In the last six months, I’ve bought two cars. That’s highly unusual for me because I tend to keep cars a long time. But it gave me an insight into how the business of auto sales has changed.
In both cases, the salespeople who sold us our cars were first-rate. They looked good, had lots of energy, and handled the negotiation process with skill and class. I liked them both. In fact, they were the opposite of the stereotype you might have about car salesmen. These guys were great.
Yet, just a few months later, I can’t remember either of their names. That’s a big deal because they’ve lost a very strong opportunity for repeat and referral business.
It didn’t have to be that way. A few simple things could have taken my relationship with the salespeople (and the dealer who employed them) to a deeper level that would have paid huge dividends.
All they had to do were a few simple things, common courtesy really, that could have demonstrated to me that they cared about my business and my satisfaction. How much time would it have taken to make a call 7-10 days after I took delivery to make sure everything was okay and to see if there were any issues? Would a handwritten thank you note have helped me to remember their names?
Total time involved to do that? Ten minutes, tops. The benefit to them? I think it’s significant.
Let’s get real. Everyone reading this is driven to grow revenue. Most of the people reading this are working harder on new business development than ever before. The reason is simple. We need every dollar we can find as we deal with the changing TV business. But here’s what I want you to think about. What about the customers you already have? What are you doing to honor them and let them know their business is important to you?
Readers of my posts know I believe strongly that, today, GM’s have to play the “General to General” role, having frequent contact with their largest local accounts.
But this is way more than that. It’s about making sure all clients are acknowledged. Having accountability with your team for thank you notes and articles. Having a formal KEY account protocol that lays out exactly what your expectations are with KEY accounts. You need to specify what sales managers and AE’s should be doing with these critical accounts.
The failure of my two car salesmen wasn’t just their missed opportunity. It impacts their companies, big-time. So, the leaders of those companies, just like your company, NEED to make sure these things are done. Otherwise, you’ll have clients just like me – satisfied, but with no loyalty – no loyalty at a time when it’s needed more than ever.
This is a leadership issue, not an AE issue. That’s my main point here. As leaders, we have to set both the standards and the example!! Then inspect it regularly if you want it to go on for more than a week.
Why don’t car dealerships do it? Probably because, just like us, their sales managers are relentlessly focused on making the month (or quarter). There’s no short-term payoff in making sure the small gestures, like thank you notes and articles, happen because it’s likely I won’t buy a car this month.
But, unlike the car business, our clients use us more frequently. We get business from our clients every month, not once every few years, and I think it’s time, as an industry, to make the people who really pay the bills feel like they’re really important to us.
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