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Hand-raiser leads and why I love them.

This is my first blog post here, please don't hate me too much for my rambling or poor writing skills.

Recently a woman name Danielle Anderson posed a question about handling hand raiser leads from Chrysler.  I've never worked with Chrysler, but I assume they are the same as the GM "gift grabber" leads that I've been dealing with for years.  I love them, I sell them, and I create a lot of additional sales from them.  I mostly loved them because everyone else hated them, it was a great opportunity for me to reach people the other sales people would ignore.  

The problem with most when they receive a lead like this is that they instantly assume they won't sell them, they only wanted the gift and gave their info as a requirement, not because there is any interest in purchasing a new car. You have to change the way you think about these leads. These are buyers! Maybe not now, but they will eventually need a new vehicle and the hand raiser just gave you the opportunity to be that guy or gal.  If you are any kind of sales professional, you realize the importance of building a customer base. Yes, you have to sell cars today, but you also have to sell them next month, the month after, and so on.  This is your chance.

A few years back I was working as an SFE Facilitator in GM stores and had one small Buick GMC store with a particularly strong interest in hand raisers as it seemed to be the majority of the leads they were getting at the time. My little brother (one of the best sales people I know) also happened to be a new sales associate there and was eager to do whatever he could to build a book of business.  So we sat down one evening and started putting pen to paper and below is what we came up with and some of our results after 1 year of implementation. 

First you must realize that every single customer is one of three sources of income for a dealership:

1. A car sale

2. A referral

3. A fixed ops opportunity.

You must be willing to create the income for the store regardless of the department you work in (creating a service customer creates a sales customer).

Second, the people behind almost every hand raiser lead have a few things in common. They all own/drive vehicles that will require maintenance and eventual replacement. They also all have family and friends that own vehicles that will require maintenance and eventual replacement.  

Upon realizing this, we went to work with the service manager to create a heavily discounted service coupon (we found $17.95 oil changes worked the best) and while we always asked if there was interest in purchasing a new vehicle right now, we always offered the coupon to them as an additional gift for attending whatever event the lead came from.  We asked them a few questions like how many miles a month they drive, how often to they prefer to change their oil, and when would be a convenient time for them to come by the store to pick up their coupon and schedule that discounted oil change. 

54% of those leads came by to claim their coupon. Guess what we did while they were there? We tried to sell them a car. It didn't work very often, but we set a lot of service appointments and put the customer into a long term "service-to-sale" follow up process. 

They were logged in the CRM as an appointment like we would any sales appointment but we did our confirmation calls/emails a week before.  Our show rate was 73%.  While the customer was in the waiting lounge, the sales associate sat with them, built rapport, and started asking for referrals. Based on the info from our first conversation about oil change intervals we asked if we could schedule the next oil change for them so they didn't even have to think about it.  Thank you cards were sent and the process started all over. 

Next visit, same thing, confirm, meet in service lane, build more rapport, ask for more referrals, set the next appointment, and send a thank you card. 

This goes on and on for as long as it takes, but you have done a few things here. You have helped your dealership by generating a new service customer and helped yourself by being the associate that is there to make car ownership easy, even if you didn't buy your car from us.  

In one years time we sold 36 hand raisers, generated 27 referrals, and had 136 new customers visit our service department. Sadly I failed to track the service income based on up-sells, but I'm confident that the SM was pleased with my brother's service driven approach to selling these folks.

I feel as I've written enough here, but can talk about some of the scripts we used on the phone and email if you'd like. 

There are so many more things you could do to improve on this based on how your store prospects service customers, but I'd love to hear your ideas about hand raisers and how you handle them. 

Thanks for reading.

J.G.

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Comment by Jeffery Sterns on September 4, 2014 at 2:17pm

Awesome post, regardless of which number it is. It will make a few read your next one though!

As a desk manager, GSM and GM....I always appreciated someone staying in touch with a prospect (bought elsewhere, whatever) forever. A motto I liked was "a great salesperson doesn't sell everyone he/she meets. But they do sell everybody eventually"

I just always thought that it was a waste of marketing or reputation....whatever made them drive in, call or email....if they didn't get love forever. 

Comment by Justin Grubb on September 4, 2014 at 9:22am

Thanks guys!  Brian, Hand Raisers are typically the bane of a sale associate's existence.  Most of them hate them and won't give them the time of day. But I had a lot of luck finding the younger "green" associates with a desire to build a career out of the car business and with hand raisers, they are able to start building a client base that will provide results both short and long term. 

Thanks Ralph and Adam!  I think incorporating a "We want to buy your car" into the process would be a great idea.  Free appraisal at the time of their oil change or what have you. Typically on their second visit, I would try to schedule their appointment close to lunch time and then offer to let them take a like vehicle (only newer) to lunch while their car was being serviced. 

Comment by Michael Smith on September 4, 2014 at 5:37am

We work them for referrals with our referral program, our service program and vehicle purchase program with some success.

Comment by Adam Brumfield on September 3, 2014 at 8:27pm

Thanks for sharing Justin! This is an interesting approach to "handraiser" leads. Would love to see how others are marketing to these leads as well. This definitely makes me want to open up the brainstorm and communication with our management group to sell if we are missing out on opportunities.

Has anyone tried incorporating a "We want to buy your car / Trade-In Your Old Car" approach to these leads? We've very recently started asking our customers to bring their car in for a no obligation trade in appraisal and so far it seems to help keep the line of communication open with the customer.

Comment by Michael Smith on September 3, 2014 at 1:51pm

Brian for GM stores Hand Raisers are information gathered at sporting events, street festivals etc...  Not a real high closing lead source in the short term but in the long term everyone needs a car.  I really like the idea he had for service tie ins to get the customers in the door.

Comment by Brian Bennington on September 3, 2014 at 1:24pm

Congratulations Justin. A commendable first post.  However, I wasn't familiar with "Hand Raiser leads" and a more thorough explanation of exactly what they are, or at least how you interpret the term, would have been a nice beginning.  I did Goggle it and found several somewhat contradictory descriptions, none mentioning giving anything away.

Many moons ago, when I sold, I was never a big believer in give-a-ways, however I regularly spent several hundred dollars a month on gifts (hats, jackets, coffee mugs, etc.) for my customers which was far more than the other reps at the stores where I worked.  But, if you have faith in it (which is necessary to make most anything work for you), more power to you.  Of note, your post was well-written enough that no apologies were needed.         

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 3, 2014 at 8:20am

Nice work!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on September 3, 2014 at 8:13am
This is a "first post" and, a really strong post it is! Thank you, Justin Grubb for a fascinating perspective that I want to send out to the BDC managers I hear complaining about hand-raiser leads from car shows.
Comment by Michael Smith on August 29, 2014 at 12:24pm

Excellent post Justin.  I have to fight the mindset that hand raisers are poor leads.  They may be a low closing lead in the short term but it is a way to keep up with a customer who will be in the market or know people who have been in the market in the near future. 

p.s.  on a side note GM has added expected horizon dates to hand raisers making it easier to communicate with the customer about their near or long term future needs.

Comment by Justin Grubb on August 27, 2014 at 6:31am

Thanks guys. We really did see some good results over a 12 month period.  It's not the sale today, but it seemed to be a good way to keep your funnel full.  Tom, I've got the scripts on one of my flash drives, Ill dig them out and send em to you. 

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