Some employees of dealership Internet departments err in the e-mail messages they send to prospective buyers.
Here are a dozen tips for avoiding e-mistakes that can kill a sale:
Avoid humor. It rarely translates well. Since e-mails do not convey body language or other non-verbal cues (such as facial expressions), you risk offending the recipient. Save it until your relationship is well established. Same goes for sarcasm and “attitude.” Watch what you say! Even if you receive an e-mail that is a little heated (and you will), show restraint, take time out before answering and remember that what you say can be a permanent record.
Know when to call, when to e-mail. The first thing to do when you get a new inquiry is to send an e-mail response, immediately followed by a phone call to confirm receipt of the response. Why not just call? Because if your prospect wanted to talk on the phone, they would have called. Never send a “please call me” e-mail as a first response. E-mail them that you'll be calling. Then do so. If they didn't give you a phone number (or gave you a bad one) in the first e-mail, ask for one so you can confirm they received the sent information.
Don't want to scream at them? THEN DON'T DO THIS! When you send an e-mail typed in all capital letters, you are yelling.
Use spell check. If you're selling to 13 year olds, it's OK to spell phonetically. Others will think you're illiterate or just plain lazy.
Space it out. Hit return twice when you end a paragraph. It adds an extra line that makes e-mails easier to read.
Show them who you are. The common thought that e-mails should be short and simple doesn't apply to your first response. That is your introduction, your handshake, your entrance into prospects' heart. Be friendly, answer all questions, explain who you are and outline all you're going to do for the prospect.
Be different. Most e-mail programs allow you to change your font type and color and offer many other functions that can make your e-mail stand out. And a judicious use of pictures can make a big difference.
Be professional. You can write the best response in the history of Internet marketing, and you likely won't get any replies if your e-mail address is [email protected]. Convert prospects to friends, but stay professional and use a professional moniker.
While on the subject … Great subject lines can keep your message out of e-mail purgatory. Change your subject line with each response. Use something interesting. Which of the following would you open first? “All of my customers love my first class service. Let me show you why.” or “Re: your inquiry #E6583T.”
Sign off effectively. Use a signature line that makes it easy to remember and contact you. List all of your phone numbers (office, cell, and fax), your e-mail address, and your dealership's website URL (that www-dotthing).
Ask them. Make the last line in your e-mails (above the signature) a question, and not, “Will you buy a car from me today?” Instead, it should be of the validating variety such as: “How does that sound?” “Did I answer your questions?” “Did I meet your expectations?” “How do these look?”
Wait a minute. Before you hit the send button, read the original lead and your reply one last time. Ask yourself: Am I missing anything? Are there buying signals I'm ignoring? Did I answer all their questions? Am I making sure the prospect knows I want to earn their business? Am I asking for an appointment? Pretend you're the prospect. Would you want to buy from you?
Al Amersdorfer is president of Automotive Internet Technologies Inc. (www.autonettech.com)