Mike Davenport has won all kinds of accolades for his performance from Chevrolet and is one of the top Corvette specialists in the country. He’s definitely not your typical guy on the lot. We asked him about how he sets himself apart and what tools he uses to be successful.
Q: You were out at Digital Dealer 21 in Vegas this year and gave a talk. Can you give us a little synopsis of it? What was the big takeaway?
A: I talk at Digital Dealer quite a bit, actually, and it’s an honor to do that. What I talked about in August was how to brand yourself and why. And my second session was how to turn your fans into revenue.
You know, you can get all the likes in the world on a Facebook page, but what’s a like worth? It’s not worth anything at all. You have to create engaging posts. You have to create reasons for people to want to stay on your page and show why they should buy a car from you. That’s what I do very successfully and the reason why I sell so many cars from sitting at my desk.
The biggest takeaway was people seeing how much work goes into social media, how little time it takes, and the big impact that they can get from it.
When I got in the business, I knew I was going to do something different. I wanted to change the way the car business works. And now with social media, I have been pretty successful at it.
“I think the biggest thing is that I’m always there for my clients and I always tell them that regardless of what time it is and when it is, I’m always there for them. I think that’s the hugest thing: that I’m committed to them.”
Q: You’re definitely an outlier in the auto world in the way that you approach sales. Are there software or tech solutions that you use to expand your brand and turn your fans into revenue?
A: Social media is a big one. I constantly follow up with quarterly emails to my customers. But the biggest one I use all the time is my app. I have a personally branded app with all my contact information and helpful links to inventory, service, and parts. It’s amazing for engagement with my customers.
Here’s a little story about my app: I’m out on a Saturday night with some friends and coworkers at a bar — I’m bored because I’m not a bar scene person — it’s 2:30 a.m. and all of a sudden I see a customer tapping on my app. I’m wondering why he’s up at 2:30 a.m., and why he’s on my app at 2:30 a.m. Next thing I know, I get a text message from him saying, “Hey, I just bought these tires. I’ve got a flat tire now. What do I do?” So there at 2:30 in the morning, I’m up and I can text him back and tell him exactly what we need to do. And I said, “I’m going to alert the service team that you’re going to be there first thing in the morning and they’ll get you a loaner car and get you all squared away.”
Having an app for myself gave me the ability to be there for my customer. I guarantee he didn’t think he was going to get that fast of a response. At 2:30 a.m., what’s the chance of getting a hold of someone at the dealership? He could have gotten a hold of me on Monday, but it was important to him to try to get a hold of me and I was able to be there for him. That’s what my app did for me. It gave him a lifeline to get ahold of me when he needed me most.
I also connect my app with the service department. I’ve created a landing page on my website so you can schedule a service without calling my dealership. Customers can get on my app, tap the service appointment, and move on with their day. And I also have my schedule on my app, so that way if they want to come into the dealership to buy a car, they can literally see my availability on their phone and schedule an appointment with me right through there as well.
Q: You’re now one of the top performing sales professionals for Chevy nationwide. How’d you get there?
A: Yeah, I’m the top guy at my store and I’m one of the top guys in the country for Chevrolet and one of the top for Corvette sales as well. I get all sorts of rewards from Chevy, but I’m like cool, I’m not doing it for the awards. I’m doing it for the customer. Obviously, I’m doing it for me, but most importantly, it’s for the customers.
Q: What are some of the things that you credit most for all your accolades and performance as a sales professional?
A: I think the biggest thing is that I’m always there for my clients and I always tell them that regardless of what time it is and when it is, I’m always there for them. I think that’s the hugest thing: that I’m committed to them. It’s something that very few people in this industry do, commit to their clients, and it’s something that I’ve been talking about a lot with other sales professionals who follow me. Just commit. Be there.
Q: What are some tools, tips, or hacks that you use on a regular basis to keep in contact with your clients, put them first, and stay committed to them?
A: Social media is the biggest thing because my goal is to sit at my desk and sell 40+ cars a month — and that’s what I do. I sit at my desk and I sell cars! Everybody’s like, “How do you do that?”
I have a rigorous follow up. I sit there and always touch base with my customers. In the first year of ownership, if I have a brand new customer, I touch base with them 14 times. And they love it! They want me to touch base with them. They encourage me to touch base with them.
If I mail something to a customer and it gets kicked back that they have moved, I will email them and say, “Hey, you moved! I don’t have your correct address!” They will shoot me back almost every single time and I think that is the proof in the pudding. They take the time out of their busy schedule to say, “You know what, Mike? Here’s my new address. Keep in touch with me.” And that’s huge in the car business because I think it’s very, very rare.
Just last Saturday I sold a customer who was referred by someone who I lost a sale with. Three years ago, they bought a car from another dealership because that was the right car for them, which, you know, happens every day.
I was talking to the referral and she told me something that I didn’t know and I was really taken back by that and honored. She told me that Jordan, who referred me, had so much respect and he felt so bad for not buying a car from me, that he literally called me before he called the dealership to buy a car from them! It’s been three years since I talked to him, but he sent me a customer. So all that follow up that I did for three years paid off.
Q: Do you use any software for social media or emails?
A: No, I think the best tool is my fingertips and my head. I probably have at any given time two weeks of ideas written down, but what I do depends on my mood and what I feel like saying at the time.
I don’t use Hootsuite or anything like that because I think it’s more personal that way. Everybody knows that it’s Mike Davenport actually at the keyboard texting, typing, and doing the videos.
Q: So you don’t use anything but your app? No email marketing software?
A: Actually, I use an email marketing platform, but just because that allows me to send out a single email to a list of 2,500 people. I send out four emails a year to my client base so that way they’re not getting bombarded. I try to send them good quality content.
Q: What are some of the things that you like to feature in your quarterly newsletters?
A: I like to let them know what’s going on in the marketplace. I’ll tell them which cars are currently in distress and we need in inventory because they’re hard to find at auctions. So if they have one and they’re thinking about upgrading, we can give them better than top dollar. I do that a lot. I throw recipes in there. I won a nice watch and I already had one, so I did a giveaway for that. I’ll give away gift cards and stuff like that.
Q: Is there a piece of tech that exists now that you really wish existed when you were getting started in auto sales?
A: Well, there’s been a lot that’s changed in 17 years of doing the business, but mainly the popularity of Internet reviews, mobile apps, and Facebook. Another program I use is my appointment-setting software. I do a lot of Facebook marketing. I spend like $2-3 a day, so you’re looking at $60-70/month. I drop all my customers in Facebook and I market them. That’s another way I engage them. Lately, I’ve been sharing my app everywhere so I get more people with my app on their phones.
Q: What does the lead capture process look like for you? And where are you storing all that information? Do you have a CRM?
A: I built my own CRM, actually. I don’t want to depend on someone else to do my job for me. It’s crazy because my thought process was dead on — a few years ago, my dealership switched CRM companies and they lost all the data. They recovered some of it, but they lost so much. I have my own database and my own follow up system. I use a company that’s really cheap and it’s great for a salesperson. It’s very manual — there’s nothing automatic about it, it’s work. You can’t automate, but that’s what I wanted. Customers know when it’s automated and it loses, it’s lack-luster. If I have a typo, I don’t care. That’s what I want. It’s engagement and they’re getting back to me, even if it’s just about my typo. I love it.
Q: What do you love most about selling cars?
A: The adrenaline rush I get from helping somebody out. And then after the fact, after they have their car, every single day something happens to me in this business that it just blows my mind. All the work that I do is worth it. I’m helping people out. I’m changing people’s perception of buying a car. I think all that makes it worth it. From day one, that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to change people’s perception of buying cars and that’s what I believe I’ve done successfully.
My clients always know that they’ve got someone that they can trust. There’s never going to be an issue that a customer is like, “Don’t ever go to Mike Davenport.” I do everything I can for my customers to make sure that they’re always taken care of.
Q: If someone is out there just getting started in automotive, or maybe there are some dealers who are looking to get their sales team performing like you, what would you say is your number one tip to excel in sales?
A: I actually get this question all the time. Two things: first, I tell new people that they have to kill social media. If they’re not getting complaints from posting too much or people deleting them or calling them and telling them that they’re posting too much, they’re not doing it right. The last thing that you want is an old friend or a family member to walk into your dealership and say, “Oh, I didn’t know you work here. I’m buying a car from salesman B!” You can’t have that happen. That’s money out of your pocket and social media is the easiest and best way to avoid that loss. Everyone’s on social media and they all have their mobile device in their hand all the time. I think it’s like 70% of people have their phone within three feet of them at their bed when they sleep at night. That’s absolutely crazy.
The other thing you need to do in the car business is know how to close deals. Our job in the car business is to close. If you’re not closing, you’re losing.
Author: Fancy Morales
Fancy Morales is the Senior Marketing Manager at CardTapp. Since 2010, Fancy has collaborated with content marketers, creators, strategists, and analysts, with an emphasis on establishing narrative and mapping the customer journey. Fancy also runs a small video production and consulting company, Buck and Doe, where she writes, produces, directs, and occasionally composes soundtracks for video productions. EMAIL: Fmorales@digitaldealer.com.