I remember being told by my sales manager to follow up on my sold customers. I was reluctant and procrastinated for as long as I could. He said my future sales and income depended on it, but I was young and unfocused on long-term success. Wake up and smell the coffee for me literally meant smell the coffee.

By my first year in the business, I realized how the “good” senior sales people made $100,000 plus per year. It wasn't because they were better than me. It was because they had a great follow-up system with lots of repeat business. It's not rock science, do the math.

Something to think about

If you have an average job at $35,000 a year, what will your potential income be in six years? $ _____. Your calculation should be done with an average yearly raise, i.e.: 2 to 5%. Also determine your employment stability with this average company, i.e. secured, fair, unsecured.

Now what is your income potential in a car dealership?

Example only (these numbers are estimates):

1st year $35,000
2nd year $45,000
4th year $70,000
6th year $80,000 plus

What is your employment security with a dealer when you are selling 200 plus units per year? i.e. secured, fair, unsecured.

How do these huge yearly increases happen? Could it be MLM (multi-level marketing) or maybe a pyramid system? Or is it just good old-fashion customer follow up and ensuing repeat business?

The best position at a new car dealership is a sales person's. Why? Because if and when you have a client base and have been at the same dealership for three or more years, you are making as much or more money than some of the management, without the potential stress level. Look around at top dealership sales people. They have a great smile and a glide in their walk.

This sales meeting outlines what you can do with your sold customers, and how to increase your not-sold customer base.

Sold (existing) customers

There is an old saying: the easiest customer to sell to is one that you have already sold to. The sold-customer follow-up is the single most important aspect for long-term success of a sales representative and the dealership he or she works for.

When times are good almost all the sales representatives will produce consistently. The reps who follow-up will have a base of customers that refer people and purchase new vehicles themselves.

The advantage is that customer follow-up sales representatives have several customers per month who are exclusively theirs (above their allocation of the walk-in traffic everyone else receives). This added monthly customer base makes the difference between a good sales representative and exceptional ones, with the higher incomes to match.

When the economy slows down, sold-customer follow-up contact gives the sales person a base of “pre-sold” customers that are theirs. The other reps must rely on walk-in potential customers with no allegiances.

When phoning customers, only discuss whether they are enjoying their vehicle and if they have heard of a family member or co-worker that may be interested in a new or used vehicle.

The call is meant to be short and sincere. If the customer has just been sold, they should be contacted the next day, then the next month and then every three to six months thereafter. Have your own system of tracking existing customers birth dates, holiday, etc…. and “DO IT” religiously. Set up a mailing list. If you feel you cannot organize your follow-up program, get your husband or wife to organize a system for you at home. You could even use your significant other as a tax write off. Nice.

Not-sold (potential) customers:

The best and hottest prospects to buy a new vehicle are often the people you haven't sold to … yet. You have to work these leads daily. The key to any follow-up program is to keep on top of it; it must be a daily exercise. Always call the customer you saw today, the same day, even just to say thanks for visiting ABC Motors.

If the customers are active prospects, they will be put in the next calling day. Following up on your not-sold customers is like prospecting. These potential customers are your best leads. When you call, make sure you have something new to discuss with them. This call is to build more customer rapport and show them you're working hard for them.

Example call:
“Hello Steve, this is Darin calling from ABC Motors. I was wondering if another color on the vehicle you're interested in would be OK with you? Great! I would also like to know if we could get together tonight to discuss the new car further?”

This call tells if the customer is still in the market or where they are in the buying cycle.

For some salespeople, repeatedly calling a customer begins to have no value or effective. The following three outlines can be used to increase your not-sold customer sales:

Team sales follow-up programs

Program 1: Spouse, friend or partner

Make a list of 10 of the most recent customers you have seen at your dealership, obviously not sold customers. Include their names, phone numbers, dates they visited, vehicle they are interested in and any additional comments.

Give this list to your spouse, friend or partner and get them to make the follow-up calls. They can tell the customer that they are your assistant or customer follow-up person. This call can be made from your home.

Example call:
“Hello Mr. George, this is Darin from ABC Motors on behalf of David Skrobot. I'm calling to see if everything was OK with your visit to the dealership, and if David was helpful?”

Get them to get as much information from the customer as possible, and then you make the next call.

Program 2: Co-worker

Same as Program 1 but get a co-worker to make the calls for you and you can make calls for them. Pay each other a sales follow spiff i.e. $20, dinner, a round of golf, etc.

Example call:
“Hello Mr. George, this is Darin calling from ABC Motors on behalf of Bryan Goudy. I'm calling to see if everything was OK with your visit to the dealership, and if Darin was helpful?”

Then you make the next call and set an appointment.

Program 3: Sales manager

Same as program 1 and 2 but ask your manager to make the follow-up calls for you. The benefit to your sales manager will be increased sales for the entire dealership. Part of your manager's job is to help you sell more vehicles. Managers want to help — so ask.

Example call:
“I'm calling to see if everything was OK with your visit to the dealership, and if Darin was helpful? Great! I would like to know if there is anything I could do to further assist you?”

Get an appointment or even close the sales over the phone.

Your goal to any of the three programs is to get the customer back to the dealership. If you cannot get them back, try and close the sale over the phone.

Not-sold customer sales follow-up increases your sales. Seventy percent of people will buy within three days of visiting your dealership.

Darin's wrap-up

If you want to stay in the car business and see a six-figure income, work on repeat business and sales follow-up. If you have been in the business for more than 10 years, and are not earning that level, you can start today. The past does not equal the future. Have fun and keep your eye on the ball.

Darin B. George is founder of the Automotive Sales College which trains people for careers in selling cars. He can be reached at 1-888-681-7355.