Sales events have been around since the first new car dealerships began setting up shop way back in 1896. And you better believe it didn’t take long for the industrial revolution to kick start creative car dealers into developing sales events to get more exposure and vehicles sold!
From giant manufacturer tent sales, to good old Cal Worthington promising to stand on his head, sales events are something every dealer does. Some run a lot of them. Some a select few. But we all run them for the promise of action, excitement—and more sales.
But what does it really mean to leverage a sales event? How do you run an event that is not only successful during the event, but also for days, weeks, and even months after the event is over?
Let’s take a look at some of the important things that need to be in place in order to really leverage a sales event.
Once the Owner or General Manager has signed off on the event, and you’ve chosen when you are going to run it, preparation is the key. Every dealership is different, but one commonality is that there must be a person at the dealership that is going to take ownership and coordinate all of the moving parts that make up a good sales event. With our event that’s usually the GM, the marketing director, sometimes the GSM or sales manager. This person is what we call the liaison. Even if the liaison delegates the majority of preparation to other staff members, it is ultimately he or she that will make sure that everyone is on the same page, and meeting necessary deadlines.
You can’t have your sales and administrative staff prepared well enough. There’s nothing worse than setting up a great event with bells and whistles, and the receptionist or salesperson on the lot has no clue what’s going on. You will want to have meetings with everyone who works in the front end of your dealership. Every phone call that comes into the dealership must be answered by asking the caller if they are calling about the event.
How much advertising will you be doing for your event? Regardless of whether or not you are budgeted for a lot of advertising or a little, it’s important to have your advertising be in synch with the theme of your event. This is also a great way to leverage monies that would have ordinarily been spent on ‘generic’ advertising, as it gives it extra value by being a part of something bigger going on at the store.
In today’s market 90% of a dealer’s promotional funds are spent to get visitors to his website, but buyers still need to come to the dealership to actually buy a car. So, make good use of a specific web banner about your event, the incentive you are offering, and the dates to come to the dealership. This is very important because up to 30 times as many prospects come to your website versus showroom visits. Leverage your event to get those website visitors in to the showroom.
During the Event
Are you using a giveaway item in your event? This is always a great way to generate traffic while also promoting the dealership as a ‘Good Guy’. It also makes it a lot easier to get the prospect’s name, phone #, and email address—which is absolutely paramount.
Provide your sales team with tools to engage people and keep the atmosphere upbeat and positive. Come on everybody, let’s have some fun! Be energetic! Engage eye contact, and ask open questions. Be genuine and appear at ease, and let your personality shine through. Any opportunity to get a positive online review must be taken, and getting the event visitor’s information for follow up is a requirement.
Pay attention to what’s going on with the event. Plan out each day of the event and make sure to measure everything you can: the number of ups, test drives, manager exits, sales, be-back notes, service opportunities—everything.
After the Event
Think: The good stuff actually begins once the event has ended.So your event is over, and hopefully you met the goals you set out for yourself, but now is actually the time to roll up your sleeves and take advantage of those prospects that came to the event, but didn’t purchase a vehicle. Our experience with hundreds of events is that more sales come from good follow up with attendees than do ‘spot’ deliveries every time. (And that’s not all bad, because you’ll get your share of spot deliveries too, because of the exciting atmosphere you’ve created.) If you’re ready!
Getting Free Advertising is easier than you think.
Here’s a great tip for getting some free advertising. Once you have your point of sale materials, balloons, flags, posters, banners, etc. up around the dealership, take a bunch of pictures. You will be surprised how often you can get these put into special newspaper sections, community blogs, passed around on Facebook, and event put into a TV news spot, for free. Not to mention that you also take and use these images (and video) for social media, Facebook and your own website(s).
Good event ideas seem to come along once in awhile, and performing the time tested practices listed above, and good old fashion teamwork, salesmanship, enthusiasm and follow up will allow you to really leverage your sales events in the future.
B.C. Magarity is the COO/CTO of Two Minute Marketing, LLC., the parent and operator of the Hero Appreciation Week event. To view a short four minute video of the event being run live visit www.dealermarketing.com/hero0