You May Never Need Another Lead Generating Source
by Gary Brophy, President/CEO, SendMeAFriend LLC
35 years. It’s a long time to be a part of the most incredible industry on the face of the earth,
the automotive business. From the marketing side, right out of college, to a General Manager,
Managing Partner and eventually a dealer, I’ve witnessed some incredible “changes” within the
automotive world. As an example, I’ve been amazed at the amount of money dealers invest in lead
generating services so they can compete with three or four other dealers for the same customers.
More times than not, they give away a vehicle just to get another sale. I understand dealers
believe it might be a necessity to compete, but what about the customer they just delivered.
The New York Times recently published an article stating research indicated
75% of any consummated sale was the direct result of a referral
from an individual or business who had done business with the company.
Has that changed?
Of course, with the continued development of social media and the internet it has become easier for a
customer to influence – good or bad – several hundred “friends” with the click of a button!
an additional 5-10
sales a year if you
take care of them
So the question is, why aren’t car dealers, as a whole, cultivating those owner body relationships
to be able to earn the right to ask for a referral on an ongoing basis? Not just at time of
delivery (which statistically is not the best time to ask) but for as long as they own the vehicle.
I’m not saying that dealers don’t because “every” dealer we talk to about
SendMeAFriend proudly states they have a referral program in
place. If we expand on the conversation and ask how many referrals a month they are selling, a
significant percentage cannot tell us – and for the most part it’s nearly impossible for them to
track referrals internally.
If a month after the customer takes delivery the referrer is calling and asking about their
referral check, do you think that customer will send you another referral?
Believe it or not, you have to earn the right to ask for a referral. There’s a lot going on inside
the consumers mind when they finally make the decision to buy their next vehicle from you. And
there’s a lot going on in ensuring you have all the proper documentation in place to make an
efficient delivery. So that relationship between your sales organization and the individual is
critical. They could have purchased something similar from any number of dealers within a 100 mile
radius. They chose you. If you convince them their trust in you is merited you will have the
beginning of an individual that will send you everyone they know. Understanding this one consumer
could generate an additional 5-10 sales a year if you take care of them properly.
When do you ask for their first referral? I grew up being taught by my mentors to ask for the
referrals at the time of delivery. Of course, at the time the customer decides to purchase they
have a lot on their mind – and at time of delivery the salesperson also has many details to
coordinate. So many emotions! Statistically, based on the 500
dealers and the 1,000,000 “referrers” we have on SendMeAFriend, this might
not be the most opportune time after all. Now, it doesn’t hurt for your salespeople to ask and
certainly should be part of your follow up script once the customer gets the vehicle home and their
neighbors have seen it!
The key is to keep that customer in “your” fold. You can accomplish this
by having an iron clad process in place to identify the referral before they arrive at your dealership.
Keep the individual who sent you the referral in the “loop” during the process. Once the customer is
closed, let the referring customer know about it and make sure you get them paid promptly.
Make it an event! Let everyone know, through your web site and social
media outlets about the customer earning money for sending a customer. Take a photo and post it.
Most importantly, ask this referrer for another referral as soon as they get their check. There is
no better time. And don’t forget to let the new custom- er taking delivery know about your referral
program. I can assure you they will not be concerned their friend just made some money for referring
Finally, keep the list of everyone that sends you a referral and market to them. Use the phone. Call
them. Keep them engaged as a referrer. You may not need another lead generating provider!