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Catch More Customers with a Contagious Sales Event

By Alexia Henson

Do you remember the days when your mailers were based on actual sales events? Let's go back in time: back to the days when the sale ran for eight hours only or was valid for just two days—not five. The idea was to crowd the showroom and create a buying atmosphere with a real sense of urgency, as opposed to a trickle of customers over the course of a week.  Sales days were often held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to give your store an extra weekend in the month. 

I've been doing direct mail for a long time now—long enough to recall how dealers used to go out of their way to make an event successful. Families would come out for the festivities. Customers genuinely slowed down and enjoyed the experience, which gave dealers a greater opportunity to sell.

At these events, every single guest was personally greeted and invited to join in on the savings.  Balloons and other festive décor were peppered throughout the showroom, upbeat music was playing in the background and event-specific sales tags hung from vehicles. The tempting scent of fresh hamburgers and hot dogs floated in from the grill outside. The atmosphere was electric; bells rang when deals were made, and customers were publicly congratulated on their purchase via a loudspeaker announcement. Everyone was excited:  the dealer, the sales team and the customers.

If all this sounds more like a distant memory rather than what you experienced during your last sales campaign, you may be asking yourself: is my party over? Has my dealership forgotten how to have fun and make my customers’ car buying experience exciting? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you have probably considered that your sales mailers do not seem to have the same influence over consumers that they did years ago.

Put yourself in your customers' shoes. If you’re not making your sales mailers look and feel like a special event, a truly unique opportunity, why would they view the event as anything more than an ordinary day?

Boost performance of your next sales event mailer: put on a worthwhile event. Set the scene and make sure it looks like something is actually happening at your store. Decorate with balloons in the showroom and red tags all over the windows of your vehicles. Offer your customers an incentive to stop by—and give them a reason to stick around. Fire up the grill or team up with popular restaurants to cater. Reach out to your radio station and see if you can get a DJ on-site. Whatever entertainment you choose, the goal is to generate more buzz for your event.

It's also critical to make sure your salespeople and managers are on board. It’s time for your team to hustle and, more importantly, get excited. Because guess what? If you're not excited, customers won't be either. Offering cash bonuses to your sales team is a good way to keep spirits high, especially during special events. Take the time to place random envelopes on the windows for them to pull from or maybe a wheel to spin.

The celebration shouldn't stop at the sale. Every time someone steps out of the finance office, you need to make a big deal about it with an announcement. As customers are congratulated, your salespeople and managers should take it as their cue to stand and applaud. This creates a real sense of excitement for the new vehicle purchaser, as well as those customers still shopping or working with salesmen on deals.

Everything comes back to the customer experience—excitement is contagious and helps create a buying atmosphere. So if you’re looking to improve your results from your next sales mailer, ask yourself: "Is my dealership’s enthusiasm contagious?"

Spoiler alert: it’s pretty easy to make sales exciting. But what about service? I’ll explain how the same thought process applies to Fixed Ops in my next blog.