3 Ways to Get Your Sales Staff Out of the Seven Car Club Rut
You probably have heard of the Seven Car Club theory if your dealership onboarding involves watching and learning from the comical 1990s-style CarMind training videos. The theory posited that every dealership has three types of salespeople, and they fit within one of the following categories:
- Overachievers, who shoot for 10-plus vehicle sales per month and are highly motivated and competitive individuals;
- Underachievers, who are either new to sales, completely burned out, or complacent, with just a few vehicle sales per month; or
- Those who belong to the Seven Car Club, selling an average of seven cars per month.
The Seven Car Club is more than a theory, and is proven to exist based on our aggregated data collected from tens of thousands of dealerships over the past five years. Seven is the average number of sales per person per month. Why does the Seven Car Club matter to your dealership? Because, as a dealership owner or salesperson, when you realize that your sales are just average, you can reset your expectations and push yourself to be better than average.
By incorporating a few simple steps in the sales process, dealers and their sales teams can improve on the average sales numbers associated with the Seven Car Club. Our analysis of big data, including response times, lead follow-up strategies, and the buying cycle, has identified the following tasks your dealership can implement to help salespeople soar past the Seven Car Club.
The myth of emulating overachievers
Many people believe that the overachievers, or “closers,” have an intrinsic ability — sales-oriented personalities or special talents — to close deals. To boost momentum and get underachievers to perform better, dealership managers often have new sales personnel shadow the overachievers to study their actions and pick up on their phrases.
This is not necessarily the best way to train your sales employees, new or seasoned. It’s not the personality traits or catchy phrases that drive sales across the dealership: It’s the tasks and timing that can be adopted by your entire team. Based on the finding of our data, the following three sales steps should be reviewed and improved upon to help sales teams close more leads:
- The fastest responders aren’t always the highest closers — instead, they find the “sweet spot.”
- The best lead follow-up methods contain four components.
- You should create an appointment confirmation process.
1. Response times — faster isn’t always better
Our analysis of 20.7 million leads submitted to dealerships over the past five years uncovered a curious outcome: The fastest responders, with lead-response rates under 15 minutes, are not associated with the dealerships that enjoyed the highest closing rates. To the contrary, those who responded to leads within 16 to 30 minutes actually experienced the highest closing ratio: 5.4%. That’s nearly 25% higher than those who responded in less than 15 minutes. Further analysis of actual follow-ups indicated that the fastest responders had poor lead follow-up emails. Their responses, although quick, were often poorly written and missing four crucial components.
2. Four components of effective lead follow-ups
The top-performing dealers all shared these four follow-up components:
- Multiple vehicle options. About 95% percent of the time, customers inquire about a specific vehicle rather than simply stating, “I’m interested in a Ford.” Address the buyer’s interests, but also provide options to help customers find a vehicle that best suits their individual situation and budget, or tell them what you recommend, based on other customers’ feedback.
- Personalize. Personalization is key. Add a short observation to make a personal connection, such as, “I noticed you live in Hill Valley, which is right around the corner. I would be happy to bring the vehicle out to you for a test drive.”
- Third-party references. More customers than ever rely on third-party research and reviews instead of marketing alone. Don’t make them leave your website, or potentially break the relationship to confirm or deny their choice. Provide the third-party reference right in the follow-up; for example: “Our internet price is $41,200 after rebates, below the trusted website Edmunds.com’s True Market Value pricing.”
- Push the phone, not the in-person visit. Your customers’ time is valuable. When closing your follow-up message, don’t ask them come into your dealership to get more information. Push the phone call follow-up to discuss their options and set an appointment. That way, you can capture their attention, give all the options, and get them ready for the sale.
3. Confirm closed appointments
Data also reveals that top-performing dealers have another thing in common: When implementing a sales strategy, managers push their sales teams to focus on confirming — not just setting — more appointments. There’s a clear, well-known correlation between setting more appointments and closing more deals, but having an effective appointment confirmation process helps motivate sales teams to make more appointments in the first place. Dealers with strong appointment-confirmation processes average more than 150% more appointments per month, which leads to more sales and lower flooring costs.
Have a process in place to set the appointment, and then confirm the appointment 24 hours ahead of time. Measure sales teams’ success by the number of appointments confirmed, rather than number of appointments set, and you’ll be surprised at the increase in both. Focus on improving these three tasks in your dealership and you’ll quickly outpace the average number of sales by the Seven Car Club. You can do this by taking your time with lead follow-up, including the four lead follow-up component in your emails, and implementing a robust appointment confirmation process. In no time, your dealership can be free from the Seven Car Club.
Reuben Muinos is the senior director of business development for DealerSocket. Muinos is a CRM expert, managing major OEM client accounts at DealerSocket. A featured contributor to many top-tier industry magazines, conferences, and seminars, Muinos has traveled the country providing advice to dealerships, OEMs, and dealer groups on how to best use technology to drive sales.