When sharks smell blood in the water, they can travel a great distance very quickly to reach their target. Much like a shark, the typical showroom salesperson or boiler room BDC agent goes for the kill the moment they sniff a sale. They try to take the biggest bite out of the prey they can right away. When it comes to handling leads, this is the wrong approach.
On the showroom floor, being a sales shark is considered to be a good thing. It signifies high kill rate at maximum profit. This is a very Spielbergian way to think about shark attacks. The problem is, much like a shark has the ability to detect blood in the water, today’s in-store customers can smell sharks. And they will swim away faster than you can say “Smile, you son of a bitch”.
Many BDC agents do act the way they think sharks behave, going for the throat – in this case, for an appointment – on the very first text or email back. They offer no mercy, simply trying to end the battle immediately with a bland offer to “come in”. This is bred into some from years of “just get ‘em in” genetic osmosis from managers over time.
Turns out, a little research about shark attacks proves this is not how they strike. Come to find out, how sharks really attack is to swim up, take a bite of the victim, and swim away until they bleed out. In other words, they give a good nibble, letting the person know they’re there to take them when ready, but don’t try to consume them whole. This is how Internet Sales Managers and BDC agents should attack each lead.
Before going straight for the appointment on your first response to a shopper, maybe give them some value first, letting them know you’re ready to continue when they are. You can do this by asking less aggressive questions at the start. While in retail, I always had a 2 for 1 rule. I willingly provide phone or email prospects two valuable pieces of information before I ask for one in return. When communicating via text message, you have limited characters to work with and the goal is to begin a conversation, not lock down a sale. So why start your first outbound text to a prospect with “when do you have time to come in and see it?” That’s what they’re avoiding by only dipping their feet into the water online rather than jumping into a feeding frenzy by walking onto a lot. Instead, ask something to the extent of “was this the only vehicle you were considering or would you like to hear of other similar vehicles as well?” Or even more simple – “Did you receive my voicemail?” or “Did you get the email I sent over?” Something small yet innocuous can get a back and forth pattern of responses going.
Acting like a real shark in your responses will help you appear less dangerous to their shopping. The consumer may not even know they’ve been bit if you can ask a question they deem beneficial to their search. I’m not saying sharks are nice. Lord knows I never go into the ocean without thinking of the movie Jaws. You could, though, consider yourself a nurse shark by catering to their needs, giving a small bite of information to them instead of trying to cost them an arm and a leg at first contact. This less-animalistic tactic will help change the perception of you, your dealership, and the industry as a whole.
When shoppers are connecting with us online prior to a showroom visit, it is foolish to treat them like our meal on the first engagement. They can smell that a mile away. Instead, treat each interaction like it’s a different course. They will not be as scared, swim closer, and slowly sink into submission until they’re digested into a sale. Stop trying to swallow shoppers whole.