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Never Forget Who Butters Your Bread

Work Your CRM Like the Money Maker It Is

By Patrick Kelly

I ran into an old acquaintance at Starbucks a while ago. I had referred him and his wife to a dealer friend a couple of years back, so I casually asked him how the deal had gone for them. He said he’d appreciated how seamless the dealership had made the experience and that the sales person had correctly given his wife due attention. “She loved the guy,” he told me as the barista prepared our beverages.

“Now we’re looking at a new SUV,” he added, slipping a lid onto his drink, “But that guy my wife loved never once bothered to follow up after the sale. We can’t even remember his name.”

I could feel their disappointment. They loved this guy—they said it outright. He’d been pleasant and warm to them. He’d treated them respectfully and with integrity, and they’d felt blessed to buy their vehicle from him. He’d done all the right things, from a great meet-and-greet all the way through the financing deal. This salesperson had won a customer for life.

And he’ll never get to sell them again.

That sales representative had a lot going for him. I’m certain that his other customers came to love him too. Yet he is being unconsciously incompetent. Certainly he’s conscious of the need to establish rapport and trust through the sales cycle, but when it comes to communicating with customers to keep his name fresh in their minds—both immediately post-sale and periodically thereafter—he’s ignorant. And because he’s unconscious of this important step, he’s a sales failure. Sure, he might steadily put solid numbers on the board, but he could be exponentially more productive by simply using the power of the store’s CRM to consistently romance customers after their deals are done.

When I was growing up, one of my uncle’s favorite sayings was “Never forget who butters your bread.” He meant I should try to be careful to remember those who extended kindness to me and helped me prosper. That can be challenging in our busy dealerships, but CRM technology helps by reminding us to consistently contact and extend kindness, helpful reminders, and relevant invitations to those who help us prosper along the way.

That unconsciously incompetent salesperson lost at least one follow-up sale to my friend and his wife. He might also have lost other sales to their family members and friends. Had he made them feel appreciated and remembered after the sale, there’s no telling how many sales could’ve stemmed from that first encounter.

Customers want to know they mean something to you. You can love them to pieces during the transaction phase, but if you ignore them afterwards, you have failed. Prove you love them by sending notes, emails and letters once in a while to keep your name fresh in their minds… and when repurchase time rolls around they’ll know exactly who to call.

About the Author:

Patrick Kelly is a 35-year veteran of the automotive industry. He began selling cars at a south Texas Chevrolet dealership in 1979 and quickly learned that the key to sales success was following up — and building relationships — with his customers. After a stint as Director of Finance for a mega-dealership, Kelly followed a more traditional sales management path, eventually serving over 14 years as General Manager for various U.S. dealerships. His role as District Manager for Gulf States Toyota gave him the opportunity to see the automotive industry from the manufacturer’s perspective and helped to develop his unique style of “motivational management and leadership.”  While he now serves as General Manager of AutoLoop’s CRM Division, he is also a sought-after motivational speaker, using humor to share his experience and proven techniques with salespeople, managers and dealers across the country.