Three things that mark you out as a Dinosaur!

The one thing that really strikes me is how technology has changed the way they interact with potential customers and the way they use technology to ‘prospect’ and ‘close’.

Unless you live in a cave, you will know we live in a fast-changing retail world.

Although I specialise in the motor industry, I find it both commercially and creatively helpful to have a few clients from other sectors and sales disciplines. They include one who sells hot tubs, another who deals in £100k garden cinema rooms, civil engineers and even solicitors.

The one thing that really strikes me is how technology has changed the way they interact with potential customers and the way they use technology to ‘prospect’ and ‘close’.

However, I am constantly surprised by the ‘Jurassic’ approach many car dealers take to customer handling and follow-up marketing.

It seems that the older and more knowledgeable they become, the more stuck in their ways they become. It never ceases to amaze me how few email addresses are on dealers’ databases and I am constantly bamboozled why salespeople still adopt the ‘1980s confrontational sales style’ with customers.

So here are three questions for you:

  1. Have you changed your sales process and selling approach in the last five years?
  2. Do you have a ‘contact strategy’ for e-marketing (i.e. more than an email telling people to bring in the necessary document and repurchase communication)?
  3. Is your sales pipeline only a week old?

Let me to explain:


Customers’ buying behaviour has changed dramatically in the last five years as people woke up to the boundless opportunities and convenience of the internet. There are fewer people in our showrooms than there were in 2010 and not just because of the economic climate. Potential customers have realised they no longer need to engage with sales teams for product information and price comparisons; they can do it from home, at their convenience – and they do!

The good news is that when they do arrive in your showroom, or when they make a ‘tentative’ email enquiry or phone you, THEY ARE LIKELY TO BE PURCHASE READY.

Now, it may be true that you are one of three potential dealers being considered, however, they are in a position to buy and they know what they want. In addition, they have an idea of what they think they need to pay – and they are giving your salespeople the opportunity to prove they have the best product and are the best people to buy from.

So, essentially, customers have three key criteria – outside the financials – when deciding what and where to buy:

  • Do I like the salesperson enough to buy from them?
  • Is this the right car for me from the three or so on my list?
  • Will my purchase decision be safe with this company – what is its post purchase service?

Each has a financial value and can be used to leverage your sales ‘pitch’ over the competition. It is vital, then, that this answers the potential customer’s three crucial questions and offers more value up front. This is crucial – and invariably beats a purely transactional approach, focusing purely on the money, hands down!


What happens after the potential customer’s initial contact with your business? Let me guess: they get a phone call and some pressure to come into the showroom.

Two things strike me here: first, why do they have to come in? Why doesn’t the salesperson go to them? And second, have they been given enough value and information to make it worth their while?

Do you and your sales team still suffer from the old attitude of, “Don’t tell them anything because they will only shop it around”? After all, they can value their used car on their phone!

But, even beyond this, what use do you make of technology in the potential customer’s ‘thinking’ phase? What do you do between the order and delivery? What do you do post sale? And what is your ongoing communication strategy?

All key considerations in this information age: we must constantly think how can we use technology to enhance the customer experience?


And finally the big questions: How big is your list? and how old is your pipeline?

Typical answers are, “What do you mean ‘my list’?” and “What pipeline?”

There usually is no list (an opted-in list of people who are happy to receive communications from you) and the pipeline (number of OTDBs that are still WIP) is rarely older than a week.

If this is so with your business, then you are falling behind the market leaders in how you set up and deal with today’s ‘savvy’ customers in an information rich age. Other people will be stealing the march on you when it comes to customer communication.

Remember, 90% of the people that reach out to your business don’t buy at that first contact, so your performance on ‘list’ and ‘pipeline’ management is crucial.


To match the very best in today’s marketplace you need to have a ‘slick’ sales process that helps people to buy rather than one that ‘forces’ the sale or just ‘processes’ the transaction.

In addition, you must have a first-class e-communication strategy and a pipeline that is categorised with different levels of interest such as; pre-purchase; under consideration; awaiting delivery; just bought; first 12 months, second 12 months; ready to re-purchase.

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