3 steps to netting more customers

Hooking doesn’t mean much without a landing. And big stories don’t fill stomachs at suppertime.

By Adam Shiflett, Marketing Manager, ADP Lightspeed — It was a slow day on the lake. Our lines were sitting in the water while the trolling motor gave background to my grandfather’s tall tales.

Then I got a bite.

There was a flurry of action as my grandfather gave instructions. I was only a kid, still learning to fish and fumbled over my fishing pole. “Reel him in. Don’t go too fast. Keep your line tight. Don’t let him go under the motor,” he told me.

The fish had gotten close enough to net when my grandfather gave the instruction “bring him up.” So I did just that. I yanked on the pole and sent the fish into the air sailing to the opposite side of the boat. The fish started swinging back like a pendulum and hit my grandfather in the back of the head. The impact loosened the fish from the line and sent it somersaulting into the water.

A few choice words were spoken under his breath, then my grandfather told me there are three steps to catch a fish. First get the fish hooked, second keep the fish hooked and third get the fish in the boat.

After that experience we had much more successful fishing trips. As I got older, I found that this simple lesson was useful far beyond the borders of that lake. Hooking doesn’t mean much without a landing. And big stories don’t fill stomachs at suppertime.

So how exactly does the lesson from the lake transfer to the dealership sales floor? Think about it.

1. Get the Fish Hooked (Bring Customer to Your Dealership)

My grandfather always knew where the fish were, what they ate and when they were biting. It took years of trial and error, then adapting to the fish. Imagine always going to a dried up fishing hole just because it was the closest or where you had always gone. Doesn’t sound like very much fun.

Marketing tools can dry up too. In the past phonebook ads were a must. Now it’s websites and social sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The key is to understand your customers. What do they react to? When do they react? Where can you reach them? It takes knowledge and tracking from your DMS, website and CRM to perfect the way you bring in customers.

2. Keep the Fish Hooked (Keep Customers Involved)

The goal is not to get a bite. It’s to catch the fish. You need to be ready when the fish bites and never give up. Each fish is different, but if you keep the fish hooked long enough you win every time.

Salespeople often have a limited view of what a “hooked” customer looks like. They think that the swinging doors shuts off the opportunity. Even when the customer seems interested, if he or she walks out, they give up. Time to cast another line.

You can keep valued customers on the hook even when they’re not in your store. Collect their information and follow up. You don’t have to pester them. Use e-mails. Engage them in events. Send thank yous. Just keep them on the line and keep that line tight. It could take days or even years, but the longer you stay in contact the better your chances of a closed deal.

In a study of 100 locations using Lightspeed CRM, the average dealer opened 75 deals in the month of April, entering customer information in the deal. They closed 43 of them within that same month.

What about the other 32? Did they get away? No. They are still involved with the store. The customers may not be at the store, but they’re not gone. By collecting the customer’s information they can keep the customers on the line, keep them engaged, and bring them back to close the deal.

3. Get the Fish in the Boat (Close the Deal)

To be caught the fish needs to get in the boat. Without the right process it can be difficult, if not impossible. Deploying the net, using the correct amount of force and working with others bring in the big catch.

Your team needs to understand that closing deals isn’t just a one man job. It is important for both the salesperson and the customer to feel there is a team surrounding them. The Parts, Service, Sales and F&I Managers each need to know their part in the closing process and be ready with the net.

Teach every employee in your dealership how to bring customers to your dealership, keep them involved and close the deal. This knowledge helps everyone understand their part. Having the right tools ready, but it is more important to apply the tools right.

Years ago I lost that fish because I did not know how to handle it. Don’t let that happen with your customers.

Good fishing.

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