Monday, March 21, 2011


OK, the title of this story is intentionally cheesy, but the rest of it is real.  I mystery shopped some Dallas Region Ford-Lincoln eCommerce Elite (Top 100 stores in USA for new Ford-Lincoln Internet sales) stores recently and was surprised to discover that their response processes are similar.  This piqued my curiosity, so I called my DMC teammate in southern California to ask him how the  #1 new Ford Internet sales store in the country does things.  Turns out they work much the same as the top Dallas Region stores do. So what is the #1 Internet new car sales secret of the eCommerce elite 100 stores that I shopped?  They call.  And call.  And call.  And call.  That’s pretty much it.  I must admit, by the time a pleasant, friendly salesperson leaves four voice messages for my mystery shopper I have to answer or return the call, if for no other reason than I feel guilty ignoring them.  You can’t shut four phone messages out of your mind and pretend they never happened.  (Especially if they are compressed into a 4 or 5 day period).  I also now understand something a presenter said at a recent DDC: “Internet shoppers want to be courted.”  He was right.  When a salesperson is tenacious in his/her attempts to get through to my mystery shopper it earns my respect.  When I was an Internet salesman I hated leaving repeated voice messages.  One, maybe two calls and I was done.  I see now that I was also wrong.  Will blowing up a customer’s phone still be in style ten years from now?  It’s hard to say; though I doubt it.  But for today, while we are in the transition phase, it appears we have to cover our bases and employ all mediums, new and traditional.  Just the other day our program head in Dearborn told me recent studies say it takes four phone calls to get through to most prospects.  So there ya go.  The simple secret to Internet new car sales success: email + call + email + call + email + call. (Let's save the text messaging discussion for another day).

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is a true story told to me in 1996 BC (Before Computers) by sales trainer extraordinaire Diana Ball Cooksey.

Diana was a busy working professional and single parent with little time for projects outside her day to day work and home responsibilities. But she needed to buy some health insurance. So she left voice messages after hours (this is the days before PCs, remember) with three agencies, requesting an estimate/quote and providing her name, the ages of family members she wanted to insure, her insurance purchase goals and explaining that she had little or no time to devote to insurance shopping during the work day.

Agent 1 called the next day during business hours with a message to call him back during business hours.

Agent 2 called the next day during business hours with a message to call him back anytime.

Agent 3 called the next day during business hours and in his message gave her some estimates and a deadline after which these numbers would have to be re-figured.

Diana was busy and did not return the agents calls.

Agent 1 never called again.

Agent 2 called back a few days later during business hours with a message to call him back anytime.

Agent 3 called twice that week with messages offering to meet Diana after hours and/or at her home, if necessary, so she could purchase before the rates deadline.

Diana was busy and did not return the agents calls.

Agent 2 did not call again.

Agent 3 faxed a proposal plus an application and a note offering three times he was available to meet (during or after business hours) with Diana to close the deal before the rates deadline.

Now armed with a proposal/quote from Agent 3 Diana called Agent 2 and asked for a quote for the same type policy. Agent 2 replied the next day that he would need to go over the numbers with her in person in his office and when would she like to come in?

Can you figure out the rest? A few days later Agent 3 was sitting in Diana’s office, after 5pm, selling her the policy.

Oh, and a couple weeks later Agent 2 called to ask if she was still in the market.

Are we doing everything possible to make it easy for people to buy from us? Or are we Agent 1 and Agent 2?


I think I just received the best FQR (First Quality Response) email my mystery shoppers have ever seen. My shoppers always select a specific vehicle from the dealers’ inventory, click on the “Get Your Free Internet Price Quote” button and write a little something in the “Comments” box. In the examples below the shopper was inquiring about a specific 2010 F-150 and under “Comments” wrote “2010 incentives?” That’s it.

Most FQRs I receive read like this actual reply:

I received your request for information on a 2010 Ford F-150. I tried to reach you by phone, so I could get a little more information from you and what we are trying to do. I can be reached by email or phone to better assist you at ....

This doesn’t really provide anything at all that the shopper requested, does it?

Now, here is the FQR I received from another dealer yesterday. And notice that it is not a template! Wow.

Thank you for your inquiry. My name is XXXXXXX, I'm the internet sales manager for XXXXX. I would like to be your sales person and help you from point A to Z with your purchase.

I see that you’re in the market for a new 2010 F150 and would like to know about current incentives. The rebates right now are very high on the remaining 2010's available. The 2011's will be out in December or January so now is the best time to get the best deal on a 2010. The rebates depend on what cab size and series you’re interested in.

The super cab 4x2 STX F150 that you inquired about is available and it's window sticker is pasted below my contact info. This truck has $XXXX in total rebates available and an additional $XXXX rebate if you trade in a 1995 or newer vehicle making it $XXXX. However I would provide you with more discounts then this even. The supercab STX below MSRP's at $XXXXX but your sale price after all rebates (including financing with Ford and the additional trade-in rebate) would be $XXXXX!! This is really cutting to the chase and I can only offer this until the end of the month because the extra $XXXX trade-in rebate will go away on the 2nd of November.

However If you would be interested in a crewcab XLT then there is a total of $XXXX in rebates plus the trade-in rebate making the total $XXXX before my discounts….

As a potential buyer I now feel totally informed, educated and illuminated. This guy just removed all the mystery and obfuscation surrounding pricing and incentives. I trust him, and I am ready to put myself into his hands. Now, whose phone call am I going to return? His, or the guy in the 1st example above who gave me no information up front?

POSTSCRIPT: You know what’s sad about the mystery shop above? The fantastic 1st Quality Response email above is all I ever got from that salesperson. No more emails, no phone calls or text messages at all.


How effective are your email templates? How are they received and perceived by the general public? It’s very hard to know the answer to these questions when you are in the business – we are just too close to the material. However, only yesterday I discovered an invaluable (and free) resource right under my nose – my wife! Unlike me, she is not in the car business. She does not read car magazines. She is only interested in cars for their ability to get her from point A to B, for their safety and their reliability. When her lease is up and it’s time to pick out another car she wants that to be as quick and effortless as possible. Sounds like an average customer, right? I was printing some recent mystery shop results in her office and she began to read them. Some letters she liked. Some she didn’t. And some puzzled her - she couldn’t figure out what they were trying to say! I realized then that, because she is not in the business, all of her reactions were valuable. (Favorite comment: “What is this? No woman would read this.” The email had the car’s Ford window sticker copied and pasted into the center of it). But don't listen to my wife; if you have a spouse, or cousin or friend or whatever, male or female, who is not in the car business (and is not impassioned about cars) ask them to mystery shop you and give you their subjective impressions. It beats paying money for an outside focus group. And you might be surprised by the results.


We’ve all seen (and sometimes used) phone scripts. A good call script helps you maintain and advance the sales momentum - and does it by asking the targeted questions that get the answers that help you keep your prospect on the critical path to closing. Why don’t we employ the same logic with our email templates?

The F/U emails sent to my mystery shoppers usually say “If you have any questions or concerns I am here to help” or “Our goal at ABC Motors is to make lifelong customers” or “We want to provide you with a truly ‘hassle-free’ purchase experience” or something similar, which is all fine and good, but do these messages advance the sales momentum? I think not.

However, there is a challenge; email and phone are different media. Most e-prospects are unresponsive; how can we ask the right questions and keep them on the critical path when there is no interaction?

Consider this: there are 3 key elements to the sale: 1). The vehicle they want to buy, 2). The vehicle they want to trade-in, and 3). The money they will acquire to pay for it. Isn’t it safe to think that the prospect is interested in at least one of these three things? So why not lead him/her down the critical path by offering opportunities - opportunities to get answers and information to these critical components of the sale?

EXAMPLE: “Do you have a trade-in? Want to know what it is worth today? A free, no obligation appraisal at our store takes only minutes.” Or maybe “Would you like to know in advance what kind of financing you can get at ABC Ford? Just click this link, fill-out the credit app and we’ll get right back to you with answers” etc. etc. etc.

Write your F/U emails so that they advance the sales momentum – you can do it by giving the prospect value in each email - value in the form of opportunity.


Love ‘em or not, templates are a necessity in this business. Good ones are rare, and bad ones can be damage inducing. What’s the secret to creating effective templates? There isn’t one. But if you want to challenge your brain, try this experiment: pretend that every eLead you receive has no phone number. You are now denied the opportunity to get ‘em on the phone and get ‘em in. You must make your impact via images and the written word. Can it be done? What do you say in your emails? And how do you insure that they cut through the clutter and noise? Consider this:, L.L. Bean, Home Depot and the hundreds of other companies who email you regularly have to impact you with email only – they can’t call all 1,000,000 people on their prospects list. They send template-based emails that cause people to take a course of action. Why can’t we?


Creating good content requires a wee bit of talent for expressing thought and personality through images and the written word. And, in truth, there are no rules for creating good content, only principles. Good email content is composed of equal parts communication and salesmanship skills, mixed with an eye for graphic design, and assembled with an awareness that “the media is the message.”

COMMUNICATION – The “style” of the email goes a long way toward pushing the message across. For example, technology (email, chat, text) has caused our communications today to be increasingly informal, personal and brief. So, whereas ten years ago formal-sounding business letters were the accepted response to customer inquiries, today short, informal email or text messages do the job nicely.

SALESMANSHIP – Every good floor salesperson working a customer knows that it is his/her job to direct and maintain the sales momentum. (The only person who can stop the sales momentum is the customer, right?) Similarly, our email follow-up letters should be designed to continually advance the sales momentum.

DESIGN – A clean layout will also go a long way toward getting your message across. Fonts and spacings that are easy on the eyes, and tasteful graphics that push the brand message are simple design elements that will give your emails a professional appearance.

MEDIA – People today are very media literate; if you are sending them an email, for example, they have expectations as to how an email should look and behave. Being aware of how people perceive media messages enables you to control your message so that it scores effectively with its intended audience.


If you don't like your curent process feel free to try this one. This all-purpose 180 Day example assumes that the dealership has 10 templates to use in addition to the Auto-Response template and Day 1 First Quality Response templates (if any).

Day 1 – Autoresponse Short and to the point: “I got your inquiry, I’m on the case, I’ll be back soon with your info.” That’s it.

Day 1 – FQR (First Quality Response) template-based. Personalize it!  (Can be based upon a templates appropriate to the four types of leads: New Car General Inquiry, New Car VIN-Specific, Used Car Inquiry or Credit App First inquiry).
Day 1 – Call attempt (if phone # provided) acknowledging receipt & reply; if no answer leave a brief V/M
Day 1 – Text message (if cell # provided) acknowledging receipt & reply – 140 characters max.

Day 2 – 2nd Quality Response Email – template # 2.
Day 2 – Call attempt (if phone # provided) “Did you get yesterday’s reply?” if no answer leave a V/M
Day 2 – Text message (if cell # provided) “Did you get yesterday’s reply?” – 140 characters

Day 3 – 3rd Quality Response Email – template # 3.
Day 3 – Call attempt or text msg (if phone # provided). If no answer leave a v/m

Day 4 – 4th Quality Response Email – template # 4.

Day 5 – Call attempt (if phone # provided). If no answer leave a v/m.


Day 6 - Email – template # 5
Day 8 - Email – template # 6
Day 10 – Email – template # 7
Day 12 – Email – template # 8
Day 15 – Email – template # 9
Day 18 – Email – template # 10
Day 21 – begin to repeat email templates, starting with #3
Day 25 – Email – template # 4
Day 30 – Email – template # 5
Day 40 – Email – template # 6
Day 50 – Email – template # 7
Day 60 – Email – template # 8
Day 70 – Email – template # 9
Day 80 – Email – template # 10
Day 90 – Email – template # 3
Day 100 – Email – template # 4
Day 110 – Email – template # 5
Day 120 ­– Email – template # 6
Day 130 – Email – template # 7
Day 140 – Email – template # 8
Day 150 – Email – template # 9
Day 160 – Email – template # 10
Day 170 – Email – template # 3
Day 180 – Email – template # 4

BULK EMAILS - 5th day of each month send targeted email – and/or - 20th day of each month send targeted email


The more contact attempts you make, the more cars you’ll sell. Everyone knows this is true. Therefore, logic says you want a follow-up process that has your salespeople calling and emailing every prospect in their database every day. However, this is impossible; if a salesperson is receiving, say, 75 fresh eLeads each month, and a hypothetical 10% of them buy each month, then it takes only 90 days for that salesperson to have 200+ working leads in the CRM. Nobody can call and write 200 people every day. It gives them no time to sell.

About 1/3 of your buyers are going to do so within 5 – 10 days of submitting their lead. Therefore you want your salespeople free to devote lots of personal attention to fresh prospects. However, a majority (60% - 70%) of your buyers won’t come around until well after 5 days – and as many as 25% of the buyers won’t do so well after 30 days. We can’t devote the same amount of attention to these late-comers as we must to the hot fresh prospects – but we certainly don’t want to ignore them, either.

The practical solution is to write a Process that tasks salespeople with devoting personal attention to prospect leads who have been in the CRM from 1 - 5 (+/-) days while automating (as much as is possible) an email follow-up schedule that puts your name and face in front of all of the unsold/uncontacted prospects who have been in your CRM for 6 days or longer. In other words, devote lots of personal attention to those folks who are new to your database, but rely upon your CRM to automate (as much as possible) the long term follow-up that your salespeople cannot effectively do.


A lot of dealers have difficulty understanding how to prepare and deliver a good 1st Quality Response (FQR) email. You can’t just wing it – you’ve got to have a defined procedure in place. If you don’t have a defined procedure at your store feel free to borrow this one. We broke it down into 5 easy steps below. Do all 5 with every lead that comes in (in combination with phone calls/attempts) and you will sell more cars. We’re serious.

    1. Respond Quickly. Responding to a fresh lead via email in less than one hour greatly multiplies your chances of a reply. Internet shoppers want info NOW, not 5 hours from now. If an hour or two has passed and they haven’t heard from you they move on – and you are toast. He who responds fastest wins.

    2. Read the Lead. With few exceptions (Autotrader T.I.M., Sam’s Club program, USAA and/or other special purchase programs) all eLeads fall into one of 4 categories.* Take the time to read each lead, determine which of the 4 categories it falls into, then send the appropriate response. Don’t send the same response to all leads; one size does not fit all.

    3. Fill-In the Blanks. If you are using a template be sure the correct sections have been filled-in and any non-applicable wording removed before sending the email. 1st Quality Response templates usually have sections that must be completed by the salesperson before sending. Take the extra couple of minutes and tailor the template to each customer’s request.

    4. Personalize The Email. We can’t stress this enough; your efforts will fall flat if the prospect feels that he has received a form letter 1st response. (Day 1 prospects are looking for a relationship 1st, and a car 2nd. Form letters do not create relationships). Find some way to add a personal line or two to the email, even if the lines are unrelated to the car deal. Say something/anything to let the prospect know that a real person has taken the time to read his inquiry and is replying with a personal touch.

    5. Give A Price. If you withhold info the prospect wants unless he agrees to come in he won’t come in. But, there is good news: 80%+/- of new car leads are non-VIN specific, therefore, we only need to give them price ranges for their vehicle of choice. You can’t get in trouble doing that. Also, when a prospect asks our price on a specific VIN he is often just trying to understand how we price the cars. (Most people do not end up buying the car they 1st requested a quote on anyway). And, of course, price is a compelling factor for the used car buyer. So never be afraid to send a quote via email.

*4 types of eLeads: 1). New Car General Inquiry, 2). New Car VIN-Specific Inquiry, 3). Used Car VIN-Specific Inquiry and 4). Credit App First.


The steps to success are few – and they are not that hard. Really. You just have to do them – everytime.

Paste the list below on your computer monitor and refer to it every day. If you consistently complete all six items below you will sell more cars. Simple as that.

1). LRT (lead response time) of <1 hour. Respond quickly to every elead.

2) LRR (lead response rate) of 90%+ Reply to 90%+ of the leads you receive.

3). Follow-up multiple times, using every media available to you: email, phone, and text message.

4). Consistently send follow-up emails to non-responsive prospects; once every week or two – for at least 180 days.

5). Send a targeted bulk email to all prospects a minimum 1 time each month. Do not underestimate the importance of this one.

6). Review your portal and other e-business metrics reports at least once each month – you can’t know where you’re going if you're not measuring.

To paraphrase an old saying, “Success in Internet sales is simple – but not easy.” All the steps you need for success are listed above. Doing them consistently is the hard part.


For more than 100 years people have been witnessing news and entertainment on movie screens, and for over 50 years now Americans have had television screens in their homes. Then, in just the past 10 -15 years, the computer monitor has become ubiquitous. And with the recent release of high quality flat screen monitors an explosion of text and images has taken place; today you can’t go into a bar, bus terminal, grocery store, airport, classroom, hotel lobby, doctor’s office, restaurant, bedroom, office or dealership lobby without encountering a friggin’ flat screen monitor! The result of this 24/7 bombardment of electronic text and images is this: people today are exposed to so much high visual quality electronic media that they now expect professional looking content on their screens. Any screen. To successfully communicate with today's online car shoppers we must accept that, like it or not, once you put text and/or images onto a screen you are in the professional electronic communications business. And your content had better be of professional quality or the audience is going to think you are a loser. Or worse yet, a car salesman.


What percentage of your leads also send their info to your competitors? Are you sure about that? Some dealers I’ve met say “All of them!” Most have no idea. You can get this number every month from your Lead Details Report. In the Dallas region, most dealers get shotgunned by approx 15% - 30% of their e-prospects. That's it. What does that say? I think it means that most people just want to find one dealer with whom they can establish a trusting relationship. Then they can stop dealer shopping. So they send their info to one dealer, giving him the opportunity to delight them - or disappoint them. This is great - if you delight them, they are yours for life. However, if you disappoint them, you are toast. They move on immediately, and you have very little chance of recapturing them.


I find that most dealers are confused about this. Some say that Internet shoppers all buy within 3 days, others say they take 2 weeks to buy, another says they take 30 days to buy, or whatever. Every person I ask has a unique opinion and not many get it right.

Using Ford OEM new car leads data from, we can piece together an accurate "Days To The Sale" analysis for every store. A typical 2010 Dallas Region store results might look like this:

    34% sales (sold by dealer or lost to rival dealer) = Day 1 – 5
    25% sales (sold by dealer or lost to rival dealer) = Day 6 – 10
    16% sales (sold by dealer or lost to rival dealer) = Day 11 - 30
    25% sales (sold by dealer or lost to rival dealer) = >Day 30
    Average day to buy for those >30 days: Day 70.

This is valuable data. For example; most dealerships get their majority share of the Day 1 – 5 sales, and that makes sense. These are the people with urgency and are, therefore, the low hanging fruit. But starting Day 6 many dealerships start losing majority share to other Ford dealers - and usually the farther out we track it (Day 30 and beyond), the more the market share drops. This is a clear indicator that the store being analyzed does not have a viable long-term follow-up process for eLeads. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be fixed.

In the example above 66% of the buyers did so after Day 5. And a full 25% did so after Day 30. Don’t we all want our fair share of this additional 66%? We can get it - all it takes is a long term follow-up process and somebody willing to insure that the process is worked.


All prospects, when they first encounter you, are in one of two stages: 1). Information Gathering, or, 2). Information Sorting.

The Gatherers are in the early shopping stages and are likely not yet committed to a specific vehicle brand or model. The Sorters are farther along – they now have a short list and are ready to go to the next level.

I believe showroom closing rates today are so high because people can do the majority of their information gathering without having to set foot in a dealership. Therefore, when they walk in the doors to your store a great proportion of ups are already in the Information Sorting stage. This was not possible in the days before the internet. (Think about it, when's the last time you had a person walk into your showroom and say "I just came by to pick up a brochure"?)

However, prospects can’t get everything they need from or the OEM site; matters of inventory and local incentives (to name but two) have to be discussed with a local dealer. And this is where you come in.

With showroom closing rates averaging 35% - 50%, but Internet closing rates averaging 10% - 15%, I have to believe that a lot of our leads come from people who are still in the Information Gathering stage. These people can be weeks away from becoming Sorters.

Gatherers are often immune to hard selling offers - instead, they are seeking 1) information/education, and 2) a dealer with whom they can establish a trusting relationship.


Is an eLead just a phone up that sent you an email instead of calling? I’ve met a lot of dealerships that say “Yes.” And they are right. And then again, they’re wrong. When prospects send their personal contact info to a store or other business they are stating their case and asking for a response. In most instances the prospect is sending you one of the following two messages:

- 1). I am using the Internet to speed things up by giving you what you need to know about me in advance via email. Please read it over, utilize what I have given you, and respond via most appropriate method with the info I requested.

- 2). I am using the Internet because either I do not have time to talk on the phone or do not yet want to get close to you and talk on the phone. Please just respond as best you can via email with the info I requested.

The problem is, when we receive the eLead we often do not know which category it fits into. If it is scenario # 1, then, yes, it’s possible that this prospect is a phone up who sent an email first instead of calling. If it is scenario # 2, then, no, it is NOT a phone up who sent an email first instead of calling. But if we don’t know which category the prospect falls into we have to cover our bases and respond to both scenarios at the same time.

Therefore, our 1st response the majority of the time must be to reply using all available media: 1) Email, 2) Phone, and, if possible, 3) Text Message.


With few exceptions (Autotrader T.I.M., Sam’s Club program, USAA and/or other special programs) all of your incoming new car eLeads fall into one of 4 categories:

- 1). New Car, General Inquiry (Provides name, contact info, name of make and model vehicle desired - and little else. I call this a"'WTF?" lead)

- 2). New Car VIN-Specific Inquiry (Here is my contact info. What’s your price on this particular car?)

- 3). Used Car (Here is my contact info. Is this car still available? and/or What’s your price on this car?), and

- 4). Credit App First. (The prospect begins everything by submitting a credit app).

Each lead type requires its own unique 1st response. Failure to send the correct response can result in a disgusted prospect. Example: the guy who sends you a New Car VIN-Specific Inquiry might be offended if your 1st reply is “I need more information before I can help you. Please call me at….” He already gave you his contact info and told you the VIN or stock number of the specific car he desires. Therefore, your reply could be interpreted as a ploy to get him on the phone without providing any information upfront. There’s a strong chance he has already branded you as an “old school” car salesman who just wants to get him into the store and hose him. If so, you will never, ever hear from this guy again.


In Internet time, a minute seems like an hour and a few seconds wait time is unbearable. (Think about it; how long do you allow the little hourglass to spin before you give up in disgust and move on to something else?). Although the Internet prospect may not respond quickly to you (if at all) he/she nonetheless expects you to respond at lightning speed. This means that a slow response is only slightly better than no response at all. All the studies in this area conclude that he who responds fastest has the overwhelming advantage toward getting the sale. That lead that came in this morning, around 5 hours ago? The one you have not yet responded to? They started shopping your competition 4 hours ago.


Many dealerships assume that, since they have a CRM, they now also have good Process and Content. Not true! While all commercial CRM software systems come out of the box with some semblance of Process and Content included, it’s unlikely you want to use it. Good Process and Content are the responsibility of the dealer. Surprise!


I had two dealer visits this week in which we came face to face with the fact that marketing and selling new cars via the Internet is much harder than doing same with used cars. Much harder. The key differences are fairly obvious: 1). A used car is a one-of-a-kind item and must be purchased today before it’s gone – vs - there's no rush on a new car; buyers can always locate another one if necessary. 2). Thanks to & (and others) there is an existing online used car marketplace where you can offer your wares – vs - there’s no successful equivalent for new cars; you have to market and merchandise them yourself via your websites, banner ads, paid search campaigns, etc. If you have the used car or truck they want, at a price they like, and can make it happen today they will probably buy. Slam dunk. However, there is no equally simple formula for success on the new vehicle side; not only is there no slam dunk, there isn’t even a playbook. Which means there is tremendous upside yet in Internet new car sales; nobody has figured it out! Do you hear that sound? It’s opportunity knocking.


If you write out the core formula for Internet car sales it looks like this:


Yep, that simple. When broken down into its most elementary ingredients Internet-based retail automobile sales turns out to have just 2 primary components.

Listed in order of importance they are: 1). Process, then 2). Content.

PROCESS: As used here the word Process means a logical, timeline-based prospect follow-up system that cues the salesperson to which prospects need a follow-up call or email each day and what message needs to be delivered to each.

Some of you reading this might remember back to the day when we tracked our prospects on 4 X 5 index cards kept in a small box on our desk. We separated the cards with tabbed dividers that read “Monday” “Tuesday” “Wednesday” (etc.) or maybe “1” “2” “3” (days of the month, etc.). Consistent, high achieving salespeople relied upon this card system to organize their prospects so they would know (you guessed it) who needed a follow-up call each day and what message needed to be delivered to each.

Today, your CRM (Salespoint, VinSolutions, ADP, Reynolds & Reynolds CM, Dealersocket, and many, many others) takes the place of the index cards and box. It does everything the cards did and so much more. If set-up correctly, your CRM successfully mates a logical, prospect follow-up Process (like the index cards and tabbed dividers used to provide) with email (and sometimes phone) scripts (i.e. Content) you can employ when making the follow-up attempts. Plus, the CRM maintains prospect activity histories, enables you to send bulk email blasts to the database, and allows us to run reports that we couldn’t even dream of before technology arrived. But the tool is not the Process; the CRM is the sophisticated software system that manages your Process for you. The Process itself is something that you must provide.

The trick to Process is that it must be followed daily; a Process that is not enforced is no Process at all. There are no “days off” from Process.

CONTENT: This is the information you are giving to your prospects via email and/or phone. Some or all of your email replies might be hand typed and personalized. Others, for the sake of timeliness and efficiency, might be “canned” (pre-written) email messages commonly called Templates. If your prospect responds to your initial replies you may have no use for templates content at all. But if the prospect is non-responsive (and the majority are), templates will allow you to stay in front of him/her without having to hand type a personal letter every single time.

Note that Process trumps Content: you can have a good Process and bad Content and still sell cars. But if you have good Content but no Process you will have mediocre results at best.