's something that we all want to do.

It's more than that, though. It's a double-dip. Every conquest sale is a good thing for our numbers and a bad thing for a competitor's numbers. Many of us have gone that extra mile when we found out that we're not only selling a car but also preventing a dastardly competitor from getting a sale as well.

Let's put the romantic aspect of it aside. Conquest sales are, in reality, hard. They are not the low hanging fruit that dealers should focus on first. They are a luxury that dealers should be doing when they know for certain that they have their own customers contacted regularly and coming in to continue buying cars from the dealership.

Keep in mind, I own a company that actually sells a conquest solution! It's in my best interests to promote the idea that you should be getting as many conquest sales as possible. With that said, I strongly encourage dealers to go after the low hanging fruit first. Retaining customers and converting them to do business with you in other departments is the lowest hanging fruit available to dealers and it's something that we feel must be done before any thoughts of taking someone else's business. Here's why:

Your Customers are Already Your Customers

On the surface, it sounds like a silly statement, but let's dig a little deeper. In our industry, we are often misguided to believe that we'll sell someone a vehicle and they're probably done with us for a couple of years unless they choose to service their cars at the dealership as well. Even then, they're probably just coming in for the cheap services, right?

Wrong.

The data that we've seen indicates that you can dramatically increase your service profits simply by marketing appropriately to those who have already bought a car from you. They're already doing business with you. Why wouldn't you want to have a strategic plan to keep them coming in for more. Conversely, your service customers are often the easiest to convert into sales opportunities. We all know that, but it's surprising how many dealers are not taking advantage of this fact.

While You're Conquesting Them, They're Conquesting You

When dealers are busy stealing each others' customers, the net result is often a wash. So many dealers are finding success in conquest marketing thanks to the lack of loyalty amongst most car buyers today that they feel like they're getting somewhere with it. In many cases, they're trading rather than increasing the number of people buying cars.

The beauty of marketing to your own dealership's customer database is that you're not only getting more business as a result, but you're also preventing your competitors from conquesting you. Take advantage of your relationship with them by staying in front of them. Every gap in communication is an opportunity for your customer to look at others. Stay in front of them. Don't give your competitors an open opportunity.

There's Money on the Table

It all comes down to the original concept here. People in your current customer database are the lowest hanging fruit available. Just because they bought a car from you last month doesn't mean that nobody else in the household is in the market this month.

Dealers are competitive by nature and taking advantage of the resources available to them is the easiest way to get that low hanging fruit. Stop leaving money on the table. Stay in front of your customers and turn them from being one-timers to life-long champions. We all want to be conquistadors. Sometimes, that means taking better care of your own kingdom first.

Dustin Lyons
Great article! Your existing customers are definitely the easiest and least expensive customers to sell to to. The next lowest hanging fruit is your existing customers sphere of influence and social networks. Make sure you are taking great care of your customers so that they feel comfortable sending you referrals, and put in place systems to capitalize on your customers social influence.

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