July 14, 2016 Elise Kephart

5 Reasons your Follow-up Process Sucks and How to Fix It

Internet leads suck.  No one is calling me back.  All internet shoppers are grinders.  I can’t make any money in automotive sales.  I need to invent the next uber or snapchat if I really want to make it in the world.

As with so many things-the automotive industry and follow-up in automotive sales has it’s way of creeping in negative thoughts when things don’t go our way.  One negative thought leads to the next and we find ourselves making excuses daily.
I am here to tell you that your internet leads don’t suck.
I am here to tell you that you can make money in automotive sales and automotive internet sales.
I am here to share with you a reality check that may offend you.  It’s not the consumer that sucks-your follow-up process sucks and I am going to break down five basic bullet points for you on what you can do about it today!

I will open up by painting a visual picture to you that I see within our industry.  Your shift starts at 9am and you stumble in with a coffee and at 9:05am.  You didn’t have much success the previous day, so you’re hoping the Starbucks barista put something magical in your drink today that will bring you a customer, bring you a deal, bring you an appointment…you are struggling.  So much in fact that you even prepped your day with a Redbull for later!  If Starbucks doesn’t do the trick, a Redbull for sure will!
At this point-the day usually follows through with a discussion about what is for breakfast, catching up on ESPN, Snapchat and the latest trend…seeing if there are any Pokemon’ in your showroom or salesfloor!  The topics amongst eachother typically are how bad traffic is right now, a negative discussion on how horrible the leads are, how your competitor is giving away cars, how you never have enough inventory and then to top it off a very important meeting on what is now for lunch, followed by a low grade mentality once mid afternoon hits.  Your thought is now, well the day is almost over and you should just “start over” the following day.  Better luck tomorrow!
This is a plague amongst automotive sales.  So as you read this- stop it.  Stop this right now!

For some of us, every time or most of the time we pick up the phone we have very little results in actually getting a live connection on the phone.  As a natural instinct-when we don’t see results from something-we tend to give up quite easily.
There are many managers that enforce you to be on the phone and use your CRM to make phone calls-but how effective are these phone calls?  Are you just making these phone calls to say you made them-or, are you excited about the phone?  Are you motivated and driven to dial those numbers?  If you aren’t-you should be.  As you master your follow-up process-and you start to see results, the results become addicting and your mind-set about the phone change dramatically.
The truth is-is that even in 2016, the phone is the most powerful tool you can have in front of you.  The problem lies in how and what you are doing to actually get the customer on the phone.
In general, most voicemails I hear initially sound something like this:
“Hi John, this is Elise from ABC Honda.  Just wanted to touch base with you.  Call me back when you can at 805-441-3398.  Thanks.”
“Hello John, this is Elise at ABC Honda.  Just following up with you on your internet lead you sent us.  I will try you with an email as well and I want to answer your questions.  Call me back at 805-441-3398.  Thanks.”
While the intent of those voicemails are there-they are ineffective.
Something along the lines of:
“Hi John, my name is Elise at ABC Honda.  Thank you for your online request for information on the new Honda Pilot.  I had a couple quick questions for you, please call me back today at 805-441-3398.  I will be in the office until about 8pm this evening and I will be sure to try you back a little bit later today as well to make sure we connect.”
So, if we look at the actual breakdown of the voicemail:

  • Introduce yourself and your dealership: “Hi John, my name is Elise at ABC Honda.”
  • Thank the customer: “I wanted to thank you for your online request for information on the new Honda Pilot.”
  • Give the customer a reason to call you back:“I had a couple quick questions for you, please call me back today.”
  • Share your contact information: “My number here is 805-441-3398.”
  • Set the expectation that you will continue to follow-up:” I will be in the office until about 8pm tonight and I will be sure to follow-up a little later today again as well to make sure we connect.”

Now some of you may be reading this who perhaps don’t work internet leads, and are calling unsold traffic or equity mining.  The bullet points above don’t change, just some fine tuning  on what you are “thanking the customer for” and what “your reason” is for them to call you back.
Elise Kephart free phone scripts
TheVoiceHave you ever caught glimpse of the television show The Voice?  It has a platform like American Idol or America’s Got Talent however the celebrity judges recruit their initial team and contestant winners only by their voice.  They turn their chairs around first rounds so when they hear the contestant they cannot judge anything else (the way they look, the clothes they are wearing or their hairstyle etc) other than how they sound, by the sheer tone and sound of their voice.
Why do I share this?
A huge key factor when you are on the phone and when you leave your voicemail is how you actually sound when you leave your voicemail.  Too often we get caught up in sounding perfect that we lose the one thing that each and everyone of us has when we even leave a voicemail…and that one thing is YOUR VOICE and how GENUINE you actually sound.  Key factors are tone inflection, pronunciation, tempo and how real you sound.
If you sound like a canned car salesman-your voicemail won’t nearly be as effective. Sound professional, sound positive and keep in mind the customer at this point is only able to hear you. They are hearing what you say AND how you say it.
Okay fine.  Maybe not 1998 but 2007 at best. 
Translation:  your emails are plain text, lengthy and very long to read.
There is a simple fix to this, and the fix is that your email needs to be engaging and stand out from the crowd.  If your customer is shopping you and another competitor, what are you doing to set yourself apart?
What grabs you more?  Plain text or video email?  What looks more presentable?
The presentation of your email is no different than the presentation of lets say your showroom when a customer walks into your dealership.  If a customer walks into your dealership and the lighting is dim perhaps, it doesn’t smell clean, the employee’s aren’t groomed properly and the showroom cars are dusty-what impression does this set?  Versus-if a customer walks into a sparkling showroom, with vibrance, energy, smiling faces and pristine inventory with the smell of cookies-does this make a difference?  Of course it does.
Compare this to your emails.
valuedcustomer 2c150c9e-53a2-d2d3-024e-36994415e963If your email has spelling errors and is autofilled in caps locks…PLEASE WAKE UP!  These are simple two second fixes-the customer on the other end is going to automatically see that what you are supposedly writing (even though a CRM company wrote it for you) is not really you because it is titled Dear ELISE (assumingly your internet opportunity came in under all cap locks).  Or in the email another common autofill is “Thank you for your interest in our MAKE MODEL”.  It takes two seconds to check for these quick fixes.  You cannot expect to oversee these common errors and then wonder why the customer didn’t pick you and your dealership.
The reason these autofill’s are the way they are is because perhaps the customer filled out a form with their name and information in all capitals.  Or perhaps the CRM you use did not pick up on a specific vehicle of interest.  Check these common errors in the text of your email.
After you leave a voicemail you should send an email as most of you reading this probably do.  However what does your initial email look like?  Again, we are talking about first impressions here-the difference of a shiny showroom and a dingy one.
No one wants to read a long essay about how wonderful your family owned dealership is.  Most consumers are reviewing their email, if they even review it at all on their smartphone device and long emails become too long to read and in a split second they are hitting the delete button or the back button-off your boring plain text email goes into the trash.
Then to overwhelm the customer with even more inventory choices is taking you further away from the ultimate goal which is to take your internet opportunity to a live phone call, to an appointment, to the showroom.
While the effort is there to use video as a way to engage and interact with the customer-there are a few glitches with this method.  The first is all you are doing is pasting a hyperlink to a youtube video, which will then outsource your video to youtube.  Now the customer is on youtube and in a split second other competing dealership videos can pop up on the side and the customer can find themselves quite click happy to distract themselves from your specific video.  Second problem being if your video is a pre-recorded video but made to seem personal they will see an upload date of your video from six months ago on youtube and all the additional views.  The mindset now is that you didn’t send this just to them-but you sent this to hundreds of other people.  Lastly, the look, feel and impression of pasting a URL link often times could steer the customer away from clicking it.  What is this link?  Is it safe?  These are all downsides to the out dated youtube hyperlink method.
A video email response with a freeze frame used often by EyeJot, Co-Video, Authntk or most video email platforms is another method that some have adapted to.  While this is another method of video email and is an improvement from just pasting a youtube link as shown above-your freeze frame is just that.  It’s a freeze frame.  Sometimes it can be a freeze frame on a less than perfect video clip.  Often times the freeze frame will hyperlink to a video landing page that may not be mobile friendly, or is limited to certain designs, buttons or call to actions.
Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.29.36 PMYou can see the above example is not only a freeze frame still but is not mobile responsive.  It also has the Authntk branding plastered everywhere.  

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.36.21 PM copy
The above example is using another video email service, however your video is still in freeze frame mode and for this particular email service is not compatible with any iPhone/iPad products.  The only screenshot I could capture properly is from a desktop.  Ask yourself how many people are viewing your email, and of those-who is viewing it on a desktop versus a tablet or mobile device?
e7ba983d-9e14-1741-51c1-4d12b7fd50f3A video email response with a moving image used with BombBomb Video Email (which, oh by the way-I am partnered with).  The email response is uniquely designed to your personal or dealership brand and the video email playback is a moving image.  I have investigated many video email platforms and this is the ONLY one that has this feature.  When the customer opens up the email the impression is like that of a shiny showroom with the smell of fresh cookies-a beautifully designed email with a moving video image.  When the customer clicks on the moving image it takes them to a personalized video response to them.
With any email that includes a hyperlink, image, photo or attachment of any kind-send a quick confirmation that they received it okay.  Often times, with lack of text to an email but any images or attachments-your email may go into their spam or junk file.  So, immediately after sending a video email have a pre-made confirmation email that looks like this.  Plain, simple, short and no images whatsoever.
Hi Justin, 
This is Elise at ABC Honda.  I just sent you a video email with some important information in regards to your questions on the new 2016 Honda Ridgeline.  Please let me know if you need me to resend.  I look forward to helping you and being of service!
Sent from my iPhone
Often times I am asked why the “Sent from my iPhone” at the bottom?  Again, we are building our emails to create impressions and visualizations to the consumer.  While the above email was pre-written (to save time in writing each email)-the “Sent from my iPhone” paints a visual picture that it indeed WAS NOT a template.  Have you ever received an email that says “Sent from my iPhone” or “Sent from my Samsung”?  What do you visualize when you read that email?  You envision the email was written on the go, on the fly and the last thing you are thinking is that it was a template from a CRM drop down.
Let’s talk about text baby.  Let’s talk about you and me.  Let’s talk about all the good things, and the bad things it may be.  Sorry-got that song stuck in my head for a quick second.
Truth be told-texting is a great communication tool but within our industry there are some guidelines we have to abide by.  In accordance with texting laws you should have an opt in before you can text the customer even if it is one and one conversation.  That being said, most CRM tools have a texting feature that will send an opt in to the customer allowing you to text them.  If you are allowed to text use it to your advantage however don’t use text as your main communication tool.  Just like an email a text message should be focused on getting the customer on a live phone call.
Again, texting is a great tool but when it comes to any pressing questions or overcoming objections texting makes it much more difficult to overcome these objections and just like email-with a text message after you write the customer something they simply don’t have to reply….for minutes, hours, days…or ever.  Focus texting on getting a live phone call.  If a customer texts you and says “JUST WANTED TO KNOW THE BEST PRICE.” Texting your answer back to that is less effective if you were to have a live conversation on the phone.
An effective way to text a customer after receiving opt in would be an example below.  You can click the moving image display to walk you through exactly what a consumer would see from this text message.
*Note: that bit.ly link is a customized link from the website http://www.bit.ly that is customized to the customer and will take them to the video you sent them via email.  This allows you to take any url and not only shorten it, but have it look less generic. 
While I realize this is a long blog post-it has an incredible amount of information, and this last bullet point is vital.  You cannot expect that just one easy phone call with a video email and a text will work magic.  It will take multiple attempts and all the above elements combined for the ultimate lethal follow-up recipe.  Act as if there is someone else out there working harder and smarter than you to engage that customer, get a live connection and schedule their appointment.  Ever get that phone call back or email response “Thanks, but we ended up purchasing already.” ?  Well that is most likely because there was someone else out there who wanted it more than you did.  They took the proper training and steps to create an impression to that customer that no one else did…including yourself perhaps.  While you and your co-workers were chasing Pokemon’-someone else was earning a customer.
A great follow-up process may turn away some and seem too intense for others.  Seem too intense for you? Good.  That means less people in your marketplace are doing it.  I can guarantee you this-you will have more success than failure and no manager has ever fired anyone for too much follow-up.  Keep in mind- to avoid being a pest you have to combine all the above key things to make sure you are personable and you are setting from the very beginning the expectation to the customer that you will continue to follow-up.  You are taking massive action above anyone else in the marketplace to set yourself apart.
Like what you read here?  Feel free to share on your social media.  Email me with any questions at elise@elisekephart.com