Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cold Calling Orphan Owners

Let me start out by stating something. I HATE COLD CALLING! I hate it with a passion. When I'm home from work, I don't want to be bothered--do you? I'm on the "Do Not Call List" and so are about 75% of the people out there. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!


Unless it is cold calling orphan owners that is.

An orphan owner is a customer who was previously sold at your dealership by someone who is no longer there. They actually need you to call them because if you don't, there is a good chance that they will buy someone else. If you do call them and they come up and visit you at the dealership, you will have a whopping 70-80% closing ratio with them! I know what you're thinking--you can always send out letters to them and yes, you will get some response but if you talk to them on the phone, your response rate will be even higher. You know what? Lets combine the two!

Step 1: Over come your fear of cold calling. Someone cannot beat you up over the phone and if they start yelling at you, just hang up on them in the middle of a sentence so they think they got cut off.

Step 2: Get a list of orphans from your manager. No one else will ask for them so there is a good chance that you will be given a big stack. Promise that you will call each one of them and your manager will do 2 things--he will think that that's great and he will take credit for getting you to do it!

Step 3: Have a game plan (we'll get to that in a second)

Step 4: Obey the rules of the "Do Not Call Registry" Check to see if they are on the list and if they are, you cannot call them (I think) unless they have done business with your dealership in the last 18 months. There is a $10K fine if you do and get busted. (My disclaimer: I am not giving any legal advice and I may be wrong with the above stuff so check with your lawyer to be sure...)

Step 5: Have a good script. Here is a bad scripts. Mr. Customer? I just wanted to see if you, or someone you know is in the market for a car. That is not a good script since 100% of the time, the person will answer "no." By the way--I never ask them, "Did I get you at a bad time?" or "Do you have a few minutes?" It's always a bad time to bother someone at home and people never have a few minutes for a salesperson! If they say it's not a bad time or that they do have a few minutes, they are probably being nice to you--at least before they hang up on you. So why ask? Just assume you're bothering them and move on.

Here is a good script: Mr. Customer? This is Biff from ABC Motors. The reason I'm calling is because you bought a Chevrolet Impala from us in the past and they person who sold it to you is no longer with us. I just wanted to give you this courtesy call to give you my name and number just in case you ever needed anything up here like service or anything else because it's always good to have someone to contact at a dealership. Do you have a pen and piece of paper handy?

Yes. (They get the pen and paper)

OK--my name is spelled B-I-F-F and my number is 555-1212. Please call me if you ever need anything or if anyone in the family needs a new car or truck, OK?


Thanks--have a good evening.

You know what happens next? They hang up and forget all about you which leads us to step 6...

Step 6: Send them a simple thank you letter. Dear Mr. Customer--I just wanted to thank you for talking to me on the phone today. Please contact me if you ever need to service your car or if you and your family ever need a good deal on a new one. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards,
Biff Jones

P.S. Here's a business card--please don't forget to call me if you ever need anything.

You know what? You have now reinforced your name with them and you now are building a relationship.

Step 7: Buy a good follow up program like Car Sales Assistant 2007. You'll need it.

Step 8: Call them back in a few weeks. Mr. Customer, this is Biff at ABC Motors. I talked to you on the phone the other day. I was just wondering--did you get my business card in the mail?


Great! I just needed a few minutes to update our records. Are you still driving the Chevrolet Impala?


OK. What other vehicles are there in your family?

Uh--my daughter also has a Pontiac G6 and my wife has a Corvette.

OK. Out of those, which one will you be replacing next?

My daughter's G6.

Pretty soon or down the road?

Her lease is up in 3 months.

OK. What will she be replacing it with?

Probably a Malibu.

OK. Do you mind if I call you in 2-3 months when the deals are great on Malibus?

Not at all.

Great--thanks and I promise that I will call you when the deals are great on Malibus. And if you daughter decides she wants one a little sooner, let me know. We have a lease pull ahead going on.

OK--I will.

Have a good night, Mr. Customer.

Step 9: Put all that information into Car Sales Assistant and set an appointment to call them in a couple of months.

Step 10: move on to the next orphan owner.

I will guarantee you this right now. Right now, there is a husband and wife sitting at their kitchen table talking about buying a car. They have probably never been contacted from a car salesperson after the sale so if you call them, they will say to themselves--Wow! What a coincidence!

Let me guarantee you something else right now. It is brutal out there--it is a dog eat dog world, the economy sucks, customers aren't as loyal as they used to be and there is always someone out there willing to cut your price and steal a deal from you. You need to do something extra to be very successful in this business. Not to pat myself on the back, but using my car sales assistant software is a great first step but calling orphan owners is a fantastic second step. It is very easy in car sales to be an underachiever and still make more money than you can ever believe but if you do a little extra like the steps above, you can be rich.

Thanks and I welcome responses to any of my posts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Car Sales Assistant 2008 Status

I just wanted to give you all a quick update on Car Sales Assistant 2008. I had a sick day today (bad sore throat and cough--hard to sell cars if you can't talk...) and got a lot done today.

There is a good chance that CSA 2008 will be done by the end of the month--definitely by the end of the year but who knows...probably sooner.

Here is a cool thing I added today--automated follow up letters after you create a customer or prospect. The program can now send letters if you get a phone up and they don't show up (of course, you'll have to have their address...) for example: Dear John, thanks for talking to me on the phone. I look forward to meeting you in person. Please call me at 555-5555 if you need to reschedule. This is an example of a phone up letter for someone who hasn't shown-up yet. If they do show up, the program is smart enough not to print the letter.

Here is another example: letters to unsold prospects. Thanks for stopping by... If they come back a buy, you don't want to send any more prospect letters to them--the program automatically deletes those letters that don't qualify anymore.

Or best yet--lets say you lease someone a car and generate a letter to hit 30 days before they are scheduled to turn in their lease. If they come in and buy before then, all you have to do is un-check "Vehicle Currently Owned" in their screen and the letter will not be generated.

Hope all of this makes sense--I'm hopped up on cold medicine and I do tend to type pretty fast.

The biggest change to csa 2008 from earlier versions are the fact that prospects and customers now share the same record--I get emails all the time... How do I convert a prospect into a customer? Now, all you do is check the SOLD button and they are now a sold customer. I'll admit--I made some bad decisions in earlier versions...

Please check back on from time to time for further updates.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

10 Tips on How to Handle Trade-Ins

Perhaps one of the hardest skills to learn in the car business is how to handle a customer's trade in. It is one thing that can make or break a sale so here are some thoughts and ideas I have on the subject.

1) Don't ever ask someone what they want for their trade. If you do, you'll back yourself into a corner 95% of the time when they hit you with what they owe one it, what their credit union told them to get for it or what they saw similar ones selling-for in the paper.

2) Do a walk around the trade with your customer. Ask them questions like how long they have been driving it, if it has ever been in an accident, etc. Also do what is called a "silent appraisal." Touch rust spots and dings and say, "hmmm" when you do so. Run your finger along scratches and scratch them with your finger nail. Look at the tire tread and measure it with a business card or pencil and say, "Hmmm." Put your finger in holes in the cloth. In other words, you are telling their customer subconsciously that their vehicle might not be as nice as they think it is--you are not really taking value away from it--it is really worth what it is worth. You are just lowering your customer's perception as to what they think it is worth.

3) Give your customer room to negotiate.

4) If they flip out after you tell them what their car is worth--don't jump right to If I could, would you! I saw a guy at our dealership lose a sale the other day by jumping too fast. He hit his customer at a certain price and the customer said he thought the car was worth more. The salesperson went right to, "Make me an offer." The customer responded with a low-ball offer, got mad, left, and bought at the competition.

5) Take a deep breath and justify how the figures were are some good examples.

a) I know your credit union said it was worth $10,000 but they base their figures off of their loan value guides. Our figures are obtained from what similar vehicles have sold for--in this area--in the last 30 days. Our figures are more accurate.

b) Our used car appraiser has been doing this for 15 years and you know what I've found out? He's usually pretty exact in his figures.

c) This is called the "Feel, Felt, Found" Close: You know what? I was in the same situation a few years ago so I know how you feel. I wanted $7000 for my car and it was only worth $5000. It almost kept me from trading I felt like my car should be worth more. You know what I found out? I found out that it was really only worth $7000 because they sold it a few weeks later and only made a few hundred dollars on it.

6) If they say they'll try to sell it themselves before they can trade, offer this: Mr. Customer, it takes us an average of 60 days to sell any used car. We spend tens-of-thousands of dollars in advertising each month, have 10 banks waiting to finance our customers and make sure every car is mechanically sound before we can sell it. No offense, but what chance do you have selling your car within 60 days on your own?

7) If they have a beater--tell them to sell it themselves if you feel that you can still get them to buy today. I have never seen that work for a car that they are buried-in.

8) Try to get your customer off of their trade and onto payments. Mr. Customer--quite frankly it really doesn't matter what yours is worth as long as your new car is affordable, right?

9) If they want the dreaded payoff, tell them this: Mr. Customer, your payoff will never have a bearing on what your car is worth. You owe $10,000 and your car is worth $8000 but let me ask you this--would you want $100 if your payoff was only $100? Of course not!

10) And finally--if the trade was a bad experience for a customer (and it usually is) try to talk them into leasing so they won't have to go through it again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Crazy Closes

I'm a firm believer that sometimes saying something weird or stupid can help you sell cars. For example: when I was about 2 days into the car business and after getting absolutely no training, I bought a few sales books and I read in one of them that if someone's pupils get dilated, they are excited and ready to buy.

I had a customer who was just very difficult to close--I could tell that he was very nervous about making a decision so I decided to make the decision for him. He was wearing dark glasses and I couldn't see his eyes. I told him, "Mr. Customer, the other night, I was reading a book on how to sell cars and one thing I read was this: If someone's pupils are dilated, they are ready to buy.' Mr. Customer, do me a favor--take off your glasses." He did--I stared deeply into his eyes. "Mr. Customer," I said with a friendly smile, "your eyes are dilated--you're ready to buy. Sign here." He weakly smiled like all the pressure was off of him and signed the buyers-order and I sold the car.

Just a little quick story before I head off to learn about the new Chevrolet Malibu on a ride-and-drive.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Future Products from

A lot of people have been asking me about new versions of Car Sales Assistant. I'm very happy to announce that I am in fact working on a couple of new projects including a totally new version of CSA. It is being programmed 100% from the ground up and is taking advantage of Microsoft's new .NET platform which probably means more to me on a programming side than you on a user side.

Here is an early screenshot of the new CSA--I don't have a name for it yet but have been calling it CSA 2008 while programming it. Keep in mind that the final product will look a little different but this is very close.

On the upper left hand of the screen are QUICK LINKS such as Sales this Month, Sales Last Month, Hot Prospects, etc. It will show you the number of people who fit that criteria and you simply click the number to see the lists.

In the middle left, you can see a running total of your current month--money made, averages, etc.

On the bottom left is a QUICK SEARCH box--great if you see a car pull up--you remember selling the car but can't remember the customer's name--type the model and color in the box, click search and see who it is. I'm 40 years old and my memory isn't what it used to be so this works great for me!

If you have used previous versions of CSA, you'll remember that there were separate databases for sold customers and unsold prospects. Now they are both contained in the same database and simply checking SOLD determines if it is a customer or an unsold prospect.

Also, in earlier versions, keeping stats involved you typing in how many ups you had on any given day, demos, closing situations, sold, etc. Now those stats will be taken directly from the customer database to keep you from typing more.

Remember earlier versions of CSA? If you had the same customer buy multiple cars, you had to re-type the name, address, etc. for all the new records. Now there is a master database that contains all of the people you come into contact with. Now if you sell a person car #2, all you have to do is click on the master record and if there are changes to their address, it is automatically changed for all the records. Click on the master record and you will see a list of all the cars they have bought from you, all of their family members who have bought from you, all your contact (follow up) with them as well as family members who are in the market for a car since 20% of all families have someone in their household who will buy a car within the next year.

By the way--the picture is one of my daughter (the picture within the picture) who is now 5 and my 3 month old son--I was just amazed how much alike they looked when they were born so I snapped the picture of my son next to the picture of my daughter.

Back to my software...

I will be working on a dealership version of CSA 2008 that will have manager reports, orphan owners, csi tracking, etc.

We are also working on online versions of our software that will allow you to work with your data from any internet browser including the I-Phone, etc. We will charge a small monthly charge for the online versions instead of the one-time-fee of the ones that you install to your computer.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with any suggestions of things you would like to see in my next version--it's never too late to add things!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I Need to Talk to my Wife/Husband

This is a very common objection that may sometimes be an excuse. I'm married and I would never buy a car without talking about it with my wife first but isn't it true that sometimes you sell a car to a husband or spouse without the other-half being there? Perhaps they had already discussed the purchase or perhaps one can make a decision without the other.

The purpose of this article is to help you determine if the person really needs to talk to his wife or if it is an excuse. The word-track below works wonders--give it a try sometime.

CUSTOMER: I need to talk to my wife first.
YOU: Jim, when you talk to your wife, are you going to talk about the car, the price or me?
CUSTOMER: The price.
YOU: What do you think she'll say about the price?
CUSTOMER: She'll probably say it's too high.
YOU: What price do you think she'll like?
CUSTOMER: $30 less a month.
YOU: (Isolate the objection): Do you think there'll be anything else that you'll talk about?
YOU: Sounds like she's on a budget like my wife. Jim, do you think if we fiddle around with the numbers a little and get it to fit within her budget, she'll go ahead and take the car?

You then overcome the objection as normal. Now, I'm not stupid--I have been selling cars for a while and know that most of the time, the husband will still want to talk to the wife but will you admit that this might help you sell a few more cars here and there? Also, will you admit that if the car is within the budget the husband will have a better chance of closing the wife?

Other tips to consider:

1) Offer to let the husband take the car to his wife so she can see it. Make sure you remind him that he is obligated in no way to buy the car to take the pressure off.
2) Do not ever say, "Let me call my wife and see if I can sell it to you." I know they used that line in the movie "Suckers" and I heard my boss in Tennessee use it a few times but insulting a customer NEVER WORKS!
3) I never try to pressure a person to buy without spousal support by saying things like, "Come on--you know it's easier to get forgiveness than permission." Also never works.
4) Do say something like this, "I've been selling cars for a long time and sometimes people say that they need to talk to their wife because something is bothering them like the price, the car itself or something I said I did. I just wanted to make sure--none of those things are keeping you from the car, are they?"

You can also use #4 if they say they want to go to lunch, study things, think about things, talk to their banker, talk to their priest, talk to their dog, etc.

All in all, the theme of this post is do not ever insult your customer. Hope this helps and I promise it will help you sell more cars here and there by increasing your odds across the board.