Small Breadcrumbs Yield Big Sales

Jason Nevin is the Customer Experience Manager at Georgetown VW. I talked with him today about ways to create a positive customer experience. Here is a synopsis of our call:

Jason, drugs what have you found is important in attracting and retaining customers?

One of the main ideas we stress is that there’s a big difference between a “customer” and a “sale”. In other words, we see the potential customer as not just a way to earn a sale, but rather as a person in whom we would like to make an investment. We will build into them in a variety of ways. We want to earn the right to see that customer again. This idea has helped us to really grow our business over the last five years.

What are some of the specific ways you do this?

We want to maintain good process. This involves things like reducing response times to email inquiries and phone calls. It involves asking good questions – questions that help us identify people’s interests and empathize with their wants, needs and expectations. It also involves consistent note-taking and record-keeping so that we can keep track of the small details that make a difference to this person. Caring enough to keep track of the “small breadcrumbs” makes all the difference.

People don’t always have a good feeling when they walk into a car dealership. How do you deal with this?

You’re right. People may have had a bad experience in the past and they feel like they’re going to be mistreated, lied to, or ripped off. We find that asking good questions helps them know that we’re on their side.

What are some typical questions you ask to get to know the customer?

We start by asking them a general question about why they’re here. e.g. “What brings you to Georgetown Volkswagen today?” From there, we start to inquire about their specific needs. e.g. “What are you using the vehicle for? How often? What are your driving habits?” Then we go a little deeper, for example, “What are the features of your current vehicle that you like, or really want to change – and why?”
As soon as the person realizes that we’re not trying to just make a sale, but are working alongside them to solve their problem, to find a replacement vehicle that really suits them, they begin to trust us. That trust opens the door to the opportunity to be really helpful to them and helps build a positive feeling that incents a repeat visit.

What is the role of the sales rep in creating a positive customer experience?

The goal of the sales rep is to direct the process, to lead and assist the customer without being manipulative or controlling. We need to trust the customer and trust our own ability to guide them. It’s really more of a “thinking” process than a “selling” process.

(Lois): I totally agree. I call this the “Coach Approach” to selling. You’re really coaching the potential customer to come to whatever decision is best for them. Then if for some reason today’s not the day to make a sale, they’re at least going to remember that you were helpful and refer their friends to you.

What are some ways to retain customers once you’ve made the sale?

We’re currently developing a variety of ways to maintain customer contact and demonstrate interest. For example, in 2010, we will be launching a newsletter. We keep good notes that let us know service appointment dates, and aim to get the individual back in touch with their sales rep when they come by the store. We ask them who else they know who might be in the market for a vehicle, and follow up on these leads. We send unique and friendly thank-you notes. Our written records provide valuable information that helps us better understand what’s important to this person and how to help them in other ways.

Thanks so much for sharing these tips with us, Jason!

If you would like to share your thoughts with Jason Nevin personally-he is interested! Kindly contact him directly at: jasonn@georgetownvw.com

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