Picture this ugly scenario: You’ve invested thousands upon thousands of dollars into promoting your ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME, NO-HOLDS-BARRED, THIS-WEEKEND-ONLY, ALL-OUT, BLOW-OUT, SUPER SALE. You’ve cut through the clutter, motivated Mr. and Mrs. Car Buyer to get up off the couch, find their checkbook and drive down to your store. They’ve seen the ads. They know this is a real, honest-to-goodness, once-in-a-lifetime chance to save BIG Money. So into the store they come, waiving their checkbook and breathlessly asking the first salesperson they see about the big sale… and your 23-year-old genius of a salesperson turns his head sideways like a lost puppy and says “Sale? I don’t know anything about a big sale.”
That’ll sure let the steam out of their enthusiasm, but it’s easy to avoid. TELL YOUR SALESPEOPLE WHAT YOU’RE DOING! The brutal truth is if your salespeople don’t know about your big sale, you’re not having one! Reinforcing your sales message with your sales staff may be the single most effective thing you can do to make your advertising work better and it’s by far the least expensive. Whether you’re working in Print, Radio, TV or Direct Mail, the more aware your people are, the better equipped they’ll be to handle the traffic.
Most dealers are already doing the easy stuff: playing the TV commercial in the sales meeting and tacking Saturday’s newspaper on the bulletin board. But let’s face it most of your salespeople have been there, done that and bought that T-shirt. They’re not going to get all that excited about another TV spot or newspaper ad.
So how do you take it to the next level? By getting your salespeople involved in the process.
One company I know of has made a living in the auto industry for years by hosting sales events and CLOSING THE DOORS to the dealership for one day to get ready for the event. And what do your salespeople do while the store is closed? They hang banners and mirror tags, blow up balloons, make calls on their b-backs, tickler file and lease expiration lists, anything to get the sales force into the mindset that this sale is the real deal.
One dealer I know has had the same sale every year for the last 3 decades and they always have their biggest two months of the year while its going on. The concept seems straightforward enough. Split the entire dealership into two teams and compete for volume, margin and finance profits. The teams are named after the two major state university sports teams and that’s how it’s advertised.
The motivating factor though isn’t school spirit or even the cash bonuses that are handed out like candy at the banquet at the end of the sale. What keeps the salespeople enthused throughout the event is that at that banquet the winning team gets giant 14 oz. T-bone steaks char grilled to perfection, with all the accompaniments. The losing team, sure they get a little bonus money too, but when dinner is served, they get beans. Beans and lettuce for appetizers, beans for the entre and beans and ice cream for dessert. And we’re not talking about fresh off the vine, home-cooked flavorful beans. Nope, they get a can of pork and beans and a spoon.
It’s all done in fun, and everybody has a good time. But at the heart of the matter, it’s serious business. Those salespeople know exactly what’s going on and the veterans are just as excited as the green peas.
Reinforcing the sales message is the primary benefit of doing off site or tent sales too. Moving the inventory, setting up the temporary sales area, working in a new environment all help convince the staff that this is a REAL SALE!
The great thing is that almost everything you do to reinforce the sales message with the sales staff also reinforces the sales message with consumers.
Let’s go back to Mr. and Mrs. Car Buyer. They’ve been hearing your spots on the radio, saw a commercial during the news last night, got the direct mail piece in the mail yesterday and this morning they read your ad in the newspaper. That’s pretty good: multiple impressions through multiple modes of contact. You’ve hammered the message home.
But what happens when they walk in the store? If the salespeople are sitting around watching a baseball game, if the only balloons they see are attached to a flower arrangement from the receptionist’s boyfriend, if the only banners are some generic thing the factory sent last fall with the new models, if your store doesn’t look like there’s a big sale going on, all of that money you spent pumping them up and reeling them in the first place goes right down the drain.
Too many dealers think that advertising is separate from the sales process: Advertising brings in the traffic, salespeople close the deal. That may sound reasonable, but you don’t have to let your expensive advertising message die at the front door.
Bring the message on to the sales lot with Point of Purchase materials Banners and Balloons, Poster and Pennants. Make the place look like something big is going on.
Bring the message on to the sales floor with an informed and enthusiastic sales force that not only knows you’re having a big sale, but REALLY BELIEVES you’re having a big sale.
If you fully integrate your advertising message into the sales process, you’ll bring in more traffic and close more deals.
Terry Lancaster is the co-founder of Instant Events Automotive Advertising helping dealers get their marketing message out by any means necessary – traditional media, digital media, smoke signals and broadcast telepathy.