Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some Helpful Tips for 2009

As someone who sells cars for a living (13 years this month by the way) I have learned a few things here and there.

First--a little note. In the last two weeks, I have noticed a huge difference in the attitudes of customers. Three weeks ago, it was all gloom and doom and sales were almost non-existent but during the last two weeks, I have been absolutely rocking. Part of it is the attitude of the customers (spring is here and that always changes attitudes, the stock market is climbing, GM didn't ask for any bailout money in March, etc.) but part of it is that I have still been trying to work hard and drum up business. Plus, not to pat myself on the back, I have learned a few things about selling cars over the years.

Here are a few random tips and tidbits that help me sell cars. Perhaps they could also work for you.

1) Stay away from negative people, negative talk, negative news, negative web sites and anything else that is negative.

2) Send postcards to your customers once every month or two. I sent out some postcards advertising the 0% last month and today, a previous customer from three years ago, called me from the card. They came up today and left in a new Chevrolet Cobalt. Postcards are easier for the customer to read than letters in envelopes and they are cheaper to send out ($0.27 instead of $0.42 each)

3) If you have a customer who wants more for their trade and you switch the conversation to payment and have some room where you can drop the payment while keeping the trade the same (rate, term, money down, etc.) the prevent a future objection from happening by saying something like this. "Mr. Customer, I know you want to be at $300 and we are at $350. I'll see what I can do with the payment but it may involve other factors besides your trade-in. As long as I can get the payment down to $300, you don't care how I do it, do you?"

4) Learn how to handle "I want to think about it" or any variation like "I want to go home and study it" etc. Say something like this. "Mr. Customer, I have learned that when someone says that they want to think about it, they usually want to think about the car, the equipment or the price. Which one are you going to be thinking about?" They will usually answer with price and you can overcome it by focusing on their budget (instead of the price) and if they answer with the car or equipment, you are probably on the wrong vehicle!

5) Try to avoid dealer trades at all costs. I will quite frankly rather drop the price a little rather than do a dealer trade. There are a ton of "little birdies" that will tweet little tweets in their heads while you spend a day or two getting a car for them from another dealership. You know what the little birdies will be tweeting to them?
  • You are getting ripped off. I saw an ad in the paper that was $4000 less!
  • My friend at this dealership (who gives me a birddog) can get you a better deal.
  • You need to go look at a Ford instead (or Chevy if YOU sell Fords ;-)
  • (Wife) Are you sure we need to spend all of that money?
  • (Husband) Maybe I should get a Harley instead!
You get the picture.

6) Use a good greeting. "Hi, Welcome to Biff Motors! My name is George and you are...?"

When I walk into a place and someone welcomes me, I actually feel special even though I know that they are "supposed" to say that. Conversely, I order from a local pizza place and the people who answer the phone don't thank me for calling and sound like they hate their job. I'm sure it costs them business. People like doing business with people who appreciate them. Thank your people for calling!

7) Speaking of the phone, when you answer it SAY YOUR NAME! I can't stand when I call a business and they answer with one word like "PARTS" and I have to ask the name of the person I am talking-to.

8) Get a Mac computer! It won't crash, won't get viruses, won't slow down from ad-ware, is cool and will make you feel cool--that will help you sell more cars.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Car Sales Assistant 7

CSA 7 is going along very well--I'm getting some good, positive response from it!

I will have an update up tonight that will allow previous users to import their data (from CSA 3, 4, 2007 and 2008)--I am also working on a module to import from CSV (excel) files.

I'll keep you posted.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Cool Thing I Started Doing

Hi, everyone!

By the way, the newest version of Car Sales Assistant has been released.  I'm calling it Car Sales Assistant 7 since it is the 7th version of the program.  You can check it out at my website

This article is not about it, though.  It is about something very cool that I, and one other salesperson, have started doing.

We each bought a digital photo frame that we keep on our desk.  Everytime we sell a car now, we get a picture of the customers in front of the vehicle.  What do people always do when you take their picture?  Besides saying "cheese," they smile.  So--you get a smiling picture of a customer next to their nice, new, clean car and this is what we do next.

We go to Sams Club and get a 1-page calendar made with the picture.  It costs all of $1.49.  We send one to the customer immediately (before they get their CSI survey.)  Then we call them a few days later and say, "Did you like the little gift I sent you?  I know it isn't much but I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your business."  They are 100% of the time always happy to get it.  You know what else?  They will show it to their friends and if you prime them right, they will send their friends up to see you.  You know what else?  Can someone who looks so happy in a picture give you a bad score on your CSI?  Nope!

Back to the picture frame.  Customers always look at it to see if they know someone who bought a car from you.  Everyone in the pictures are smiling (cheese!) so subconsciously, your new customers are saying, " sure makes his/her customers happy!"

Invest the $50-$80 on a reasonable picture frame, a nice cheap digital camera (I use a Sony that is 5 years old--bought them with GM Perqs when we still had them )-: or sometimes my I-Phone) and invest the $1.49 in a calendar plus maybe $0.15 for a picture to put in your file box.  You know what else?  Import the picture into Car Sales Assistant and never forget someones name again!

Have fun everyone!

Very, very easy stuff to do and your customers will love it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

CSA 7 Screenshot and Some Features

Here is a screen shot of Car Sales Assistant 7, the newest version of our follow up CRM software for car salespeople.  Here are some things of note...

Notice all of the quick links on the upper left side of the screen.  21 in all.  Here are some of the cool new ones...

  • Today's Customers:  All people that you have talked to today--whether they are internet leads, phone ups, showroom prospects or sold customers.  So--if your manager says, "What have you done today, " you can show him or her!
  • Internet Leads/Phone Ups: They will show up on this list until you sell them, they show up in your showroom or you mark them as "lost."  Why is this cool?  Well, you don't want to forget about them--if you set an appointment (and that is all you should do over the phone or internet) and if they show up--you will have a 50% average closing ratio.  Get 20 to come in and sell an extra 10 cars!!!
  • Expiring Leases: You can see a list of leases about to expire within X amount of days.  You can set X to whatever value you like--3-6 months is the best for me!
  • Customers/Prospects to contact: If you want to call a working prospect (current prospect in the program, that is...) every 2 days then you can set the value to 2 in your settings and any prospect who doesn't get contacted within 2 days will show up on this list.  This goes the same for customers.  You can actually set different values for both customers and prospects like every 45 days for customers or every 3 for prospects.
  • Family in Market: Very cool stuff--this alone will pay the price of admission!  According to Joe Verde, 30% of family members have someone who will be in the market for a car within 3 months.  What is so great about this?  Well, if you at least KNOW what the family members are driving (and CSA7 makes it very easy to track this) then you will have an opportunity to contact them and perhaps sell a car (with over a 65% closing ratio for all you math wizards!)
This Month's Progress: You can now see what your averages are for each category.

I'll be the first to admit that Car Sales Assistant 2008 is confusing.  To log a lead, you have to follow these steps...

  2. Read a thing that tells you what to do. 
  3. Search for a customer to see if they haven't been logged before.
  4. If they have been logged, click them.  If not, click NEW ADDRESS.
  5. Edit the personal data.
  7. Put in all of their prospect and purchase information.
CSA7 makes it easier.
  1. Click NEW CUSTOMER menu and pull down to the type you want (Sold, Phone Up, Internet, Unsold Prospect)
  2. Bam!  You are now on the customer screen where you can enter their data.
About 50% of the people who bought CSA2008 had questions on how it worked and I had some people say it was a "clumsy" interface, hard to understand, confusing, it sucked, etc.  I had a method for my madness but I think CSA7 will apeal to more people with its ease of use.

Notice that all the data for your customer is on the screen.  At the dealership where I work, we use an untra-expensive CRM that really sucks.  Here is what I need to do when I make a follow up call.  I have to click on the person and see what vehicle they drove.  Click on the notes to see what I talked about last time.  Exit the screen and then click on the button to make the call.

In CSA7 all of that data is on one screen so you can just click, call and watch the $$$'s roll in!

Family Members: This is a feature that I had in earlier versions of CSA (not 2008 though) that I really missed.  It is a great opportunity to sell more cars.  When you call a customer, take a survey and ask them about all the drivers in their household.  Ask what they are driving and put the info in.  If they are leasing, for God's sake--put in the date their lease expires so you can call them if they qualify for a pull ahead or when their lease expires.  Ask them who is next in line for a new or used car.  Enter a date when they will be in the market and guess what--remember the quick links?  This family member will show up on the quick link when in the market or when their lease is about to expire (or pull ahead...)  Do this for every one in your database and you will never have to catch a fresh up again.

Whoops--please note that this is a beta version and missing some of the buttons on the customer screen.

This program will be released in 2 days.  I will charge a nominal fee for previous users to upgrade to this if they like.  In the intial release, there will be no import functions but I will add them later (like from earlier versions or from spread sheets.)

Is there anything you would like to see in CSA?  If so, let me know!

Thanks so much for reading this blog.  Things are really tough right now in the car business (especially here in Michigan) but if you work hard, you can still make selling cars work for you and make tons of money in this business.  CSA7 will make it easy to work hard and accomplish your goals.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coming Soon: Car Sales Assistant 7

I have been hard at work programming CSA 7--the newest version of car sales assistant.  It is about ready for realease.  Anyone who orders CSA 2008 between now and then will get a free upgrade.  

Screen shots coming soon!