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How to win with automotive direct mail

The following are some DO’s and DON’Ts for automotive direct mail campaigns

One of the keys to success in any automotive direct mail campaign is having a well educated and trained staff at your dealership. If the sales team does not know how to handle objections or is unable to create opportunities for phone calls it is unlikely that your dealership will succeed in using direct mail. Some of these tips may seem like a given, a little ridiculous or even funny, but it happens all the time, believe me, I have listened to hundreds of calls that have gone on the DON’T side. Making statements on the DON’T side does not inspire confidence in your dealership! These direct mail pieces are, in many cases, being mailed out to CONQUEST—customers who are not in your database and who have never purchased from your dealership before. Following the DO side will generate more UPs to the dealership and increase your likelihood of making additional sales.


DON’T: Answer the phone sounding bored, unimpressed, or otherwise unhappy with the caller.

DO: Have good phone etiquette. Sound pleased that the caller took the time to call about the letter they received. They wouldn’t be calling if they weren’t interested and curious about the offer!

DON’T: Tell the caller that “our ad agency sent out that letter. It’s a general promotion.”

DO: Tell the caller about the promotion: “We are looking for late-model vehicles like yours to replenish our used car inventory, whether by trade-in or buying vehicles outright.

DON’TTell the caller, “I have no idea how you got on our mailing list if you’ve never purchased from DEALERSHIP NAME before!”

DO: Tell the caller, “Our dealership personally selected people identified in a national automotive database as driving vehicles that we are looking for. Right now, [trucks, SUVs, cars, etc.] are hot sellers, and we can’t keep them on our lot. We’ve got customers looking for [models], and I’d love to make an offer for yours—get you into a brand-new vehicle with a new warranty, new tires, the works, or just make an offer for your [vehicle] if you’d like to sell it outright.”

DON’T: Tell the caller, “We aren’t buying vehicles outright,” “I’d have to ask my manager if we can just buy your vehicle outright,” etc.

DO: Tell the caller, “Absolutely, we’re buying vehicles outright. What are you presently driving? Depending on mileage and condition, we’re prepared to pay at least KBB fair-market trade-in value, and if trading, as much as 130% over. Could you stop in today or this evening? We’ll give you a firm offer.”

DON’T: Tell the caller, “I wouldn’t be able to give you an estimate on what your vehicle is worth without doing an appraisal. You’d have to bring it in.”

DO: Tell the caller, “Basically, our buyback offer is 110 to 130% over KBB fair-market trade-in value. For example, a vehicle booking for $10,000 would typically be offered from $11,000 to $13,000 and sometimes even more. The amount offered depends on the vehicle you’re interested in and the condition of your vehicle. Most vehicles qualify. Could you stop in today or this evening for a firm price?”

DON’T: Tell the caller, “We don’t have any _____ on the lot right now.”

DO: Tell the caller, “We stock nearly 700 vehicles, but right now we don’t have a [YR/MODEL]. [Name], the good news is that we are connected to the nation’s pre-owned inventory and can locate in minutes and deliver in hours. Give me your email and I’ll send you pictures and prices of what’s available for your consideration.”

DON’T: IF the question arises asking if the sales manager hand-wrote the letter, tell the caller, “It’s not really hand-written by GENERAL MANAGER; it’s a form letter.”


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DO: Answer, “Our dealership personally selected people in our area driving particular vehicles we are interested in from a national database. The personalized letter you received was written by a robotic hand.”

DON’T: Tell the caller, “The database must be wrong if you’re not driving [YEAR] [MODEL], sorry to bother you. You can disregard the letter.”

DO: “Sometimes the national database is wrong, and we apologize for any inconvenience. There are numerous other vehicles on our shopping list—what are you presently driving? In most cases, your present vehicle will qualify for the buyback offer.”

DON’T: Tell callers calling on behalf of deceased recipients, “Sorry for your loss; goodbye.”

DO: “I’m sorry for your loss. The national database we use
obviously failed to correct their data. I’m sure you have this problem frequently. The website www.DMAChoice.org will remove your loved one’s name from all mailing lists.”

DON’T: Tell callers calling to be removed from mailing lists, “I have no control over that;” “Sure, I’ll remove you;” etc.

DO: Get the caller’s name and full address and send that information to dDaniel. Give the caller the website www.DMAChoice.org where they can put themselves on an exclusion list.

DON’T: Let calls go to voicemail.

DO: Ensure that all calls are answered by a live salesperson. If calls do occasionally go to voicemail, be sure to return those calls promptly.

DON’T: Ignore callers who call but hang up during
automated messages or who call but do not leave messages.

DO: Call these people back. The chances of this being a wrong number are very slim. They would not have picked up the phone to call you if they weren’t interested in some level in the offer they received.

DON’T: Tell callers, “There isn’t an actual person who is interested in your vehicle, that’s just the wording our ad agency used.”

DO: Tell callers, “We have customers who are very particular about the used vehicles they are looking for and surely, we’ll have one interested in yours.

DON’T: Let callers who open the door for discussion slip by without qualifying them.

DO: If the caller shows interest in the offer but says they are happy with their current vehicle, the conversation could go: “[Name], when you couple our buyback offer with sizable factory and finance incentives, it is possible to trade up to a new vehicle (new tires, new warranty, etc) at your same monthly payment. Would you mind if I put some numbers together for you?”

Winning at automotive direct mail is not easy. The right message, to the right person at the right time can make a big difference. Although if the messaging breakdown and is not congruent when it reaches your sales team, you will lose.

For more tips on automotive direct mail visit: briansorce.com/9-tips-automotive-direct-mail/

by Brian Sorce