Is your sales copy hurting your conversions?

The last week has been a most interesting experience.

My 30-day goal is to buy a new car. This is a big deal to me because (1) I keep my cars forever (like, 20 years,) and (2) I find car salespeople a tad on the challenging side. Imagine my thrill when I realized that I can go through my insurance company, pre-negotiate a deal and be linked to three dealers (thank you, USAA.)

That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of the car dealers have done everything possible (from a copywriting perspective) to push away my business. Here are some examples:

  • Not one car dealership has asked me how I want to be contacted. Yes, I know that “coming in and taking a test drive” is their bread and butter. And they want to actually talk to me rather than chatting via email. But here’s the thing: That’s not what I want. The car salespeople are trying to force their definition of the “next step” (talking on the phone) without hearing mine (let’s chat via email first.)The big takeaway here is: Know that all prospects are different. If you force people to contact you the way you want them to, you may lose conversions as a result
  • Their autoresponders don’t “mesh.” This was the second email contact I received from the dealer – five minutes after receiving their first email (you may need to click on the graphic to read everything).

    First, the signature line in the email correspondence doesn’t match the “from” address – so this looks like an autoresponder. Not a huge thing, but you’re left wondering whether you should contact Amber or Misti. Second, the email doesn’t ask how I would like to be contacted (again.) And finally – there is nothing compelling about this email at all – no restatement of benefits, nothing about special financing offers. Nothing. Benefits sell, folks – and if you don’t clearly tell your customers “what’s in it for them,” they’ll find someone else who will and buy from them instead.

  • The emails I did receive tried to sell me on other (pre-owned) vehicles. Think about this: A prospect comes to you with very specific requirements. She’s ready to do a deal. Do you come back and say, “I know you want THIS – but how about THAT?” Hell no! You take her money and do the deal. If I would have wanted a pre-owned vehicle, I would have asked for one.
  • Remember, people get confused with too many choices. And a person who has spent the time to outline exactly want they want is a pretty motivated buyer. To throw choices at them that they didn’t ask for will overwhelm them at best – and frustrate them at worst.  The takeaway here is to know that upselling is fine (when you do it well,) but offering a completely different choice is not.

Has this process turned me off from purchasing a new car? Not at all. I can (mostly) understand why they’re doing what they’re doing from a sales perspective – there’s just things they could do better. And I have received (non-autoreponder) emails that have addressed my concerns. The big lesson here is – evaluate everything you do from a content perspective. Read every autoresponder you send your prospects. Review every customer relationship management process. Review your content and make sure that it’s informative, benefit-rich and actually answers your prospect’s questions. People won’t tell you things like, “Hey, your autoresponder doesn’t mention any benefits.” They’ll just walk away. And that’s much more expensive than having to rewrite an autoresponder series, Web page or brochure.