You’re probably familiar with the adage that “proper prior planning prevents @#$% poor performance”? Well, nothing could be more true when it comes to hosting a sales event that seriously shifts the needle.
As automotive event marketers that have been in the game for over 25 years, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of dealer-hosted sales events. We’ve made notes of the biggest offenders, and actionable steps you can take to make sure they never happen on your watch.
Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. – Bobby Unser
Read on to learn the top five things you should do (or not do) to see your sales event deliver the maximum return.
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Mistake #1: Failing to communicate the needs and goals of the event to your team.
You are only as strong as your weakest player.
Five days prior to your event, hold a Sales Event Meeting and ensure that all staff who will be involved in the event are present. This includes sales representatives, new and used car managers, the general manager, the general sales manager, finance managers, owners, a representative of your Business Development Center (BDC) or personnel who will be handling incoming calls and queries.
It’s important that everyone understand their roles and the expectations you have of them prior to the event. They need to know when and where different aspects of the event will take place and be armed with all the information they need to handle the increase in foot traffic and phone traffic that will come.
Also, this team will be responsible for communicating the details of the event to all other store employees. They will be instrumental as word-of-mouth advertisers and can help to develop a buzz on social media. This is a great opportunity to introduce an incentive contest to your team that extends through the event and two weeks after. The event starts now, and doesn’t end until long after the last customer leaves your store. By making sure your team understands this, and is encouraged by potential bonuses, your event is already headed in the direction of stronger sales.
Mistake #2: Not keeping your promises.
Politicians may be able to get away with promising one thing and then doing something different when it comes to crunch time, but car dealers can’t afford to take that risk.
Again, ignorance among your team is no excuse. When a guest walks in on the day of the event and asks
excitedly, “did I win the giveaway?” Blank looks or a clueless response is not going to encourage trust or loyalty.
Familiarize your team with the contents of all the marketing materials (i.e. emails, direct mail, Facebook ads, etc.) related to the event. What’s the theme? What gifts are being offered? Did guests get anything special for RSVPing early?
And what about that giveaway for a trip to Hawaii?
Your team needs to not only know what has been promised to your guests, but also ways that they can help keep those promises. Without this preparation, a negotiation about a vehicle purchase may never get off the ground.
Mistake #3: Leaning too much on digital to promote the event.
You, or your agency has developed a sharp, gripping, digital campaign. It’s well-designed and has a compelling call-to-action. So, work done, right?
Wrong. While digital marketing is gaining serious ground in terms of consumer engagement, there will always be a small percent of previous customers that your team will want to personally call and invite to the event. You probably already know who these customers are – and that they prefer to deal face-to-face.
Assign each member of the team to call at least ten previous customers a day to discuss the event. Be sure that you have a dynamic tracking system in place to avoid duplication of calls, and can accurately measure responses compared to your digital reach. Call scripts are useful for this portion of your preparation to keep your branding and messaging consistent and accurate.
Mistake #4: Lack of Vehicle Pricing and Presentation Consistency
You might be surprised how frequently the lines of communication can get crossed over event-specific vehicle pricing and presentation. This mistake goes hand-in-hand with failing to keep your promises.
Inform your sales team ahead of time precisely what they can (and can’t offer) in terms of pricing and incentives. Did your invitation to guests list “haggle-free negotiation” as a feature of the event? Then ensure your sales team honors that.
Present your plan during the Sales Event Meeting for precisely where vehicles should be positioned in and around the showroom, how they should be marked, and the rules of engagement for selling.
An informed sales person is an empowered sales person. If you’ve decided on a specific greeting, or that management will start every deal, be sure that your team knows that as well.
When the customer walks through the door, they have certain expectations and preconceptions about how this encounter will go down. By keeping true to the incentives and features you offered in the invitation, they will be more likely to relax and feel confident in their decision to shop at your store.
Mistake #5: Dropping the Ball on Follow-Up
Ah. The event is over and you are feeling pretty good about how things went. Time to focus on returning to a normal sales day, right?
Nope. Sure, you have to get back into the regular swing of things, but failing to follow-up with event attendees is to throw away up to 50% of the value of your event.
Assuming your registration process went smoothly, you have all the contact information you need to reach out to your attendees. The ones that purchased? Thank them for you choosing you, and let them know about all the service and support you can offer them in the coming years.
And for the ones that didn’t purchase? Find out why not. Was it the price? The vehicle? Their situation?
Assign your sales team ten attendees to contact in the days following the event. By continuing the conversation, showing that you care and you want the attendee to be satisfied with their experience, you open the door to a wealth of post-event conversions.
Remember, a successful sales event is never just a one-day project. If you approach it with more of a marathon than a sprint mentality, you are guaranteed to avoid these common mistakes and see a big win hit your bottom line.