Visit AutoLoop at NADA Booth #4239 in New Orleans from Jan. 26-29!

Just a Gimmick? Or Are Giveaways Really Needed?

By Alexia Henson

Do you shy away from giveaways and win-a-prize type mailers? If you're like most dealers, you probably do. Giveaways are frowned upon for fear of attracting customers who are more interested in winning a prize than buying a car.

Customers come into your dealership daily. When asked if they need help, the normal response is: "No, I'm just looking." But guess what? Even though they are "just looking," those lookers turn into test drives and test drives turn into sales.

There's not much difference between those lookers and a customer that walks in with a mailer, proudly announcing their hope of being the big "grand prize winner." Gift-seekers definitely don't show up intending to buy a car, but a gift-seeker can turn into a looker. A looker can turn into a test drive. And a test drive can turn into a sale. So why are we so opposed to giving a potential customer a prize and our sales people as many potential customers as possible?

I talked about this in my previous blog. The whole idea behind doing a giveaway or any special event is to generate excitement and create that buying atmosphere. You create a buying atmosphere by drawing as many customers into the showroom at any given time. Enticing customers with a gift is the best way to ensure higher volumes of traffic. The more customers you see, the more test drives you do and the more cars you sell.

So, how can you ensure maximum results from your mailers when using giveaways to increase traffic?

First, train your staff on how to handle these customers. It's crucial that they greet every customer without prejudice, and ask the right qualifying questions. If a customer reveals themselves to be a gift-seeker who is only there to claim their prize, your staff should use their relationship-building skills. This is when the selling begins!

Here's an example of how to qualify a gift-seeking customer with a high-mileage vehicle:

"Hi, I’m John. Welcome to All Star Dealership. Are you here because you received our special offer in the mail?"

If the customer replies "Yes," but that they are simply there to collect their gift and/or see if they've won, have your salespeople use this word track (or something similar):

"We appreciate you coming in and of course, that's not problem. Let's take a look and see what you've won! What type of vehicle are you driving now? How many miles are on it? Do you know what you currently owe on it? So, let me ask you this: if we could get you into a newer vehicle, back under warranty and keep your payments close to what you currently pay, would you consider looking at a vehicle today? Besides, you're already here. You might as well take a few minutes and see if we can save you some money."

You'd be surprised at how many of these customers will say "Yes!" Sometimes, the problem isn't that they don't want a new car. Often, they simply believe they cannot afford one. By asking the qualifying questions, many times we narrow the reason down to objections that your salespeople already know how to handle.

Second, be sure to match any event promoted in your mailer with how you present it in your dealership—make it an event! Don’t forget that creating a sense of excitement and building customer enthusiasm around an actual event is the first step to a successful sale.

Next time you're planning a mailer, consider a giveaway. Teach your salespeople that the gift-seeker is an opportunity... not an objection. Remember that the more people you get in your showroom, the more exciting the atmosphere and the more opportunities to make a sale. And every time that happens, not only has the customer won something, you have, too.