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The Big Picture: Converting lost sales

Once a consumer leaves the showroom, do they become a lost customer? Research suggests that it can be the beginning of the process – although many retailers see it as the end.

The internet allows buyers to research online before entering the dealership, but once through the doors, that doesn’t mean they will make a decision on the spot.

Once they leave, that doesn’t mean they will not buy from you – although those chances diminish if you do not follow them up. And even then, it’s not about calling them once, then giving up.

Manheim’s annual report suggests that some customers have to be contacted many times before they buy. They also become very loyal customers.

So why do some retailers not stay in touch with people who have made the effort to come to the showroom? Mostly it comes down to process – the same lack of process that sees email enquiries go unread or unanswered for days, if not weeks. Process, and a dedicated member of staff.

Can’t afford to employ someone to make these calls? You can’t afford not to. Take a look at how many people enter your showroom over a week. And then look at how many walk out again without buying. Stats from companies that specialize in these so-called ‘lost sales’ suggest that as many as one-third can still be converted. How much difference would that make to your bottom line?

Employing a lost sales manager has further benefits. They can mine your database, still an area that is poorly managed by too many dealers who send direct mail to people who have moved or – worst still – to some that have died. It’s a waste of money, and potentially offensive.

Maintaining an up-to-date database means customers can be called after two or three years and offered another car; and they can be regularly contacted when the service is due.

That, together with converting more ’lost sales’, could prove the difference at a time when new car sales are in decline.

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