I would never do that

Incongruent: containing disparate or discordant elements or parts. Synonyms include conflicting, contradictory, contrary, incompatible, inconsistent. None of these are words you would want associated with your marketing. Yet the word incongruent is what came to mind when I was thinking about my recent car-buying experience.

2012 Genesis Coupe

My new car, a 2012 Genesis Coupe

I’d submitted an online form expressing my interest in a particular car. That prompted a barrage of emails and phone calls from several area dealerships. Not to bash car dealers; I think they get enough of that, but from a marketing standpoint, wow, I saw some room for simple improvement. Sure, you might think “I would never do that!” Still, there are lessons here for you no matter what your business.

First point of contact

The first email or phone call sets the tone for the rest of our relationship. One guy called me and was very friendly. He engaged me in a conversation and I had a good feeling about him until he said something to the effect of “girls don’t usually like the manual transmission” or something like that. I called him on it and he backpedaled. The damage was done. In a later conversation he told me there were no cars in the model I wanted with a manual transmission in a 400-mile radius. He had checked for me. Apparently he didn’t do a very good job of checking because I found one to test drive 30 miles away. If you’ve already guessed I didn’t buy from him, bonus points to you! The one thing I will give this guy is that he, more than most of them, was persistent in his follow up.

Other sales people called me and started out with “I saw you’re interested in this car. When do you want to come in?” Hey guys (all but one was a guy), a little foreplay might be to your advantage. How about asking for more details about what specifically I want and why.

Then, after a conversation, I’d get an email. Clearly I’d been entered into a database and sent a generic email. Several of them from different dealerships said, “I haven’t been able to reach you by phone…” Wha???

Or I got emails from three different people at the same dealership with, “my name is… I got your inquiry and am eager to help you.” And a couple of, “I’m the manager and so and so is the sales person with whom you can speak…” and the person the sales manager or GM put in his email is not the same as the one who sent me an email two hours ago. Incongruent marketing!

Make sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Get everyone in your business on the same page so you don’t look foolish and give the impression no one there knows what they’re doing.

Provide requested info
When I was finally ready to buy, (from submitting that online form to purchase was 44 days), I sent out an email to about 10 area dealerships clearly outlining what I wanted and asking for their best price. Only half of them answered and one of those tried selling me something different. The salesperson where I’d test-driven the car didn’t ever respond. In fact, he never even followed up with me after I walked out his door. I’d told him I loved the car, but that particular one wasn’t the right color. Major missed opportunity for him.

If someone is asking you for information, it usually means they want to buy. Answer their questions and the probability you will make a sale, get a client and start a long-term relationship goes up tremendously!

Make me want it more
How can you create an eagerness to buy now or help your client see herself owning or using whatever it is you’re providing? One of the things the sales person from whom I bought the car did that I thought was brilliant was he took a couple of pictures of “my” car in his lot and texted them to me with the message line “your car.” This was smart for two reasons. One, he was cementing ownership of this vehicle in my mind. Two, he was confirming to me that he actually had the car in the color I wanted (because most of the other dealerships did not have it on their lot). And three, he was building the relationship, creating a higher level of comfort, since we hadn’t met in person yet. I asked him about this tactic and he says he uses it especially when he’s doing internet transactions because people need visuals.

Give your customers the ability to see and feel and get comfortable with all the qualities of your product or service. Help them imagine what it’s like to use and own or implement what you’re selling. Give them the ability to “own” it before they actually buy and your job of selling is done.

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