Originally published in Dealer Solutions Magazine, October 2014.
Ok. So all the conferences are over, we are all “Vegas’d” out, and it’s time to get back in the saddle. Not just talking about selling cars, or finding the new product out there to help us. The blood and guts, roll up your sleeves, make it happen, sell ’em all mentality.
Showroom and internet sales are the life blood of any dealership sales goals. It’s the foundation that we build to keep sales momentum going. But, in the last few years, data mining has brought us to a new level in service sales. If you ask me, it has become just as essential as showroom and internet, and can mean the difference between profit and loss, and hitting those stair step incentives.
So as a sales organization, we put that killer, that head knocker, that closer back in the service lane and tell him sell everyone. We will sort it out later. He digs into that gold mine, leaving a messy wake behind him, aggravating the service writers (he is in fact taking their upsells away with a sale), and hounding the customers, all because our data mining tool says Bob has equity in the Corolla he drove up into service in.
So here is my question to you this month: What if Bob can’t buy a car anymore? What if his income, job, marital status, (insert any reason here) has negatively affected his credit since you last sold him the vehicle? Worse yet, what if Bob doesn’t know he has those dings on his credit now? Well, let me map this out for you, because it happens every day in dealerships across the country. Bob, without any implied permission, is pushed into a sales process. He drives the new model, loves it, and just agreed on numbers after a three hour ordeal.
Now comes that oh-so-painful moment of truth: that 780 is now a 550. You are the one who has to tell him. “Bob, I know you love this car, but unfortunately I can’t get any bank to do this deal.” Now the fun starts. “Why did you waste my time? Why did you show me something I can’t buy?” There are several retorts to this, but none of them will ever bring him back into your dealership. I promise you he WON’T be coming back.
The Solution? Pre-Screen him, plain and simple. By introducing a pre-screen process before you initiate the service lane sale, you are able to determine if that customer CAN upgrade, not just that they are willing to. You remove the risk of ostracizing that customer with an embarrassing episode. If Bob can’t buy, we won’t try to sell him right now. We can focus our effort on those who can buy, and let Bob leave happy with his service experience.
I can tell you that our Dealers utilizing ServiceMiner are becoming far more efficient at selling in the service lane, not just to find out if they can buy, but showing the consumer exactly what they qualify to buy. So in this selling season, remember, just because that equity tool gives you the “Green Light,” not all service customers are meant to be sold today.