9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Improve Your Dealership’s Sales Closing Ratio like a Navy SEAL

improve auto sales closing ratio

Inbound automotive marketing and sales require preparation and mental toughness. It's especially challenging to follow up with leads, but there are a few things you can do to close more of them.

To make a big (positive) impact on your sales closing ratio, your sales team needs to be ready to handle every possible situation with a lead. Just think like a Navy SEAL!

Qualify Automotive Leads like a Navy SEAL

It's imperative to have both a thoughtful strategy and a good backup plan to earn and retain business from any lead. Developing this mindset takes some serious training and a good dose of empathy.

No one knows this mindset better than the United States Navy's Sea, Air, and Land Teams, commonly known as the Navy SEALs.

When training its elite SEAL team, the U.S. Navy instills what they call “situational awareness.” This mental training exercise involves a situational awareness checklist, which makes the trainee use a great deal of empathy and contextual thinking.

Many of these situational awareness practices also happen to be incredibly useful for closing leads:

  • Try to guess what individuals around you are thinking or doing.
  • Look for unique behaviors or things that seem out of place.
  • Formulate a plan B if things take a sudden turn.
  • Determine if someone is following you or taking an unusual interest in you.

The key to your lead closing ratio here is empathy. Any experienced auto salesman will tell you that the business is all about relationships, and it's hard to make a solid connection unless you're ready to put yourself in your lead's shoes.

4 SEAL-Inspired Ways to Improve Your Closing Ratio

The Navy SEAL situational awareness checklist offers four valuable perspectives for salespeople to close more leads. Read on to start your own lead-closing bootcamp today.

1. Try to Guess What Individuals Around You Are Thinking or Doing

In SEAL training, they have a thing called normalcy bias — and it affects everyone who does a task repeatedly (including a salesperson). Normalcy bias is the tendency to glaze over and treat every task (or lead) like the last.

To overcome normalcy bias, you'll need to make a conscious effort to empathize with your lead before contacting them. In the sales environment, this exercise of putting yourself into a lead's shoes will allow you to focus on what they want and how you can best deliver it.

2. Notice Unique Behaviors that Seem Out of Place

While it's important to provide a great environment for your leads (both digitally and materially), it's not good to let that environment sit on its own. In SEAL training, they call this the baseline. Any disturbance to the baseline requires attention.

Find the unique qualities of your lead. Do they have a rare trade? Where do they live? How often have they visited your service bay? Have they talked to someone else at the store about a vehicle?

These are just some of the things that will stick out from the baseline and help you strike up an engaging, worthwhile conversation that is more likely to result in a sale.

3. Formulate a Plan B if Things Take a Sudden Turn

SEALs need an escape route or a place to take cover if things don't go as planned.

For auto dealers, it's a matter of thinking of new possibilities. While a good marketing agency will do everything in its power to deliver high-quality leads for your sales team, there are anomalies that will require unique action.

Items #1 and #2 on this list will prime you for a great follow-up conversation, but sometimes that conversation won't go the way you visualized. This is why it's always good to have a plan B.

If your lead isn't actually interested in a certain vehicle or isn't actually looking to purchase soon, what else can you offer to keep them engaged? What's your call-to-action?

4. Determine if Someone Is Taking an Unusual Interest in You

Is someone following you? We don't mean this in a creepy way. For auto dealers, it's always good to have avid fans who are obsessed with you and your inventory.

If you give them the right tools, these people can become valuable evangelists for your store. For example, if a customer has had really nice experience at your store, set up a referral program so that they can save money for themselves and a friend.

Keep Training to Close More Leads

As you may have picked up by now, the Navy's situational awareness checklist focuses on two main things:

  1. Keeping focus (important when your store has hundreds or thousands of leads coming in every day)
  2. Being as effective as possible in any situation (important for closing ratios and, ultimately, client satisfaction)

But that's not everything a salesperson can learn from a SEAL. In addition to this checklist, Navy SEAL trainees also set short-term goals for success, which are the key to professional happiness.

Delight your customers (and yourself) by using this checklist, and deliver the personalized service that results in more sales.

Arm Yourself with Automotive Data

As you train for a better closing ratio, know that you're not alone. 9 Clouds is here to help your business succeed in the digital world. To do that, we make every effort to learn from auto dealers like you.

9 Clouds surveyed dealers throughout the country to gather insights related to auto marketing. Our 2016 State of Automotive Marketing report is intended to help your dealership grow and profit in 2016.

Download your free copy of the report to take a close look at the ideas, trends, and strategies embraced by dealership professionals just like you.