Easily one of my new favorite lyrics floating around on the music charts, “a kiss with a fist is better than none” can easily be translated to the idea that contact, even with a negative attached, can be better than no contact at all.
One of my weekly routines is to mystery shop the internet departments of my dealers, their local competition, and other dealerships that claim to “do it best”. This is something I do, not just to ensure my clients are following the processes I’ve put in place, but to keep their neighboring dealers honest. Follow-up best practices and templates are stolen regularly from one area to the next so you must constantly stay innovative.
What surprises me most while mystery shopping, though, is how often it is that dealers don’t respond. Shocking. In today’s time, there should be more focus on taking care of customers than a decision to simply not respond to an inquiry.
Leads are not contacted back by our Internet staff for two reasons. Sometimes it is just that the staff is cherry picking, looking for the easiest sale and disregarding the other. Other times it is simply because their only response would have to be a negative one. Instead of letting the customer know the vehicle isn’t in stock and offering similar vehicles, it is just as easy to blow the lead off and not follow up. Our staff asks themselves “why waste my breath and tell the prospect the disappointing news?”
What I urge Internet Sales Managers to do is to take the extra minute to offer back a reply letting them know that, due to the popularity of the model (or – if used – the great value of the vehicles on the lot), “this particular vehicle is no longer in stock/available. However, I’ve done some additional research on your behalf and found some other great vehicles that is sure to meet your needs.” Then, depending on your technology, you can decide to either insert details/pictures of those specific vehicles into the email or wait for a response back. I recommend the former.
So don’t get scared that you are going to disappoint a customer or hurt their feelings by telling them the bad news. It is better to be upfront and offer alternative options than go without answering the customer’s questions. You and I both know that they are likely to purchase a different vehicle anyway so why not approach the possibility sooner rather than later… or never. Your prospects may not thank you for it, but, at the very least, they will keep you in the running because you didn’t completely ignore their inquiry. So as Florence + the Machine likes to sing, sometimes “a kiss with a fist is better than none.”