The first word or attribute that comes to mind with “follow up” is tenacity, because to be successful in today’s market, more is needed beyond picking the low hanging fruit. I have developed and adopted my own practical application, helped thousands do the same and hope this message rings true for you and your team.
To just be tenacious is equivalent to only maintaining natural talent. As professional automotive sales managers, specialists and representatives we must have a set of skills unlike anyone else your customers and prospects communicate with on a consistent basis.
Steven K. Scott, author of The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, best defined what it means to be diligent in our process, skill sets, preparation and follow up protocol. He said: “Diligence is a learnable skill that combines: creative persistence, a smart-working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest quality of excellence.”
From my experience each of these principles has a very practical and immediate impact if everyone participates. Now I have been a car guy for the better part of two decades and I know that “Some will, some won’t… so what!” needs to be taken into consideration, but that does not mean we have to accept anything but commitment. Nobody is perfect. Many people are lazy. Many need to be taught the learnable skill of diligence. With daily group and one-on-one coaching (managing), a documented plan of action and a clear set of rules and regulations regarding follow up, much more is attainable.
Let’s start with the persistence aspect of diligence. The old saying that we must “inspect what we expect” requires they respect our ability and willingness to help them. This does not just mean pats on the back, stress management, role playing or reviewing pipelines; it means showing them rather than telling them how to plan, perform and succeed. Diligence is shown through leadership by example. Quite frankly, I named my company after this principle of building vision in others. “New Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they can (or will) be!”
Suggestion #1: Do not let a CRM tell you how to run your business. Tell your CRM how to help you and your people run your business. I can’t believe the known loopholes that allow massive opportunities to be lost daily at almost every dealership. Any semi-pc savvy individual can quickly manipulate software to look like “all is well” in the world with their follow up when in reality the only thing that is really happening is that people are sending (or having a service/CRM send) a few e-mails, some newsletters and making a few phone calls. Set permissions, require managerial over-ride (with a ‘why’, for example “DNC per Eve” accompanied by a few details). Accountability is not found by logging-in and reviewing reports. It is evidenced in what we repeatedly do and improve upon.
Suggestion #2: Make the CRM a habit. Either one can be a best friend or worst enemy. Don’t even allow a call on a fresh lead to be scheduled for the next day if only a quality curiosity based voicemail is left on the first attempt. Instead, schedule that customer to receive another call later that day/evening (only leave one voicemail) and if missed again, send a differentiating “I’m sorry I missed you” e-mail with your picture. Let them put a face with your voice and name. Don’t just depend on a canned e-mail to do the work for you and don’t lose deals because someone doesn’t want to split a deal. They are your leads. If we can appoint them on the same day and don’t for any reason, someone else will.
Suggestion #3: Use the company phone system, not just cell phones. Remember, a database of your customers on cell phones are likely to not be with you forever. That is quite a loss. Imagine if you didn’t change CRM logins when people left and they could access and download as many of your customers as they like after leaving. Many are replicating your CRM/DMS on their own PCs and smartphones. I am not suggesting this is being done in malice, I am merely suggesting company phones, cell or land, be used for company business.
Suggestion #4: Using the Facebook/SN delivery system and having an active social networking process notate all you learn from your customers. It is imperative to have ‘real’ conversation starters when following up on a long-term basis. When you call you know the score, being connected to your corporate site, you can communicate or just view your “friends” online as well as all they told us as you’ve gotten to know each other.