The Advertising and Business Management Partnership

“I tried advertising once and it didn’t work”, is a common objection advertising sales people often hear when trying to establish a new relationship with a prospect. I write extensively about what an advertising sales person can do to ensure that the advertising they sell lives up to their expectations. But, no amount of good advertising will fix a bad business. The business must be prepared to back up the advertising campaign with the basic customer service necessary to convert the advertising into new customers.

I’ve had a triggering event. I’ve been driving my son’s car since he moved to New York City. But now he is moving to Dallas and wants his car back. I don’t have a car. I need a car. That is a triggering event. Now, I am on a decision journey.

I haven’t bought a car in 10 years, I decided to try the new digital options, I chose TrueCar. I entered the make and model of car I wanted, picked one of the results, clicked on the “I’m interested” button and entered all of my information. I immediately got an automated text message with a link to “my offer”. It was a thousand dollars more than the price listed in the app. The text was from “Josh” (not the real name) indicating he was my personal representative and would be calling me to follow up. Next I received an automated email from the dealership from a different representative with an offer a thousand dollars less than the price on the app. In just a matter of seconds I had three different prices on the same car.

By this time, I had read the CarFAX report on the car through the TrueCar app. The car had two accidents one year apart. In just a matter of minutes, I had change my mind and was no longer interested, at that price. That was the last I heard from the dealership.

This is when I decided to document my experience. I purposely said I wasn’t interested at that price to see if the dealership would respond by asking “At what price would you be interested.”? Or better yet “Would you be interested in a different car”?

In preparing my son’s car for the trip to Dallas, I needed to take his car to the very same dealership for some service. I give their service department high marks. I’ve always been satisfied.

While the car was in the service department, I visited the showroom to look at the new cars. I almost always wear a suit, or a sport coat and tie. In all modesty, I was the best dressed person in the dealership. I spent over an hour looking at new cars, staring at the sticker price, comparing data on my phone. Not one single person came up to me to offer their assistance.

When the service department called me, I paid my bill and drove away.

That was two contacts with a well-qualified buyer in the market for a new car the dealership let slip away.

When I returned from Dallas I tried the TrueCar app again. This time, a nice sales person from a different dealership personally called me within a few minutes. I was driving a new car within a couple of hours.

While at the dealership, I complemented the General Manager on his sales team’s responsiveness. He told me that response time is critical. The difference in minutes can mean a sale or a lost opportunity.

Advertising creates awareness. It tells a story about how a business can help a consumer. But when a consumer has a triggering event in their life and they find themselves on a decision journey and they show up at your business, is your sales organization prepared to maximize this opportunity your advertising provided?

The whole experience reminded me that I and my own sales team need to be vigilant not to fall victim to the same passive attitude about prospects and leads. You never know where your next new customer will come from.

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