What if 6 out of 10 of your sales consultants leave your dealership this year?
According to the 2013 NADA Workforce Industry Report, it will likely happen.
The study outlines some of the glaring workforce challenges faced by the automotive industry. Turnover is near the top of the list.
We all know that personal relationships boost sales and your store’s brand. But with only four out of ten salespeople sticking around year over year, how can your dealership keep up with leads and customers?
Email workflows ease the pain of turnover.
Your store’s client relationship management (CRM) system – commonly VINSolutions, DealerSocket or Dealer.com – contains a wealth of data that can automate key points in the sales cycle.
Many dealerships are seeing email service providers coming out of the woodwork. Out-of-the-box packages like Ford’s ConsumerConnection (a product of forddirect.com) and DealerDigital (a product of ADP) will be great assets for any dealership, but only if they make sincere connections with customers.d
These “do it all” email solutions are well designed and very capable of providing a good service, but the only way to maximize the benefits of these systems is to understand how your data can be put to work.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty here, I want to point out that these recipes are intended to supplement your existing email and phone marketing efforts. Nothing can replace the personal touch – whether it’s on the web, on the phone or in-person. These are simply some tips and tricks that you can implement with your CRM and email system to save time for your staff and market to your in-bound contacts more effectively.
Here are three examples of supplemental automated email marketing which will save time and money for your sales staff:
1. Help your sales staff qualify leads.
As digital marketers, we spend a huge amount of time and effort putting a store’s brand out into the world and moving people into the top of the sales funnel. After these people fill out a form (the next step in the digital funnel after a website visit), the next step – the first contact – can be automatic.
Why? To automatically weed out the bad leads.
The automatic first-touch email should go out to the lead within the first couple of hours and should contain a personalized message (that’s where the CRM data comes into play).
What kind of first data? The data that is required on your web forms. Things like: first name, email address, the type of car, and even the timestamp from the form submission.
This data provides a context that allows your dealership to personalize the first touch. So, instead of “How may we help you?” you can ask something more personalized such as: “Hi John. My name is Cory and I’m a sales consultant at [store name]. Thanks for submitting your info on our website last night. The 2014 Ford Focus is a fantastic car and I would love to tell you more about it. What questions can we answer for you?”
The data details of a form submission – especially a form submission without a phone number – can make that automatic first check-in much more personal and much more effective for moving the lead through the sales cycle.
2. Turn salespeople into shepherds.
After a sale is made, it’s common for a dealership to 1. Ask for feedback on review websites and 2. Remind people to come in for service. Aside from those two (very valid) workflows, the digital relationship with your customer can be hard to maintain.
While reputation management and service retention are important, not all of your customers are going to stick around, digitally speaking.
An automatic check-in email can be a great way for you to reconnect with customers from whom you haven’t heard in a while. For example, your dealership could automatically send a personalized email message to any customer who hasn’t been contacted within the past year.
At the one-year point, customers are more aware of how their car is affecting their daily life and they’re likely to appreciate your concern. However, it should be noted that this is not an opportunity to pitch, it’s only an opportunity to keep your dealership’s brand at the top of their minds.
Since you ideally have more data on a customer than on a lead, your email can have more personalized flavor to it. The message could look something like this (custom fields in bold):
It’s been a little while since we last connected, so I just wanted to see how your Focus is doing. How has it been treating you?
If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the events we hold at our dealership here in [Dealership’s City].
Let me know what you think of your Focus. That [Model Year] was a popular model for us, so I’d love to get your feedback on it.
Assigned Salesperson Name
PS – If you need an oil change in [Town], our service department has The Works package for just $39.95. Schedule your service online.
Since there’s a good chance that your customer’s assigned salesperson has changed, we’re using a personalized field in the signature. When your CRM or internet staff re-assigns your contacts to another salesperson, the email will reflect the change.
Got an orphan client? No problem. Many email systems have the ability to give a default value for a field, so instead of a name, the customer will see “Your Friends At” and then the dealership name under the salesperson name field, as shown above.
3. Feed Cookies to Your Sales Staff (Digitally Speaking)
When a known contact (customer or lead) clicks a link in your email, they’ll likely have a cookie planted in their web browser. This cookie – a tiny peice of software code – tracks their activity on your site. It’s digital intelligence for your dealership.
Cookies are great because they can trigger email messages in some systems. Let’s say an existing lead or customer visits your website more than three times in one week. Time for a check in! (See #2.)
Or, for example, a contact might click one of your email blasts about an incentive or event going on at the dealership. Since this indicates that the contact might be interested in a new vehicle, you can reach out to him or her with a more personal (and automatic) email. It would look something like this:
How are things going in [City]?
You’ve probably heard by now that [Dealership Name] has some exciting things going on this month. I would like to personally invite you to come in for a visit here in [Dealership’s City].
Please call me at [salesperson number or default to store number] and we’ll set up a time that works for you.
I hope to hear from you soon.
While it might seem rudimentary at first glance, think about how often you’re able to send a personal check-in with this much customer intelligence.
It could take hours for a sales staff to follow up with their actively-shopping customers like this – especially since only 38% of these salespeople were working for you last year.
Make them feel special.
Just as your staff strives to please your customers with personalized service, you can also support your sales staff with a higher level of digital intelligence. Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips and take some pressure off of your staff. Maybe a few more of them will stick around this year.
These three workflow examples are just a sampling of the data-driven activities that we’ve put into our recipe ebook: Delicious Data. Download your free PDF copy here.