Throughout my retail automotive career I was always told: “Call them until they buy or they die!” I’ve been in hundreds of stores and have seen thousands of sales follow-up processes for everything from the Internet Department to the Service Drive. A couple of years ago I noticed a large number of stores were exceedingly heavy in follow up calls under that same mantra “Buy or Die.” Recently however, some of the more progressive stores I visit are taking a “less is more” approach and having much success with it.
The philosophy of persistent follow up hasn’t changed but the way dealers use CRM to accomplish it is what’s changing. Scheduling long term follow up with customers is an example. Dealers are now starting to evaluate the performance and execution of the people they hold accountable making these calls. Sales people are not necessarily the best people in the world at follow up as it is, hence the role of effective BDC personnel. Sales people are typically much better in front of the customer than they are with following up with them so why are we scheduling calls for a customer 30-60 days after they have been in the showroom? I’ll tell you, it’s because there’s still a possibility of a sale in this time frame (albeit not with the same likelihood that the customer that visited within the past 72 hours does but there still, there’s a possibility).
When using CRM to follow up with your customers the approach can’t be what the sales rep should do, it has to be the approach of what WILL they really do. Will your rep call a person who was in 60 days ago with the same enthusiasm as he will for the guy that was in 2 days ago? The answer is “No.” Your rep sees very little value in that call, and will make the call primarily to keep you off his back and just to “complete the task” rather than truly “accomplish” the task. That’s one of the most counterproductive approaches in our space. Action plans should be what you really can expect your staff to efficiently and effectively do. There’s less than a 30% close rate on walk in traffic. Think about your extended follow up process and whether your reps’ daily task list will be flooded with people they have an even smaller likelihood of closing. Do you really want to dilute it? What about the mental exhaustion that they’ll experience thus taking any life out of them for the money calls that do require a certain degree of enthusiasm?
Scheduling less, but more effective follow up for the first couple of weeks not only yields better results, it actually promotes better CRM usage. The reps feel the calls on their days are relevant and true opportunities, not just filler or busy calls.
In closing, there isn’t necessarily too much follow up with the customer but there is too much follow up for your sales reps. Remember, it’s not what they should do but what they will do effectively. Set your people up to be successful, not just busy.