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Falling new car sales means everyone in the dealership needs to 'always be closing' - guest opinion

David Boyce, enquiryMAX

Perhaps the world has moved on from Alec Baldwin’s hard-nosed sales trainer in the iconic movie Glengarry Glen Ross who urged his salesmen to ‘always be closing’.

Today’s consumer calls for a consultative and low-pressure sales environment. 

However, in a tightening market, it’s time to look at every part of a dealership to understand how every element can support sales. And even if the sales team isn’t doing the hard sell, every member of the team, from reception to servicing, should be thinking about how they can help to close a sale. 

Our data shows that simple changes can make a big difference to sales conversion. Each lead should be treated with the highest priority. To often enquiries are not followed up promptly.

A study by South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University showed that companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly seven times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that work to reach prospects even an hour later. 

Analysis of data from our software shows a speedy response can boost closing ratios to 30%. 

And our latest analysis shows that 2018 is set to be the year of the used car.

Dealers with strong used car operations are maintaining sales momentum in a traditionally profitable area of business. Cross-selling from the service department to sales is a low cost and efficient route to generating business, and this should be a focus for every dealer. 

A productive sales culture is built on a clear mission, and by making a mission statement simple and easy to remember, it is more likely to be used. 

Data will support transparency and communication across a team. Lead management tools should be available online and on mobile platforms for a reason. Users need to use them and believe in the process. It needs to be easy, or people won’t use it. 

The sales data should be used every day and at every customer interaction. When did the customer enquire? Was the test drive followed up? Did the sales process follow proper procedure? These are essential questions that provide more than sales rigour; they build a culture. 

Experts at enquiryMAX have identified that salespeople should be given no more than 15 live leads to handle at any one time. Any more than this number and opportunities begin to slip. 

The little things do matter.

Customer service and experience are crucial factors in a consumer's decision making.

Making notes on requirements and personal preferences will make a massive difference to sales conversion. From the drink they prefer to the names of their family, a personal touch will build trust and help to close sales.

Get the process right, and the buyer will become an advocate for the business and recommend you to their friends and family. And in a world where the average person has over 300 friends on Facebook, it can be a powerful marketing tool. 

In today’s mobile world, a tablet interface is expected by customers as they can use them in high street stores and restaurants, so if they are buying a car, they expect this transaction to be completed electronically.

Our stats show that 78% of all orders come within ten days of the enquiry first being logged. If you have customers that haven’t been followed up for 12 days, then you have almost certainly lost that customer.

The numbers never lie, and a shared view of sales data across a business can help to build a sales culture that will pay dividends, and quickly. 

Author: David Boyce (pictured), managing director of lead management platform enquiryMAX.  

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