Contact At Once! Blog

Will Your Next Sales Conversation Result in a Referral?

planting seeds

A chat or text conversation may be the first one-to-one connection you have with a consumer today, but it doesn’t have to be the last. With luck, courage and a bit of skill, you can grow one connection into many referrals.

Sales resources preach the value of such referrals—after all, 92% of people trust a recommendation over any other form of advertising, and it’s still an important factor in many auto purchases. But according to Texas Tech, while 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service, only 29% actually do. That low number may be due to the almost 70% of salespeople who don’t even ask for referrals. Don’t let that be you!

Perhaps the ideas below will inspire you to keep on asking (and nurturing) those invaluable referrals:

Lay the Groundwork

The road to a good referral starts during that first conversation, whether it happens in person or via chat or text. This is your first impression, so show your competence by answering questions quickly, finding out more about their needs/wants and offering insights. The Hardcore Closer blogger, Ryan Stewman (AKA “the referral king”), preps buyers by saying he not only wants to make them happy, he wants to make everyone they know happy.

Note: Even if your sales team doesn’t personally answer chats or texts, they can be ready to jump on any of those leads sent for follow-up. Don’t let their first experience with you feel like they’re on hold.

Time the Ask

Continue that great experience throughout the shopping and purchase process. Then watch carefully as they take the final steps. You want to ask for referrals “when they’re on cloud 9,” as Stewman calls it. Give them a great experience with a great ending, and they’ll want to tell the world.

Get a Personal Introduction

The best referrals aren’t leaving a name or two behind. They’re personal introductions to friends or family members, ideally in person but more likely via email or a “my buddy told me to text this number and talk to Rich about the T240” message. You don’t want to have to reach out the first time and be thought of as a telemarketer.

Be Unforgettable (in a Good Way)

You made the deal. They bought a car, they’re happy, they even encouraged a friend to check your dealership out. Perfect. Only it shouldn’t end there. Nurturing the relationship can keep you in customers’ minds and encourage a few more referrals down the line. So show that customer you didn’t forget about them when they drove off the lot:

  • Send a “thank you” text (after gaining permission, of course), following up with a handwritten note thanking them again and referring to something you spoke about during the day. Make it personal and prove they’re more than a number to you.
  • Give them a few weeks to get to know their new vehicle and text to ask how they’re enjoying it. Not only could it prompt them to mention you to a friend who’s now looking for a new car, it’s a good chance to remind them about the CSI survey (in case they forgot).
  • Send their car an anniversary card each year—or a birthday gift of a free oil change. And if they come in for service, treat them like alumni stars.

Give Them Extra Reasons to Refer

While you have to earn referrals through great customer care, you’re more likely to prompt people to act if there’s something in it for them. Your dealership could offer special perks to those whose referrals turn into paying customers, or even something for customers who spread the word on social media.

Note: If you’re a member of our advocate community, CONNECT Rewards, you’re aware of how important referrals are to us, too (you can earn thousands of points for them).

It’s Not a Guarantee; It’s One More Swing at the Plate

Even if you have the courage and confidence to ask, the referrals you receive may not be any more valuable than something pulled at random out of a list. That’s to be expected, and it doesn’t mean that your customer cheated you out of a quality referral. It just means their referral hasn’t panned out yet.

So focus on becoming their go-to resource for buying vehicles, filling their lips with great car-buying and service memories. The next time they hear someone is looking for a car, they’ll think of you and send one more sales opportunity your way. The more opportunities you have, the more swings at the plate you can make…and the better your chances at knocking one over the fence.

Written by: Angela Wijesinghe on March 27 2017