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Significantly Increase Your Internet Lead Success


What’s your objective with this email?” I asked the salesperson while he furiously attacked his keyboard with his two index fingers. He stopped and looked up at me with the same how-can-you-be-so-dumb look that our four-year-old nephew gave me when I asked him why he liked trains.

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“I’m planning on selling this guy a motorcycle!” he replied, returning to his keyboard abuse.


Well, that’s a little aggressive even for someone with my East Coast sensibilities. And this is what many people don’t understand about replying to an incoming Internet lead. Very rarely will you sell a motorcycle as a result of an email. You need to understand that sales success is getting to the next “Yes” in your process and here, it’s not a signed buyer’s order. You need to think more tactically. What are you hoping to achieve when you respond to an incoming Internet lead?



You want the customer to email you back. It’s as simple as that. Why? Because your strategy needs to be to turn an email exchange into a phone call; a phone call into a visit; a visit into a test ride, a test ride into a sale. That’s the progression you’re looking for at this altitude.


Internet Insights

I would guess at this point every motorcycle shopper does Internet research prior to not only buying their motorcycle, but even before they visit your store. They will research not only the product, price (on your site and review sites), but they will also be researching your store’s site (directions, prices, availability, look, feel, etc.), and doing other site research looking for product reviews, consumer reviews of your store and staff and also reviewing peer-to-peer forums learning about how to negotiate with you.


Email Obstacles

Adding to the challenge of that message response is tough these days. Young people rarely check their email, for them it’s akin to the pony express. Additionally, it appears that all the mutli-purpose tablets and smart phones are creating ADD — it’s tough to keep people’s attention.


People are overwhelmed with email spam and may not even receive your message let alone read your message. This is why you want to have an interesting and intriguing subject line. The benefit email has over text messages, for example, is that you can tackle challenging issues by informing, engaging, educating and connecting with them.



Why it’s Effective

Effective emails are comprised of the following components: an attention getting subject line, appropriate salutation, effective message, appropriate sign-off and a useful signature. 

Subject Line: I love the word “crucial.” I think it correctly amplifies the importance of this message. Also, notice the use of the second person possessive pronoun. The first reason this is a productive approach is that it is personal, engaging and takes the first psychological steps to mental ownership of the machine (and we did all that with one word!). The second is that we mention the specific motorcycle the customer is interested in. They’ve been thinking about this bike so they are on point mentally for references to it. 


Salutation: In our example above the salutation, “Hi” is perfectly acceptable for business situations. As your relationships with customers evolve, your greetings might become more informal (“Hey,” “Howdy” or for those of you in Philly, “Yo!”) but for most “Hi” is the best approach. Not using a salutation could be interpreted as abrupt and rude. 

Effective Message: The opening paragraph confirms receipt of the inquiry and leverages the persuasion principle of ingratiation. Everyone likes to think they’ve made a great choice, so tell them. We can’t help but feel positively about someone who is complimentary about our selections. Then we talk about the overwhelming value of the bike and start to create interest in the unpublished inside information about this machine. Then we use a rhetorical permission question to make our first attempt at getting a response. Typically people shopping for a new motorcycle are bursting with enthusiasm and want to talk bikes. This opens the door to that conversation. 



Mentioning the dyno test does several things. First, it piques the customer’s interest immediately by letting them know we’ve tested this previously owned machine. If you’ve ever purchased anything pre-owned, you know that minimizing risk is important, so test information is likely to be interesting to this person. Second, we create differentiation of our dealership and others by mentioning our specific equipment and the scarcity of this particular test in the area (this is just one example of how to do this). And third, it dips a toe in the reciprocity pool. By having done this test the customer may want to “repay” by responding to the message.



We’re also using a literary device known as a cliff hanger. Like the price reveal on Pawn Stars, or the rose ceremony on the Bachelorette, this is the compelling, suspenseful, “I gotta know now!” moment. In the above example, when you say you have some very interesting information, but don’t reveal what exactly it is, that is irresistible for most people.


The offer for a test ride is enticing for all motorcycle buyers, but especially for the pre-owned purchaser. Again, it minimizes risk and may set this dealer apart from others who aren’t offering test rides. 


Mentioning that everyone’s been talking about the bike since it rolled in leverages the ideas of scarcity (special bike) and social proof (everyone’s talking) — two powerful persuasive triggers.


Finally, offering to introduce the buyer to the owner can be a difference maker. People like to know the owner and feel like a member of the family. It’s one more low cost, high value approach you can take to differentiate your store. However, by offering two specific days for a visit, we take advantage of the clichéd “either, or” approach. Just look at Seinfeld, “It was a good bit in the ’80s, and it’s still relatable today.” 


Sign-off: Not thinking about your sign off is a critical error. It’s your last impression, and your last chance at effective communication. The above “Talk soon,” is friendly, familiar and works towards creating a conversation, exactly what we’ve set out to do.


Other commonly used sign-offs are “Thank You,” “Sincerely,” “Warmest Regards,” (which I never find sincere or warm) or “Best,” which appears to be some sort of truncated approach to “Best wishes.” Other sign-offs can be motorcycle themed like, “Ride safe.” Or “See You on the Road.” Or, of course, “See You at the Shop.”


Signature: You signature is crucial. You want your customer to know who you are, what you do and how to contact you quickly and effectively. Without a phone number and an email address hyperlinked in your signature, the efficaciousness of your message drops off precipitously.


If your dealership has some stand out characteristic such as special awards, by all means add that as well (forget about the hackneyed sayings or quotes with your signatures, they get you nowhere here). And forget the fancy graphics. I know the cool metal backdrop and animated emoticon with the motorcycle revving up seemed fun over beers at three o’clock in the morning, but they have no place here. They just muddle your message. 


Finish Line

What about length? Is this message too long? I don’t think so. When someone is shopping for a motorcycle, they are looking for information, and the fact that you’ve provided this speaks volumes about you and your investment in them as a potential new customer. Is it overwhelming? Well, maybe at first. But once you create a few of these you can leverage the techniques we’ve shown you and come up with some standardized responses to the most common inquiry (new bike inquiry, trade value, etc).


Shouldn’t you just use an auto responder? You should use an auto responder to immediately let the customer know you’ve received their message and to confirm you’ll respond within 24 hours or less. Then respond within an hour of receiving the message. You want to start impressing them with your responsiveness immediately. And an hour may be too long, immediately is better. 


Welcome to modern day motorcycle retailing! 

Try these ideas and watch your incoming Internet lead effectiveness go through the roof.  

Sample Email Message

Subject: Crucial Information about Your Street Glide

Hi Rick,


We received your inquiry on the 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. Excellent choice! There are so many things to like about this specific motorcycle, most of which you can’t find online or in the brochure. May I ask, what do you like about this bike?

We’ve tested your 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide on our Dynojet 250IX (one of the most advanced instruments in the industry and the only one in our area). 


We’ve discovered some interesting things about your motorcycle, and we’re excited to review them with you. We’ve created a customized performance print out for you and would like to schedule a time to review it and your certified inspection assessment on this specific motorcycle.  

Plus, we want you to know what you’re getting, so bring your helmet, riding gear and license, and we’ll take your motorcycle out and you can put it through its paces. 

This is a very special motorcycle; everyone’s been talking about it since it rolled onto the showroom floor a few days ago. We think you’ll love it. 


And finally we want you to meet our dealership owner, Geddy Lee. We think it’s always important for you to be on a first-name basis with the person who owns the dealership!

We can do Tuesday or Wednesday this week. Does either day work for you?

Talk soon, 

Mark Rodgers

Motorcycle Dream Maker 

YYZ Harley-Davidson

(414) 555-1234 Cell

[email protected]

Mark Rodgers is an award-winning author, top-rated trainer and founder of Peak Dealership Performance. He holds a master’s degree in adult education and the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation — only 500 people in the world have this coveted recognition. Contact [email protected] to improve your performance.  


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